Learn how to make crab rangoon: a Chinese-American takeout menu classic. A delicious crab and cream cheese filling is stuffed into wonton wrappers, then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy! Air fryer and oven instructions included.
If you need an appetizer for a copycat takeout feast, look no further than crab rangoon. It’s an impressive and deep-fried hand-held snack that folds fresh wonton wrappers around a cream cheese and imitation crab filling.
The bite-sized bundles are best when served with a platter of dipping sauces and just about any other homemade Asian-inspired dish, like egg drop soup, chicken chow mein, General Tso’s cauliflower, and Mongolian chicken.
Table of Contents
What is crab rangoon?
You may know this popular American-Chinese fried dumpling dish as “crab wontons” or “crab puffs.” Regardless of the name, the crispy fried wontons are almost always stuffed with a flavorful cream cheese and imitation crab meat filling, then deep-fried until crunchy and golden.
You’ll find all of the qualities and downright delicious flavors in this homemade crab rangoon recipe. And the beauty of making them yourself means you can opt for a lighter or low-maintenance version by cooking them in the air fryer or oven instead!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- An impressive, yet simple appetizer. The short list of 7 ingredients should all be easy to find in any major grocery store. From there, making the filling, stuffing the wontons, and deep-frying is surprisingly easy. While you are at it, make some armadillo eggs and chicken wings, too.
- Freezer-friendly. You can assemble the rangoons ahead, store them in the freezer, and then fry them up for a quick, last-minute snack or party appetizer.
- Easy to customize. You can make yours spicy, swap crab for shrimp or lobster, or omit the meat entirely for a vegetarian version. You can also cook them in the oven or air fryer instead of frying them in heavy oil.
- Cream cheese. You can use full-fat or low-fat cream cheese for the filling.
Dairy free substitute
To make dairy free crab rangoon, use your favorite vegan cream cheese instead.
- Garlic. For a savory flavor in the filling. You can also add some finely minced scallions and white onion here if you’d like.
- Oyster sauce. This condiment adds an umami-forward flavor to the filling.
If you need a substitute for oyster sauce, you can use equal parts fish sauce and soy sauce, hoisin sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. Give it a taste and adjust the flavor with more soy sauce and/or sugar if necessary.
- Wonton wrappers. You’ll find these at most grocery stores in the produce department, next to the refrigerated salad dressings, tofu, and vegan meat alternatives.
- Imitation crab meat. If you’re after the most authentic flavor, imitation crab meat is best. If you like the taste of real crab, try swapping the imitation stuff for real lump crab meat.
- Egg. To brush over the edges of the wonton wrappers, sealing the edges closed.
- Oil. Use oil with a high smoke point for frying, like corn, safflower, sunflower, or peanut oil.
How to make crab rangoon
You can cook crab rangoon on the stove, in the oven, or in an air fryer. Here’s how to fry them on the stovetop (see the FAQs for baking and air frying instructions):
Step 1 – Make the filling
Whisk the softened cream cheese, minced garlic, and oyster sauce in a medium bowl until combined.
Step 2 – Stuff the wonton wrappers
Place a wonton wrapper on a flat surface. Spoon a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the wrapper, followed by a spoonful of crab meat. Repeat until you run out of filling, crab meat, and/or wrappers.
Step 3 – Fold the wonton wrappers
Brush the whisked egg around the edges of each of the wonton wrappers. Grab the left and right edges and pinch them together above the filing. Next, grab the top and bottom edges and pinch them at the top. Repeat the process with the remaining wrappers.
Step 4 – Fry in batches
Heat the oil in a deep pot, then lower a single layer of the crab rangoons into the oil and cook until golden brown. Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer them from the oil to a paper towel-lined plate. Deep fry the rest, then enjoy!
- Wonton wrappers dry out very quickly, making them hard to fold without tearing. To prevent this, fill and fold one wrapper at a time, and keep the rest in the package covered with a damp paper towel.
- You want to make sure that the wrappers are assembled tightly and the edges are sealed shut with no openings. This will prevent a mess, as well as overly-greasy results.
- For the best results, heat the oil to 180°C/350°F before frying the wontons.
- Serve these with other fun Asian appetizers like lettuce wraps, beef negimaki or a hot and sour soup.
The beauty of this fuss-free crab rangoon recipe is just how simple it is to customize. Use these variation ideas for inspiration:
- Switch up the seafood. Substitute imitation crab meat with cooked baby shrimp or lump lobster meat.
- Vegetarian rangoon. Omit the crab meat and use vegetarian oyster-flavored sauce.
- Make spicy fried wontons. Add minced jalapenos, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or sriracha to the filling for a welcome kick of heat.
- Enjoy the filling as a dip. If you like creamy seafood dips like smoked tuna or smoked salmon dip, then you’ll love the cream cheese and crab filling served as a dip. Surround the bowl with crunchy dippers, like shrimp chips or cheese crisps, and enjoy!
- Crab rangoon pizza. Spread a layer of the cream cheese filling over your favorite pizza crust, then sprinkle with crab meat and mozzarella cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly, then slice and enjoy!
To store. Crab rangoons are best served immediately, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.
To freeze. Freeze the assembled and uncooked rangoons on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once solid, transfer them to an airtight freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat. The easiest way to reheat and re-crisp leftovers is in a 300°F preheated oven or air fryer for 5 to 8 minutes. To reheat frozen rangoon, let them thaw for a few minutes before frying, baking, or air frying as instructed.
Frequently asked questions
Preheat the air fryer to 370°F while you assemble the rangoons. When you’re ready, spray the basket with cooking spray and place the rangoons inside without overcrowding (you’ll likely need to work in batches). Brush the tops with oil or a whisked egg, then air fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Assemble the wontons and place them on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil or a whisked egg, then bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Yes. Mix the filling ingredients 1 to 2 days ahead, then keep it in a sealed container in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
- 16 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 24 wonton wrappers
- 16 ounces imitation crab meat
- 1 large egg whisked
- 1 inch oil to deep fry
- Whisk together the cream cheese, garlic, and oyster sauce until combined.
- Place a wonton wrapper onto a flat kitchen surface. Add a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture on top, followed by some crab meat.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the wrapper with the egg. Take opposite ends of the wrapper and pinch them together at the top. Repeat with the remaining two ends. Repeat the process until all the wonton wrappers are used up.
- Add 3-4 inches of oil into a deep pot or pan. Once it reaches a temperature of 180C/350F, add a single layer of crab rangoons to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the rangoons from the oil and place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
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