Crab Rangoon Dip Is a Party-Approved Twist on the Chinese Takeout Favorite

published Jan 27, 2023
Recipe Review
Crab Rangoon Dip Recipe

This dip from Chef Brandon Rice at Ernest Restaurant in San Francisco is a fun and tasty riff on the Chinese-American dish, crab rangoon.


Makesabout 4 1/2 cups

Prep20 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Photo of crab rangoon dip with peach sweet and sour sauce from Ernest restaurant.
Credit: Christine Gallary

We don’t get very drastic seasonal changes here in my part of California, so I track the seasons with something else instead: food. Right between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is when Dungeness crab season usually starts here in San Francisco. The opening of the season leads to much celebration, crab feeds, and crab cracking. It’s one of my favorite times of year, especially as restaurants lean into crab dishes hard. This dip from Chef Brandon Rice at Ernest restaurant is a riff on the Chinese American dish crab rangoon, and it’s a fun, tasty way to celebrate Lunar New Year, the Super Bowl, or any other time you want an amazing appetizer. It’s so good, I’ve ordered it twice at the restaurant, which I rarely ever do. 

What Makes This Dip So Amazing

The creamy base is super simple: Cream cheese (can we all just agree that all good dips start with this?), sour cream, chives, and lots and lots of crab meat (Dungeness out here in San Francisco) beaten together with a mixer. It’s not skimpy with the crab meat, and rightly so, as every bite is loaded with crab. While freshly cooked and picked crab will of course make the dip taste amazing, get the best crab you can — I’ve had great success with the lump crab meat available in plastic containers at Whole Foods.

There are two other elements that make crab rangoon yummy: The sweet and sour dipping sauce and fried wonton wrappers. For this dip, the sauce is a combination of peach jam, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and ketchup quickly simmered together and thickened with a cornstarch slurry. Finally, store-bought wonton wrappers quickly deep-fried turn into crisp, blistered vehicles for the dip. (You can also bake the wrappers lightly brushed with vegetable oil on both sides in a 350ºF oven until crisp, about 4 minute per side, but they won’t be as crisp and blister-y as the fried.)

Ernest serves the dip in wide, shallow bowls, making an indentation in the dip for the sweet and sour sauce, and garnishes it with more chives and pretty little chive flowers for a beautiful presentation. I love to pick up a wonton chip and slather it generously with dip, making sure to get some of the sauce into each bite. Unlike crab rangoon, which requires folding each one like a dumpling before frying, it’s left up to the eater to assemble their perfect bite. Paired with a frosty glass of sparkling wine, my dream fancy happy hour is complete.

Tips for Making Ernest’s Crab Rangoon Dip

  • Break up the prep. The sauce, chips, and dip can all be made up to two days ahead, so space out the prep if you want.
  • Serve in shallow bowls. To get a good ratio of dip to sauce, spoon the dip into wide, shallow bowls so that there’s plenty of space on top for the sauce.
  • Fry in a wok if you have one. I love the surface area of a wok for deep-frying and because of its tapered shape, you don’t need as much oil. It’s great for frying a good handful of wonton wrappers at a time, and the deep-frying helps to continue seasoning carbon steel woks!
  • Make wonton soup with the remaining wrappers. You’ll only need about half a package of wonton wrappers for the dip, so use the remainder for pork wontons to serve in soup!

Crab Rangoon Dip Recipe

This dip from Chef Brandon Rice at Ernest Restaurant in San Francisco is a fun and tasty riff on the Chinese-American dish, crab rangoon.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

Serves 12

Nutritional Info


For the dip and chips:

  • 1 pound

    cream cheese

  • 2 small bunches

    fresh chives

  • 12 ounces

    crab meat, preferably lump

  • 8 ounces

    sour cream (1 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 3 cups

    vegetable or canola oil, for frying

  • 1/2 (16-ounce) package

    round or square wonton wrappers (about 40 wrappers)

  • Very small edible flowers, such as chive blossoms, for garnish (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup

    peach jam or preserves

  • 1/3 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    distilled white vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 2 teaspoons

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons



  1. Place 1 pound cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit until softened to room temperature. Meanwhile, make the sauce.

Make the sauce:

  1. Place 1/2 cup peach jam, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, 2 tablespoons ketchup, and 2 teaspoons soy sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon water and 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch in a small bowl and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.

  2. While stirring constantly, slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and simmer until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (Alternatively, let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.) Meanwhile, make the dip and fry the wonton chips.

Make the dip:

  1. Finely chop 2 small bunches chives until you have 1/3 cup, plus more for garnish. Drain and pick over 12 ounces crab meat, discarding any shells. Add the chives, crab meat, 8 ounces sour cream, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the cream cheese.

  2. Beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the chips:

  1. Heat 3 cups vegetable oil in a large frying pan, cast iron skillet, or wok over medium-high heat until 375ºF. Meanwhile, lined a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels.

  2. Fry the wonton wrappers in batches of 4 to 5: Add to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 30 to 45 seconds per side. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.

  3. To serve, transfer the dip into wide, shallow serving bowls. Make a wide, shallow indentation into the dip and spoon the sauce into the indentation. Garnish with the reserved chives and edible flowers if desired. Serve with the wonton chips.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce, dip, and chips can be made up to 2 days ahead. Refrigerate the sauce and dip in separate airtight containers, and store the chips in an airtight container at room temperature.

Storage: Leftover dip and sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. The chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Adapted with permission from Ernest, San Francisco.