This Easy Crab Ceviche recipe is bright and refreshing! It is made with avocado, crab (either real or imitation), cilantro and lots of fresh peppers making it the perfect appetizer for the summer months. Serve this ceviche with corn tortilla chips and a refreshing margarita for the perfect party snack!
I just LOVE crab. It is the ultimate summer time food. Give me a bucket of crabs, some lemons, and a beer and I'm a happy girl.
So if you love crab as much as me, you will definitely love crab ceviche. It is a deliciously easy and super fancy snack that always wows friends and family. Jumbo lumps of crab meat marinated in a citrusy dressing with fresh crunchy peppers, sweet onions, some heat from the jalapenos and brightness of the cilantro.
It is the perfect summer dip!
What Is Ceviche?
Ceviche is a popular Latin American seafood appetizer. It is typically made with raw fish and fresh veggies like onion, chili peppers, citrus and herbs. You are supposed to let it "cook" or marinate it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before serving it cold with a fork or with chips for dipping.
Is Ceviche Cooked?
This is something many people wonder.
Acid essentially "cooks" food by breaking down the fibers in the food. In this case, a ceviche is when we add citrus like fresh lemon or lime juice.
Though, you're really not cooking the crab in this crab ceviche. Instead, you are breaking down the proteins in your fish which is called denaturation. The end result is fish (or crab) that is completely safe to eat!
Crab Fact: Pasteurized crab meat is safe to eat raw.
I made ceviche in a culinary class I took in college. It was the FIRST recipe we were supposed to make, I am assuming because it is served cold and requires no cooking.
I wasn't excited to try it because I hated raw fish and cilantro but I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted it. I took it back to my dorm and devoured the rest. It was quite acidic but super tasty especially using tortilla chips as a vessel for scooping.
So this in version, I simply substituted the white fish we used with crab. I think it is much tastier because crab is a bit sweeter.
The ingredients in this crab ceviche are pretty simple. Feel free to tweak them as you need but leave the citrus, herb an and onion.
- Crab meat- This is where you can be flexible. Use imitation, jumbo lump, claw meat or a combination of them all. Imitation crab meat is an inexpensive way to make this appetizer.
- Lemon juice- The most important component in this dish other than the crab. Feel free to use lemon or lime juice or BOTH if you prefer.
- Bell peppers- Bell peppers are a mild and inexpensive pepper. Make sure to grab a few different colors to make for a beautiful presentation.
- Red onion- Red onion is the only onion I recommend for this recipe. It doesn't have as much of a bite as your typical white onion and is slightly sweet.
- Avocado- The creaminess of the avocado pair so well with this ceviche. You can leave it out if you prefer.
- Cilantro- Cilantro is a staple when it comes to ceviche but you can replace with parsley if you wish.
Choosing Your Crabmeat
Crab meat is EXPENSIVE! If you want to save some money, go with imitation crab meat instead. Both would work in this recipe and both taste delicious.
Imitation crab meat is called "jaiva" in Latin America and is commonly used in many dishes.
What IS Imitation Crab Meat?
Imitation crab is made from white fish (often pollock) and is commonly referred to as surimi. It tastes AND looks just like crab.
You can find imitation crab meat in clear packages near the seafood counter by the cans of raw crab meat.
I just love how inexpensive it is compared to jumbo lump crab meat. A container of real crab meat is about $15.00 compared to about $5.00 for the imitation crab.
You will want to use the same amount of imitation crab as you do real crab meat. The only difference is the texture. You will want to chop up your crab sticks into small pieces so that they resemble lumps.
Chopping Your Peppers/Onions
Ceviche is not a hard recipe to make but does require a bit of knife skills.
In my culinary class, ceviche showcased our chopping skills. I remember being so careful and meticulous so when the chef came around to check out our peppers, I had to perfectly dice and mince squares. Yes SQUARES not rectangles.
When it comes to the onion, you definitely don't want your guests to bite into huge chunks. Instead, mince your onions finely using a sharp knife or toss it in a food processor to do it quickly.
Does it really matter when it comes to taste? Not really. But if you care about the presentation, take the time to chop your veggies as uniform as possible.
The most IMPORTANT part of your ceviche is the chopping!
Play around with the flavors as needed.
Here are other ingredients you can add to your ceviche:
- other hotter peppers like chilies or serranos
- lime juice or wine vinegar
- hot sauce/sriracha
Although making homemade crab ceviche is pretty simple, you want to make sure you take your time precisely chopping your peppers and onions. (This is what my culinary professor at the time preached to us.) That strong knife skills can make a dish that much more appealing.
- Mince your veggies so they are all the same size (watch that video for assistance) or see my photos above.
- Allow your ceviche to marinate at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- If you can afford it, use the best crab meat you can find. Jumbo lump is best.
- Don't be afraid of a little heat, jalapenos are not very spicy anyway.
- It is vital that you use FRESH ingredients. Do not use dried cilantro or bottled lime juice.
I classify ceviche as a "dip" because you normally eat it with a dipping agent like Tostitos or pita bread. You could of course, eat it with a fork but I love the crunchy bite the corn tortillas provide. Plus, they have those perfectly shaped tortilla scoops that are just like little spoons!
Serve with my Classic Margarita Pitchers for a delicious pre-dinner snack.
This is like cooking seafood so it depends upon how you prefer your seafood. Medium-rare? Medium? Medium-well? The size of your crabmeat will also affect the times. The "cooking" time can range anywhere from 15 minutes to up to 2 hours. The longer you let it sit, the more "pickled" your crab will be.
Not necessarily but longer is not better like most marinating. As the acid breaks down the protein, the texture will turn a bit mushy.
Imitation crab ceviche can last 2-3 days in the fridge.
No because the acidic juices in the citrus used essentially "cooks" the fish.
Other seafood appetizers you might like:
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EASY Crab Avocado Ceviche (w/ Real or Imitation Krab)
- 8 oz. real crab meat or imitation crab meat
- 2 tbsp red onion, minced
- ⅓ cup bell peppers, minced ((I used red, yellow and orange for color))
- 1 avocado, small dice
- 1 jalapeno, minced (less if you don't like heat)
- 3 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon (or lime) juice
- ¾ tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
- salt to taste*
- If using imitation crab meat, shred or dice your crab first.
- Add all ingredients besides your crab to a medium sized bowl and mix.
- Fold in your crab meat being careful not to break up the lumps. Salt to taste.
- Let chill in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving. Toss a few more times throughout.
- Serve cold with corn tortilla chips or grilled pita triangles.