Imitation crab dip is a cold salad that is salty, slightly sweet from the crab, creamy, and crunchy from celery. Mayonnaise brings it all together keeping it creamy and yet light since it is made without cream cheese. Eat this seafood dip with crackers, crunchy vegetables, or straight from the bowl for a perfect light lunch or cool snack on a hot day.
Also called seafood salad, crab salad dip is a quick and easy homemade version of what you'll find around the seafood counter at your grocery store.
Unlike using fresh crab or other expensive seafood, this crab stick recipe uses artificial crab made from other less expensive fish that is more affordable and equally as delicious.
If you'd like to use fresh crab meat, you can definitely do so! You should also try this Maryland Style Crab Pretzel and Hot Crab Spinach Artichoke Dip if you're looking for recipes using real crab meat (blue crab).
And, if you're looking to serve this with a summer staple, try it next to these Marinated Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Aioli!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Cold and creamy. Crab dip is perfect to eat in the warm months of the year because it is chilled and creamy with the perfect amount of crunch from chopped celery.
Quick and easy. This recipe only requires a few ingredients and comes together in just four simple steps. You won't need any special equipment or to turn on the oven. Just chop and stir, and you're ready to eat!
Imitation crab. If you've never had imitation crab, it is such a great and affordable ingredient. It is made from other, less expensive fish, but still tastes and feels like crab meat. It is sweet, reminiscent of the sea, and has that little bit of bounce when you bite into it. This is a great option so you can eat delicious seafood without breaking the bank.
- Imitation crab sticks. Sticks are the best option to use, so look for those first. If you can't find crab sticks, use crab flakes or chunks.
- Mayonnaise. This is the base of the imitation crab dip and creates a creamy texture for the dip.
- Lemon. Freshly squeezed lemon helps to cut through the fat of the mayonnaise and pairs perfectly with the crab.
- Celery. The celery will get very finely chopped to add texture to the crab salad.
- Shallot. Very finely chopped for extra flavor. Red onion can also be used but will be a bit spicier.
- Dried herbs and spices. Dried dill, garlic powder, and paprika are used in this recipe. Fresh dill can also be used.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Use lime juice in place of lemon.
- Substitute greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise for a slightly tangier version.
- Use real crab meat in place of imitation crab if you're feeling fancy.
- Add chopped fresh dill or parsley.
- Make this into a handheld meal by scooping crab dip onto a roll like a crab salad sandwich.
- Substitute 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill for the dried dill.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Chop the imitation crab sticks, most into bite-sized pieces, and some into shreds. This allows for various textures in the seafood salad.
Two: Whisk together the mayonnaise, water, salt, lemon juice, spices, celery, and shallot.
Three: Add the chopped imitation crab and mix to combine. Refrigerate for one hour to allow the flavors to develop.
Four: Serve in a bowl with your favorite crackers, crostini, celery, or rolls and extra slices of lemon for squeezing.
Serving tip! Turn this into a lunch or meal by adding the crab dip to a sub roll! It's exactly like the seafood salad you get at the deli counter.
- Add sriracha or old bay seasoning to change up the flavor profile.
- Use both chunks and shreds of the crab sticks for varying textures in the salad.
- Crab sticks work best in this recipe, otherwise crab flakes are the next best option.
Yes, the sticks of chunks of imitation crab are cooked prior to packaging, so it can be eaten directly after opening
While this specific recipe was developed to be cold, you could bake it in the oven until hot and bubbling, if preferred. You could also make this Hot Crab Spinach Artichoke Dip.
Crackers like saltines, water crackers, Triscuits, wheat thins, baguette slices, tortilla chips, or celery sticks.
Imitation crab meat is a mixture of fish, egg, starch, and some additives. It is ground and shaped into sticks or chunks to look like crab meat. Often found in California rolls and other sushi, it is an inexpensive alternative to crab.
Store the imitation crab dip covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. This dip should not be frozen.
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Imitation Crab Dip
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- Large mixing bowl
- rubber spatula or spoon
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ teaspoon Garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Dried dill
- 2 tablespoons finely minced celery
- 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
- 16 oz imitation crab sticks 8oz is one pack
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, water, salt, lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, dill, minced celery, and minced shallot until combined and smooth.½ cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon Garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon Paprika, 1 teaspoon Dried dill, 2 tablespoons finely minced celery, 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
- Cut ¾ of the package of crab sticks into 1 cm pieces and add to the bowl of wet ingredients. Cut the remaining sticks into fourths, then shred or cut the pieces into thin shreds. This allows for various textures.16 oz imitation crab sticks
- Refrigerate for one hour to allow the flavors to mingle. Serve with crackers, celery stalks, or on a sub roll.