Minnesota Crab Louie is a creamy dressing that is loaded with imitation crab meat and shrimp, all with a spicy kick from the added chili garlic sauce. For another creamy homemade dressing, try my Thousand Island Dressing or Russian Dressing.

Bowl of Crab Crab Louie with Spoons and Lemon

Crab Louie

Crab Louie, also known as Crab Louis, is traditionally a salad that was served on a bed of lettuce with Dungeness crab and a hard-boiled egg, topped with a creamy pinkish dressing. In this recipe, I used imitation crab and shrimp right in the dressing itself, which could be called Seafood Louie. The dressing has been compared to Thousand Island dressing, but it is a bit smoother and has a little more bite to it.

Minnesota Crab Louie Recipe

Just like many recipes, there are lots of variations to Crab Louie recipes. There are two parts to this recipe–the seafood mixture and the Louie dressing.

Overhead View of Crab Louis in a Bowl with Lettuce and Towel Near By

What is Imitation Crab?

Imitation crab is not really crab at all, but a combination of whitefish paste and fillers, called ‘surimi’. It is still technically seafood, but it has a lot more added salt and preservatives than fresh crab. Imitation crab is definitely less expensive, so it is used a lot in recipes like this Crab Louie or California rolls. Look for canned lump crabmeat for more authentic crabmeat, but still pre-cooked.

Frozen vs. Fresh Shrimp

I used frozen shrimp that had already been peeled, deveined, and cooked. I did have to remove the tails from the shrimp, but if you buy the smaller shrimps, they will usually already have the tails removed. In addition, with the larger shrimp I used, I decided to chop it up into smaller pieces. With the small shrimp, just put them in whole. In either case, let the shrimp thaw before using it in the recipe.

If you are buying fresh shrimp, it definitely needs to be cooked ahead of time. Heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook it until it is opaque and a pinkish color (as compared to the limp gray before cooking). This takes just a few minutes.

It is up to you if you decide to devein the shrimp. You need to peel it, of course, but deveining is actually based on looks, not any other reason. To peel the shrimp, start underneath.  To devein, make a slit (not too deep) along the back of the shrimp, pulling out the black vein with the tip of a knife. It’s really not as intimidating as it would seem. So, if already peeled and deveined shrimp are not an option for you, don’t skip on the recipe–try the fresh stuff!

Very Close up of Crab Louis in Bowl Showing Big Chunks of Imitation Crab

How to Make Minnesota Crab Louie

To make Crab Louie, begin by combining the crab meat, shrimp, celery, green onions, diced bell pepper, and lemon juice. Set that aside as you make the dressing. To make the dressing, simply combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, and whipping cream. Pour this into the seafood mixture and toss to coat. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a day in advance.

Crab Louis on a Bun on a White Plate with Towel and Lemons

How to Serve Crab Louie

The more traditional Crab Louie is lettuce, the creamy crab dressing, topped with tomato, a hard-boiled egg, and asparagus. You could also add avocado to the salad or even serve this in individual salad cups for a unique display and delicious appetizer.

I actually enjoyed this Minnesota Crab Louie with a cracker for another way to enjoy the spicy dressing.

I would compare this recipe to a chicken salad or tuna salad recipe where it can be served in many ways, from on a roll, crackers, or lettuce salad.

More Seafood Recipes

5 from 7 votes

Minnesota Crab Louie

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Minnesota Crab Louie is a creamy dressing that is loaded with imitation crab meat and shrimp, all with a spicy kick from the added chili garlic sauce.


Seafood Mixture

  • 3 cups imitation crabmeat chunks
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen cooked shrimp, tail off, peeled, and deveined. Thawed and chopped.
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup green onions, minced
  • ¼ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Louis Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chili garlic sauce*
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream


Seafood Mixture

  • In a large bowl, combine crab meat, shrimp, celery, green onions, diced bell pepper, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Louie Dressing

  • In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, and heavy whipping cream. Mix to incorporate all ingredients.
  • Pour into bowl with the seafood mixture and toss to coat.


I used Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce in this recipe. 


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Reader Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this last night for supper and it was excellent.
    I made too much tho, how long does this keep in the fridge?

  2. I’m looking for a recipe like the one in Lunds and Byerly’s deli case. You being from MN, may be familiar with it. Does your recipe taste similar?

  3. 5 stars
    Looks great, wanting to try some lighter items on diet!!
    Wow, you have some real haters, that like to spout off….don’t pay them any mind.
    Take care

    1. You can use ketchup or thousand island dressing if you don’t want like too much spice. However I would suggest trying Annie Chuns sweet Thai Chili sauce. It’s not that spicy and you could cut it to your liking. I used Annie Chuns in mine and it worked great. Since I was making sandwiches I skipped the heavy cream and added a bit of extra Mayo. I served it on both Cheescake factory bread and everything crescents. Both were yummy.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for another excellent recipe.
    As for the sad git brigade, note that your comment is not pollock, but BOLLOCKS. Have a lovely day.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this ahead for my hubs as he headed to camp for the weekend and sent along croissants and crackers. He’s been bugging me to make it ever since!! Absolutely loved it! We’re in Maryland for vaca and I’m
    Making it today with fresh lump crabmeat as a surprise – thanks for this yummimess!

  6. My husband works in the heat so we eat a lot of salads an cold foods, this is a recipe I think we would enjoy. Thank you.

    1. Crab Louie is a type of recipe. This is the same concept, with a switched-out ingredient. I’m sorry that this is hard for you to understand.

  7. This is fantastic! I used Hellman’s Olive oil mayo, and whole milk to save significant fat calories. It is just so delicious. I also added some frozen green peas, and upped the chopped veggies a bit…. dang

  8. 5 stars
    I’m so glad I didn’t get off fb cause I would’ve missed these great seafood recipes.

  9. Can’t wait to get to store to make! This is right up my alley to make and consume😊✔️💯

    Thank you for your time, recipes n Book, I love!

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