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Crab salad

Updated: Tue, 7 May, 2024

What a delicious, healthy starter: crab meat salad served in boats of lettuce leaves, with avocado wedges and lemon slices!

crab salad

Crabbing attitudes

The alpha male approach to crab is to grab a live crustacean and plunge it into boiling water, with its claws waving.

The macho approach is to put the animal to sleep in the freezer, then plunge and boil.

The manly way is to buy fresh whole cooked crab and attack it with a hammer, pliers and other utensils to get to the meat which is very messy. The two previous methods, needless to say, involve messiness too once the crab is cooked.

The girly approach is to buy dressed crab. The downside of that is that you get approximately about a third of the meat that the original shelled gentleman consisted of. Oh, to be a crab picker in Cornwall!

crab salad with radish and spring onions

Whole crab – better value

I must admit I’ve only ever done ‘the manly’ and below. I may be a thorough carnivore, but I’m slightly worried about cooking a live animal – mainly because it might snip my finger off. On the other hand, opening a tin might often result in a nasty accident too.

The taste, of course, rewards those who opt for ‘the alpha male’. The crab claws I picked at Fisherman’s Wharf, straight from boiling vats were the most delicious I’ve ever had.

And greedy pickers aside, it is so much better value to buy a whole, not necessarily live, crab. Of course, as said above, it’s very messy and requires some skill. But also very rewarding.

crunchy and zingy crab salad

How to scoop crab meat

Whichever approach to crab you represent, alpha, macho or girly (there’s also the toddler: opening a tin with crab meat, of course), it’s best to scoop white crab meat out of the shell and claws with your fingers. That way you’ll be able to pick all the shell shrapnel, which is always an unwelcome surprise in your salad or sandwich.

Personally, I mix the white and brown meat together but if you’re fussy (and prepared not to have much food on your plate, especially if you’ve followed the girly way), have only white meat.

Use a spoon to scoop the brown meat, and the only bits of crab that are not edible are the grey, feathery gills aka ‘dead man’s fingers’.

crab salad ingredients

How to mix the salad

The flavours that go best with crab meat in my view are: something crunchy, something acidic, a hit of chilli and something creamy, especially if you add the brown meat to the white.

This recipe ticks all those boxes: crunchy radish and spring onion, finely chopped medium-hot chilli, a squeeze of lemon and some crème fraiche which you can swap for Greek yoghurt.

And that’s it: you can use it as sandwich filler, jacket potato topping or in my favourite way, served in little boats of lettuce for a very healthy and elegant lunch or starter.

preparing crab salad

More crab recipes

Crab butter with Thai chilli flavour, fantastic on toast or fresh bread. Chili crab butter is easy to make and can be served as a dip or sandwich spread.

Crab salad two ways, white crab meat and sweetcorn layered with creamy brown crab meat salad base. Use fresh dressed crab meat and bake corn on the cob for the best result.

More seafood salad recipes

Scallop ceviche, a Peruvian dish of sliced scallops marinated in lime juice, mixed with fresh plums or mango if it’s preferable. Fresh and exciting appetiser, sea scallop (king scallop) ceviche only takes a few minutes to prepare.

Five spice shrimp with crispy noodles. Chinese five spice seasoned prawns and stir fried pak choi in a warm layered salad served with crispy fried noodles.

Vietnamese cabbage and prawn salad with nuoc mam dressing, layered on baked brown rice. The best salad bowls are a/ Asian and b/ contain cabbage.

crab salad lettuce boats with avocado

Crab salad

Servings: 2-4Time: 15 minutes


  • 2 spring onions
  • ½ jalapeno chilli pepper
  • 2 radishes
  • meat picked from 1 cooked crab
  • 2 tsp crème fraiche
  • salt and black pepper
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • cos or romaine lettuce leaves and avocado slices, to serve


1. Trim and finely chop the spring onions and the chilli pepper. Trim and slice the radishes into thin slivers.

2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon.

3. Chill, then serve on lettuce leaves, garnished with avocado.

Originally published: Fri, 22 January, 2016

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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