Even though it’s totally delicious, this gluten-free Crab Salad with Old Bay seasoning is something that is very, very rarely made in my house. That’s because I love steamed crabs so much that I almost always eat every morsel as I go—right after “picking” them (i.e., extracting the crab meat from the shell)—versus saving any crab meat to make crab salad.
I came across the photo of this Crab Salad on my laptop the other day and realized that I had never shared it with you all. It seems like now’s the time as summer is already fleeting. Yes, the constant bombardment of acorns and nuts on my roof from the resident squirrels’ efforts and the fact that Labor Day—the unofficial end of summer—is already behind us says that it’s true. Thankfully, you can enjoy crab salad all year long but crabs will always say summer to me.
I could say that I’m too undisciplined to pick crabs for crab salad but it’s more accurate to say that I enjoy the ritual of eating them out of the shell, with all the wonderful salt and other tasty seasonings on my fingers, just a bit more than I do eating them as crab salad.
My late mother-in-law always picked her blue crabs with no sampling at all until she had a bowl full of crab meat and then she’d enjoy hers as a simple salad of sorts mixed with cocktail sauce. We all admired her discipline and patience but nobody else joined her in her practice. We preferred to eat as we picked. And chatted away. As Mr. GFE used to quip, “everybody was talking and nobody was listening” because we were too focused on the goodness of the crabs to pay close attention to any subject at hand.
That said, crab salad is actually really good! I’ve used leftover, already-picked crab meat that I have purchased for other delicious crab recipes to make gluten-free Crab Salad with Old Bay seasoning because no waiting or discipline is involved when you get the crab meat ready to go. And many times, over the years, I have enjoyed crab salad at one of the crab houses on the Potomac River in Pope’s Creek, Maryland.
We’d go for work lunches for special occasions and unless it was a very, very special occasion such as when we knew we were taking a very long lunch or another time when we went right after work, nobody had time to leisurely pick crabs while socializing.
In that case, ordering crab salad instead made the most sense and it was always very good. Their single scoop of crab salad was served on a bed of lettuce with a scoop of potato salad on one side and a scoop of cole slaw on the other side and the plate garnished with fresh red grapes and finally, beloved gluten-full Townhouse crackers on the side. (I do miss those crackers!) This menu offering made a pretty presentation and was a popular lunch selection.
Crab salad can be made with any type of crab meat. I made the crab salad shown in this photo using the meat extracted from snow crab legs. You will end up with a reasonable portion of crab meat a lot faster by picking snow crab legs than you can by picking steamed Maryland blue crabs; that’s for sure.
Plus, turning crab meat into Crab Salad is a wonderful way to redeem those “doggie bag” snow crab legs that got pushed to the back of your fridge for a few days and as a result, are a bit on the dry side.
Incidentally, you can tell the crab in the Crab Salad photo is from snow crab legs because even though it’s been chopped and mixed with other ingredients, some of the orange colors of its outer flesh are showing. That kind of crab meat makes for a prettier, more festive Crab Salad.
Speaking of crab legs and crab meat, this is a good time for me to remind you that most imitation crab meat contains gluten. Developed to be a low-cost alternative to the real thing, it’s primarily made from white fish, including Alaska pollock, whiting, and cod. The fish is minced and combined with other ingredients—such as eggs, soy, starches, sweeteners, food coloring, preservatives, and usually wheat. This mixture, called surimi, is heated and pressed into molds so that the resulting “crab meat” resembles meat from a crab leg. Some imitation crab meat also has a small percentage of actual crab meat added to it. So please read labels carefully if you eat both gluten free and shellfish-free.
Real crab meat is a far better choice nutritionally than imitation crab meat. While imitation crab gets most of its calories from added carbs, the majority of the calories in real crab meat come from protein. Real crab is also a good source of vitamin B12, selenium, and zinc. When making surimi, these nutrients are lost during washing and processing when the fish meat is exposed to heat. Real crab also has a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids than its substitute.
Egg-Free Mayonnaise (with a Dairy-Free Option) from David Leite
Last but not least, this Crab Salad recipe calls for mayonnaise as most such salads do. I know that some of you reading can’t tolerate eggs. I just discovered this amazing egg-free mayonnaise, called Milk Mayonnaise, from David Leite via my friend Heather.
As she shared, there are egg-free mayonnaise brands on the market but she’s not been thrilled with any of them. Leite’s recipe calls for cow’s milk but several of his readers said they made it using almond milk successfully.
This recipe only requires a handful of ingredients and is not difficult to make but you do need to follow Leite’s instructions exactly for success. He says his Milk Mayonnaise is a Portuguese-based creation that is silkier and lighter than traditional egg-based mayonnaise. He gives your several flavor variations.
Heather got a little fancy with hers and made a saffron garlic version! Isn’t it gorgeous?
She said: “Le Grande Aioli! Saffron garlic milk mayonnaise (egg free!), perfect with my roast chicken from last night and salad in a high fiber wrap, bliss.” She explained that she added an extra clove of garlic and a dab of Dijon and soaked the saffron in lemon juice. She added some lemon zest as well. “So good!” she exclaimed.
When I asked her to tell me more, she also shared: “After David told me about his recipe, I made my first tuna fish sandwich since I developed this egg allergy and it was so good. I use lactose-free milk because dairy is an issue for me. I used an immersion blender, by the way. It makes it so easy to clean up afterward. I have made a variant with tomato and also one with roasted red bell peppers for a veggie dip and paella respectively. Divine.”
If you are also egg free, make your homemade Milk Mayonnaise as you wish and then you can use it to make your own version of Crab Salad or any other mayonnaise-based salad that calls your name. If you tolerate eggs, Duke’s mayonnaise is by far my favorite. Hopefully, your local grocery store carries it. Either way you go with mayonnaise, enjoy this Crab Salad!
More Chilled Salad and Crab Recipes
~ Cucumbers Caesar (be sure to use a gluten-free Caesar dressing)
~ Mexican Street Corn/Esquites/Elotes Salad
Gluten-Free Crab Salad with Old Bay Seasoning Recipe
Real crab meat and a handful of simple ingredients create this wonderful crab salad. Serve on lettuce or your favorite gluten-free bun. The crab salad shown in the photo is the amount that results when you double this recipe.
Gluten-Free Crab Salad with Old Bay Seasoning
Real crab meat and a handful of simple ingredients create this wonderful crab salad. Serve on lettuce or your favorite gluten-free bun.
The crab salad shown in the photo is the amount that results when you double this recipe.
Shirley, Crab salad is a favorite I haven’t made it in ages. Intrigued by the milk mayonnaise but have no issue with eggs, the recipe is very interesting though. Your crab salad looks yummy! Thanks for the reminder. It will be on our menu again soon!
Shirley Braden says
Hi Nancy–Happy to hear you’re a fellow crab salad lover! 🙂 I, too, am intrigued by the Portuguese milk mayonnaise concept. The doctor who set me on my gluten-free path told me to look to the food of other cultures for naturally gluten-free options. That advice applies when it comes to other food intolerances as well. Of course, we still have to ensure that recipes are being made as we think they are. There are not only cross-contact issues of course but also the reality that some dishes may get “Americanized” and have gluten added that way. Obviously, this is particularly a concern when one is eating out. As always, we can never assume anything!