Crab Salad (Seafood Salad)

4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Crab Salad is a classic Seafood Salad recipe with imitation crab, shallot and celery in a creamy dressing with a blend of herbs and spices.

While real crab meat is best for more elevated Seafood dishes like Crab Artichoke Dip, Crab Cake Sandwich, and Crab Cakes, imitation crab is perfect for creamy Salads for the Summer.

Crab Salad with celery and mayonnaise in a serving bowl

Crab Salad, also known as Seafood Salad, is a beloved nostalgic dish that you can find just as easily at a seaside cafe as you can the grocery store deli. Whether it’s made with real crab, loaded with veggies, or spread on a hoagie as a sandwich, there are many favorite ways to make this classic seafood dish. This recipe features imitation crab, shallots, and celery, all enveloped in a creamy dressing infused with a blend of paprika, dill, plus a little salt and pepper.

If you’re wondering what to make with imitation crab, it doesn’t get much better than this Easy Crab Salad recipe. There are just a handful of ingredients, you don’t have to do any cooking and there’s hardly any prep work. The imitation crab meat is super inexpensive and easy to find at most grocery stores for a fraction of the price of the real stuff! You can use whole “leg” meat, or you can get the flaked-style crab to save you a step of chopping it up. Either way, it will make a tasty salad with some mayo, spices and fresh, crunchy veggies.

At first, it may sound a bit odd to mix seafood and mayonnaise, but if you’ve every had Tuna Salad or lobster rolls, you know that a creamy dressing is exactly what makes cold Crab Salad recipes so amazing! The cool, creamy mayo with the smoky paprika and tangy dill is perfect with the delicate seafood flavor of imitation crab and real crab alike. 

This tasty homemade Crab Salad can be enjoyed as a light and refreshing appetizer, a satisfying lunch option, or even as a classic sandwich. You can serve it with crispy crackers and veggies like bell peppers and cucumber slices for dipping at parties. Throw it on a bed of lettuce or a thick tomato slice for a low-carb, light lunch. Spread it on a hoagie roll for any easy, inexpensive twist on lobster rolls. Serve your Crab Salad Sandwiches with some Fruit Salad for a classic deli meal that is nostalgic, filling, and delicious.

What is the difference between Crab Salad and Surimi Salad?

Crab Salad and Surimi Salad are often used interchangeably, but they do have a subtle difference. While both salads use imitation crab as the main ingredient, Surimi Salad typically refers to a dish that incorporates more Asian-inspired flavors, such as soy sauce, sesame oil, or ginger. On the other hand, Crab Salad often features a mayo-based dressing with herbs and spices, like a more traditional creamy salad, similar to a tuna or egg salad.

How to Make Crab Salad

  • If your imitation krab meat isn’t already flaked, you will want to roughly chop it into small pieces.
  • Combine the mayo with the spices until it’s will blended.
  • Add the krab, shallots, and celery to the dressing and stir until everything is well coated.
  • Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Crab Salad with celery and mayonnaise in a serving bowl

More Delicious Crab Recipes

FAQs for Crab Salad

What kind of crab should I use to make Crab Salad?

This recipe uses imitation crab meat, sometimes referred to as krab or krab meat. However, just because it’s not actually made of crab, it is made with fish. This is actually why many people refer to Crab Salad as Seafood Salad.

What is Imitation Crab? 

Imitation Crab Salad (krab) is actually made with Surimi, a whitefish that is ground then bound with a starch and other additives to resemble crab meat. It is crafted to resemble the texture and taste of real crab meat. Imitation crab is widely available in most grocery stores and provides an affordable alternative to real crab meat for those on a budget or looking for a different flavor profile.

Is the Neptune Salad the same as a Crab Salad?

Neptune Salad is not the same as a Crab Salad, but it’s more like a seafood salad with the works. It often has baby shrimp as well as crab plus ingredients like eggs, corn, carrots, peas, etc.

