Easy Crab Salad Recipe

5 from 67 votes
80 Comments

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This Crab Salad recipe is not only easy, it’s versatile. It is the perfect base to make crab dip, crab macaroni salad, crab salad sandwiches, and MORE!

Crab salad on a plate surrounded by other crab recipes.

The BEST Crab Salad

This is how we would make crab salad at the restaurant I worked at in Hawaii and it was always a favorite! I love making this crab salad as a quick snack or an easy lunch. You can either have it plain, as a crab dip, as crab macaroni salad, as a crab salad sandwich, or any of the other possibilities below. I have had it all the different ways and I honestly can’t pick a favorite.

When serving plain, you can serve on lettuce leaves or individual glass dishes (Martini glasses are pretty if you want to be fancy with it). You can easily dress this recipe up or down, depending on what you are serving. Add some fresh parsley as a garnish to dress it up and add some color.

Traditional crab salad on a plate.


What is Crab Salad Made Of?

Ironically, most crab salad (including this recipe) isn’t made from actual crab. Most crab salad is made from imitation crab meat (aka “krab meat” or “surimi”). It is more commonly found than actual crab meat and is MUCH cheaper. Imitation crab meat is often found in California rolls or simply eaten on its own as a snack.

Cut up crab on a cutting board. Knife on the side.

Imitation Crab Meat vs Real Crab Meat

This is a huge debate. Of course if you make this with real crab it is going to taste the best. But have you noticed the price of real crab the past few years? It’s outrageous! It’s really up to you if you want to spend the extra money. We made this crab salad with fresh crab at the Oregon coast last year and it was absolutely delicious! It was just a little expensive. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, imitation crab might be the best way to go.

A package of imitation crab, celery, and a jar of mayonnaise.

Classic Crab Salad Ingredients

Some people like to add all sorts of fancy stuff to their crab salad (onions, dill, chopped cucumber, cumin, dijon mustard, etc.) but, I like my crab salad SUPER simple. Not to say that the above mentioned add-ins are bad, they just alter the taste too much in my opinion. If you want to add any extras, feel free. As mentioned above, we would serve this in the restaurant I worked at in Hawaii and it was always a crowd favorite. Everyone wanted to know the secret to why it was so good, and really, there was no secret at all! It is the easiest, most simple crab salad recipe ever. Here’s what we use in our crab salad recipe:

  • Imitation crab meat (or real crab meat)
  • Celery
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon Juice
  • Fresh dill (optional)
  • Optional ingredients: onions, dill, chopped cucumber, cumin, dijon mustard (see more variation ideas below)
Crab Salad in a large bowl garnished with parsley.

Neptune Crab Salad

Simply put, Neptune salad is another term for “crab salad”. Some may argue that Neptune salad is more complex than a simple crab salad, and more of a “seafood salad”. Others may say that any kind of crab salad qualifies as “Neptune salad”. It really depends on what region of the country you are in. If you want to make a more complex crab salad (or “Neptune Salad”), make the recipe below and then add any or all of the following:

  • Hard boiled egg, sliced
  • Peas
  • Pickles, sweet or dill, chopped
  • Shredded carrot, to taste
  • Green onions
  • Red onion, chopped
  • Old Bay seasoning, to taste
  • Paprika, to taste

You can serve Neptune salad tossed with spiral pasta, or it can be served on a bed of lettuce. 

Hand placing Cold Crab Dip on a cracker. Bowl of cold crab dip and extra crackers in the background.

Cold Crab Salad Dip

I LOVE crab salad as a dip. Check out our Cold Crab Dip recipe for a great way to enjoy crab salad as a dip. If you are making it as a dip, you will want to chop the crab up into smaller pieces (so it can fit on a cracker). One really easy way to do this is to chop the crab in a food processor or blender. We like serving it with club crackers or Ritz crackers. We also like using the whole-grain “Food Should Taste Good” chips that you can get at Costco.

Hand holding a spoon of Crab Pasta Salad.

Crab Pasta Salad

Our Crab Pasta Salad recipe is a spin on regular crab salad. The pasta bulks up the dish to make it go further and serve a crowd. This is a great side dish for potlucks or neighborhood BBQs. It is also a great side-dish for simple weeknight meals to serve along with sandwiches, wraps, or burgers.

Three Crab Salad Sandwiches on a plate.

Crab Salad Sandwiches

Crab salad sandwiches are a great alternative to tuna sandwiches. I love serving the crab salad on Hawaiian rolls because they are so soft and slightly sweet. You can also serve your crab salad on a hoagie roll, hero roll, or even on a croissant. These are great for quick lunches, snacks, or even as appetizers.

Cucumber boats stuffed with crab salad and topped with sriracha.

Cucumber Crab Boats (pictured above): A low-calorie, high-protein option is to serve your crab salad in a cucumber boat! Peel the cucumbers, cut lengthwise, and scoop out the center. Place the crab down the middle and top with sriracha, spicy mayo, and furikake or sesame seeds. You will be surprised how by much flavor there is in these little boats!

Crab Salad Lettuce Wraps: Use large lettuce leaves, such as iceberg or butter lettuce, as a wrap. Fill them with crab salad, and you have low-carb, crunchy lettuce wraps.

