Is Imitation Crab Gluten Free? Facts

Is Imitation Crab Gluten Free

Imitation crab is a mix of fish flesh with a bunch of other ingredients made into a paste before being shaped and heated. This is not real crab meat, and as the name says, it’s the imitation of crab meat. But is imitation crab for everyone? 

Is imitation crab gluten free? No, imitation crab isn’t gluten free because its ingredients include wheat, but you may find gluten free options in the market. 

While following a gluten free diet, you need to know more than what goes on the ingredient list. Brands need to adhere to certain rules to make their food safe for celiacs. Read this detailed article on imitation crab to know about its gluten content and learn if it’s safe for consumption. 

Is Imitation Crab Gluten Free? 

Imitation crab is made from finely shredded surimi fish with a mix of stretch, sugar, egg white, and vegetable oil. The starch used in the paste contains gluten, making it unsafe for gluten sensitive people. 

When manufacturers add ingredients obtained from wheat or barley, the food item gets contaminated with gluten. The general imitation crab recipe mainly uses wheat starch to make the meat firm and freezable. 

Is Imitation Crab Have Gluten

But thankfully, there are companies who make gluten free imitation crab safe for people with celiacs to eat. While buying any gluten free imitation crab, you need to check three things- 

  • It should have no wheat in any form. 
  • Makers should prepare it in a gluten free facility. 
  • It has to pass a gluten free test which will ensure the food contains less than 20ppm gluten. 

Any branded gluten free imitation crab package has to adhere to these three FDA guidelines to make it safe for celiacs. 

Also Read:- Is Almond Milk Gluten Free?

How Is Imitation Crab Made? Should You Eat It? 

Imitation crab is a substitute for fresh crab, and it tries to bring the same crab flavor. The hero ingredient in imitation crab is surimi, a fish paste made with pulverized fish. Other ingredients that go into the paste are starch, sugar, vegetable oil, egg whites, and orange or red food color. 

The paste is heated and shaped to imitate the crab leg meat. The main reason of making imitation crab is that real crab is quite expensive. But can imitation crab provide you the same nutrition as a real crab? Is it even healthy? 

How Is Imitation Crab Made Should You Eat It

Imitation crab isn’t the healthiest option since there are so many added ingredients in there. It also has artificial coloring and preservatives, which we prefer to avoid in our day to day lives. 

Some of the added artificial ingredients added in imitation crab are- artificial colors, xanthan gum or carrageenan, monosodium glutamate, artificial crab flavorings, crab extracts, fermented rice wine, and sodium benzoate (for preservation). 

The ingredients mainly used in imitation fish may cause allergic reactions in many people. Surimi is a top allergen food that most people tend to avoid. Some makers don’t even warn about potential food allergies in the packaging; hence you must be careful while having imitation crab. 

How Is Imitation Crab Different From Real Crab? 

How Is Imitation Crab Different From Real Crab

Imitation crab is different from real crab simply because there is no crab meat there. It’s a replica of crab meat using artificial crab flavoring and crab extracts, while real crab meat is simple meat derived from crabs. 

Real crab is also higher in nutrients than imitation crab. Real crab is a good source of protein, whereas all you get from imitation crab is carbohydrates. Here is a table that presents the different nutritional values of both types per 85gms. 

Imitation crab Real crab 
Calories 8182
Fat 0.4g1.3g
Omega 325.5mg398 mg
Total carbs 12.7g0g
Added sugars5.3g0g
Starch 5.3g0g
Cholesterol 17mg45mg
Protein 6.1g16.4g
Sodium 715mg911mg

Gluten Free Imitation Crab Brands

Gluten allergic people curious about trying imitation crab often ask if there are any gluten free brands for the same. Fortunately, there are. These brands replace wheat starch with corn or potato starch to eliminate gluten from the food. 

Here are a few brands with gluten free imitation crab. Some of these are certified gluten free, while some are not. 

  • Trans Ocean Imitation Crab (labeled gluten free) 
  • Classic Creation Imitation Crab (not labeled gluten free but has no gluten ingredient)
  • Kroger Imitation Crab (not labeled gluten free but has no gluten ingredient)

Love Imitation Crab? Try These Recipes With It 

If you have only eaten imitation crab the basic way, here are some interesting recipes to try with it. Save these recipes and try them the next time you get imitation crab. 

1. Imitation Macaroni Crab Salad  

Imitation Macaroni Crab Salad
Cooking With Tammy


  • 1.5 ounce imitation crab 
  • 1.5 ounce macaroni (cooked as per package directions) 
  • 4 diced celery ribs 
  • ½ medium sized onion (chopped) 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • Pepper powder as per taste 
  • Kosher salt as per taste 


Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and keep in the refrigerator for some time before eating. 

2. Copycat Crab Casserole 

Copycat Crab Casserole
Dessia’s Lyfe


  • 16 ounces imitation crab 
  • ½ cup celery 
  • 2 cups raw cabbage 
  • ⅛ cup bell pepper (chopped) 
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese 
  • 1 ¾ cup cheddar cheese 
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise 
  • ¼ cup sour cream 
  • ½ tsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder 
  • 1 pinch of kosher salt 
  • 2 tsp sugar 
  • Cooking spray 


Chinese buffet style: cheesy crab casserole

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the mixture to it. Add some more shredded cheese from the top and cover the dish with foil. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve with bread or crackers. 

Wrapping Up 

The original imitation crab recipe contains gluten, but there are gluten free alternatives available to this delicacy. To avoid gluten allergy, you should check the ingredient list whenever you pick packaged imitation crab. 


Is imitation crab vegan? 

No, imitation crab isn’t vegan since it’s made from surimi, which is a paste made using pulverized fish and other ingredients. 

Can you eat imitation crab raw? 

You can eat imitation crab raw since the food is already heated and cooked before packaging. 

Which imitation crab brands are gluten free? 

Some of the gluten free imitation crab brands are- Trans Ocean, Classic Creation, Kroger, etc. 

Is imitation crab healthy? 

Imitation crab has a lot of added preservatives, flavorings, and artificial ingredients; hence, it’s not the healthiest food you find on the market. 

A passionate lifestyle and food blogger making you familiar with the secrets of following a healthy diet. My passion of exploring different cuisines and different lifestyle have helped accumulate experience that’s beneficial for people following a gluten free diet.