Air Fryer Crab Rangoon is more of a technique than a recipe because you can fill these beautiful parcels with anything you want and they will be deliciously perfect! Once you see how easy it is to create the wonton shape, you just might be making these ALL THE TIME!
Aren't they simply beautiful? And you can't tell me they don't look deep fried! The incredible thing is: they TASTED deep fried! I know one thing is for sure, I won't be buying these out, anymore. They are way too easy to make!
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I'd bet you will feel the same way after your first batch. As soon as I got the folding technique down, the rest was so easy. I've already been thinking about the variations I can make to turn the Crab Rangoon into beautiful dessert pouches! I'm thinking a little fruit compote inside, air fry them golden brown, dust with powdered sugar, and then maybe even dip in some whipped cream.
Doesn't that sound good? It does to me, that is for sure!
What is Crab Rangoon?
Just in case you have never heard of Crab Rangoon, or don't see it offered in Chinese restaurants near you, let me write about the components and the variations and give a little history about Crab Rangoon.
There is a very interesting article on the origin of Crab Rangoon and I'll link to that right here: What the heck is Crab Rangoon anyway?
The article is definitely worth the read. It's very interesting if you like to learn the history of food. Basically, Crab Rangoon started popping up on the menu of many American Chinese restaurants and they basically have stayed the same over many years. Some of the ingredients have changed, probably mostly due to costs, but the basics are the same.
I found it interesting that it is thought that the original recipe had a chili sauce in it. That sounds really good to me and I'm going to try adding a little next time I make it. It is also thought that A-1 sauce was used instead of Worcestershire sauce.
So, the basic ingredients are crab meat, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce wrapped in a wonton and deep fried. They are served with a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce that is usually dyed red.
There are a few variations in ingredients and I think most have some green onion or chives in them, now. And at all the restaurants I've seen, they are made with imitation crab meat, which isn't crab meat at all. It's usually Pollock with added starches and red dye. I have a confession to make, I like imitation crab meat. I love it in a seafood salad with mayo, Old Bay, and celery. I love it in garden salads. I also love it in this Air Fryer Crab Rangoon recipe! I know many people won't want to use it, though, so I will give my favorite alternative seafood choices below.
Do I have to use Artificial Crab Meat in the Crab Rangoon?
Nope! There are many other choices that are just as good, if not better! The first one being real crab meat. That is, if you can find quality crab meat where you live. I fully admit that I might be a crab meat snob, but I grew up in Maryland and we are all about our blue crabs there! There is nothing in this world that can take the place of real Maryland crab meat.
If you are lucky enough to find it, get it! BUT, don't spend all the money for lump, it isn't worth it in this recipe. You want the crab meat to really blend in with the cream cheese, so the less expensive kind is fine. In fact, I'd go with claw meat, which is usually the least expensive of all the different kinds of crab meat. Claw meat is also sweeter and there is usually a sweetness in Crab Rangoon.
If you live in an area, like I do now, where you can't find fresh Maryland crab meat, just get a good quality claw meat and you should be fine.
Shrimp is another great alternative! Simply sauté some shrimp until they are cooked and chop them up fine. I did this with one test batch and they were delicious! I used my Manual Food Processor from Pampered Chef and got the perfect chop on them for Crab Rangoon.
Snow Crab legs! YES! I bet these would be the best of the best. I just told my husband to go grab some and I am making it this way tomorrow. So, don't be shocked if I change up the recipe!
You don't even have to make them with any seafood, if you don't want to. The cream cheese, green onions, and Worcestershire sauce would be great on its own.
Can I Freeze the Air Fryer Crab Rangoon?
Yes, they freeze wonderfully. You can either make them up and freeze them before or after air frying. Either way, you will want to freeze them on a parchment-lined sheet pan for several hours. Once they are completely frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you are ready to use them. They should last a few months in the freezer, but I would check them, because, if they develop any ice crystals, they will not cook up as well.
How to Air Fry Crab Rangoon from Frozen
If they are cooked already, I found that using the Air Crisp function on 330° F for 8 minutes worked great. You do not need to preheat when they are already cooked.
If they are not cooked, I would use the same temperature, but you will probably have to cook them for 10-12 minutes. Don't forget to spritz them with a little oil for the best results. You will want to preheat on broil for 10 minutes before cooking.
How do I Fold Air Fryer Crab Rangoon?
I will go through all the steps in making Air Fryer Crab Rangoon in detail, of course, but the hardest part of making Crab Rangoon is folding them. I was very frustrated when I first started testing the recipe because, no matter what tutorials I followed, mine didn't come out right. I almost gave up -- but that isn't my style. Instead, I thought about what was causing me the biggest trouble and figured out some tricks that make it EASY!
One of the issues I had was with the wonton wrappers getting too wet. Even though I was only putting a small amount of water on the wrappers to seal them, the water would spread on my cutting board and get the wrapper soggy. This led to filling coming out and to a lot of wonton wrappers being thrown away.
The solution was an easy one. Use a cooling rack! YAY! Easy Peasy. Once I lined up my wonton wrappers on the cooling rack, my water problems went away.
