A smooth and flavorful Crab Bisque that's ready in just 20 minutes and makes a perfect amuse bouche at a dinner party. This is a one-pot, easy recipe with no need to make homemade shellfish stock first, so you can get a quick, creamy bisque without compromising the distinctive crab flavor.
❓Why You'll Love This Easy Crab Bisque Recipe
- It's fast - The main difference between this recipe and a traditional bisque is how quick it is to make! Most French bisque recipes need shellfish stock first before you move on to the bisque. But this fast bisque does it all in one go, so you can serve this rich soup in just 20 minutes.
- It's tasty - The flavor profile of this easy bisque recipe is delicious, with herbs and flavorings plus some warmth from a splash of brandy. It's the perfect crab amuse bouche recipe.
- It's versatile - I love to serve this easy crab bisque in a shot glass at a party as an amuse-bouche or starter/appetizer. But you can also serve it as a soup or pour it over a seafood dish as a sauce. It is one of my favorite recipes to serve seafood lovers!
- It's low waste - using leftover shells to make crab bisque or seafood soups is a great way to get as much value as possible from your food.
📖 Ingredients List
There are a fair few ingredients needed for this classic French recipe, but it is worth it for the depth of flavor.
- Whole cooked crab - Buying cooked crab saves precious time and means you can whip up this quick crab bisque in just 20 minutes. Remove the crab meat; we only need the shell for the crab bisque. I used brown crab, but you could use Dungeness crab, too. Female crabs are known for having sweeter meat.
- Butter - Good quality butter is an essential part of French cuisine. Use unsalted European-style butter with a fat content of at least 80%.
- Brandy - I like to use brandy in this easy crab bisque recipe, but you could also swap it for sherry or just some dry white wine.
- Water - If you have fish stock or seafood stock, you can use it. But the crab shells give the flavor and form the base for this crab soup. Therefore, all you need for this crab bisque recipe is water. Use vegetable broth if you like.
- Bay leaf - A lot of crab bisque recipes call for Old Bay Seasoning, but I prefer to just use bay leaves. If you do not have a bay tree nearby you can use, you can easily buy dried bay leaves in grocery stores.
- Parsley - Fresh parsley is a great herb to use in stock and soups.
- Peppercorns - Whole black or pink peppercorns add some subtle warmth to the bisque.
- Star Anise - Adding a few star anise adds depth to the flavor profile of this flavorful soup.
- Tomato paste - A small amount of tomato paste is needed, but too much can be overpowering, so pay attention to the quantity.
- Parmesan rind - This is optional, but if you keep your parmesan rinds, they make an excellent addition to stocks, sauces, and soups.
- Cream - Use heavy cream or double cream to make a creamy soup with rich flavor and a thicker texture.
- Lemon - Lemon flavors the bisque, plus a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in the finished soup elevates all the flavors and adds some vital acidity.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full quantities and step-by-step directions on how to make crab bisque.
👩🏼🍳 How To Make Crab Bisque
- Remove the crab meat from the crab body, crab legs, and crab claws, and keep it for other recipes or as a garnish. Break the shells of the crabs into smaller pieces.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or large pot, and then sauté the crab shell pieces and claws for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the brandy and bring to a boil for a minute.
- Add the water, onion, lemon, tomato paste, herbs, spices, and parmesan rind and boil for 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- Strain the bisque through a sieve, then return it to the saucepan, stir in the cream, and bring it back to a gentle boil. Reduce the crab bisque to thicken it if needed.
- Before serving, season with salt and lemon juice to taste and whisk in some cubes of very cold butter to get a glossy, rich finish.
🌟 Top Tip 🌟
To thicken the soup further, you can add some cooked crab meat to the bisque and then use an immersion blender to emulsify it to a smooth texture. I love to garnish with more fresh parsley.
👩🏼🍳 Chef's Tips & Serving Suggestions
I love serving this creamy crab bisque in tall shooter glasses. It makes the perfect amuse bouche to serve at a dinner party or on special occasions. Guests can enjoy it whilst seated, or it can be served to them as they mingle and have drinks before dinner.
Or serve it as a hot soup starter before the main course with some crusty bread on the side. Garnish with some chopped parsley or even some of the crab meat, too. A dash of Worcestershire sauce or a dusting of cayenne pepper can be nice, too!
You can use this crab bisque as a sauce for other seafood dishes, in a similar way to this delicious champagne cream sauce for seafood.
🍷 Wine Pairing For Crab Bisque
Serve a crisp, chilled Viognier with crab bisque; it can stand up to the creaminess.
❄️ Storage & Freezing
Store leftover crab bisque in an airtight container in the fridge and consume it within 1-2 days.
To freeze crab bisque, pour the cooled soup into an airtight container first. Defrost crab bisque in the fridge overnight before reheating gently in a saucepan.
Make the crab bisque in a big saucepan or large stock pot. The crab shells take up a lot of space! So you will need a large soup pot. You can use a Dutch oven if you have one large enough.
Strain the bisque through a fine mesh sieve for a super smooth texture. Use a whisk to add the butter before serving for maximum emulsification and aeration.
A bisque is a rich and creamy soup traditionally made from crustaceans or shellfish, including lobster, crabs, or crayfish.
You can use any edible crab for crab bisque. Brown crabs, or Dungeness crabs are the best crabs for crab bisque, but other types of crab, including snow crab will work too. Female crab meat is considered to be sweeter than male crab meat.
20 Minute Crab Bisque Amuse Bouche Recipe
- 1 Large soup pot
- 1 fine mesh sieve
- 1 cooked crab (shells only, remove meat)
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 50 ml (1.5 floz) brandy
- 750 ml (3 cups) water
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 star anise
- 3 stalks parsley
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 lemon
- 1 onion (halved)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 75 ml (⅓ cup) heavy cream (or double cream)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Remove the crab meat from the crab body, crab legs, and crab claws and reserve for a garnish or other dishes.
- Melt one tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large soup pot and then sauté the crab shell pieces and claws for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the brandy into the pot and bring to a boil for around a minute to reduce. Then add the water, onion, lemon, tomato paste, herbs, spices, and parmesan rind and boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasinoally.
- Strain the crab bisque through a sieve, then pour it back into the saucepan. Stir through the cream, and bring it back to a gentle boil to reduce slightly further if needed.
- Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Whisk in a tablespoon of very cold butter before pouring into shot glasses and serving.