Crab Orecchiette

Crab is one of those proteins that is delicate yet full of sweet and salty flavor. It is so luscious and can instantly make any dish feel special with its addition. The crab in this dish pairs so nicely with the lemon, butter, and peas. It all comes together to create the perfect combination of flavors that are sure to satisfy. 

I love using orecchiette for this recipe because it provides the perfect vessel for the sauce and crab to stick to. A little fact I always remembered ever since I heard Giada explain it on the food network is that Orecchiette’s name which means small ear in Italian comes from their shape which actually resembles a small ear. The small depression in the center of the pasta provides a great little nook where pieces of crab and peas can get stuck and the sauce can pool up. 

I have to admit that this pasta is not as healthy as most of the recipes I post but life is all about balance and I strongly believe that it’s important to indulge every once in a while. Although it’s not the healthiest it’s still light and not a heavy pasta that will make you feel weighed down. It’s perfect for a spring or summer lunch or dinner. 

Crab Orecchiette

Crab Orecchiette

Nikole’s Kitchen
This pasta is perfect for summer, full of luscious, sweet crab and zesty lemon juice. I topped it with brown butter breadcrumbs and that really sent it over the top providing an indulgent buttery crunch!
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6
Calories 492 kcal


  • 8 Oz. Lump Crab Meat
  • 1 lb. Orecchiette
  • 2 Tbsp Shallot minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove minced
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Dry White Wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 6 Tbsp Cold Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Lemons zested
  • 1/2 Cup Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Reserved Pasta Water

Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 Cup Panko
  • 1 Tbsp Butter


  • Start by boiling heavily salted water in a large saucepot. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for around 9 minutes. Reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water, drain the pasta and set aside.
  • In a large frying pan add the olive oil, shallots, and garlic over medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add the wine and lemon juice. Cook until the liquid reduces in half. Then, whisk in 1 tbsp of cold butter at a time until the sauce thickens and emulsifies, repeating until all 6 tbsp are gone. Next mix in the cream, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Next, add the pasta, reserved pasta water, crab, peas and lemon zest and mix everything together. 
  • To make the brown butter breadcrumbs, heat 1 tbsp of butter in a small frying pan over med-high heat. Cook the butter alone for 1 minute then add the panko and cook for another minute or until golden brown and toasty.
  • Serve the pasta with a sprinkling of fresh parsley, brown butter breadcrumbs and more lemon zest.
Keyword Crab, CrabPasta, Lemon, LemonButter, Orecchiette, Pasta, Recipe

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