I still couldn't fold them, though. It seemed like I was all thumbs and mine looked horrible. Then it hit me! I was putting the water in the wrong place. Once I figured this out, I was whipping out these Air Fryer Crab Rangoon as fast as lightning! You will be, too!
I usually have step-by-step videos for each of my recipes and I did make one for this recipe, but an unfortunate occurrence happened during filming and I didn't even realize it until I reviewed the video. Apparently, my knuckle cracked open. Probably from being dry. I didn't feel it happen and Jeff didn't even notice until later in the video. Even then, it just looked like a red mark on my knuckle. Nothing earth shattering, right?
Wrong. When I looked at the video, it was terrible looking! I mean terrible, much worse than it actually looked at first. It was painful to watch 2 hours of work (and a really good video) go bye-bye, but there was no way we could air that on YouTube. It looked like I was bleeding on the wonton! I wasn't, but still -- it looked pretty bad. Now, I will reshoot the video in the next few days, so there will be one available soon.
Until that time, I am sharing with you the clip where I demonstrate forming the wontons, bloody finger and all. Please forgive me and I will switch out the video as soon as possible, but I thought the advantages of seeing me folding one outweighed the potential gross factor.
Here is the video
How to Make the Filling for Air Fryer Crab Rangoon
When I tell you it's easy, it's really easy! There are a few tips that you should be aware of, so I'll go over those.
It makes no difference what seafood you are using for the filling, but it does need to be chopped fine. Large chunks will tend to poke out of places that you don't want them poking and makes folding them more difficult.
If you are using real crab meat, you won't need to worry about chopping it. As you mix it with the cream cheese, it will combine well and become smooth.
For shrimp or the imitation crab meat, you will want to chop it up fine. The easiest way to do that is with a food processor, especially if you are making a lot of Crab Rangoon filling. I like to use a manual food processor, because I have better control over the size of the pieces, but an electric one will work, too.
You also want your cream cheese at room temperature so it combines with the crab.
Don't be tempted to use too much liquid, like the Worcestershire sauce. You need the filling on the thicker side and using too much liquid will cause it to leak out of the wonton wrappers and then it burns.
So, to make the filling is very easy.
Combine equal amounts of seafood with cream cheese. For every 2 ounces of crab meat, add in ½ Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1½ Tbsp of finely chopped green onions for every 2 ounces of cream cheese. That is it!
Now, you can add sugar if you want it sweeter. You can add some salt, but I didn't find it needed it. Some people add onion powder. Just give the filling a taste and make sure you like it and everything will work out just fine!
Mix it all up until it's combined well.
Next you want to open your package of wontons. I usually take them out of the fridge before I mix up the filling, just to get the chill off of them.
Lay out as many wonton wrappers that will fit on your cooling rack. The rack I used is from Pampered Chef and it fit 8 wontons. Get a small bowl and fill it with water. I found using a pastry brush worked great, but you can use a clean finger, too. Use a scoop or teaspoon sized measuring spoon for the filling. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each wonton.
Next, dab a bit of water in 4 places on the wonton wrapper. Do this lined up with the four corners, but place the water near the filling, not at the edes.
Fold the wonton into a triangle and press close to the filling to seal. Then bring in the ends and press to seal. You should be pressing where the water is, close to the filling. Press the bottom down on the cooling rack so they sit flat. Repeat with remaining wontons.
If you are going to be cooking them right way, you will want to get the Ninja Foodi preheated on broil with the basket in for 10 minutes. You won't be cooking them on broil, but it is important to get the pot really hot to start the cooking process right away.
Once the Ninja Foodi has been preheated, spritz the basket with oil of your choice, add the wontons in a single layer in the basket, spritz again. Select the air crisp function on 300°F/149°C. Air Crisp for 5 minutes. Then turn each one on its side and AC for another 3-5 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool on a cooling rack until you are ready to serve. I do this so they don't steam on the bottom and get soft. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy! I made a pineapple sweet and sour sauce to go with mine and I'll be getting that recipe out real soon!
If you want to make another incredible appetizer, these Asian Sticky Wings are the BEST!
Air Fryer Crab Rangoon
- 2 ounces imitation crab meat
- 2 ounces cream cheese room temp
- 1½ Tbsps green onions chopped small
- ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 16 wonton wrappers
- oil for spritzing
- Mix together the cream cheese, imitation crab meat, green onions, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.
- Preheat the Ninja Foodi on broil with the air frying basket inside for 10 minutes.
- While the Ninja Foodi is preheating, start folding up your crab rangoon. Place 8 wonton wrappers (or as many as will fit) on a cooling rack. This will prevent them from becoming too wet. Place 1-1½ teaspoons of filling in the center of each wonton. Apply a dab of water close to the filing lined up with each corner. Fold into shape. See post for video and detailed instructions on folding.
- Spritz the basket with oil. Place 8 crab rangoon in the basket and select the AC function on 300°F/149°C and let air fry for 5 minutes. Turn each one on its side and spritz again with oil. AC another 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove and allow to cool on the cooling rack until you are ready to serve. Repeat with second batch. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.