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crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers

Inspired by a delicious dish at one of my favorite Charlotte area restaurants, these crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers are the perfect spicy, cheesy party snack!

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eating a crab stuffed baked jalapeno popper with white plate of poppers

Check out Off the Eaten Path’s other jalapeno popper recipes: roasted jalapeno poppers, bacon wrapped jalapeno popper mummies, and a round up of the best jalapeno poppers recipes!

Normally, you won’t find me high tailing it from home to Cornelius on a Monday evening.

You see, while I like hanging out at the lake, as most of you know, we live in Southwest Charlotte. There couldn’t be two points farther away from each other in Mecklenburg County. Couple the distance (36 miles) with rush hour traffic and the chance of rain (Charlotte drivers aren’t great but are so, so, so much worse in the rain) and I’d rather be doing basically anything else than making the slow crawl to Cornelius on a Monday night.

But you know what will get me out of the house and up to Lake Norman on a Monday night? Rush hour and everything?

Cheese and ice cream!

cheese and charcuterie table

(I’m easily motivated by my favorite foods and the promise of cheese and ice cream will motivate me to go anywhere and endure anything…even the parking lot that is I-77 Northbound on a Monday night at 5pm.)

And not just any old cheese and ice cream…but Tillamook cheese and ice cream, which is some of the best cheese and ice cream I’ve ever had. (Not hyperbolic, just honest.)

So, of course, when my friends at Tillamook invited me to a chef-led tasting experience at one of my favorite Charlotte area restaurants, Hello, Sailor, on Monday night, you better believe I planned ahead, downloaded a couple podcasts, and crawled my way to Cornelius.

And let me say, rush hour and all, Tillamook’s Melty Fest was so. worth. it.

calabash fish sandwich at on a plate with french fries and shrimp on a pink table


To celebrate their debut in Charlotte, Tillamook partnered up with the team at Hello, Sailor to host Melty Fest, featuring food (made with Tillamook’s delicious cheese!) from five local North Carolina chefs.

Here’s what we ate.

For starters, Chef Joe Kindred, of Kindred Restaurant and Hello, Sailor fame, made this a totally addicting (I had two slices!) Heirloom Tomato Pie, featuring Tillamook white cheddar, Neese’s sausage and the best summer tomatoes.

chef joe kindred tomato pie on a cake stand

We also enjoyed a delish Sesame and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Biscuit with 20 month
Benton’s Country Ham and Duke Mayo from Chef John Fleer (chef and owner of one of our favorite Asheville restaurants, Rhubarb…we went there during our honeymoon in Asheville!); a super creative starter of Tillamook Colby Jack, White Anchovy, Nicoise Olive and Jalapeno Cornbread from another Asheville fave of mine, Chef Elliott Moss of Buxon Hall Barbecue (ps: you can read about all of our favorite Asheville restaurants in Off the Eaten Path’s Asheville Travel Guide!); and melt in your mouth Padron and Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Croquetas from Chef Matt Kelly of Mateo Tapas in Durham.

The croquetas were my favorite passed appetizer: I loved the spicy kick from the padron peppers, the crispy, perfectly fried outside, and the ooey, gooey melty cheese that came with your first bite. There was really no polite way to eat these croquetas; you either had to shove it all into your mouth at once, or run the risk of getting melty cheese all over yourself, which at an event called Melty Fest is totally ok with me!

padron and cheese stuffed croquetas on a pink serving platter

The appetizers were rounded out by an epic Charcuterie and Cheese display made by Hello, Sailor’s chef de cuisine, Craig Diehl. Honestly, display is the best (and only way) to describe this beautiful creation; it look up more than an entire table top and featured all of my favorite things: a variety of Tillamook cheeses, Charcuterie ranging from bologna to country ham and lamb prosciutto, an assortment of pickles and mustards and dipping sauces, and was capped off with pork rinds and plenty of homemade pimento cheese for dipping.

tillamook cheese and charcuterie display at melty fest at hello sailor

Honestly, I was pretty full after indulging in all the appetizers, but y’all know I always have room for more (thank goodness for high waisted dresses) so I was one of the first in line for the main course, which featured each chef at a station throughout Hello, Sailor’s space (including a few set up lakeside on the patio!)

Our eating marathon continued with Whole Hog BBQ and Tillamook Smoked Mac and Cheese from Chef Moss, a Calabash Station with Hushpuppies, Shrimp Calabash, Blue Cornmeal Crusted Catfish Snackwich and Crinkle Cut French Fries from Chef Kindred, Hominy and Shelling Bean Succotash from Chef Diehl, Tamale Pie made iwht Tillamook Triple Cheddar Shreds from Chef Fleer and Peg’s Summer Squash Casserole from Chef Kelly.

buxton hall bqq whole hog bbq

And there is ALWAYS room for dessert, so top of all the cheesy goodness we got to enjoy, Tillamook and Hello, Sailor also made sure that we enjoyed some of Tillamook’s fab ice cream before going home.

scoops of tillamook ice cream served on a blue platter


Hello, Sailor is one of my favorite Charlotte area restaurants (it was on my 2018 Charlotte Food Bucket List!) which is one of the reasons I was so excited about attending Melty Fest on Monday.

(Other Melty Fest excitement reasons included: cheese! Ice cream! Tillamook! Food made by local chefs! And the fact I love fun foodie events. And did I mention cheese?)

serving tomato pie at hello sailor in cornelius nc

I’ve dined with friends a few times at Hello, Sailor and each time has been such a fun and delicious experience; everything from the lake views (of course), to the décor, to the service, to the incredible drinks and food that make Hello, Sailor such a great place to hang out and share a meal.

