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Easy Weeknight Crab Rolls

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

A delicious alternative to lobster on a busy weeknight.

Crab rolls have become a staple on my monthly dinner rotation. They’re super easy to prepare, a meatless option, and, more importantly, everyone likes them.

Of course, lobster is my first choice, but crab is more reasonably priced. But a quick note on imitation vs. real crab meat. I remember the day I was sitting with my dietitian colleagues in our hospital cafeteria eating the imitation crab meat, thinking we were getting a heart-healthy protein source on our salad and gawking at the notion that imitation crab meat was high in carbs and sugar. “High in sugar?! But this is a protein and it’s not sweet!” The joke was on us!

Imitation crab meat isn’t just various fish mushed together into a mold (surimi, it’s called, which is actually usually made from pollock). Surimi only comprises about 30-50% of imitation crabs’ weight. The remainder is be made of water, starch, egg proteins, sugar, sorbitol, unhealthy vegetable oils and sodium or MSG. Oh my….

So, although the calorie content of imitation crab meat is similar to real crab meat (about 80 calories for 3 ounces), imitation crab is much lower in protein, higher in carbohydrates, sugar, and salt and lower in omega-3 fatty acids and minerals.

So, it’s certainly not horrible to have a crab roll with imitation crab meat occasionally, but if this recipe makes it into your regular rotation, as it has mine, you may want to splurge for real crab meat. You can purchase real crab pre-shelled in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, frozen, or even canned.

These rolls would also be perfect for a barbecue, picnic, or easy summer lunch. I add a lot of lemon zest and herbs for extra flavor.

Easy Crab Rolls

Serves: 4


1/4 cup mayonnaise (You can swap ~ 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt for 2 Tbsp mayo and no one will be the wiser...)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon lemon zest

½ - 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)

12 ounces lump crab meat

1 Tablespoon chopped chives

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or chervil (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

4-8 lettuce leaves

4 brioche hot dog buns toasted

1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for rolls, optional


1. Whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, and hot sauce, if you’re using. Add the fresh herbs, if you’re using them.

2. Pick over crab meat for any shells. Add mayo mixture to the crab meat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3. If brushing outside of buns with butter, do so, then toast until golden brown.

4. Layer lettuce into each bun, divide crab meat mixture and spoon on top of lettuce. Enjoy!

Tell me if you try it!


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