Crab Beignets with Aïoli Dipping Sauce

May 21, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6 servings (about 28 beignets)
Author Notes

These crispy morsels are so delicious you will find yourself unable to stop eating them. If you serve them for a party, plan on hiring someone just to fry them, or you’ll be stuck behind the stove. Your guests will keep asking for more! Aïoli makes the perfect dipping sauce. (You want it to be a bit loose.) - ChefJune —ChefJune

Test Kitchen Notes

These are the bounciest beignets you'll ever taste, partnered with a punchy aioli. ChefJune sticks to her convictions, using all olive oil and lots of egg yolk and garlic to great effect here, against fritters studded with sweet crab. We loved her use of vinegar-softened breadcrumbs in the aioli -- a traditional Provençal technique which bolsters and thickens the sauce, threading a subtle vinegary aroma through without compromising the aioli's smooth, buttery texture. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Crab Beignets
  • 8 ounces cooked lump crab meat
  • 1 cup organic unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (I only use Rumfords)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pimiento, chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 4 drops Cholula Hot Sauce
  • Vegetable oil for frying (canola or peanut work well)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Aïoli
  • 1 tablespoon fine, dry, unflavored breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Crab Beignets
  2. Pick over the crab meat to remove any traces of shell. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the oil and lemon wedges with 1 cup of water. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a couple of inches of oil in a deep heavy pot to 325 degrees F. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Be sure not to crowd the beignets in the hot oil, or they won’t fry evenly. Drain and serve hot with a lemon wedge and the aioli.
  4. Teacher’s Tip: It’s important to have your oil at the right temperature. Too hot, and your beignets will burn – too cold, and the beignets will absorb the oil and become greasy and unpleasant.
  5. Wine Tip: A sparkling wine would be just right with these crispy morsels, or a well chilled Alsatian Riesling.
  1. Aïoli
  2. Soak the breadcrumbs in the vinegar for 5 minutes, then squeeze the crumbs dry in the corner of a towel.
  3. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the garlic, then add the crumbs and combine with the garlic to make a smooth paste. Add egg yolks, salt and white pepper and combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Now, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. When all the oil is in, you have aïoli.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux
  • MWolfIII
  • nancy essig
    nancy essig
  • Lori Darnell
    Lori Darnell
  • Mamen
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