Melty Fest was no exception; Chef Joe Kindred and his wife, Katy, who own Hello, Sailor and Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, knocked this one out of the park with the food, cocktails (they have boozy slushie cocktails which give me life!), crowd control (you know, foodie events can generate long lines and sometimes mass chaos and there was none of that at Melty Fest), music, ambiance, just everything.

frozen cocktail on a table at hello sailor with a lake view

Every time I visit Hello, Sailor, there are two must orders for me: a tropical cocktail (did I mention boozy slushies or should I again?) and Chef Kindred’s Cheesy Crab Dip.

The Cheesy Crab Dip is what hopes and dreams are made of y’all.

hello sailor crab dip

(This shot is from a lunch date last summer. See the crab dip in the lower left? Yum! I could eat the whole bowl!)

There’s something about the combination of lump crab and super melty cheese that I just cannot resist; I daydream about its slightly smoky, spicy flavor and the epic cheese pull that comes with dipping your first cracker in the ooey gooey goodness.

Is anyone else’s mouth watering?

Since I’ve enjoyed the Cheesy Crab Dip every time I’ve dined lakeside, it was time to bring a little bit of Hello, Sailor home and recreate a spin of his recipe in my own kitchen. (I mean by doing so, I’m saving myself a 36 mile trek every time I have a crab dip craving.)

pulling apart crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers to show cheese inside


When I first started thinking about recreating Chef Kindred’s Cheesy Crab Dip at home, I knew I wanted to capture all of the flavor of the dip, but put it into a more personal-friendly single serving size situation.

I mean, I could knock out a whole bowl of Cheesy Crab Dip myself with no shame, but I figured a more personal size app would be a smidge bit friendlier to my waistline…and also make it easier to serve to a large group without everyone hovering and competing over the bowl for a bite.

jalpenos cheddar cheese and plate of baked jalapeno poppers

One of my favorite single serving vehicles for basically anything, but especially something cheesy, is a jalapeno pepper! Jalapenos are the perfect small bite or grab and go snack, and I love to use them as a slightly spicy blank slate for stuffing all sorts of things in them. (See eg: my roasted jalapeno poppers or my bacon wrapped jalapeno popper mummies.)

It’s so easy to make crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers at home. First, slice the jalapenos in half and remove the membranes and seeds (if you are sensitive to jalapeno peppers’ spice, you should wear gloves for this step!).

ingredients to make crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers on a marble board

Next in a bowl, mix together cream cheese and two types of Tillamook shredded cheese (because the more cheese the better!). Find out here where to buy the two shredded cheeses used in this recipe and other Tillamook products!

Add lemon juice, Worcestshire sauce, spices and diced red peppers into the cheese mixture. There are diced red peppers and smoked paprika in my crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers recipe because Chef Kindred has both of those ingredients in his Cheesy Crab dip!

Fold the crab meat into the cheese mixture and then stuff each jalapeno pepper half with the cheesy crab mix.

Just before baking, dunk your stuffed pepper halves into an egg wash, and then into crushed butter crackers (to add a little crunch!) and then bake for 15-20 minutes until the peppers are soft and the cheese is bubbling.

Baked jalapeno poppers are always best served after slightly cooling from the oven because while all cheese is delicious, melty cheese is the best kind of cheese!

white platter of baked jalapeno poppers with jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese

pulling apart crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers to show cheese inside

crab stuffed baked jalapeno poppers

Yield: 24 poppers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Crab stuffed jalapeno poppers are one of my favorite appetizer recipes! With just one bowl and in under 30 minutes, you'll have an addicting, slight spicy, super cheesy party snack.


  • 12 jalapenos, halved
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • ½ cup Tillamook Mexican Four Cheese Blend Shredded Cheese
  • ½ cup Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese
  • 4 ounces lump crab meat
  • ½ cup diced roasted red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (add up to 1 teaspoon for a smokier flavor)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 20 butter crackers, crushed


    1.    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    2.    Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
    3.    Slice the jalapenos in half and scoop out the seeds, membranes and other insides.
    4.    In a food processor or blender, add the butter crackers and pulse until they resemble fine crumbs (the same consistency as bread crumbs.) You can also crush crackers by hand using a potato masher, fork or your hands. Transfer cracker crumbs to a shallow bowl.
    5.    In a separate bowl, mix together cream cheese and both types of shredded cheese until combined.
    6.    Add lemon juice, Worcestershire and spices to the cream and shredded cheese mixture. Stir to incorporate.
    7.    Add diced red peppers to the cheese mixture and stir to combine.
    8.    Fold crab meat into cheese mixture. Set aside.
    9.    In another bowl, whisk together two eggs and set aside.
    10. Stuff each jalapeno pepper half with cheese and crab mixture. Make sure you don’t overstuff the peppers or they will explode in the oven!
    11.  Dip each stuffed pepper half completely into the egg mixture, then roll each pepper in the crushed crackers and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with each pepper half.
    12. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peppers are tender, the cracker topping is browned and the cheese is bubbly.
    13. To add a little extra crisp to your baked jalapeno poppers, broil for about 3 minutes.
    14. Serve while the baked jalapeno poppers are hot!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 poppers Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 165mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 7g

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