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What Are The Best Methods For Cooking Imitation Crab?

Originating in Japan, imitation crab is a delicious food that can be cooked in 5 different ways. These include sauteing on a stove, deep-frying, cooking in the oven, using a steamer, and a chilled option.

Each method offers something different, but they all unlock beautiful flavors.

Created in Japan in the early 1970s, imitation crab is one of the most exotic, flavorful, and ambiguous types of cuisine found all over the world. 

Primarily eaten by western nations, imitation crab can be eaten straight out of the can or cooked in a wide range of different ways. Whether it be sauteed or fried, the flavors are guaranteed to make your taste buds tingle.

What Are The Best Methods For Cooking Imitation Crab

In today’s post, we’ll be showing you the best methods for cooking imitation crab and telling you a little bit more about this interesting cuisine. We have five different methods to get through so we better get started!

What Is Imitation Crab?

Before we start looking at the best methods to cook imitation crab, it’s probably a good idea to gain a better understanding of what it actually is.

Imitation crab, also known commonly as crab sticks, is a type of seafood made from starch and white fish. The white fish is pulverized and then mixed with the starch, before being cured and shaped to resemble crab meat.

To put it simply, it’s a type of fish meat primarily used to replicate shellfish meat. 

If you like sushi, you’ll have eaten plenty of imitation crab before as it is one of the major ingredients in a range of sushi dishes. It’s also one of the main ingredients in the California roll. 

Known by the name ‘surimi’ in Japan, it’s worth noting that more flavor is added to the crab sticks through the addition of sodium, wheat starch, and artificial flavors.

The pink exterior of the imitation crab helps preserve the meat for longer and traps any extra flavors. 

How Nutritious Is Imitation Crab?

Like most foods, imitation crab has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to nutritional value. 

However, how crab sticks affect your body and nutrition is very much dependent on how much you eat. If you consume imitation crab in moderation, the meat does a lot more good than bad.

Below, you’ll find some of the nutritional information you need to know about imitation crab,

Low Fat And Less Calories

Those sticking to a low-fat diet or trying to maintain a specific weight will appreciate the nutritional value crab sticks can provide. 

Imitation crab won’t get in your way at all. It is low in fat and very low in calories. One ounce of crab sticks only contains 26 calories and approximately 5.6 milligrams of cholesterol. 

This reduces the risk of chronic heart disease and any other diseases that can be related to cholesterol and calories.

Contains Phosphorus

Imitation crab contains phosphorus. This is a great benefit to us as it is known for increasing bone and teeth strength. It is also believed that phosphorus aids heartbeat regulation. 

Lots of Sodium

Imitation crab contains high levels of sodium. Generally, an acceptable amount of sodium to consume in a day is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams. One ounce of imitation crab contains a whopping 238.33 milligrams. 

Clearly, that is a very high rate of sodium. While the chances are fairly slim, this could make you more susceptible to stroke, high blood pressure, and kidney-related issues.

Therefore, it is advised that you only eat crab sticks in small amounts and with other foods like a salad. This helps your body absorb the ingredients better.

The Best Ways To Cook Your Imitation Crab

Despite it being possible to eat imitation crab straight out of the can, a lot of people decide to cook it first. In all honesty, we’re in agreement with those people.

Cooking imitation crab takes it to another level, unlocking more flavors and creating wonderful dishes. 

The way in which we cook crab sticks will have a big impact on the overall flavor. With that in mind, it is important to know the best methods for cooking imitation crab.

Luckily for you, we’ll be showing you each method now.

The methods we’ll be looking at are:

  • Sauteing on the stove
  • Deep-frying
  • Using an oven
  • Using a steamer
  • The chilled option

Sautéing On The Stove

If you’re looking for the most authentic, flavorful meal, we recommend sauteing your surimi. The main reason this method is recommended is that it gives you more freedom to play with flavors and enhance the imitation crab.

Another great thing about this method is how easy it is.

Taking very little time to prepare, all you need to saute your imitation crab is:

  • A sauteing pan 
  • Garlic 
  • Mayonnaise
  • Your choice of crab 
  • An egg 
  • Lemon mustard
  • Diced celery
  • Breadcrumbs.

Once you have those ingredients, follow the instructions below:

  1. Wash your hands before you start the process. You can then start by mixing all the ingredients above together before squeezing the lemon into the mixture.
  2. Split the mixture into equal portions and make each portion flat in shape. You should then leave the mixture to chill in your refrigerator.
  3. On the stove, bring your saute pan to heat. Add a small dash of oil to prevent sticking. Before moving on, make sure the heat reaches a medium level.
  4. Place your crab portions into the pan. You can now leave them to cook until they are evenly brown in color.
  5. Add any condiments you want. We like to add onions, peppers, and maybe some broccoli.
  6. Finally, garnish your imitation crab and serve it up. 

Deep-Frying Imitation Crab

Deep-frying imitation crab is easily one of the best ways to take your crab sticks to the next level. This is an excellent option for anyone that wants a brilliant treat and doesn’t have to worry about the amount of fat they consume. 

