Spicy Crab Pasta

Spicy Crab Pasta

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Anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes add a super savory flavor undertone to this intensely flavorful spicy crab pasta recipe. Whether you need a special occasion recipe or you just feel like treating yourself on a random Wednesday, this pasta will do the trick.

I love crab, but it’s become so exorbitantly expensive that I rarely cook with it anymore. For Valentine’s Day this year, I decided to treat myself to a tin of jumbo lump crab meat. You can certainly make this pasta with shrimp, mussels, or clams. The sauce is so delicious on its own that you can even omit the crab entirely.

How to make this spicy crab pasta recipe

This recipe starts with a super savory, spicy tomato sauce. It’s paired with sweet, jumbo lump crab and perfectly cooked pasta. I use Sfoglini whole grain reginetti because I’ve found that I love the heartier flavor of whole grain pasta. If you’re not a fan of whole-grain pasta, their trumpet-shaped pasta would be delicious. Try it with any pasta you like, though. I prefer a shorter pasta shape for this, such as rigatoni, cavatelli, or orecchiette. That doesn’t mean you can’t make this with long pasta like linguine or bucatini!

Pasta with crab

How to make it

  • Make the sauce: The sauce starts with shallot, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. I used canned anchovies, but the Ortiz jarred anchovies would also be perfect and much more practical since you can reseal the jar easily. From there, I add white wine and diced tomatoes and let it simmer until it becomes thick.
  • Prepare the pasta: Whatever pasta you decide to use, simply boil it up as the sauce simmers and then drain it, reserving a bit of the cooking water.
  • Finish the sauce: To finish the sauce, simply fold in the crab with Parmesan cheese, basil, and lemon juice. Be careful not to break up the crab too much!
  • Finish the pasta: Once the crab simmers for a few minutes, simply add the cooked pasta along with a little pasta water and toss gently to coat.
Spicy Crab Pasta Recipe

The finished pasta is just delicious. I like to sprinkle a bit more Parmesan on top and garnish with a few additional fresh basil leaves, but that is totally optional.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I did! If you make it, please leave a comment below to let me know what you think!

Spicy Crab Pasta Recipe

Spicy Crab Pasta

Anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes add a super savory flavor undertone to this intensely flavorful spicy crab pasta recipe.
4.17 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 498kcal


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil from sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 anchovies
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for a spicier sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup white wine or water
  • 14.5- ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 12 ounces short pasta of choice, such as reginetti, radiatori, rigatoni, or lumache
  • 8 ounces jumbo lump or lump crab meat, picked over for shells
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, a pinch reserved for garnish
  • cup loosely packed basil, roughly chopped; a few whole leaves reserved for garnish
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste


Prepare the sauce:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot and cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Add the sun-dried tomatoes, sun-dried tomato oil, and the anchovies. Cook for 2–3 minutes or until you can easily mash the anchovies into a paste.
  • Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir to coat everything in the pan with the paste. Continue cooking for 1–2 minutes until the paste deepens in color.

Simmer the sauce:

  • Pour in the white wine and stir to incorporate the wine into the paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the diced tomatoes. Taste and add salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. Taste and season again to your preferences.

Cook the pasta:

  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

Finish the sauce:

  • Taste the sauce and season to your preferences. Carefully add the crab along with the Parmesan, chopped basil, and lemon juice. Stir gently to incorporate, being careful not to break up the crab too much. Simmer for 5–6 minutes. Taste and season.

Finish the pasta:

  • Add half of the pasta cooking water to the pot along with the cooked pasta. Toss gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Turn off the heat.

To serve:

  • Spoon the pasta onto a large serving platter. Garnish with more basil leaves and a pinch of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 9g | Sodium: 733mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin C: 26mg
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