Down East Crabmeat Pie

Down East Crabmeat Pie

A Recipe from 100 Prize Winning Recipes from Pillsbury’s 4th Grand National Recipe & Baking Contest (1953)

About the Recipe

What an absolutely delightful way to kickoff my Pillsbury Challenge. This recipe was a bit like eating a crab cake pie. It made me think of afternoons picking crabs and drinking beer in the Baltimore Inner Harbor – basically a perfect afternoon.

It took some looking around to find the right “chili sauce” which nowadays means any sauce made from a chili and can range from sriracha to habanero sauce to regular old Heinz. Research notes that in the ’50s this would have been a plain old jar of Heinz so that’s what I went with. Quick note here – I would definitely sub out half of the plain chili sauce for something a little bit more spicy and exciting to give it more of a kick. While this pie is far from bland, it would be served well by a little something extra.

For more recipes in the Pillsbury Challenge, click here!

About the book

Published in 1953 for Pillsbury’s 4th Grand National contest, this book was one of my first, and is still one of my favorites. The recipes are so indicative of the time – lots of “pre-bake” or “freeze for later” notes from the cooks. If you ever see one of these books in the wild, grab it. You won’t be sorry.

About the glassware

Unfortunately, this pie pan is a fraud – a modern pan to accommodate a large pie. With the pandemic, I’m separated from my vintage pie pans, but this one is still lovely and was a gift from a close friend.

The Recipe!


1 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup Homogenized Spry (Crisco)
3-4 T water
2 cups (two 6.5 oz cans) crabmeat or other seafood
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup cooked green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cooked celery, chopped
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 t grated onion

For the Cheese Sauce:
3 T butter or margarine
3 T flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated processed cheese


Sift together the flour and salt. Cut in the Spry until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water over mixture, tossing lightly with fork until dough is moist enough to hold together. Form into a ball.

Roll out on floured pastry cloth or board to a circle 1 1/2 inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie pan. Fit pastry loosely into pie pan. Fold edge to form standing rim; flute. Prick crust with fork. Bake in hot oven (450*F) for 10 minutes.

Combine crabmeat, chili sauce, green pepper, celery, salt, and onion. Blend well. Turn into partially-baked pie shell. Pour cheese sauce on top. Bake in moderately hot oven (400*F) for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Melt butter or margarine in top of double boiler over boiling water. Blend in flour, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and milk. Cook until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Blend in processed cheese.

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