Crab Rangoon

published Jan 31, 2024
Crab Rangoon Recipe

Everyone who has tried it can’t get enough of this extra-crispy, cheesy appetizer.

Serves4 to 6


Prep30 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Close up shot of finished crab rangoons on a white plate with a small white bowl of sweet chili sauce to the left of them.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

You’re telling me a crab ran these goons? I don’t know about you, but crab rangoon has run my life for decades now. This extra-crispy, cheesy appetizer is an American Chinese takeout staple — and one of the few acceptable ways to pair seafood and cheese.

It was love at first bite for me and crab rangoon. I remember trying my first at a Chinese buffet in my hometown of Binghamton, New York, in my pre-teens and being uncertain of what I was getting into. The crispy little fried wonton pouches immediately burned my mouth from the combo of molten cream cheese, scallions, and flecks of “krab” (aka surimi or kani, a budget-friendly imitation crab made of pollock or other whitefish). But it was so worth it. Here’s how to make your own crab rangoon at home that doesn’t skimp on the filling. 

Why You Should Trust Me as Your Crab Rangoon Connoisseur 

I always have tried to find a favorite rangoon wherever I’ve lived, ranging from upstate New York (Binghamton area, where I grew up, and Plattsburgh, where I went to college) to five neighborhoods in Manhattan and Queens in New York City where I spent nearly a decade sampling ‘em, and now Los Angeles. 

I had made crab rangoon a handful of times in my NYC days, but it wasn’t until I moved to LA three years ago that I started regularly making them on my own at home. It was easier to DIY them when I couldn’t reliably find a rangoon that met my high expectations! 

Through a lot of trial and error — at least a dozen batches over time — I discovered my ideal shape for a balanced bite (more on that below) and perfected the ultimate filling. Everyone who has tried it can’t get enough. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Ingredients in Crab Rangoon

Both Chinese and Thai restaurants usually have some version that includes crab (real or imitation), while others do not. At those restaurants, they’re usually called cream cheese wontons or cream cheese rangoons, filled only with cream cheese and sometimes scallions, which makes them vegetarian-friendly. 

Below are the key ingredients in this crab rangoon recipe.

  • Cream cheese: Softened at room temperature (or if you forgot, just microwave a glass bowl for 2 minutes and then put the brick in the warm bowl). This will allow it to soften without melting, which is the perfect texture for rangooning!
  • Imitation crab: Also known as surimi, it’s made from pollock or white fish. I like the stick form best because it shreds into the most crab-like pieces and incorporates into the filling seamlessly.
  • Flavorings: Scallions, garlic, and garlic powder add a balanced garlicky flavor that doesn’t overpower. I also add soy sauce, white pepper (milder and brighter than black pepper), toasted sesame oil, and sugar to balance everything out and enhance the savoriness.
  • Wonton wrappers: Square-cut are ideal for making easy triangles! You can buy them frozen and keep on hand — just thaw in advance and then cover with a damp towel while making rangoon so they don’t dry out.
  • Neutral oil: Anything with a high smoking point like canola, vegetable, peanut, or grapeseed will do.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Crab Rangoon Shapes, Explained 

I’m less concerned about what’s inside and more worried about the shape of the rangoon. There are no official names out there (in my extensive rangoon research) to describe all of the shapes of ‘goons. 

There is a delicate balance with crab rangoon to ensure there is an ideal crispy-exterior-to-creamy-interior ratio. If there is too much filling, the rangoon can explode in the fryer, and if there is too little, all you get is a big bite of fried wonton wrapper. It’s much better when every bite can have filling sandwiched between the crispy-and-slightly-chewy wrappers. 

Before I reveal my pick, these are how I describe the four iconic shapes you may know and definitely love. 

  1. The Triangle: Resembling a paper football, this shape of ‘goon is the simplest and largest. It’s made by filling half of a square wonton wrapper and folding it in half diagonally then sealing to make a triangle.
  2. The Bundle: For some reason, this shape feels like swaddling a little bundle of joy. It’s made by doing “The Triangle,” then folding the corners into the center and sealing so it’s more compact and bite-size.
  3. The Purse: This shape is a money-maker. Well, it looks a lot like the Chinese money bag wontons (usually stuffed with pork and shrimp) without the edible tie. It’s made by placing the filling in the center of a square wonton wrapper and bunching and twisting the wrapper up and around the filling. This makes for crispy pleats of wrapper at the top and a neatly wrapped sphere of rangoon filling at the bottom. 
  4. The Tent: To make this shape, you lift the opposite corners of the wrapper up (diagonally) and over the filling and pinch to close, then fold in the other two corners and seal like you’re wrapping a present. (It will have a flat bottom and four triangular sides.) Some rangoons in this style are made by bringing all four corners up and around the filling in the center and sealing. Either way you do it, it is the most dangerous shape because it is prone to explosion in hot oil as the steam fights to escape through the center.

