Crab rangoon is hands down the most popular appetizer ordered at Chinese restaurants. Now you can easily make it at home and freeze the extras for later! Complete your at-home Chinese takeout menu with an entree like sesame chicken or chicken with mixed vegetables. But also don't forget the sides like shrimp fried rice or shrimp lo mein.
Crab rangoons, also known as crab wontons, cheese wontons, and sometimes just simply as rangoons, are one of the most popular appetizers offered at Chinese restaurants. I remember when customers would get two orders of these wontons at a time. That is just for one person, and I totally get why. They're totally addictive!
The wonton wrappers are fried to golden brown and crispy on the outside and the inside is stuffed with gooey cream cheese with specks of imitation crab meat and aromatic vegetables. Dip that into some sweet and sour sauce or sweet chili sauce and you'll be a forever fan! Crispy, savory, sweet. All in one.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Cream cheese - This is the base for making the crab rangoon filling. Please use full fat cream cheese for the best flavor and texture.
- Imitation crab meat - We opted for imitation crab meat because it is inexpensive and will give the crab rangoons just enough "crab" flavor. If you prefer, you could use real crab meat. However, the flavor will likely become lost in the cream cheese.
- Onion, carrot, and celery - These three vegetables are not 100 percent necessary, but we highly recommend it! The carrot is mostly for color, so if you wish, you could omit. However, the onion and celery adds so much flavor to the crab rangoon filling. Definitely worth the time to mince them up!
- Salt - Just a little bit of salt to season the cream cheese filling.
- Wonton wrappers - You can find wonton wrappers at most asian markets in the freezer aisles where the dumpling wrappers are. Sometimes these wrappers can also be found at local grocery stores, near the refrigerated produce aisles. If you can't find wonton wrappers, egg roll wrappers are a good substitute. Note: not spring roll or rice paper wrapper!
- Sweet chili sauce - This is an Asian pantry classic and must have! Sweet chili sauce goes so well with so many dishes and appetizers. Besides crab rangoons, we also like eating cha gio, or Vietnamese egg rolls, with sweet chili sauce. Mae poy is a great brand if you need a recommendation.
How to make crab rangoons
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
Prepare the filling:
1. Remove excess moisture from veggies. Place the finely minced the onion, carrot, and celery in a double-lined cheesecloth. Wrap the veggies and firmly squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible.
2. Make the crab rangoon filling. Combine the squeezed, minced vegetables, crab meat, cream cheese, and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula mix until the filling is well combined.
3. Prepare folding station. Gathering everything that's needed folding the crab rangoons: the bowl of filling, the wonton wrappers, spoons for scooping the filling (regular eating spoon is perfect), and family or friends to help with fold! Also prepare a sheet pan or plate lined with cling wrap.
🌟 Pro tip: Use a quarter size sheet pan if you plan on freezing the crab rangoons. Quarter sheet pans will fit into the freezer much easier than other pan sizes. Also, read our "frozen crab rangoon" topic below for freezing steps.
Fold and fry:
4. Fill the wonton wrapper. Place a sheet of wonton wrapper in one hand and scoop about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon of cream cheese filling with a spoon in the other hand. Smear the cream cheese onto the center of the wrapper and place the wrapper onto your clean work surface.
5. Fold the crab rangoon. Bring the four sides of the wonton wrapper to the center. And as you're bringing in the edges, slightly push up the cream cheese and firmly push the center edges together. If any cream cheese gets pushed out of the center, just scrape it off and add it to the bowl of filling. Place the crab rangoon onto the prepared sheet pan and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
📝 Note: The cream cheese acts like "glue" that will keep the wonton wrappers sticking to each other and hold up the shape of the crab rangoon. So make sure to squeeze some cream cheese up, between the wrapper, or it will open up and unravel while frying!
6. Fry the crab rangoons. Heat the oil to 350°F and fry the crab rangoons for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the four corners are golden brown. The bottom, where the cream cheese are, will stay pale golden. Don't over crowd the oil! You want sufficient room to submerge the wontons. Fry in batches if necessary.
🌟 Pro tip: After the crab rangoons fry in the oil for a few seconds, they will immediately float up. So if you want, push them down with another frying basket or a spider strainer to help the top of the wonton wrappers get even color.
- Let the cream cheese soften at room temperature to make mixing the filling easier. But if you forgot to take out the cream cheese ahead of time or don't have time to wait for the cream cheese to soften, you could put on a pair of gloves and mix the filling by hand. The warmth of your hand will also help soften the cream cheese quickly.
- Squeeze out the excess moisture in the vegetables. This will prevent the cream cheese filling from becoming too loose and watery when frying.
- Allow the wonton wrappers to thaw and warm up at room temperature before using. This way, the wrappers will be much more flexible, which will make folding easier, and much less prone to tearing and cracking.
Storage and reheating
Leftover, fried crab rangoons can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days.
To reheating, re-fry at 350°F for about 1 minute. Leftover crab rangoons can also be reheated in the air fryer at 325°F or baked in oven at 350°F for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Do note that, reheated crab rangoons may not be as crispy as freshly made ones.
If you have leftover, uncooked crab rangoons, DO NOT refrigerate! Freeze them instead. Read below for more details.
Frozen crab rangoons
One recipe of crab rangoons will make about 44 to 45 wontons, which can be a lot, unless you're hosting a get together or an event. Luckily, these crab rangoons freezes incredibly well, which makes them perfect for days when you're craving them and making ahead for large gatherings!
