When you need a quick appetizer or party snack, these Air Fryer Crab Rangoons are the way to go! Surprisingly easy to make, these bite-sized treats taste even better than takeout. Serve them with a sweet chili dipping sauce for an instant crowd-pleaser.
Where Did Rangoons Come From?
Despite being on many Chinese takeaway menus, crab rangoons aren’t an Asian staple. Their name makes things more confusing. “Rangoon” is the former name of “Yangon” — the capital of Myanmar, which was formerly Burma.
Several sources say that crab rangoons were invented in 1956 by Joe Young. Joe worked for Victor Bergeron, the founder of Trader Vic’s — a Polynesian-style restaurant in San Francisco. Other sources say that the appetizer comes from an authentic Burmese recipe. Others claim it first appeared as “Rangoon crab a la Jack” at a Hawaiian-themed party in 1952.
The origin of crab rangoons is a little hazy. But one thing’s for sure — it’s impossible to stop at just one! The filling is sweet and creamy, which is a delicious contract to the crispy fried wrapper. And the best part - crab rangoons are super easy to make at home!
Why You'll Love It
- Making crab rangoons in the air fryer means less oil and mess than traditional frying. It's also faster than baking them!
- The texture is perfect! A light, crunchy outside with a creamy, umami filling, this air fryer crab rangoon recipe hits the spot every time.
- Make extra to freeze! You can air fry straight from frozen for a hassle-free snack in a rush.
- They’re a simple yet impressive dish for any gathering. Perfect for the Superbowl, holidays, and parties!
- Cream cheese: I recommend full-fat cream cheese for better flavor and richness. Make sure it's softened to room temperature for easy mixing.
- Kewpie mayonnaise: A Japanese mayonnaise made with egg yolks for a creamier and smoother spread. It's also seasoned with a blend of vinegars and MSG for more flavor and umami. It's my favorite mayonnaise for almost all recipes and is perfect in these rangoons.
- Sugar: A tiny amount of sugar adds a subtle hint of sweetness.
- Garlic powder: For a gentle layer of flavor in a dish.
- Soy sauce: A great source of salt and umami.
- Fish sauce: To add a little more seafood flavoring to the filling.
- Imitation crab: I love using imitation crab in this recipe because it's convenient and affordable. You can substitute with fresh or canned crab instead.
- Green onions: Provides texture and a pop of color.
- Oil spray: An oil spray with a high smoke point is best. I always use avocado oil.
How To Make It
- Whisk the cream cheese and mayonnaise. Add both to a bowl and whip until homogenous.
- Add the seasoning. Whisk in sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce, fish sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in add-ins. Add the green onion and imitation crab meat. Use a spatula to vigorously stir, flaking the imitation crab. Season to taste.
- Assemble. I find it easiest to create an assembly line to wrap the rangoons. Lay out about 15 wonton wrappers and scoop 2 teaspoon of filling into the center of each one. Then work one at a time: wet your finger or a small pastry brush and wet the edges of the wrapper. Pinch together the corners on the left side, followed by the corners on the right side. Join both corners in the center and mold around the filling. Squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent steam from breaking the wonton. Then repeat with all of the rangoons.
- Air fry the crab rangoon. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F. When hot, spray the bottom with oil and add a single layer of rangoons. Leave a little space between each one to allow air to circulate. You won't need to spray the tops with oil. Air fry for 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the first batch and lightly season with salt. Then repeat with the remainder of your rangons.
- Keep the wonton wrappers moist. Cover unused wonton wrappers with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Also, once the wrappers have been laid out, assemble them quickly.
- Squeeze out all the air. These air fryer crab rangoons can explode easily while cooking. This is because any air trapped inside will expand during the cooking process and break through the wontons. To avoid popping, squeeze as much air out of the wonton wrappers as possible when shaping them. Overfilling can also cause the air fryer rangoons to explode. So don’t be too generous with the crab filling!
- Seal the edges well by pinching them together. Rangoons can unravel easily in the air fryer or oven. The best way to sidestep this disaster is to seal the edges very well.
- Don't douse them with oil. I preferred the texture of the rangoons without a spray of oil on top. They crisped up and became lightly golden brown. However, you can very lightly spray with oil if you want them to be more golden.
- Bake them instead. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the rangoons in the oven at 375°F for 30-40 minutes or until crispy. But if you’ve got an air fryer, I definitely recommend you stick to that cooking method. Crab rangoons in the air fryer have a much better texture.
Substitutions & Variations
- Don’t have Kewpie mayonnaise? You can sub with regular mayonnaise instead. You may want to add a little extra soy sauce or fish sauce though.
