We’ve got tender and juicy chicken breasts topped with succulent lump crab meat and drizzled with an Old Bay cream sauce that’ll knock your socks off. The combination of flavors is truly delicious, and it’s no surprise that Chicken Chesapeake is a summertime favorite on the East coast of the United States.
This dish is casual enough for a backyard barbecue and fancy enough for a formal dinner party. The combination of flavors and textures can’t be beat. And with no fillers, flour or bread crumbs at all, you can feel good about indulging!
What is Chicken Chesapeake?
Chicken Chesapeake is a classic Maryland dish that combines two of the state’s most beloved ingredients: chicken and crab. This mouthwatering dish is typically served as a main course and is perfect for a summer barbecue or a special dinner party.
The exact origins of Chicken Chesapeake are hazy, but it is believed to have originated in the 19th century when blue crabs were plentiful and chicken was a staple in Maryland households.
Ingredients for this Chicken Chesapeake Recipe
Here is what you’ll need to make this coastal favorite:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Lump crab meat
- Old Bay Seafood Seasoning
- Worcestershire sauce
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Dijon Mustard
- Cheddar Cheese
- Fresh Parsley
The only carbohydrate in this recipe is a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch that we’ll use just to get a little crust on the chicken before we bake it.
How to Make Chicken Chesapeake
There are three parts to making this delicious dish: the chicken, the crab imperial and the Old Bay cream sauce. Let’s go step by step:
First, we’ll dredge the chicken in a simple mixture of cornstarch, salt, pepper and Old Bay. Get it nice and golden brown in a large skillet. If it’s not cooked all the way through, that’s okay. It will finish cooking in the oven.
If you’ve used an oven-safe skillet, like cast iron, you can leave the chicken alone. Or, transfer the chicken to a baking dish for the rest of the process.
The Crab Imperial
The crab meat mixture, otherwise known as crab imperial, is a dish unto itself. Sometimes you’ll find crab imperial on the menu at seafood restaurants, where it is baked in a small ramekin and served as is. Here, we are using it as a topping for our chicken.
Combine the crab imperial ingredients in a bowl, being careful not to break up the crab too much. We want those chunks! Carefully spoon it on top of each chicken cutlet, and then top with cheese.
We aren’t using any bread crumbs to bind our crab mixture. The egg is the only binder.
I actually made a mistake during the testing of this recipe and forgot to add the egg. Guess what? It held together fine! So I’ll go ahead and say that the egg is recommended, but optional.
The Creamy Old Bay Sauce
Once you get your chicken into the oven, you’ll have 20 minutes to make the creamy sauce. Just whisk a little bit of cornstarch with melted butter together in a small saucepan on the stove and simmer to let it thicken.
You can use any kind of milk that you want. The higher in fat the milk is, the faster the sauce will thicken. It will also get thicker as it cools, so give it a few minutes off heat before you drizzle it over the chicken.
How to serve Chicken Chesapeake
Anything goes with this delicious chicken recipe! If you want to keep the entire meal low carb, serve this chicken chesapeake recipe with a cool green salad, grilled asparagus or roasted mixed vegetables.
For a heartier side dish, serve Chicken Chesapeake with buttered rice or potatoes drizzled with extra imperial sauce.
What is the best crab to use for this recipe?
Lump crab meat is the ideal type of crab to use for Chicken Chesapeake. It’s less expensive than jumbo lump crab meat and the pieces are just a bit smaller. Do not use claw meat for this recipe.
How to Store Chicken Chesapeake
If you have any leftovers, the best way to store them is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Consume your leftovers within 1-2 days.
Crab Imperial vs. Imperial Sauce
Imperial sauce is a term that refers to the crab imperial mixture, minus the actual crab. We’re talking mayo, eggs and seasonings like Old Bay. If you’re not a fan of crab, whip up some imperial sauce and substitute shrimp.
And you can certainly skip the seafood altogether and pour imperial sauce over chicken, steak or even potatoes. It’s delicious!
When you make this Chicken Chesapeake Recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more delicious recipes using seafood, try these:
For more chicken recipes, try these:
- Champagne Chicken with Garlicky Whipped Potatoes
- Indian Ginger Chicken & Rice
- Honey Mustard Chicken with Warm Potato Arugula Salad
For more low carb dinners, try these:
Best Chicken Chesapeake Recipe (with Maryland Crab)
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded thin
- 8 oz. lump crab meat
- 2 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- 3 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 tsp. fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- In a shallow bowl, combine salt, pepper, 2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch. Season chicken breasts on both sides, pressing to adhere. Place chicken into the skillet. Brown chicken on both sides over medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from heat. If using an oven safe skillet, leave the chicken where it is. Alternately, place chicken breasts into a casserole dish or onto a baking sheet.
- In a medium bowl, combine the crab meat, 1 tsp. parsley, egg, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp. of Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
- Divide the crab mixture among the four chicken breasts, topping each breast with a mound of crab mixture. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, make the sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch and butter until bubbly. Pour in the milk, 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning and 1 tsp. parsley. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until chicken is done. Remove from heat. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Divide the chicken among serving plates and drizzle with Old Bay sauce. Serve warm.