Crab Linguine is an easy restaurant style and authentic Italian recipe you can create at home. Quick to make, you just need 7 ingredients and less than 30 minutes.

Venice is the home of many wonderful pasta dishes. Italian food at it’s core is simple cooking with big flavours and this crab linguine is exactly that. I discovered this dish while on a dream holiday and now I bring it to you.

Two bowls filled with crab and linguine with grey napkins.

What is crab linguine?

Crab linguine is a traditional Venetian dish comprised largely of linguine and chunks of crab meat. With just a few good quality ingredients, it’s bursting with flavour and very easy to make at home.

Ingredients

The wonderful thing about this recipe and, for that matter, many Italian recipes, is the simplicity and small number of ingredients.

Ingredients for crab linguine on a benchtop.

Like many Italian dishes, crab linguine is a combination of very simple ingredients – fresh crab meat, olive oil, garlic, white wine, tomatoes, seasoning and pasta. This version also uses just a touch of cream to help that lovely sauce cling to the strands of linguine.

See substitutions below.

What to serve with crab linguine?

This is a complete meal on its own, however, you could serve it up with a side of crusty bread to soak up any of that lovely leftover sauce, or maybe some garlic bread to start.

How to make it – step by step

This simple crab linguine is quick to make. To keep it super simple, I usually just buy pre-cooked crabs to save on a little time and just pick the meat myself. That takes about 20 minutes and the whole dish only takes 10 to cook it from then on. King crab claws also work really well.

A collage of 6 images showing adding ingredients to a saucepan to make crab linguine.
  1. You start by sauteeing garlic in some olive oil just over low heat, then add some white wine and simmer that over high heat until it’s almost all evaporated. 
  2. The next step is to add the cherry tomatoes and saute for just a couple of minutes (photo 1), before adding seasoning (photo 2).
  3. Start creating the sauce by adding 1/2 cup of the pasta water (photo 3). It’s important to use the pasta water as the starch in that water will help the sauce to cling to the pasta better.
  4. Now add a touch of cream (photo 4). This step is optional and not in the original recipe but I love just that tiny bit of creamy flavour it adds to the sauce.
  5. Now it’s time to add that soft crab meat (photo 5) – tip it in and give it a mix around . Finally, add the drained pasta (photo 6) and serve.

The sauce is sparse, not loaded like you see with a lot of pasta dishes but it has big flavour, as Italian food does. A little tomato, olive oil and garlic, mixed in with luscious chunks of crab meat are all you need.

The flavour of the crab permeates the whole dish too so you end up with a very light coating of extremely richly flavoured sauce over delicate linguine.

Closeup of tomato and crab linguine in a bowl.

Top Tips for the best crab linguine

The ingredients are few, so use good quality ingredients.

With only 7 ingredients, there’s nowhere to hide. Make sure to use fresh tomatoes at their ripest and fresh crab (definitely no tinned or imitation crab). Use a good drinking wine and the best quality pasta you can. 

Substitutions

  • Pasta: the linguine can be swapped for many other kinds of pasta – penne, spaghetti, fettucini. Take your pick.
  • Crab: I prefer to use whole fresh crab but you could use pre-picked crab meat from the seafood deli (not tinned or imitation). I have in the past used pre-cooked blue swimmer crab and Alaskan king crab claws in this dish and they both are delicious.
  • White wine – Use a good quality drinking wine – Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay will all do the trick. You could use a fish stock if you’d prefer not to use wine.

Why this recipe?

In 2016, I married the love of my life and we went on a wonderful 4 week honeymoon visiting our favourite places – Italy and New York. One of my favourite cuisines is Italian food and my favourite place in the world is Venice, the home of this delightful meal.

We spent days just wandering Venice and ate some amazing food including this pasta dish. I hunted down an authentic Venetian cuisine cookbook and this recipe has been adapted from that.

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A fork digging into a bowl of linquine with crab and tomatoes in it.

This is such an amazing dish and if you’re a pasta lover like I am, I know you’ll love it. Perfect for a quick workday meal or serve it up to your friends for a weekend get together. You can’t go wrong with such simple, classic flavours. 

Interesting point; every time I type linguine I use a ‘q’ instead of ‘g’. Every. Single. Time.

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A fork lifting linguine out of a black bowl.

Authentic Venetian Crab Linguine

4.75 from 20 votes
This authentic Venetian Crab Linguine, like all Italian food is simple flavours in an easy meal that tastes amazing.

Ingredients

  • 300 g good quality dried linguine (10.5oz)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup dry white wine (125ml)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
  • 1 tablespoon cream (optional) (notes)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • ¾ cup cooked crab meat (notes)

Instructions
 

  • Place a saucepan of salted water over high heat and bring to the boil, then add your pasta.
  • Place the oil and garlic to a frying pan over medium heat, stirring. Once the oil is hot, saute the garlic for about 1 minute but don’t let it get too dark.
  • Add the wine and turn the heat up to high. Let it bubble away for 2-3 minutes until the wine has almost totally evaporated. 
  • Add the cherry tomatoes and saute for about 2 minutes, then add the salt and pepper.  
  • Add 1/2 a cup of the pasta water followed by the cream and give it a good stir. Add the crab and stir until heated through (only about 30 seconds). 
  • By now the pasta should be al dente, so drain the water away and add the pasta to the sauce. Give it all a good mix, check the seasoning and serve.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
  2. If you are picking the crab meat yourself, you can get 3/4 cup crab meat from 2 cooked spider crabs.
  3. Using the pasta water in the sauce will help to make the sauce thicker and stick to the pasta.
  4. I prefer to use whole fresh crab but you could use pre-picked crab meat from the seafood deli (not tinned or imitation). Blue Swimmer Crab and even Alasking king crab claws both work great.
  5. Use a good quality drinking wine for this recipe. A sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, semillon will all work fine.
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