For all of them, the entire perimeter of the wrapper should be lightly brushed with water.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

The Best Crab Rangoon Shape

I love “The Triangle” the most. My platonic ideal of crab rangoon is at Jade Buffet in Plattsburgh, NY. Every triangle was filled edge-to-edge and rarely exploded. It had a delightful chew that I discovered in my recipe development is easiest to achieve when you double wrap your rangoons. That also helps prevent explosions and the wrapper bubbling up in a gnarly way. 

Helpful Tips and Swaps

  • Make them rainbow! If you want to impress friends even more with homemade rangoon, paint them with food coloring! 
  • Omit the crab. For a vegetarian version, omit the crab and optionally add 1/2 cup shredded carrots if you don’t want a just-cream-cheese version.
  • Spice it up. Add as many chopped jalapeños as your heat tolerance allows into the mix for a bit of a kick. It’ll be a jalapeño popper and crab rangoon mash-up! 
  • Fry the rangoons until light golden brown. They will continue to brown after they come out of the oil, so remove them when they’re light golden brown. The carryover cooking will make them golden brown to perfection instead of overcooked or burnt! 

So now that you know all about the ‘goon squad, what are you waiting for? Why crabwalk when you can crabrun and make yourself some crab rangoon right now? Rangoonies never say die.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Crab Rangoon Recipe

Everyone who has tried it can’t get enough of this extra-crispy, cheesy appetizer.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Makes 25

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 8 to 9 ounces

    imitation crab or surimi, preferably stick or “leg” style, thawed if frozen

  • 2 cloves


  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    ground white pepper

  • 1 (12-ounce) package

    square wonton wrappers (40 to 50 wrappers)

  • 3 cups

    neutral oil, such as canola oil, for frying

  • Cooking spray, for air frying

  • Kosher salt

  • Sweet chili sauce, for serving


  1. Place 8 ounces cream cheese in a large bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of cream cheese as you complete it: Unwrap 8 to 9 ounces imitation crab and squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands, then rub the pieces between your palms or pull apart with 2 forks into shreds. Finely grate or mince 2 garlic cloves. Thinly slice 2 medium scallions on a slight diagonal (about 1/3 cup).

  3. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper. Mix until combined.

  4. Fill a small bowl with water. On a cutting board or baking sheet, arrange a single layer of wonton wrappers, leaving just a tiny bit of space in between each. Dip your finger into the water and swipe it across the center of a wrapper; repeat dipping and swiping across each wrapper. Top each wrapper with a second wrapper to make it double stacked.

  5. Folding Option 1: Triangle. Place 1 tablespoon of the crab mixture onto the center of each stack. Using a butter knife, very slightly spread the mixture into an oval that goes diagonally across the wrapper and covers 1/4 to 1/3 of the wrapper. Trace the border with a finger dipped in water to dampen. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling to form a triangle and pinch to seal.

  6. Folding Option 2: Tent / Pyramid. Place 1 tablespoon of the crab mixture in a round dollop onto the center of each stack. Trace the border with a finger dipped in water to dampen. Lift two opposite corners of the wrapper up and over the filling and pinch to close, then lift the remaining two corners to the same point and pinch to close. Pinch all the edges where the wrapper meets together to completely seal in the filling. (It will have a flat, square bottom and four triangular sides.)

  7. Cooking Option 1: Deep Fry: Heat 3 cups neutral oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until 350ºF, about 5 minutes. The oil is ready when a piece of wonton wrapper dropped in bubbles immediately. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and/or paper towels. Fry 2 to 4 rangoons at a time: Add to the hot oil and fry until light golden-brown, about 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer to the rack or paper towels.

  8. Cooking Option 2: Air-Fry: Heat an air fryer to 380ºF. Arrange a single layer of rangoons in the air fryer basket, leaving 1/2-inch space between each. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Air fry for 3 minutes. Check to see if they are evenly golden-brown, and air fry for 1 minute more if needed.

  9. After deep or air frying, sprinkle with kosher salt and serve with sweet chili sauce.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The rangoons can be assembled and refrigerated uncooked on a parchment paper-lined plate or baking sheet for a few hours before frying.

Freezing: The assembled and uncooked rangoons can be frozen in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet until solid, then transferred to a zip-top freezer bag or airtight container and frozen for up to 2 months. Cook from frozen, adding a minute or two to the air fry or deep frying time.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in a paper towel-lined airtight container to keep the rangoons crispy and soak up excess oil for up to 2 days. Reheat in a low oven until warmed through.