Crab Salad Sushi Roll: Create your own sushi roll by placing a thin layer of crab salad on a sheet of seaweed, add avocado, cucumber, and sushi rice, then roll it up for a homemade sushi treat. Get tips on rolling sushi in our California Roll recipe.

Crab Salad Sushi Bowls: Create sushi bowls by serving crab salad over cooked sushi rice, then add avocado, cucumber, and other desired toppings.

Crab Stuffed Avocado (pictured below): For another low-carb option, you can serve your crab salad stuffed in an avocado. Halve an avocado, remove the seed, and place the crab in the hole where the seed was. Add a little salt and pepper for flavor and enjoy!

An avocado half stuffed with crab salad.

Storing Leftover Crab Salad

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to five days. Because mayonnaise is used in this recipe, freezing crab salad isn’t recommended. It just won’t taste good after it thaws.

Read Next: 35+ Easy Lunch Ideas

What is crab salad in sushi made of?

Crab salad in sushi is often made the same way as described in our recipe below. Sometimes it is chopped up more for easier rolling. Sometimes only the crab sticks are used.

What vegetable goes well with crab salad?

Celery and shallots are the most common vegetables that go with crab salad. Fruits, avocado, and cucumber also go well with crab salad.

What is imitation crab made of?

Most imitation crab is made from pollock or other white fish.

More Seafood Recipes

Can’t get enough crab and seafood? Try some of these other delicious seafood salad recipes:

Crab salad on a plate surrounded by other crab recipes.

Crab Salad Recipe

5 from 67 votes
This Crab Salad recipe is not only easy, it's versatile. It is the perfect base to make crab dip, crab macaroni salad, and crab salad sandwiches!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Seafood
Servings 8

Video

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds crab meat (or imitation crab meat)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup Best Foods mayonnaise (or Hellmann's)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • fresh dill optional, to taste

Instructions

  • Break imitation crab meat into small pieces with hands, or coarsely chop with a knife. You can also coarsely chop in a blender or food processor.
    Crab meat pieces in a blender.
  • Finely chop the celery. This gives the crab salad a little crunch, but not too much. Toss crab, celery, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl.
    Imitation crab in a bowl with mayonnaise and celery.
  • Stir in mayonnaise and lemon until crab is evenly coated.
    Crab and celery in a bowl mixed with mayonnaise.
  • Serve as-is, or in a lettuce cup, or with crackers for dipping.
    Crab Salad in a large bowl garnished with parsley.

Notes

 
 
A helpful recipe tip from Brian in the comment section of this post (Thanks Brian!):
“This recipe is great! Not only is it extremely easy but also versatile. I add celery salt instead of regular and it not only boosts the celery flavor but also helps use it up as there aren’t many recipes asking for it. Good quality mayo makes a big difference.”

Nutrition Information

Calories: 207kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 16gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 844mgPotassium: 199mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 80IUVitamin C: 6.5mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 0.5mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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5 from 67 votes (32 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is great! Not only is it extremely easy but also versatile. I add celery salt instead of regular and it not only boosts the celery flavor but also helps use it up as there aren’t many recipes asking for it. Good quality mayo makes a big difference. Thanks Erica

    1. Thank you for the 5-star rating! Also, thank you for the celery salt tip. I’m going to add it as a recipe tip to the recipe. We will definitely try that and suggest it to our readers. Merry Christmas!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this by tripling recipe and adding the pasta to feed 50 at a wine tasting dinner. I added Old Bay and used gluten free pasta! Huge hit!

  3. 5 stars
    PHENOMENALLY WELL DONE!!, These are easy to follow and generally 1 main base will have several variations.. Thanks for GREAT recipes

  4. The Crab looks good and I just cracked open a fresh one. 20 hrs. from sea to me!

    What’s up with my latest recipes vid-window?
    it shows about 20 seconds, then goes to a commercial but never comes back to the video and goes onto something different?

  5. Made it…very simple and tasty. I use an old fashioned potato masher to mix. My only gripe is NEVER SAY SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE. Not everyone has a great sense of smell/taste and I know your restaurant used specific amounts. I had to find other recipes to approximate the s&p.

  6. 5 stars
    I love crab salad. This recipe is awesome. The only thing I change is not salt & pepper but old bay seasoning. I also rehydrate dried roasted onions instead of celery. And yes real crab is best. You can buy it in a can already out of its shell. Blue crab is sweet and awesome and can be purchased on sale for $9.99 1 pound crab meat. Works so well together.

  7. 5 stars
    I have read the comments and I just want to say, I’m real happy for those who can afford to use real crab in a salad. Personally I can’t and when I do purchase real crab I want to dip it in drawn butter like lobster. This recipe is wonderful and if no one told me I wouldn’t even know it was imitation. It’s so good and I don’t have to feel guilty over what I spent and can still afford to eat the next day.

  8. This is my Mom’s crab salad recipe.
    1 lb. box pasta, corkscrew or shells
    1 lb. Imitation crab meat flaked
    1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
    1 large bottlel of Hidden Valley ranch dressing
    1 medium onion chopped fine
    a little shredded carrot for color
    Mix all together and chill.

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