Crab Macaroni Salad recipe

This Crab Macaroni Salad recipe is the perfect way to make a traditional macaroni salad extra special! A creamy, delicious mac salad with crunchy celery, onions and meaty chunks of crab meat (or imitation crab meat). You’ll want to make this family favorite again and again!

A bowl of crab mac salad stacked on another bowl.

Check out some other tasty macaroni salad recipes like Tuna Macaroni Salad and Shrimp Macaroni Salad.

Crab Macaroni Salad

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Is it even summer without mac salad? I say it’s totally not! One thing I love is the ability to elevate an already awesome recipe by simply changing up some ingredients. So I knew that I needed to take my super popular Tuna Macaroni Salad recipe and made it even better!

The amazing thing about this recipe is that it mostly uses minimal ingredients that we all have around our home. And the great thing is, you can totally add other ingredients based on your unique tastes to make it exactly the way you like it. It’s great to make ahead and eat all week for lunch and also to make and bring to a picnic for a dish-to-pass that is sure to impress.

Tips for how to make macaroni salad with crab

  • Be sure to use salted water to boil the pasta to make the pasta more flavorful.
  • Cook the elbow macaroni to al dente as it will soften up more as it absorbs the mayo and be sure to cool it completely before mixing together the salad.
  • As you’re mixing it, taste and adjust the ingredients to your unique tastes. I listed the ingredients in the amounts that I personally enjoy. Like most of the other cooking that you’ll see on this blog, the amounts of ingredients are completely subject to your own personal tastes.
  • Be sure to refrigerate before serving.

A close of up crab macaroni salad in a bowl.

Can macaroni salad be made in advance?

Totally! Just cover and refrigerate until serving and if necessary, adjust the mayonnaise if it’s dried out (the pasta can absorb it, but adding a bit more will fix that).

What’s the best way to cool pasta quickly?

Right after draining, run the pasta under very cold water, gently mixing until fully cooled (it usually takes a couple of minutes max).

Do I have to use real crab meat?

No- you can also use imitation crab meat (also known as surimi seafood). Either option tastes great!

How long does it last?

Generally, around 4-5 days. That said, if you’re using real crab meat, it will only last a day or two.

Can you freeze macaroni salad?

I’ve heard of people doing this before but I wouldn’t recommend it as it will affect the texture of the pasta.

What are some other delicious add-in ideas?

You can pretty much add any of your favorite ingredients that you see in other pasta salads but the following options are my personal favs:

  • Peas
  • Fresh dill or other fresh herbs
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Hot sauce
  • Chopped carrots
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Lemon juice
  • Sliced green onion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Chopped dill pickles

Macaroni salad with crab stacked on another bowl.

Ingredients for making Crab Salad with Macaroni

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Crab (or Imitation crab)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Ingredients to prep ahead:

  • Cook pasta as per package directions
  • Chop celery
  • Chop onion

Helpful tools:

  1. Measuring spoons
  2. Measuring cups
  3. Mixing bowl
  4. Chef’s knife
  5. Cutting board
  6. Wooden spoon
  7. Saucepan
Crab Macaroni Salad recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Cooling time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins

This Crab Macaroni Salad recipe is the perfect way to make a traditional macaroni salad extra special! A creamy, delicious mac salad with crunchy celery, onions and meaty chunks of crab meat (or imitation crab meat). You'll want to make this family favorite again and again!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni salad recipe
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Jessy Freimann, The Life Jolie
  • 1 16 ounce box dried elbow macaroni, boiled per al dente directions on the package and cooled completely.
  • 4 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 small-medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 16 ounce package lump crab meat or imitation of crab meat, drained if there is liquid
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.

  2. Mix well and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

  3. Refrigerate until serving.

If you tried this recipe please comment and rate it 🙂 I love hearing your feedback and answering your questions! And if you make it please tag me on Instagram with @thelifejolie so I can share it <3

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