Key Ingredients

  • Imitation Crab: Imitation crab, also known as krab meat, is made from a blend of fish, typically Alaskan pollock, and other additives. It has a delicate texture and mild flavor that perfectly mimics the taste of crab, but is much more cost effective than real crab meat.
  • Shallots: Shallots add a subtle onion-like flavor to the seafood salad, enhancing its savory profile without overpowering the sweet, mild taste of the crab meat. You could also use red onions but dice them very small so they don’t take over the flavors.
  • Celery: Minced celery provides a refreshing crunch and adds a hint of herbal notes, contributing to the overall texture and balance of the salad.
  • Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise serves as the creamy base for the dressing, providing richness and a luscious texture to the Crab Salad. The smooth, subtly tangy flavor is perfect with the sweet, mild crab meat and is a classic way to make seafood salad dressing.
  • Spices: This delicious Crab Salad only needs a few spices to add a bit of flavor without overpowering the delicate imitation crab. Paprika adds a warm, smoky flavor while dill brings a burst of freshness. They provide a pleasant contrast to the richness of the dressing and the sweetness of the crab meat. 

Can you make Crab Salad ahead of time?

Yes, Crab Salad can be prepared ahead of time to save you time and it gives all the flavors time to develop. You want to refrigerate the salad for at least an hour before serving, and it’s best in the first day or two. Remember to give it a gentle stir before serving to ensure the dressing coats the ingredients evenly.

Crab Salad with celery and mayonnaise on a sandwich roll


  • Veggies: Add some more fresh, crunchy veggies to your seafood salad like green onions, red onions, black olives, or bell peppers. 
  • Cheese: If you love all things indulgent, add some shredded sharp cheddar cheese or chopped up slices of American cheese to your cold Crab Salad.
  • Dressing: Instead of mayo, you can use Greek yogurt, mashed avocado or sour cream in the dressing to lighten up the salad. It’s best to do half mayo and half the substitute so it’s still got that deliciously smooth texture.
  • Seafood: You can add other seafood to the salad like baby shrimp, cooked mild flavored fish like cod or tilapia, or cooked scallops. If you want to splurge, you can use real crab or even make this salad with steamed lobster!
  • Seasonings: Some other popular flavorings for Crab Salad are Old Bay seasoning, celery seed, and even some cayenne pepper for a little kick. A squeeze of lemon or lime are a great way to add some zesty freshness. 

How to Serve Crab Salad

  • For an easy, amazing sandwich serve the salad on a toasted hoagie roll with lettuce and sliced onions.
  • Make a Seafood Pasta Salad doubling the dressing and mixing the Crab Salad with cooked pasta.
  • You can serve this as a dip with crackers or go low-carb with veggies like cucumber and bell peppers.
  • Another low-carb, classic way to serve cold creamy salads is to spread them on top of thick cut tomato slices or make lettuce wraps.

Easy Classic Creamy Deli Salads

Crab Salad with celery and mayonnaise in a serving bowl

How to Store

  • Serve: It is best to keep this recipe cold in the refrigerator until serving, but at most do not leave at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Sealed in an airtight container, Crab Salad will be good in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Give it a good stir before serving.
  • Freeze: It’s best not to freeze mayonnaise based salads, as the dressing will separate and not come back together after it thaws. 

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Easy Crab Salad (Seafood Salad)

Crab Salad is a classic Seafood Salad recipe with imitation crab, shallot and celery in a creamy dressing with a blend of herbs and spices.
Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 pound imitation crab , krab meat
  • 1 shallot , minced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup celery , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • In a large bowl add all the ingredients together gently, stirring until well coated.
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving.



Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Keyword: Crab Salad (Seafood Salad)
Crab Salad (Seafood Salad) Collage
Crab Salad with celery and mayonnaise is a delicious and inexpensive delicious way to enjoy the classic Seafood Salad we all grew up with.
Crab Salad Seafood Salad Sandwich with easy to make Seafood salad!
Just ten minutes for this Crab Salad Seafood Salad!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Went the extra mile and used real crab. For mayo, I use only Duke’s Mayo in all my cooking. It has superior taste and texture. After that left the recipe alone and it was very good. Didn’t hurt going to the bakery for some fresh hoagie

  2. I used only 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and a glob of Dijon mustard instead and it was much better. 1/2 cup mayo is more than I like.

