Can You Freeze Imitation Crab?



Hi, I'm Maggie. I love cooking for my family and sharing my experiences from the kitchen.
Imitation crab on a wooden board

What do to when you love to eat something but can’t have the real thing? Find something alike or a replacement.

Imitation crab is just that. It is a delicious replacement for crab meat when you can’t have the real and fresh one. Just by hearing the word imitation, it can be said that crab meat is not, well, crab. So what exactly is it? The main ingredient is surimi – a paste made of different types of minced fish. 

If you are a seafood lover like me, imitation crab meat is a great choice because it is affordable. It is easy to find in stores and you can always replenish your supplies. 

But can imitation crab meat be frozen? The answer is yes! Imitation crab has a certain shelf life, but freezing it can prolong it for a while.

In this article, I will teach you the most important things when it comes to storage of imitation crab meat. If you are ready, then let’s start.

Does Imitation Crab Freeze Well?

Imitation crab meat can maintain the best quality for up to 10 months if stored properly. I’m often asked if there is a difference in taste? If you take it frozen, as it is most often sold, there should be no difference in taste. If you take fresh and want to freeze it, there will be noticeable differences in taste due to ice crystals that form in frozen food.

Like any food, this one has its advantages and disadvantages regarding freezing and using imitation crab meat instead of the real crab.


Imitation crab meat is a very popular choice with both consumers and producers as it is economical to both purchase and produce.

Compared to real crab meat, it is more affordable and easy to use and can be found easily at most retailers around the world. Imitation crab meat is also very versatile in how it can be used, it can be used in salads, sushi, used in sauces, pies and pasta dishes.

When it comes to nutritional value, imitation crab meat is lower in sodium and calories than real crab meat. Some brands of mock, seafood-based crab meat such as Pollock are safe to eat for those with a shellfish allergy.

Negative aspects

Although imitation crab meat has fewer calories and sodium than real crab meat, it is also lower in protein, selenium, and vitamin B12 (Source). Real crab meat contains a more diverse diet and more important vitamins and minerals.

Imitation crabmeat may also contain harmful food additives that can trigger certain conditions. It could also be a source of potential allergens such as gluten, which could cause problems for those who are sensitive to gluten.

Manufacturers also add sugar, starch, and vegetable oil to the fake crab meat to help it retain its shape. Due to these additives, imitation crab meat contains more carbohydrates than real crab meat. 

How To Freeze Imitation Crab?

The thing is: Imitation crab meat has likely been frozen somewhere along the production chain and refreezing is not a good idea.

It would be hard to find fresh crabmeat imitation that hasn’t been frozen, but if you can find some, you should put it in the freezer immediately when you get home. If you’re lucky enough to get home in time before it has thawed, you can probably put it in the freezer. Be sure to check that the imitation crabmeat still has ice crystals, which would mean it’s safe to put it back in the freezer.

It’s okay to put the imitation crab meat in the freezer in its original packaging if it isn’t open. If you want to use some crabmeat and freeze the rest, open the package and remove as much as you want to use. You can then place the rest of the imitation crab meat in a sealable plastic container or place the opened package in a freezer-safe bag.

But be sure it hasn’t been thawed too much.

This might be also interesting to you: Can you freeze crab meat?

How Long Can You Freeze Imitation Crab?

Imitation crab meat can last in the freezer for up to 10 months if closed with a vacuum-sealed package. Unopened packaging can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, while at room temperature it can be stored for a maximum of 4 hours, after which it is not recommended to eat.

The temperature of the imitation crab should be kept below 0 ℉ for proper storage. If you notice a different smell with imitating crab meat, do not eat it because it is probably spoiled.

How To Thaw Imitation Crab?

Since imitation crab contains fish products, you have to be careful how it defrosts, so as not to expose it to temperatures that could favor bacterial proliferation, which could then, in turn, lead to food poisoning. So how to defrost imitation crab in the best way?

To thaw the imitation crab meat,

  1. I remove it from the freezer and leave it in the fridge overnight to defrost safely.
  2. If I need a quicker defrosting method, I run the imitation crab meat under cold water to speed up the defrosting process.
  3. You can also defrost it in the microwave that has that function, but I don’t practice that.

Can You Refreeze Imitation Crab Meat?

Once thawed, it is not advisable to refreeze the imitation crabmeat. Not only does refreezing run the risk of imitation crabmeat containing more harmful bacteria, but the freezing process can also ruin the quality of the food. When the freezing process occurs, ice crystals form in the food and these ice crystals break down the cell walls of the fake crab meat, which could cause it to become soft and mushy when refrozen.

My Favorite Imitation Crab Recipe

To preserve the taste and texture, it is necessary to defrost it properly. Since imitation crab meat is already cooked, you can add it to a variety of cold recipes, such as sandwiches or salads. Still, you can fry it, cook it in the microwave or steam it. Imitation crab meat can be perfectly combined with pasta, cheese, vegetables, a wide range of spices, in a word, with almost everything.

My favorite recipe is a Cream soup with imitation crab, its like a piece of heaven in a bowl. You should try it. Also, crab muffins are something you’ll love. The combination of flavors that these muffins have is phenomenal. If you prepare them for your friends, I guarantee they will be delighted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does imitation crab meat spoil? 

From many signs, it may be inferred that the imitation crab meat is spoiled
First, if you notice strange-colored stains on frozen imitation crab meat, this may indicate a freezer burn. That meat can be eaten but the taste can be different. 
Secondly, if you notice any signs of moldy meat, immediately throw it away and buy a new one. 
Third, if spoiled, imitation crab meat will have a sour taste, a strange odor and a slimy surface. Such meat should also not be consumed.
The fourth is the expiration date. Until they expire, it is safe to eat them.

Can you get salmonella from imitation crab?

There have been reports of salmonella from imitation crab. One such case happened in Bentonville, Arkansas in Sushi King restaurant, when several people became infected with salmonella, and it was found that imitation crab meat was associated with the disease. 63 cases of safe infection and 98 potential infections have been confirmed.

How long can imitation crab last in the fridge?

Up to 4 days, more than that is not recommended. 


Whether stir-fried, steamed or fried, crab sticks are, in fact, the perfect addition to any dish.

Your preference for the method may depend on numerous factors such as the availability of materials or whether you are health conscious. Rest assured that any method works just as perfectly.

If you have any suggestions or comments regarding crab meat imitation, feel free to drop them below! Share this article with your friends and family as well. Stay safe!


About Maggie

Hi, I'm Maggie. I love cooking for my family and sharing my experiences from the kitchen.
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