To freeze crab rangoons, arrange the crab rangoons on a sheet pan lined with cling film or a freezer safe plate or container. It's totally okay if the crab rangoons are touching. Place the tray of crab rangoons in the freezer for at least 2 to 4 hours, even better overnight, until they are rock solid. Once completely frozen, transfer the crab rangoons to a freezer safe storage bag and keep frozen until needed.
When ready for some crab rangoons, heat and maintain the oil at 350°F and fry the crab rangoons from frozen. DO NOT defrost! Defrosting will cause the wonton wrappers to go limp and sometimes turn soggy. Fry the wontons for about 2 minutes or until the four corners are golden brown ad the filling inside is hot.
What to do with leftover oil
Leftover oil can be reused for cooking or more frying. Transfer the leftover oil into a heatproof bowl, jar, or container. Let the oil cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap or a lid. If you're uncomfortable with handling hot oil, set the oil aside to cool first!
If you plan on reusing the oil again, make sure to strain it through a fine mesh strainer or a couple layers or cheesecloth to remove any debris. Keep the oil in a cool, dark place and use within a couple of weeks.
If you're disposing oil, pour it into a jar or a container that can be sealed. Dispose of it in your trashcan. DO NOT pour it down your drain! It may damage your pipes and also cause damage to the environment!
Although you could make crab rangoons with only cream cheese, the flavor will not be as good compared to if you used onions, carrots, celery, and crab meat. So we highly recommend not skipping out if possible.
Imitation crab meat is very accessible, relatively inexpensive, and provides just enough "crab" flavor for the crab rangoons. If you prefer something other than imitation crab meat, real lump crab would be the best option. However, the fresh flavor of real crab will most likely become lost in the cream cheese.
If your crab rangoon opened up, it's most likely because not enough cream cheese was squeeze in between the folds where all four sides of the wrapper comes together. The cream cheese acts like the "glue" that holds the wrapper together and keeps the shape of the wontons.
Yes! Crab rangoon freezes really well, which is perfect for making ahead of time for later. Please refer to the "frozen crab rangoon" topic above for more details.
We do not recommend air frying crab rangoons because the wonton wrappers just do not become light and crispy as the fried version.
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipes from our blog, please tag us on Instagram using #twoplaidaprons! You can also tag us in your Instagram stories using @two_plaid_aprons. We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
- 16 ounces cream cheese softened (usually 2 packs)
- 1 ounce yellow onion finely minced
- 1 ounce carrot peeled and finely minced
- 1 ounce celery finely minced
- 4 sticks imitation crab meat minced
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt fine salt is okay too
- 44 sheets wonton wrapper thawed (usually 1 pack)
- Sweet chili sauce for dipping
- Make the crab rangoon filling:Place the finely minced onion, carrot, and celery into a double layer cheesecloth. Firmly squeeze to remove as much excess moisture from the veggies as possible. Transfer the squeezed veggies into a mixing bowl.
- Into the mixing with the veggies, add the imitation crab meat, cream cheese, and salt. Mix with a rubber spatula until everything is well combined.
- Fold the wontons:At the folding station, prepare a sheet pan or plate and line it with film wrap. Also, have the bowl of cream cheese filling, the wonton wrappers, and a spoon (regular eating spoon is perfect) ready at the station. Feel free to also grab a friend to help out!
- Place a sheet of wonton wrapper in one hand and use the other hand to scoop up about 1 to 1½ tablespoons of the cream cheese filling using a spoon. Smear the cream cheese filling in the center area of the wrapper, then place the wrapper onto your clean work surface.
- Use your fingers to bring all four sides of the wrapper to the center. Not the corners of the wrappers, but the center edges. As you bring the sides together, push some cream cheese up and firmly push the wrappers together at the center. No need to seal the entire edge of the wonton. The cream cheese will act as the "glue" to keep the wrapper sticking together. If any cream cheese gets pushed out of the wrapper, simply scrape it up and add it back into the bowl. Place the finished crab rangoon on the prepared sheet pan or plate and repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.*Please refer to the post above for step by step photo reference if needed.*
- Fry the wontons:Heat the fryer to 350°F or add about 3 inches of oil in a pot and heat it to 350°F. Maintain the oil between 325°F and 350°F. Also, prepare a cooling rack on a sheet pan or a plate lined with paper towels.
- Gently place the crab rangoons into the oil and let them fry for 1 to 2 minutes or until the four corners are golden brown. The bottom where the cream cheese filling is will stay pale golden. Remove the crab rangoons and let it drain on the prepared cooling rack or plate. Skim the oil if needed with a fine mesh strainer. Repeat with remaining crab rangoons.
- Enjoy the crab rangoons while they're hot with some sweet chili sauce! Uncooked crab rangoons freeze really well. Please refer to our post above for more details!
- Frozen crab rangoons - Uncooked crab rangoons freeze incredibly well, which makes them great for making ahead of them for events and get togethers. Please refer to our post above, under the "Frozen crab rangoon" section, for freezing steps and how to fry with frozen crab rangoons!
- Onion, carrot, celery - Although these vegetables are not 100 percent necessary, we still highly recommend that you include them in filling. They add so much flavor the crab rangoons. We guarantee it's worth the effort! Just make sure to squeeze out most of the excess moisture.
- Crab - We chose imitation crab meat because it's much more affordable and adds just enough crab flavor to these crab rangoons. Although, you could use real crab meat, however, the flavor will be lost in the cream cheese.