This cold Seafood Salad is going to be a hit at your next party! Bite-sized shrimp, flaky imitation crab, and fresh vegetables are coated in a creamy and flavorful mayonnaise dressing. With only 8 ingredients and 45 minutes needed, it couldn't be any easier!
🍤 The Best Refreshing Salad
This deli-style Seafood Salad is a must-have once summer rolls around, along with California Chicken Salad and Pineapple Slushie. It's light, satisfying, and ultra refreshing. But we also make it every holiday season since it's so easy and the ultimate crowd pleaser. So it's basically a year-round treat 😉.
Homemade seafood salad can be pretty much anything you want it to be. I like to keep it simple with steamed shrimp, imitation crab, crunchy red onion, and celery. And the easy, flavorful mayonnaise dressing ties it all together. The end result: a creamy, tangy, lightly sweet, and full-of-texture mixed seafood salad that always gets rave reviews!
Why You'll Love It
- Affordable: Imitation crab is inexpensive and helps stretch the shrimp. It's a great way to feed a crowd for holidays, potlucks, picnics, and gatherings.
- Easy: This gluten-free crab salad couldn't be any easier. All you have to do is basically chop some veggies and throw everything into a bowl!
- Versatile: Serve this cold shrimp and crab salad as an appetizer dip with crackers or stuff it into a sandwich. There are endless ways to enjoy this seafood salad!
- Shrimp: I recommend using frozen uncooked shrimp. Any size would work since they'll be chopped into bite-sized pieces anyway. Make sure to peel, de-vein, and remove the tails first.
- Imitation/mock crab (or krab): Usually made from a mild white fish like Alaskan pollock. It has a mild flavor similar to sweet crab, but is much more affordable. I prefer the stick style over the flake but either will work. If you've got leftovers, try making Crab Rangoons with them!
- Red onion and celery: Fresh vegetables add crunch, nutrition, and color.
- Mayonnaise: The creamy base of this salad. If using a paleo (sugar-free) mayonnaise, you may need to add more sugar.
- Coconut sugar: Optional, but I like a dash to enhance the sweetness of the seafood.
- Paprika and dill: To flavor the mayonnaise dressing.
Substitutions & Variations
- Instead of imitation crab, feel free to use fresh or canned crab instead.
- If you don't like red onion, you can use shallots or green onion in its place.
- For a no mayo seafood salad, substitute it with Greek yogurt. You may need more sugar if it's too tangy.
- Coconut sugar can be substituted with an equal amount of white granulated sugar.
- Replace the paprika and dried dill with a ½ teaspoon Old Bay or cajun seasoning.
- Add more seafood! Flaky white fish, scallops, lobster, or even grilled octopus would be great additions.
- Want to make a heartier salad? Add cooked pasta or quinoa for satisfying carbs.
- Play around with the flavors. For a Greek twist, add oregano, za'atar, or tarragon. If you want to go Italian, dried basil, parsley, or thyme. I also love using Kewpie mayonnaise for a Japanese twist!
🔪 How To Make Seafood Salad
⬇️ Please scroll down to the recipe card to see full ingredient amounts and instructions.
STEP ONE: Dice the red onion and let it soak in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. This helps remove some of the spicy bite and raw flavor. Then drain and pat the onion dry.
STEP TWO: Meanwhile, bring a pot or pan of water to a boil. Place the seasoned shrimp into a steamer basket and into the pot. Cover and steam for 2 minutes or until the shrimp is opaque. Let cool slightly, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
STEP THREE: Add all the ingredients for the seafood salad into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, making sure to flake the imitation crab and separate the onion. Season to taste.
STEP FOUR: Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more the flavors will meld together. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.
How To Serve Mixed Seafood Salad
- Serve it as a cold appetizer dip with buttery crackers and fresh vegetables on the side.
- Use it as a creamy sandwich filling between croissants, bagels, lettuce, hot dog buns, pita, bread rolls, or as a wrap.
- Dollop it on top of pasta, quinoa, rice, or salad greens for a quick and healthy entrée bowl.
💭 Top Tips
- My favorite way to cook the shrimp is by steaming it. Not only is it healthy, but you also retain pure shrimp flavor. Boiling it can water-log the shrimp and sautéing it requires extra oil or butter. We avoid all that with steaming.
- Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Keep everything a uniform size for easy eating and handling. Depending on the size of your shrimp, you may have to cut it into thirds or quarters.
- Soak chopped red onion in water for 5-10 minutes to remove some of the raw bite. This will make it much more palatable and prevent raw onion flavor from overwhelming the salad.
- Let the salad marinade in the fridge. I recommend minimum 30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry and let the salad chill.
- I like to serve this mixed seafood salad cold. For parties and events, make a large batch (I usually double or triple the recipe). Set out a bowl for guests but keep most of it in the fridge, and simply refill as needed throughout the night. You can also serve the salad over a bowl of ice to keep it chilled for longer.
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Store leftover deli-style Seafood Salad in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can enjoy it cold immediately from the fridge.
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this salad since the mayonnaise does not freeze well.
Make Ahead: To retain the fresh flavor, I recommend making this salad maximum one day in advance.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Imitation crab is usually made from pollock, a mild white fish. It's minced into a paste and processed with other ingredients to mimic the appearance of crab. It usually doesn't have any crab in it.
If you want to make seafood salad without mayo, try replacing it with Greek yogurt. For a fun twist, you can also try mashed avocados.
🍽 Looking For More Seafood?
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- Pour some water into a skillet or pot, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom of your steamer basket. Bring to a boil. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, place into steamer basket, and place basket inside skillet or pot. Cover with a lid and steam for 2-3 minutes or until opaque, stirring halfway. Carefully remove steamer and let shrimp cool, then cut into quarters. Alternatively, you could also boil or sauté the shrimp until cooked.
- Soak the diced red onion in water for 5-10 minutes to remove the raw bite. Then drain and pat dry.
- To a large bowl, add cooked shrimp, red onion, imitation crab meat, celery, mayonnaise, sugar (if using), paprika, dill, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix vigorously to flake the crab.
- Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Season to taste and serve chilled.
- Replace coconut sugar with an equal amount of white granulated sugar.
- Feel free to substitute paprika and dried dill for ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning.
- Store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.