Kani Salad


5 from 47 votes
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This kani salad recipe is creamy, slightly spicy, and comes together in less than five minutes! Also known as surimi salad, it’s so easy to prep and tastes like something you’d find at a Japanese restaurant. 

kani salad.

If you love Japanese-style salads, this kani salad recipe has to make your menu.

If you are unfamiliar with what kani is, it’s a Japanese crab salad that is a staple in any sushi restaurant. It’s made up of crab meat and julienne vegetables doused in a sweet, spicy, and creamy dressing.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients needed
  2. How to make kani salad
  3. Tips to make the best recipe
  4. Recipe variations
  5. Storage instructions
  6. More Japanese appetizers to try
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Kani Salad

Why this recipe works

This salad may look incredibly fancy, but I promise you, it is so easy to whip up.

  • It’s so easy! This quick recipe doesn’t require complicated techniques or ingredients, making it perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.
  • Perfect texture and flavor. The texture of this salad is creamy with some crunch from the vegetables. It’s savory and subtly sweet and has no fishy taste, despite its name!
  • Easy to customize. This salad can be customized with your preferred vegetables or dressing to suit your taste preferences or dietary needs. You can even add some heat for a spicy salad.
spicy kani salad.

Ingredients needed

This Japanese kani salad is so easy and besides the surimi and seasonings, there isn’t much else needed to make. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Surimi (Imitation crab meat). Crab meat is a mix of white fish (typically pollock) and flour to create a delicious crab-like texture and flavor. You can use real crab meat if you prefer.
  • Cucumber and carrot- Must-have vegetables in any good spicy kani salad. These should be julienne and/or sliced into very thin strips.
  • Mayonnaise– For a more authentic flavor, you can use Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie mayo) which is a little sweeter than traditional mayonnaise.
  • Sugar – To balance out the spice and the tang. White sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar works.
  • Rice vinegar– Optional, but a touch of this gives it that authentic flavor. 
  • Lemon juice– Just a touch to balance out the creamy and rich ingredients. 

How to make kani salad

Surimi salad is easy to make: just remember to julienne your vegetables evenly.

  1. Make the salad base: Mix the crabmeat and vegetables in a mixing bowl.
  2. Make the dressing: Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine: Stir through the dressing into the salad, followed by half the green onion and sesame seeds. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs on top.
how to make kani salad.

Tips to make the best recipe

Chill the salad: Chill the salad in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This will help the flavors to blend.

Cut vegetables into thin strips: Cut vegetables like cucumber and carrots into thin strips so that they blend well with the crab meat.

Mix very gently: Unlike other salads, this particular one is quite fragile, so when mixing the ingredients together, do it very slowly and patiently to ensure all the elements remain intact.

Recipe variations

  • Use real crab meat: Use real crab meat instead of imitation crab meat. It will make a significant difference in the taste of the salad.
  • Add sesame seeds and fish roe: Toasted sesame seeds add a nutty flavor, and fish roe (tobiko) gives it that satisfying richness.
  • Mango kani salad: Add sliced mango for a sweet element.
  • Spicy kani salad: Add a little bit of sriracha or hot sauce, or swap out the mayo for spicy mayo for some kick.

Storage instructions

To store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Try to keep the dressing separate from the salad, so that it remains crunchy and fresh.

surimi salad.

More Japanese appetizers to try

Frequently Asked Questions

 Can this salad be made ahead of time?

Yes, this salad can be made ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. However, the vegetables may become slightly wilted if left for too long.

Can this salad be made without crab meat? 

You can make a vegetarian version of this salad by omitting the crab meat and adding more vegetables or tofu.

Kani salad calories

There are approximately 215 calories per serving of this salad.

kani salad recipe.

Kani Salad

5 from 47 votes
This kani salad recipe is creamy, slightly spicy, and comes together in less than five minutes! It's so easy to prep and tastes like something you'd find at a Japanese restaurant.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 2 minutes
Total: 3 minutes


  • 2.5 oz imitation crab meat surimi
  • 1/2 large carrot julienned
  • 1 large cucumber julienned

kani salad dressing


  • In a bowl, add the crab meat, julienned cucumber and carrot.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, and sriracha, if using it.
  • Combine the dressing over the salad and mix until well combined.
  • Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the panko breadcrumbs. 


TO STORE: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Try to keep the dressing separate from the salad, so that it remains crunchy and fresh. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 215kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 18gFat: 5gSodium: 379mgPotassium: 193mgFiber: 3gVitamin A: 1604IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 132mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 5g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Japanese
Author: Arman
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks great….never cooked with kelp noodles before. Do you have to cook them first before you put them in the salad? Thank you for all your great recipes! My family is THRILLED when they hear it’s a Big Man’s World recipe we are trying (which is often!!).

  2. Hi JoAnna, I don’t think you cook the kelp noodles. You do have to rinse them out follow the package instructions. I looked up other recipes for this salad and none mentioned cooking them. The other thing I am going to try is zucchini noodles instead of the kelp to see how that goes. 🙂

  3. I never heard of kelp noodles? But was thinking of using buckwheat noodles.
    And using a trader joes organic Coconut Aminos sauce on top.

  4. This salad sounded so good but I didn’t have noodles so I used the bag of cole slaw that I had in the fridge. And i did put a little wasabi in the dressing. It worked great and was delicious!!! Thank you for sharing all the great recipes.

  5. 5 stars
    I recently fixed this and will be making it MANY more times. That sauce is the bomb! I added edamame, green onions and shrimp(plus fresh crab) to the salad and made it a full meal. Thanks for sharing. PS…. made it for friends who also loved it.