This simple crab salad is a cinch to throw together and looks fancy enough to impress guests at a dinner party! Plus, this paleo, keto, Whole30, gluten-free, and no-cook dish can be assembled in just a few minutes!
Y’all know that I’m always looking for shortcuts to deliciousness, and this simple yet spectacular crab salad fits the bill. You can throw it together for unexpected guests for a healthy summer supper or transform it into a fancy appetizer for parties by spooning it into endive spears, mini sweet pepper halves, or gluten-free/grain-free crackers.
The hardest part of this recipe is making the homemade mayonnaise, but if you’re lazy like me you can buy paleo-friendly mayonnaise at the store. All that’s left to do is some chopping and mixing and then you’ll be finished in about 5 minutes!
What kind of crab should you use?
Obviously, the best choice is to use fresh cooked crab meat that you cook yourself or buy from a trusted fishmonger. The second best choice is the canned crab jumbo lump meat that is found in the refrigerated section in the seafood department. Don’t use shelf-stable canned crab meat because the texture is dry and mealy and the flavor is off. If you can’t find high-quality crab, use cooked salmon instead!
- Lump crab meat: Fresh crab meat and the fancy refrigerated canned stuff is expensive—but the quality will make all the difference in this dish. Definitely don’t cheap out on the shelf-stable canned crab because you’ll regret it.
- Fresh herbs: You can use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand—scallions, Italian parsley, chives, tarragon, and dill work especially well with crab.
- Spicy hot pepper or sweet bell pepper (optional): I like to add a finely diced Thai chili pepper to this salad because it punches up the color, texture, and heat. If you don’t like spicy things, leave it out or add some chopped red bell pepper.
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Paleo mayonnaise: You can use homemade or store-bought mayonnaise in this recipe. If I’m being honest, I haven’t made my own mayonnaise in years and normally buy Primal Kitchen mayonnaise.
- Fresh lemon juice
- Salad greens or avocados: To serve the crab salad as a complete meal, top a bowl of salad greens or halved and pitted avocados with it!
- Belgian endives or small sweet peppers (optional): If you want to turn this crab salad into a fancy appetizer, spoon it into endive spears or hollowed out halved mini sweet peppers.
How to make simple crab salad
Dump the crab in a large bowl and mix in the fresh herbs, and pepper (if using). Sprinkle on some salt and black pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice.
Add the mayonnaise dressing to the bowl with the crab and carefully mix it in.
Taste it to see if you need more mayo, lemon juice, salt, or pepper.
How to serve crab salad
If you’re eating this dish as a light summer meal, serve it over salad greens. It also tastes great spooned into halved avocados!
Wanna throw together a quick appetizer? Cut the ends off the Belgian endives and separate them into spears…
…and spoon the crab salad into each leaf.
Arrange the spears on a platter and all your guests will be impressed!
No endives? You can also halve and deseed mini sweet peppers and spoon the crab salad inside!
How to store crab salad
Because crab salad is so quick to make, you should probably just make it right before serving. If you insist, you can make it ahead and store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Always do a smell check and if it smells off, don’t eat it!
[Originally posted on February 22, 2011. Updated with new information and photos on August 2, 2021.]
Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).
PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD
Simple Crab Recipe
- 1 pound cooked lump crab meat
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 Thai chili pepper finely diced or 2 tablespoons diced sweet bell pepper (optional)
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons paleo mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 cups salad greens optional
- 2 large Hass avocado halved, pitted, and peeled (optional)
- 6 Belgian endive spears or mini sweet bell peppers (optional)
- Dump the crab in a large bowl and mix in the scallions, parsley, and chili pepper (if using). Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and lemon juice.
- Carefully mix the mayonnaise dressing into the crab meat mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper if needed.
- For a light supper, serve the crab salad over greens or spoon it over halved and pitted avocados.
- For an appetizer, cut the ends off the Belgian endives and separate them into spears. Arrange the spears on a platter and spoon in the crab salad. No endive spears? You can also halve and deseed mini sweet peppers and spoon the crab salad inside!