51 Reviews

Canuck September 27, 2016
can I fry them and then bring it to a potluck?
ChefJune September 27, 2016
I have never served them any other way but fried à la minute. They will likely lose their crispness, but give it a try. Let me know if you do.
Phoov July 26, 2016
Okay. 'Cooked' lump crabmeat. Not sure I have ever seen that sold in my area...unless this is referring to just canned crabmeat vs. the fresh.???
ChefJune July 27, 2016
Canned crabmeat is cooked.
Chef D. November 22, 2015
These are incredibly easy to make and totally delicious.
ChefJune November 22, 2015
Thanks, Chef!
MWolfIII May 4, 2015
I made these yesterday morning for a Sunday Brunch appetizer. These are incredibly easy to make and totally delicious. I added a little tarragon and chili powder in my batter for something different and I was very happy with the results. I know that I will be making these again, they are a perfect spring/summer snack that's easy to make but feels a little fancy! Thanks ChefJune.
ChefJune May 4, 2015
You're welcome! I'm so glad you like them.
nancy E. December 17, 2014
Made these for my Company Xmas party and OMG, they ae better than crab cakes, better than chocolate, better than many things I have had. So yummy I bought a small fryer so I can make on demand. Thanks Food52, yiou always please me
JohnL March 4, 2014
This is a very versatile (and well known) batter. For anyone longing for good Chinese-style shrimp "tempura" but never found a crispy puff batter recipe that actually works, one classic easy formula used by many a restaurant is 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup water, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp baking powder (mix together just until smooth). Bleached flour works fine. Peel and butterfly a pound of shrimp (26 count shrimp are nice but smaller ones will taste just as good) leaving on tails to use as "handles" (toss with 1 tsp baking soda and salt to taste, and let stand for 10-30 mins. or longer, then rinse shrimp and drain on paper towel). Dip shrimp in the batter and deep fry a few at a time (at 360 degrees) until golden brown. If for some reason the batter isn't sticking, you can give the shrimp a light flour dusting before you dip, but try dipping them naked first). The batter will look too runny if you've never done this before, but resist the temptation to add more flour and it will turn out just like Chinese restaurant! This is one of the Chinese batters Craig Claiborne used. Let shrimp fry 3 or 4 minutes turning occasionally to ensure they are good and crisp and have no fear, the shrimp will not toughen. Drain on paper towels.
Traveler May 1, 2014
JohnL, I want to try this recipe of yours, but I am confused. Do you use baking powder or baking soda? Also, your directions call for 2 teaspoons of (powder or soda), but I only see one teaspoon used in the directions. Thank you.
JohnL May 2, 2014
Hi Fisher6168! I must have been in my stream of consciousness mode when I posted that recipe and instruction. The batter itself is a cup each water and flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tsp baking powder; the purpose of the baking soda is to condition the shrimp so they don't toughen as they fry--you toss the shrimp with baking soda and a pinch of salt and let them stand while you prepare the batter. Before you dip and fry, you rinse off the soda with cool water, drain on towel. I have a couple of other batters that I actually use more often and prefer with shrimp. My beer batter is awesome and turns out nice and puffy/crunchy because of beer and cornstarch (recipe: Whisk 1 cup bleached flour-that's 5 oz.-- with 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp Kosher salt and a pinch of pepper. Whisk in a 12-oz bottle of beer--I like Miller Light--until smooth, let stand 5 minutes. Dust shrimp lightly with Wondra flour and knock off any excess. Dip and fry at 350 for about 4 minutes, in batches if necessary). My other recipe is from Pierre Franey's and Brian Miller's Seafood Cookbook (3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup cornstarch, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 TB vinegar, 2 egg whites, 2 TB oil, 1 cup water--whisk wet into the dry ingredients as in other recipe. Dust shrimp w/flour, dip in the drippy wet batter letting any excess drip back into the batter bowl, and fry. This batter will become fully crisp in only a minute or so. I like the beer batter for Chinese, and the Franey for unsauced shrimp that you dip in tartar sauce etc. I use these last 2 recipes the most, especially with shrimp that aren't too large. An electric deep fryer will save you a lot of headaches. You can often find great old Sunbeams at Goodwill or Salvation Army for $10 or less. Sunbeam electric skillets are also awesome for recipes that call for heating oil in a skillet to a certain temp. These appliances are admittedly old school, but they take all the guess work out of heating oil to the right temperature and keeping it right there. Why don't you try the beer batter first and another time use Franey's and see which you prefer. And then sometime try Claiborne's recipe, which you can use for sweet/sour and fry in advance and re-fry at the last minute for extra crispness.
Lori D. September 2, 2013
Friend of a family member made this over the weekend...loved it !
Muse January 6, 2013
These look absolutely going to give them a try for a cocktail party I am having on Friday night!
ChefFace September 25, 2012
Thak you so much for this recipe. I made them for brunch one morning for out of town friends. I served the beignets with the sauce over savoury herb crepes, 1-2 crepes topped with two of these made all my guests gush, I will definitely be doing this again. I didn't need quite as much aioli as it made, but I won't complain; its delicious enough to use with many other dishes.
Mamen July 13, 2012
Very good recipe. In Spain we make aioli with Oil, Gralic and salt, nothing else. And it,s very very good
Mamen July 13, 2012
Mamen July 13, 2012
Snafu06 March 4, 2012
I thought these were great texturally, but the second time I made them, I salted the lump crab meat just a bit before creating the beignets, which really brought out a strong crab flavor.
knitnbead December 30, 2011
Well, the beignets were wonderful, however the aioli was a disaster. Six cloves of garlic! You have to be kidding. The final result was more of a paste than a dipping sauce. I made it according to the exact recipe and had to throw it out. The garlic was so strong, it was all I tasted. I made a second batch with some adjustments: used only two cloves of garlic upped the wine vinegar another half tsp. and also added juice of one lemon. That seemed to balance it out more. Only used 1/2 cup of oil and that was enough. Sorry to be so direct and I am aware of other aioli recipes that are very similar but I guess I will stick to my own next time. Again the beignets themselves were devine.
Greenstuff December 30, 2011
I've never really thought of aioli as a "dipping" sauce, but something a little thicker. And if you didn't like the amount of garlic, my thoughts are that perhaps you smashed it rather than chopped it--it makes a huge difference. Or maybe you just don't like garlic as much as some other people...personally, six cloves of garlic to a cup of oil sounds about right, and no kidding. But good that you have a recipe of your own that you like. You can stick to that one.
ChefJune December 30, 2011
knitnbead: did you take the green sprout out of the garlic cloves before you chopped it? I realize I didn't specify to do that (mostly because some folks LOVE the strong garlic taste), but I always de-germ the garlic. It keeps it from being overpowering, I think.
ChefJune December 26, 2011
To answer those of you who are worried about no eggs... the batter holds the beignets together.
ChefJune December 26, 2011
The batter holds them together.
denverdawn December 26, 2011
Is the recipe correct? No eggs or any binder to hold them together?
ChefJune December 26, 2011
The batter holds them together.
ChefJune December 26, 2011
The batter holds them together.
boulangere November 17, 2011
These are on the agenda for an hors d'oeuvres class tomorrow night. Crab, beignets, garlic, what's not to love?
olean October 23, 2011
no eggs, or bread what holds these little delights together?
Franca June 26, 2011
Made these last night as our starter. Delicious! The aioli was devine.
creamtea June 10, 2011
Tried the aioli w/o the beignets for a Grand Aioli. Guests loved it. So did we!
ChefJune June 10, 2011
Thanks, creamtea. I know a few folks who like to eat it with a spoon.
mikenike June 6, 2011
Definitely on the list to try! Love crab and a fan of Chef June's from the Wine Library.
Ida and Mike