  3. This tastes really good but I found that adding some Old Bay kicks the flavor up a bit. Or dill, but Old Bay is awesome.

  4. I used Old Bay along with cracked black pepper and himalayan salt. Had green onion so used that (white part only, finely chopped). What I feel pushed it over on the flavor scale was a TBLS of fresh lemon. After chilling for an hour it was OUTSTANDING! Ate it in a bowl. Will opt for a nice roll the next time.

    1. I scrolled far down in the comments and the question of the dill being dried or fresh was asked. The author stated it’s dried dill. It would be nice to have that info in the recipe ingredients.

  5. Delicious, absolutely delicious. If you like surimi this recipe is a must. Try it on a grilled croissant! Amazing!

  6. This is a favorite recipe of mine and my husband’s! We don’t eat meat on Fridays and this is a perfect switch up from baked fish! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    1. Serious question: how is fish/seafood not meat? It’s flesh from an animal that had to be killed in order for you to eat it.

      1. Some Catholics believe the concept of fish not being ‘meat’ is based on the fact that fish are not of the land, like other mammals and chickens would be. Other religions and personal diet choices oftentimes follow the same guidelines.

        1. I’m w/you, Brian. Who cares? This is a recipe. Make it or not, but I hardly think anyone needs a lesson on religion on a cooking post.

  7. Love this recipe! Will never buy the store prepared version again. So simple, quick, and delicious. I too like adding Old Bay seasoning and also a cup of salad shrimp for that added texture and seafood goodness. I’m so glad I found this recipe. Thank you!

  8. Well, I love old bay, so I added some since it was suggested in the reviews,, but only AFTER I made the recipe, so I could give a true review. You won’t be disappointed if you make it exactly as directed (I tried it prior to adding the extra seasoning). It’s simple and delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

  9. It’s delish. Made Crab Rolls like they do in the Florida Keys (except they do lobster). Hollow out the middle and lump the crab salad in. You won’t be disappointed. This will be my go to now.

  10. This tastes very good even before refrigerating for an hour I could not find my Dill so I used pickle juice and that worked out perfectly I also liked that this does not use too much mayonnaise I liked the crab being the star of the show thank you for a wonderful recipe

  11. Very good! I did add some Old Bay seasoning after reading comments from other reviewers. I’m glad I gave this recipe a try. Will make it again for sure.

    1. So thrilled you mentioned the old Bay Seasoning I used regular seafood seasoning and it was definitely a good idea thank you

  12. Easy and delicious ! I served it on a “vol-au-vent” (puff pastrie). It gave the krispiness I love. Merci!

  13. My husband likes seafood salad, so I made it for him and we put it over a Romaine mix salad. I used green onions for the shallots, because that’s what I had, and I substituted Old Bay seasoning for the salt and paprika, and that was good. My husband hates celery (“vile weed!”), so I made it without and then added some to a little bit for him to try, and he liked the crunch and couldn’t taste it, so I added it to the rest too. (I always use the lighter stalks for him, since they’re milder tasting, not the darker green outer ones, which often have a very strong taste.) We both thought the dill was overpowering. I’d try it without next time, or at least cut it in half unless you really love dill. And it may be because of the Krab we used, but it was very dry and needed almost 2x the mayo called for.

  14. Fake crab meat is made of various types of fish ground together into a paste. I didn’t see whitefish mentioned anywhere of the 2 articles (Huff Post & SF Gate). My package states pollock etc. It could have whiting and perhaps that is where is confusion came from.

