These Easy Low-Fat Crab Enchiladas can be made with fresh or quality canned crab. They are the perfect way to lighten up your Mexican food fix. So easy to make, only about 30 minutes from start to finish.
We love to eat food from the south of the border. Ok, maybe it's just American-Mexican food, but we enjoy it on a regular basis.
Since we've moved from Southern California to Northern California, with a short stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I found the sauces and preparations to be very different.
My preference is a Southern California-style sauce, with more chiles than tomatoes. So to achieve the flavor I want, I most often make my own sauce.
I make homemade red sauce for Fully Loaded Cheese Enchiladas and Shredded Chicken Enchiladas, and a homemade green sauce for my recipe for Green Chili Chicken Stacked Enchilada, While many recipes might be high in fat and calories, due to the meats and added cheese, Mexican food doesn't have to be full of fat and cheese.
Take these Crab Enchiladas, they are not only lower in fat and calories, but light and filling ... AND easy to make at home.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Crab Meat - Best picked out of the shell. The second best is a good quality refrigerated crab meat. Third best? Well, there is no third best. I DO NOT BUY canned crab meat from the aisle. Almost all canned crab that does not require refrigeration has been over-processed and is not of the best quality.
- Fresh Cilantro - I know some of you don't like the flavor of cilantro, and there really is no substitute in this recipe. So if you don't like cilantro, then add more of the other green ingredients, the onion, jalapeno, and a touch more cumin to add flavor.
- Green Onion - Also known as spring onion or scallion.
- Jalapeno - This recipe calls for one small, about 2 tablespoons minced. If you want hotter, add more.
- Cumin and Dried Oregano - Mexican oregano if you can find it.
- Corn Tortillas - I suppose you could use flour if you insist, but corn tortillas add flavor, flour ones do not.
- Green Enchilada Sauce - Use a canned sauce for convenience. But better if you make your own Fresh Green Enchilada Sauce If you are gluten-intolerant, check the label. Many of them contain flour as a thickening agent.
- Cotia Cheese - Cotia is a mild Mexican white cheese made from cow's milk. It can be crumbled or grated. If you can't find Cotia, use mild Jack cheese in its place.
Video - How to cook a fresh Dungeness crab
Buy the best quality crab meat
Best, of course, is to buy your local fresh crab, when in season, and get the meat out yourself. If you are feeling really adventurous, cook the live crab yourself. (Here's How)
The next best is to buy crab meat from your grocery store or meat market's refrigerated section. They almost all have little containers of fresh claw/crab meat. I've seen cans of lump meat crab at Trader Joe's, Costco, as well as my local supermarket. So I'm sure you can find some.
I will say it over and over until I'm blue in the face (or dead); don't buy that stuff on the inside shelves of your grocery store. That crab meat isn't good for anything. Well, it might be good to mix with some sour cream to make some sort of dip to put some nice salty chips in it, but not for anything else.
"Mexican food doesn't have to be full of fat and cheese"
First, we are going to mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix gently as you don't want to break up the crabmeat too much. Some nice big chunks are good, give the crab enchilada some nice texture.
While I think this recipe for Crab Enchiladas works best with corn tortillas, I understand they are not readily available in many parts of the world, or even in the USA. If that is the case, then use small flour tortillas. If using flour, you can bypass the "softening" stage as instructed in the recipe but may need to warm them a bit to get them to roll. If you can't find 6-inch round flour tortillas, I find that a salad plate works well as a guide. Simply hold it on the tortilla and cut around it.
If using corn tortillas you need to soften up the tortillas so they roll but don't break when you stuff them with the mixture of crab. Now, most recipes will tell you to "dip the tortilla into the sauce" to soften them. I find this just makes them soggy. And they absorb too much sauce so when you finish them you get mush, not a nice firm tortilla.
Spray both sides of the tortilla with cooking spray (or you could just use a pastry brush and some neutral oil); then stick them in a 325º oven for about 3 minutes. If using cooking spray, always cover your cookie sheet with foil to keep it from getting coated with the accelerant that makes the spray spray.
Now they are nice and pliable and the oil acts as a barricade allowing the sauce to sauce, not mush up the tortilla.
If you only can get super soft corn tortillas, I'm going to give you alternative ways to cook your Crab Enchiladas.
Method 1 - Open the top of the package. Leaving the tortillas inside the open package, allow them to stay in the refrigerator for a couple of days until they get not so super soft. You don't want them crunchy, but just not quite as fresh. Then proceed with the recipe as written. You might call these "day-old" corn tortillas.
