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Imitation Crab Pasta Salad

This imitation crab pasta salad is a perfect make-ahead recipe. If you are looking for a light lunch option or easy side dish, this can be made in under 20 minutes.

The imitation crab meat is combined with peas, onions, and cheese for a filling summer pasta salad. Adding the creamy salad dressing brings the tastes and textures together just perfectly.

Summertime and Year-Round Recipe

In the summer, I love easy recipes like this that are quick and easy to make. It is great for picnics, potlucks, and easy meals.

Throughout the year, this family recipe is often served as a side dish at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Birthdays. Really, anytime that there is a gathering, this recipe seems to sneak its way in. Yet, it is always a welcomed sight as it disappears fast.

Imitation Crab Pasta Salad
Imitation Crab Pasta Salad

How to Make Imitation Crab Pasta Salad

Boil the pasta, dice the onion and cheese, get the sweet peas out of the freezer, and cut the crab in chunks. Make the salad dressing and pour over the salad ingredients, give it a gentle mix, and serve right away or refrigerate and serve in a day or two.

Quick and Easy Cool Summer Salad
Quick and Easy Cool Summer Salad

Imitation Crab Versus Real Crab

Yes, I use imitation crab in this recipe. It is pre-cooked and easy to use, it is budget-friendly, and I can find it at my local grocer.

We do love real crab, but it is much more expensive, must be cooked and the meat removed from the shell without getting any shell bits in the meat, and in our area, it is hard to get good fresh crab.

If you are lucky enough to have a good supply of fresh crab use that. However, imitation crab is just delicious in this recipe too.

Imitation Crab Salad Ingredients
Imitation Crab Salad Ingredients

Keto Pasta Recipe

Pasta Options for this Side Dish

This recipe can be made gluten free by using a pasta that is made from rice, corn, or lentils. There are a few types available now so give a few a try.

Here are a few gluten free pasta options that I like the most.

Barilla gluten free pasta

Le Veneziane Gluten Free Pasta Noodles

In this cold pasta salad bite-sized shapes work well. Here are a few ideas, penne, macaroni, farfalle, rotini, shell, ditalini, and gemelli. The small size makes them easy to eat and pairs well with the other salad ingredients.

Today I used a lentil pasta and it held up well for two days. After that it got a bit mushy. It also has a bit of a nutty taste. We prefer regular pasta or using half gluten free and half regular pasta. It holds up better and tastes more like what we are used to.

To Rinse or Not to Rinse the Pasta. Another confusing notion is that when making a cold pasta salad it should be rinsed to remove the starch. It also stops the cooking and keeps the pasta loose for the salad.

However, when using the pasta in a hot dish, do not rinse as the sauce will stick to the pasta better. The Kitchn has a quick read on the debate of when to rinse and not rinse pasta.

Easy Side Dish Recipe
Easy Side Dish Recipe

How Long Can you leave Crab Salad Out?

If you plan on bringing this crab salad to a potluck or picnic, for food safety, do not leave this out more than 2 hours. If it sits out longer than 2 hours, it should be discarded and not eaten.

When bringing this to a summertime party, I like to put the container inside another container that is filled with ice. This helps keep it safe for your guests to enjoy.

Once made, this salad can be safety refrigerated up to 4 days.

Is there a more ideal warm-weather side dish than pasta salad?

Make a big batch for no-cook lunches and easy cookouts. This cold salad is a staple at some many gatherings. It is a straight-forward recipe that takes 20 minutes from start to finish.

Imitation Crab Pasta Salad
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Imitation Crab Pasta Salad

This imitation crab pasta salad is a perfect make-ahead recipe. If you are looking for a light lunch option or easy side dish, this can be made in under 20 minutes. The imitation crab meat is combined with peas, onions, and cheese for a filling summer pasta salad. Adding the creamy salad dressing brings the tastes and textures together just perfectly.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cold pasta salad, deli recipe, easy salad, easy side dish, pasta recipe
Servings: 12 Servings
Calories: 384kcal

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Ingredients

  • 16 ounces Imitation Crab Diced, I like a bit larger dice on this
  • 2 Cups Dried Pasta cook according to package directions, drain, and rinse
  • 1/2 medium Onion Diced
  • 13 ounces Sweet Peas I use frozen for this as I think they taste fresher
  • 4 ounces Mild Cheddar cheese Shredded
  • 4 ounces Mild Brick cheese Diced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Mayonnaise
  • 2 TBL. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Pepper
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Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Since the pasta will be used in a cold salad, I drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it under cold water until the pasta is cold. This will remove all the starch.
  • In a large mixing bowl add the crab, pasta, sweet peas, diced onion, and diced cheese.
    Imitation Crab Salad Ingredients
  • Make the salad dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, milk, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the salad dressing over the crab mixture and gently stir the ingredients together. Serve it immediately or refrigerate and serve the next day.
    Easy Side Dish Recipe

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Notes

Pasta Options for this Side Dish

In this cold pasta salad bite-sized shapes work well. Here are a few ideas, penne, macaroni, farfalle, rotini, shell, ditalini, and gemelli. The small size makes them easy to eat and pairs well with the other salad ingredients.
This recipe can be made gluten free by using a pasta that is made from rice, corn, or lentils. There are a few types available now so give a few a try.

How Long Can you leave Crab Salad Out?

If you plan on bringing this crab salad to a potluck or picnic, for food safety, do not leave this out more than 2 hours. If it sits out longer than 2 hours, it should be discarded and not eaten.
When bringing this to a summertime party, I like to put the container inside another container that is filled with ice. This helps keep it safe for your guests to enjoy.
Once made, this salad can be safety refrigerated up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 594mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 460IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 162mg | Iron: 1mg

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