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New England Crab Rolls

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It’s ok. Be crabby.

This New England crab roll recipe keeps things simple, perfect, and authentic, with sweet lump crab meat and grilled buttered rolls.

new england crab roll in bun with potato chips on plate

I have an Oprah-esque “What I know for sure” truth: The fewer ingredients a recipe calls for, the more ingredient quality matters. Simple, unpretentious New England crab rolls taste amazing not because they are complicated, but because they are so uncomplicated. Crab is expensive, with a delicate, sweet, ever-so-slightly-briny flavor. Piling on ingredients and flavors takes away from the magic. So this New England crab roll recipe keeps it simple and perfect.

new england crab roll ingredients crab meat rolls butter mayo

How (and How Not) to Make a Good New England Crab Roll

Let’s talk first about the buns. If you can find them, buy New England-style frankfurter buns. The go-to brand is Country Kitchen Split-Top Frankfurt Buns. These buns look like hot dog buns, but differ because of the flat, un-toasted sides just waiting to be grilled in butter.

And now the crab.

  • Find the freshest cooked lump crab meat you can find, and make sure to drain any water and pick the meat over for any stray shell.
  • Then, add just enough mayonnaise to hold it together. The goal is for people to not even realize that there is mayo. If you are using fresh crab meat, you should not need any additional seasoning. The taste of the crab should be enough.
  • If necessary, add a spritz of fresh lemon juice and the smallest pinch of salt. Some recipes call of all kinds of bells and whistles, like minced celery, extra mayo, and other stuff. Forget it.

To assemble the crab rolls, grill the sides of the rolls in butter as you would a grilled cheese. Then — and this is optional — add a piece of Bibb or butter lettuce. This will add a little color and crunch. Generously fill the rolls with the crabmeat mixture, garnish with some fresh chives, if desired, and served. The official side dish of crab rolls? Kettle cooked potato chips.

crab roll in bun with potato chips on plate

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crab roll in bun with potato chips on plate

New England Crab Rolls

Sweet lump crabmeat on a buttered bun. Simple, honest, and authentic.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: lunch
Cuisine: American, New England
Keywords:: crab, crab roll, easy, maine, new england, sandwich
Servings: 4 crab rolls


  • 4 New England-style hotdog buns
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
  • 2 tablespoons good mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's or Best
  • spritz of fresh lemon juice, optional
  • 2 teaspoons butter, softened
  • 4 lettuce leaves, preferably Bibb or green leaf
  • minced chives, to garnish (optional)
  • kettle-cooked potato chips, to serve


  • Combine the crabmeat and mayonnaise and stir just until fully combined. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.
  • Heat a frying pan or griddle to medium. Butter the sides of each hotdog bun and place them side-down and grill until golden brown. Grill the other side.
  • Place a leaf of lettuce inside each bun. Spoon a generous heap of crabmeat into each bun, and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve immediately with kettle-cooked potato chips.


  • 5 stars
    Perfect summer lunch and chips are a must!
    Maine crabmeat is delicious if you can find it.
    Thanks again Lisa !

  • 5 stars
    I love how light this tastes. Very good. And so easy. No muss, no fuss crab.

  • Paula Wachter

    5 stars
    Just like being in Cape Cod. Gotta have those kettle chips or else it’s not authentic!!!

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