Easiest Crab Salad Recipe (and 3 ways to enjoy it)

5 from 27 votes

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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, and crab salad sandwiches!

Easy crab salad in a small white bowl with a fork on the side.

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, or as a crab salad sandwich. I have had it all three ways and I honestly can’t pick a favorite.

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. 

Crab Salad Ingredients

Some people like to add all sorts of fancy stuff to their crab salad (onions, dill, chopped cucumber, cumin, 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 feel like adding any extras, feel free. As mentioned above, we would serve this is 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.

Crab Salad Recipe (Plain)

This recipe is great just as-is. When serving plain, you can serve on lettuce leaves or individual glass dishes (Martini glasses are really pretty if you want to be fancy with it). You can easily dress this recipe up or down depending on what you are serving. This crab salad recipe can also be used as a dip on crackers, along with pasta in a pasta salad, or as a delicious sandwich filling. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Crab Salad in a Bowl, in a dish with pasta, and as a sandwich filling on rolls

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. 

Crab Salad Dip

I LOVE 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). 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.

Crab Pasta Salad

This is much like our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad recipe. You can either make our Hawaiian Macaroni Salad and add imitation crab meat OR you can make this recipe and add a cup or two of cooked your favorite shaped pasta. 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.

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.

Storing Leftover Crab Salad

Store leftover crab salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Because mayonnaise is used in this recipe, freezing crab salad isn’t recommended. It just won’t taste good after it thaws.

More Recipes with Crab and Shellfish

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

How to Make Crab Salad

Crab Salad in a Bowl, a Sandwich, and in pasta

Easiest Crab Salad Recipe (3 ways to enjoy it)

5 from 27 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 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Seafood
Servings 8



  • Break imitation crab meat into small pieces with hands, or coarsely chop with a knife.
  • 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.
  • Stir in mayonnaise and lemon until crab is evenly coated.

For Crab Dip:

  • Chop the crab into smaller pieces and prepare as directed above. Serve with chips, club crackers, or Ritz crackers.

For Crab Pasta Salad:

  • Add 2-3 cups of cooked and cooled shaped pasta. Stir until well mixed

For Crab Salad Sandwiches/Sliders:

  • Place crab salad on Hawaiian-style rolls and serve!


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 beautiful three 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.

More about Erica Walker

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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 5 stars
      I tried this recipe and was delish as is but my 94 year old grandmother always added cream cheese to hers and hers was hands down a winner every time. After tasting this recipe it really needed the 4 oz of cream cheese (softened) as she made it ~ so I did add it in. Gives it so much more flavor and compliments the imitation crabmeat wonderfully. I will be using your recipe and and adding the cream cheese for Christmas as a gift to my family in remembrance of my grandmother and her most loved recipe, thank you!!

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