Gluten Free She Crab Soup

This Gluten Free She Crab Soup is a rich and creamy sherry-infused soup with chunks of jumbo lump crabmeat throughout. It’s a local’s favorite here in Virginia Beach.

bowl of she crab soup on white linen with navy blue linen napkin beside it and glass bottle of sherry behind it.

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Have you ever had she crab soup? It’s something that I’ve had my whole life, or at least since I was a teenager. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a seafood restaurant here in my hometown of Virginia Beach without it being on the menu.

In my early 20’s, I got this recipe from someone I worked with and I’ve been making it since. It is one of the easiest soups you could ever make, it uses only a handful of ingredients, and it’s by far one of the BEST she crab soups I’ve ever had! So if you’re a seafood lover like we are, this Gluten Free She Crab Soup is a must make.

what is she crab soup?

If you’re from the south, you definitely known what she crab soup is so I won’t bore you with the details. But if you’re new to the she crab soup fandom, she crab soup originated in Charleston, South Carolina, where coincidentally we also used to live, back when my dad was in the Navy. It is a cream-based crab soup that’s full of crabmeat, spices, and usually topped off with some dry sherry.

She crab soup gets its name because it is often made with female crabs and their roe. I personally find no difference between those made with female or male crabs, or those made with or without roe. So I opt to leave those out, which can be difficult to find (unless you’re picking your own crab). The easiest thing to do is to just buy a pound of crabmeat and call it a day.

what you’ll need to make gluten free she crab soup

ingredients for she crab soup measured out and labeled.
  • Jumbo lump crabmeat–the original recipe never called for jumbo lump or even lump crabmeat. It called for backfin crabmeat, which is just another name for blue crabmeat that’s been picked, but hasn’t remained in large lumps. I personally prefer large (jumbo) lumps of crabmeat in my she crab soup, but if you can’t find jumbo lump or don’t want to justify the expense (it is rather expensive), backfin is also great in this soup.
  • Half and half–if you’re from another country than the US and can’t find half and half, it’s basically heavy (double) cream and whole fat milk in equal parts.
  • Old Bay seasoning–I recently made she crab soup with another brand of “crab seasoning” (pandemic supply woes) and none of us cared for it, so I will only use Old Bay.
  • Dry sherry–I suppose you could make she crab soup without sherry, but it gives such a great flavor to the soup I’d strongly suggest you don’t leave it out. Of course for kiddos, you can certainly leave it out and instead serve it alongside for the adults to add to the soup.

how to make she crab soup

  1. Melt butter in large saucepan.
  2. Add cornstarch and Old Bay and whisk until a smooth roux forms, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add half and half, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
  4. Carefully add crabmeat, switching to a spoon so you don’t break up any lumps.
  5. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down to low and stir frequently until soup has thickened.
  6. Add sherry and more Old Bay to taste.
  7. Serve!

she crab soup frequently asked questions

Do I have to use jumbo lump crabmeat in she crab soup?

No, it’s not absolutely essential to use jumbo lump crabmeat in she crab soup. Backfin crabmeat will work great. I would not suggest claw crabmeat.

Can I use something other than cornstarch to thicken she crab soup?

The original recipe called for flour and you could certainly use a gluten free xanthan gum free flour blend. But cornstarch is readily available and easier. You could also try potato starch or arrowroot starch.

I can’t find half and half. What can I use instead?

Half and half is simply equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. If you can’t find half and half, measure half the amount of half and half you need with heavy cream and then add whole milk to it.

more gluten free seafood and soup recipes to try

close up of spoonful of she crab soup with large chunk of crab.

Gluten Free She Crab Soup is creamy and rich, just the elegant starter for a special meal. Or serve it as the main event with a side salad.

bowl of she crab soup on white linen with navy blue linen napkin beside it and glass bottle of sherry behind it.

Gluten Free She Crab Soup

This Gluten Free She Crab Soup is a rich and creamy sherry-infused soup with chunks of jumbo lump crabmeat throughout. It's a local's favorite here in Virginia Beach.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 large servings


  • 1 pound (454g) crabmeat, picked over for shells (jumbo lump if you can get it)
  • ½ cup (113g) butter
  • ½ cup (60g) cornstarch (arrowroot, potato starch, or xanthan gum free gf flour blend can be substituted)
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or more to taste
  • 6 cups (1½ qts or 1.44l) half and half (equal parts heavy or double cream and whole milk can be substituted)
  • dry sherry to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of Old Bay and whisk until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  • While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the half and half, a little at a time, until completely added and there are no lumps.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Add the crab and switch to a spoon to avoid breaking up any of the large lumps. Stir frequently to avoid burning on the bottom of the pot and cook the soup on low for 30-45 minutes, or until thickened and heated throughout.
  • Add more Old Bay to taste and dry sherry to taste. To rim bowls with Old Bay, pour sherry in one shallow bowl or lipped plate and Old Bay in another. Dip the rim of each bowl in the sherry, followed by the Old Bay. Serve with extra sherry on the side and gluten free crackers, if desired. Soup can be made 3-4 days ahead and kept well covered in the refrigerator. Reheat slowly over medium low heat.
Keyword Gluten Free, she crab soup
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5 thoughts on “Gluten Free She Crab Soup”

  • I make a gluten-free gumbo once or twice a year, I never have the best luck with my roux, what would you recommend using on of your flour blends? Your regular gf flour blend, bread flour blend, or is just cornstarch like you use for your She Crab recipe sufficient?

    • Either my xanthan gum-free gluten free flour blend or cornstarch would work. Anything with xanthan gum will come out very gummy and you definitely don’t want that in your gumbo 🙂

      • Thank you Kim! I look forward to trying your flour blend to make my roux! I’m sure it’ll turn out great! Keep on doing what you do — Your time and efforts to perfect great flour blends really is a major impact for all of us with Celiac, you’re greatly appreciated! Thank you!

  • Hi Kim, your She Crab Soup looks terrific! I’ll have to give it a try. I made your Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes and they were the “best ever”! I was able to purchase jumbo lump crabmeat from a local seafood market.

    • Thanks so much, Brian! Both the crab cakes and the soup have been favorites of my entire extended family for years 🥰

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