What Are The Best Methods For Cooking Imitation Crab (1)

To deep-fry your imitation crab, you’ll need:

  • Pre-sliced imitation crab
  • A deep fryer
  • A corn starch, milk, salt, baking soda, and water concoction (optional)
  • Cooking oil

When you have all the ingredients ready to go, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash the crab meat and set it aside.
  2. Pour cooking oil into the deep fryer and heat it to approximately 350 degrees.
  3. If you choose to, mix all the ingredients together to make your concoction. Once made, dip each piece of imitation crab into the mixture. You can then place each crab stick into the fryer.
  4. Now, cook the imitation crab until it is brown in color. The color must be even before you remove it from the fryer.
  5. Carefully remove the crab from the fryer and serve it hot!

Cooking Imitation Crab In An Oven

Using an oven to cook your imitation crab is a simple way to prepare something delicious. This is another method that takes very little time. It is also pretty effortless, requiring very little work on your part.

These are the things you need to cook your crab meat in an oven:

  • ¼ kilogram of crab sticks
  • An oven
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Mustard 
  • Fresh filet of fish
  • Dili

Now you know what you need, follow these instructions to create a delicious meal.

  1. Using a clean bowl, mix all of the ingredients we listed above together. Try to do so evenly.
  2. Take your fish filets and cut them in half. Again, try your best to do this as evenly as possible.
  3. Rub the mixture onto your fish filet pieces. 
  4. Grab a toothpick and insert it into the fish. This helps prevent the fish from rolling over when cooking.
  5. Turn your oven up to 140 °F and give it time to preheat.
  6. Next, place your fish pieces on a baking tray and place them in the oven.
  7. When cooked, serve the fish with pasta or rice. The fish will be ready when it’s brown in color.

Using A Steamer To Cook Imitation Crab

If you’re following a stricter diet or simply like to do everything you can to stay healthy, steaming your imitation crab is probably your best bet.

This is because steaming the crab meat ensures all the nutrients remain intact through the cooking process. There aren’t many additives in steamed imitation crab either.

All you need to steam your imitation crab is:

  • The surimi
  • A steamer
  • Water

If you don’t have a steamer, a pot that features a strainer will be fine. 

Follow our simple instructions if you want to effectively steam your crab sticks.

  1. Start by prepping your steamer. Adding two cups of water to the reservoir should be enough.
  2. Place the crab meat on the strainer. For thorough cooking, make sure the pieces of crab are evenly placed on your strainer.
  3. Plug your steamer in and turn it on. Let it steam the crab meat for about 10 minutes.
  4. Keep an eye on the temperature as the meat cooks to avoid overcooking your crab.
  5. After 10 minutes, remove the crab and serve it hot.

The Chilled Option

The last method doesn’t actually involve any cooking. Instead, it simply requires you to mix the crab meat into a salad. A nutritious imitation crab salad is the perfect option for individuals in a rush.

In a matter of minutes, you’ll be left with a delicious, fresh salad.

All you need is:

  • Imitation crab
  • Mayonnaise
  • Diced potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Green onion
  • Worchester sauce
  1. Before you do anything else, wash your hands. Only then can you mix the ingredients above.
  2. Add any extra flavors you want. This can include salt, sauce, or chili.
  3. Leave the mixture in the refrigerator so it is nice and chilled.
  4. Serve your crab in a wrap or on its own.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can You Grill Imitation Crab?

Yes, you can grill imitation crab meat on a BBQ. However, in our opinion, it isn’t the best way to do it. 

If you decide to cook your imitation crab on a BBQ, consider melting butter on top of it and adding a variety of spices. This will really enhance the flavors.

Is Imitation Crab Precooked?

Imitation crab is precooked. Therefore, you can use it without having to do anything else with it. A lot of people choose to do just that.

However, cooking crab meat gives you much more freedom to enhance flavors and create tasty dishes.

Is Imitation Crab Expensive?

You’ll be pleased to hear that no, imitation crab isn’t expensive. In fact, it is actually very affordable, making it a great shellfish alternative. 

What Are The Best Methods For Cooking Imitation Crab

How To Cook Imitation Crab

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Sauteeing imitation crab is one of the easiest cooking methods for this tasty dish. Just combine the crab mixture, shape it into small sticks and allow each stick to cook in a hot sautee pan. The imitation crab sticks can be served immediately.


  • Your choice of crab
  • Egg
  • Garlic
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemon mustard
  • Diced celery
  • Breadcrumbs


  • Sauteing pan
  • Spatula
  • Large bowl


  1. Mix the crab ingredients: Mix all the ingredients for your imitation crab together in a large bowl.
  2. Shape the crab sticks: Split the crab mixture into equal portions and shape each one into flat stick shapes. Then put the sticks into the fridge.
  3. Heat oil in a sautee pan: Place your sauteeing pan on the stove, put some oil into the pan and bring it up to medium heat.
  4. Cook your imitation crab sticks: Take the crab sticks out of the fridge and put them into the oil. Allow each side to cook properly, and then turn the sticks with a spatula.
  5. Serve: Once the sticks are fully cooked, they are ready to be served with your favorite sides.
Jess Smith
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