  15. I had to make this at work. I can’t eat imitation crab meat because it’s made with fish, and I’m allergic. So, I followed the recipe to the letter, since I couldn’t taste test it. HUGE hit! All of the residents loved it. Next time I can get real crab meat, I’m going to make it again so that I can try it myself

  16. Great, the one I was looking for (or something like it). Dang, I look around and see all these recipes with pasta in them, and all I want is this. It tastes great, just the way you got it. Kind of the way grocery store delis have it.

  17. Very yummy!! I doubled the amount of diced celery (1 cup) and used 1/2 cup diced red onion. Also, added an extra 1/4 cup of Mayo.

  18. This is great cooked liked a cheese toasty, with Swiss cheese!!!
    May sound weird, but soooo tasty! One of my all time fav sandwiches!!!

  19. My Mom used to make this recipe for us when we were kids and put it in toasted hot dog buns served with chips and pickles, so yummy. I recommend this recipe VERY HIGHLY.
    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  20. This was absolutely yummy! My first time making crab salad. I’ve always been nervous to make it just because I’m afraid I won’t get it right but this was hands down the next I’ve ever had! I didn’t have paprika so I didn’t add that and it was still great!

  21. The local asian buffet in our area has a crab salad that I love. I don’t think that it has shallots or onions in it but I could be wrong. Anyway, it is very thick. I was wondering if there is a possibility that they may add cream cheese to the mayonnaise? It also has carrot in it.

    1. I wouldn’t be able to tell without tasting it. It’s always a possibility that they did add it though.

    2. Many restaurants and commercial deli’s use Hellman’s Extra Heavy Mayo. It’ll make mayo-based salads extra rich and creamy. Good stuff but it is only available in one-gallon jars so a bit too much for the average household to use up before it goes bad.

      I’ll be making this recipe this evening. I’m craving krab salad on a nice croissant.

  22. This was delicious. Particularly on a roll (freshly baked hot dog buns) which were toasted (oven or toaster over are great). Get it brown then butter it liberally (lobster loves butter). It is crucial to put the lettuce (shredded) down first to maintain the crunch and temperature level. I’ve had various presentations but the roll is the way to go!

  23. Easy recipe and great as filling for lettuce wraps when (thanks for the earlier comment). I added about 1 tbsp of dijon mustard to zing it up a bit.

    Will make this again.

  24. Great recipe! I would just caution to start small with the amount of shallot you use. I followed the recipe, but after sitting in the fridge for a while, the onion flavor took over the salad. I had to add more crab, etc. to tone it down. Other than that, it’s a simple and delicious recipe! I will use it again and again.

    1. The paprika, above all, adds a red tinge to the seafood salad without adding to the flavor. I am in favour of dropping some paprika and dill (maybe half?). Lobster is a subtle flavor so it needs less spice. Crab flavors or haddock imitation meat will stand up better against strong seasoning. Lobster flavored imitation meat is still the best when served on a buttered, toasted roll with a lettuce base. Enjoy!

  25. Had some lump crab leftover from another recipe. It was soooo good in this recipe. Not sure if I can bring myself to try it with imitation crabmeat.

  26. Is there way to get the nutritional info on this? I’m doing a high protein low carb diet and this looks So so good lol

    1. I have nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe card but if you’re following a strict diet, I suggest keying in the ingredients in your own calculating tool to ensure accuracy. I hope you enjoy it!

  27. Great recipe! I added Old Bay seasoning, instead of paprika, and served it as lettuce wraps. Thank you – it was a great success!

  28. Thank you, this is fantastic! I omited the paprika because I found the Spanish paprika overpowering to the sweet, delicate flavor of the truly superb flake Kroger krab I had. For a lazy version, powdered onion is good too. I’m going to tweak this slightly for sushi burritos, but this recipe is superb, I never would’ve thought to add dill. Thank you!!

    1. When I used to get this at Subway, I would ask for made with extra black olives. When I make it at home, I use a tortilla wrap and always add black olives. It is one of my favorites.

    1. I’m always looking for new recipes and came across this one several months ago. I’ve made it for the wife and I numerous times and we love it. I add frozen peas (defrosted), a squirt of lemon juice, and always red onion. We love it