- Instead of imitation crab, feel free to use fresh, frozen, or canned crab instead. If you’re using canned, make sure you drain and flake the crab before using it. I’ve tried different versions and I find imitation crab to be a great money saver and really tasty, too.
- If you don't have fish sauce, add an additional ¼ teaspoon of soy sauce instead.
- If you don’t have an oil spray, you can brush the inside of your air fryer basket with regular cooking oil. Make sure you choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil.
- Make XL crab rangoons by using egg roll wrappers instead of wonton wrappers.
- If you prefer your crab rangoons to be a little cheesier, increase the amount of cream cheese.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: If you have leftover air fryer crab rangoons you’ve already cooked, leave them to cool completely. Place them inside an air-tight container and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: To freeze cooked leftovers, lay them on a baking sheet in a single layer with space in between each one. Place them in the freezer for around 30 minutes until mostly frozen. Store them inside a zip-loc bag with as much air removed as possible. You can keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
For best results, freeze the crab rangoons before you cook them. When you’re ready to eat, you can cook them from scratch and they’ll have the crispiest texture. To do this, freeze them on a baking sheet after shaping. Transfer them to a zip-loc bag and store them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Reheating: Cook the rangoons in an air fryer preheated to 350°F for 2-3 minutes from chilled or 4-5 minutes from frozen, until crispy and hot. You can also reheat them by baking in the oven at 375°F for 8-12 minutes from chilled or 15-18 minutes from frozen, but they won’t turn out as crispy.
A wonton is a classic Chinese dish that’s usually stuffed with meat and boiled. The result is a delicate dumpling-like texture with a meaty filling. A rangoon is from South East Asia and is most often stuffed with a mixture of imitation crab and cream cheese. It’s then deep-fried or baked, giving it a crunchy outside and a soft, creamy center.
Wontons are also sometimes deep-fried, giving them a similar texture to rangoons. In this case, it’s usually the filling that tells them apart. Wontons are typically stuffed with pork or shrimp, while rangoons are most often stuffed with crab.
Traditional crab rangoon sauce is a slightly spiced sweet and sour dipping sauce. It’s made by heating rice vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, red chili flakes, and water together over the stove. Cornstarch is then added to thicken the sauce up before blended pineapple chunks are stirred in for extra sweetness.
Imitation crab is made from surimi — fish protein that’s had the bones, fat, and other unwanted parts removed. It’s mined into a paste, blended with other ingredients, and pressed into shapes that look like crab meat.
Despite what the name suggests, imitation crab generally contains no actual crab at all. Instead it’s made with other mild seafood, such as pollock, which is also used in fish sticks.
Looking For More?
The air fryer is one of my favorite kitchen tools for making crispy foods in a snap! For more air fryer recipes, try these:
- Air Fryer Parmesan Potato Wedges
- Air Fryer Beef Taquitos
- Air Fryer Frozen Potstickers
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Air Fryer Crab Rangoons
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2 tablespoon Kewpie mayonnaise (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 oz imitation crab cut in half length wise, then thinly slice; about ½ cup
- 2 green onion thinly sliced
- 15-20 wonton wrappers
- Oil spray
- Salt and pepper
- In a large bowl, whisk cream cheese and mayonnaise together until well-combined. Then whisk in sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce, fish sauce, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add crab and green onion. Stir and season to taste.
- Lay out a wonton wrapper and place about 2 teaspoon of the filling in the center. Use a pastry brush or finger dipped in water to wet the edges. Use your left hand to bring the two left corners of the wrapper together, and your right hand to pinch the two right corners together. Bring both hands together to pinch all 4 corners into a point in the center. Lightly press the wrapper around the filling, squeezing as much air out as possible while sealing the edges of the wrapper together. Set aside and repeat with the remaining rangoons.
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F. If your air fryer doesn't have a preheating function, simply turn on and let heat up for 4-5 minutes.
- Spray the bottom of the air fryer with oil. Place rangoons in a single layer with space in between each one. Air fry for 4-6 minutes or golden brown. Remove the first batch and immediately season lightly with salt. Repeat with remaining rangoons.
- Serving size will depend on how much filling you put into each wonton wrapper. This recipe should yield 15-20 rangoons.
- Kewpie mayonnaise: A Japanese mayonnaise made with more egg yolks for a creamier and smoother spread. It also has more flavor and umami than conventional mayonnaise. You can find it in Asian markets and large supermarkets in the Asian aisle. You can substitute with any mayonnaise but you may want to add additional soy or fish sauce.
- Substitute imitation crab with fresh, frozen, or canned crab. Make sure to drain and flake the crab first.
- If you don't have fish sauce, add an additional ¼ teaspoon of soy sauce instead.
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