Buttery Crab Pasta

Buttery crab pasta is luxurious and simple, all at the same time. And isn’t an easy-to-prepare dinner a luxury in itself? Cherry tomatoes, butter (natch), chervil, lemon, crabmeat, and your favorite pasta is about all it takes. #LCHumpDayPasta

Floral pasta bowl, filled with crab pasta, sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan. A cheese grater and larger bowl in the background.

Adapted from Melissa Clark | Dinner in French | Clarkson Potter, 2020

This pasta dish is impressive, but it’s barely any work at all, ideal for an impromptu gathering. Obviously, you’ll want the freshest sweetest crabmeat available. Substitute lobster if you can’t get crab, or use small shrimp, briefly cooked in butter, and feel free to vary the herbs if you can’t find chervil. Chervil is not as popular outside of France as this mildly licoricey herb should be—use basil, mint, or cilantro instead.—Melissa Clark


I’m glad you asked. LC Hump Day Pasta (#LCHumpDayPasta) is a little something we cooked up to help you on the night of the week that you feel least like cooking. Wednesday was traditionally Prince Spaghetti Day (for those of you old enough to remember). We’ve revamped and updated that to Hump Day and included every type of pasta there is.

Buttery Crab Pasta

Floral pasta bowl, filled with crab pasta, sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan. A cheese grater and larger bowl in the background.
A lovely, light summer pasta filled with crab and cherry tomatoes, it comes together in under 30 minutes.
Melissa Clark

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
3 servings
597 kcal
5 from 1 vote
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  • Fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces bucatini or linguine
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 2 cups (10 oz) halved golden or red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 scallion white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup fresh chervil or fresh parsley leaves (or substitute a combination of fresh parsley and fresh tarragon)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon preferably organic
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cooked lump crabmeat picked over to remove any stray shells*
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
  • Flaky sea salt for serving


  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (usually a minute or two less than the package directs). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the pasta water and the Parmesan. Stir in the tomatoes, scallion, red pepper flakes, and a large pinch of salt, simmer until the tomatoes begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the pasta, 1/4 cup of the chervil or parsley, the lemon zest and juice, and black pepper to taste. Toss until warmed through. Gently fold in the crabmeat.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat. Serve the crab pasta sprinkled with Parmesan, the remaining 1/4 cup chervil or parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, flaky sea salt, and more red pepper flakes, to taste.
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*How do I get the bits of shell out of my crabmeat?

This might not sound like a big deal until you hear that nasty crunch while you’re devouring a big, beautiful bowl of seafood pasta. Take all that glorious crabmeat and spread it out on a baking sheet. Pop it under the broiler for a minute—just enough to make those bits of shell turn bright red. And…easier to spot. With this little tip, you’re still going to have to pick it out, but it will to make those bits of the shell so much easier to find.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 597kcal (30%)Carbohydrates: 64g (21%)Protein: 29g (58%)Fat: 25g (38%)Saturated Fat: 13g (81%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 81mg (27%)Sodium: 791mg (34%)Potassium: 755mg (22%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 2261IU (45%)Vitamin C: 57mg (69%)Calcium: 182mg (18%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

With all of the high-quality tinned seafood available now, I've been very interested in finding more ways to incorporate it into meals each week. I was really excited to try this recipe for buttery crab pasta with such a straightforward ingredient list and a quick cooking process. Definitely a weeknight winner with a unique twist with the lump crab.

Like so many summery pasta dishes, this can be easily riffed on based on what is in season (or in your fridge) and your personal preference. I can see dialing up the tomatoes or swapping for quick-cooking summer squash. This is a simple dish but a real winner.

Elegance and ease—this china-worthy buttery crab pasta is as quick and convenient as linguine with canned clams. And it's as delicious as it is beautiful. A novice home cook? Don't fret. Each step is a breeze and there is no juggling of multiple pans or tricky heat adjustments. It’s the balancing act of the ingredients that makes this dish special. Butter, lemon, tomatoes, and cheese all leave ample room for the crab to come through. I didn’t have chervil, so I used a combination of parsley and tarragon, and they made such a wonderful substitute. (Not surprising, as tarragon/butter sauce and seafood are known to be fabulous together.)

The shellfish and butter pairing made me think of warm lobster rolls (and summer!). So instead of crusty bread, I served it with tender and fluffy classic dinner rolls and a bottle of rosé.

Originally published July 20, 2021


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