Method 2 - Use the tortilla as is. After softening the tortilla with oil in the oven, roll individual plates of enchiladas, top them with sauce and cheese, and pop them in the microwave to heat up and melt the cheese. This takes about 1 ½ minutes per plate. Not great for a large group, but better than having them fall apart in the oven. Right?
So try to find corn tortillas that are NOT super soft.
Sure, I think small salad shrimp would work in this recipe. Or as one of the commenters said, shredded chicken.
How to perfectly soften corn tortillas for enchiladas
Once those are nice and soft; fill them up, roll them up and stick them in a pan. Or on a plate.
Bake or microwave and eat.
What to serve with Easy Low-Fat Crab Enchiladas?
Authentic Mexican Rice
Baby Greens Salad with a Light Vinaigrette
Papaya Butterleaf Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
Easy Low-Fat Crab Enchiladas
- 1 pound quality canned or fresh crab meat picked through for shells and cartilage
- ⅓ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro if you don’t like cilantro, omit
- ⅓ to ½ cup chopped green onion use both the white and green parts
- 1 small jalapeno seeded and minced* (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoons dried oregano crushed between your fingers
- 8 6- inch corn tortillas
- ½ recipe homemade fresh green sauce or 1 20-ounce can green enchilada sauce (I use medium heat)
- Cotija cheese crumbled. (Cotija is a mild Mexican white cheese made from cow’s milk. You can use a mild jack cheese if you would prefer, or a combo of jack and Parmesan)
- Cooking spray
- Heat your oven to 325°F Spray the tortillas with cooking spray on both sides and put on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven for 2 – 3 minutes or until they become soft and pliable. Remove and set aside. (Stacking them on top of each other helps keep them warm and pliable.
- Increase oven temperature to 350°F
- In a large bowl mix together the crab, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno and cumin, and oregano.
- In a baking dish pour some of the enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Fill each tortilla with some of the crab mixture; roll and place seam side down on the sauce in the pan. Continue until all the tortillas are filled. If you have some extra filling, spoon it over the top of the enchiladas. Pour the rest of the green sauce over the top so the enchiladas are all covered; sprinkle the cheese over the top (use as much or as little as you would like, I use a “moderate” amount of cheese); place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.
I've made the crab enchiladas twice. Delicious !
I've followed the same recipe with a rotisserie chicken from Costco many many times. The entire family & friends LOVE them.
Without recipes online I would fail at cooking.
Have a great night.
Thank you so much for your review and input. Hadn't thought about the same recipe with chicken but makes total sense. Keep on cooking and learning and enjoying all the various recipes online. Cheers ~Lindy
Made this using mild Herdez Salsa Verde instead of the green enchilada sauce (no MSG!), and it was delicious. Glad to have something so tasty and gluten free, too - thanks for sharing!
That is a good product. Hatch green chili sauce is also gluten-free, never thought to look at the ingredients of the can for gluten as I'm not intolerant to it. I'll have to check out some other brands too. Cheers and thanks for stopping by. (and glad you enjoyed the recipe) Lindy
I loved this recipe. It tasted great but my tortillas turned to mush. I did add sauce to the bottom of the pan and also on top. What did I do wrong?
Did you put the oil on them and bake them in the oven to soften? If so the only thing I can think of is perhaps they sat too long in the sauce before they were cooked, or you could have had some super soft tortillas in the first place. Sometimes these work better with "less fresh" tortillas. Hope you try again. Cheers ~ Lindy
This was a good recipe, but we found the filling to be a bit bland. Full disclosure we did omit the cilantro because one of us thinks it tastes like soap. Next time we think we would include more jalepeno and a few seeds for heat and more green onion. We served with sliced avocado, sour cream and chipotle hot sauce (which was much needed). Great lower-cal option for enchiladas here!
Thanks for trying and commenting on the recipe Kaylan. The cilantro does add a lot of flavor to the filling but I know to some people it does taste like soap, so then, yes the other ingredients should be increased to compensate. As always, the amount of heat can be modified to ones taste by keeping the seeds from the jalapeno in, or omitting them...a Serrano pepper would be good to add some heat as well. I also enjoy mine sometimes with the added sour cream and avocado; I would think chipotle hot sauce would take over the milder flavor of the crab, but that's what I love about cooking, each to their own tastes right? Cheers ~ Lindy