Can You Microwave Imitation Crab Meat
What to know

Can You Microwave Imitation Crab Meat or Not?

Imitation crab—also known as crab stick, krab stick, or seafood stick—is composed of various groundfish species that form a paste which is then processed into something resembling crab. Artificial flavoring may or may not be involved. It’s basically the seafood version of the hotdog.

With that in mind, Should you microwave crab meat? Or should you use a skillet to fry it or an oven to bake it instead?

Can You Microwave Imitation Crab Meat?

Yes. it’s relatively easy to microwave this food because it’s already cooked. It takes about 30 seconds to a minute.

Like hotdogs, imitations crab meat is already pre-cooked then frozen so heating them up should be straightforward when push comes to shove. First, defrost them. Second, microwave them in a microwave-safe container for about a minute or less.

There are other ways to go about microwaving crab meat—or imitation crab meat, to be honest—in a flavorful manner. For example, you can place a bundle of crab legs at a time in your microwave while wrapping them in paper towels surrounded by plastic wrap. Afterwards, heat them for 2 minutes.

For warming up a small quantity of crab meat sticks, particularly a pair of sticks of the flaky variety, you can use the microwave. Make sure that the power level is set at half or 50 percent. Heat it in 20 to 30-second increments. Check if the sticks are warm and don’t overheat them.

imitation crab meat
Imitation crab meat

What is Imitation Crab Meat Made of?

Crab meat isn’t really made of crab meat or else it wouldn’t be that cheap. Now obviously if you got crab meat directly from a crab or saw a worker extract meat from a cooked crab, then it’s made of crab.

For imitation or pseudo crab meat sticks, it’s made from surimi or minced fish flesh—usually Pollock or some other whitefish variant—the same way hotdogs and sausages are minced pig meat or pork placed into artificial or actual intestines for consumption.

The Pollock is deboned, washed, minced, then combined with other ingredients or even artificial crab flavoring before it is precooked then formed into crab-like cuts. It could be called minced fish meat, but for marketing purposes and for its crab-like taste, it has earned its current title

It’s like how “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” margarine earned its keep at being so close to butter you won’t believe it’s margarine. Imitation crab meat is delicious enough to at least be called a good imitation.


How Many Ways Can You Heat Up Imitation Crab Meat?

If the imitation crab you’re cooking isn’t frozen or cold, then steam them up for about 6 minutes. Don’t oversteam them or go over 6 minutes though. Doing so will have them falling apart like overcooked hotdogs (which is why you should avoid oversteaming hotdogs as well).

This surimi or minced fish flesh is basically fish paste blended with other ingredients before pressed into fake crab meat cuts. Furthermore, like hotdogs, you can serve them fried (with tempura breading or pancake batter), barbecued, grilled, or baked into crab chips as well.

Since the imitation crab meat is fully cooked minced Pollock blended with the extract of crab shell (to give it at least a hint of crabbiness or crabby goodness) then extruded or formed into sticks, they should do fine with salads that’s even better than any “raw” sushi out there.

Does Imitation Crab Meat Need To Be Cooked?

Imitation crab is precooked. This means that, like in certain ways a hotdog is prepared, you can also use crab meat sticks for cold dishes.

You can put the crab sticks into salads and dips, for example. You can also add it to dishes you heat up for extra flavor. The precooked aspect of crab sticks is what makes them so easy to cook and so hard to mess up cooking.

You basically just have to reheat them like leftovers and you’re good to go. Same with how you only need to fry or steam hotdogs in order to make them edible and delicious. Then again, this pre-cooked condition is what makes crab meat easy to microwave.

So Since It’s Precooked Then You Can Eat It Raw, Right?

However, it’s kind of a bad idea to eat undercooked or raw imitation crab meat straight from the fridge even it is precooked during the curing stage. Even in the case of putting them into salads or dips, you still need to at least defrost them.

Actually, steaming them for a little bit to err on the side of caution would do a world of good. Steamed fish will at least have most potential bacterial growth killed by the heat of the steam.

The main danger here is that minced precooked Pollock that isn’t cooked and/or defrosted properly for cold dishes can harbor bacteria like Listeria. Such germs can post great danger to you or to unborn children, so observe proper cooking or cold dish serving protocol.

What is the Best Way to Cook Imitation Crab Meat?

Depends on what you personally prefer.

We aren’t mind readers so we can only tell you how we prefer our imitation crab meat cooked to such perfection you might even forget you’re not really eating real crab!

First off, heat some butter then add a touch of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat like you’re about to steam up a might fine casserole full of lobsters. When it’s all hot and steamy, add garlic, green pepper, and onion into the mix.

Sauté until you’ve softened both the pepper and onion. Now you can add the precooked crab meat sticks along with lemon juice and zest, wine, dill, and red pepper flakes (not necessarily in that order).

Once the ingredients are cooked, top them off with parsley then serve them up with rice.

Further reading: Can You Microwave Hot Dogs or Hotdogs?

A Few More Items to Consider

Rather than ask whether or not you can microwave crab sticks or imitation crab meat, maybe you absolutely should microwave them before serving into cold dishes and salads.

Unless you’re some sort of sushi chef who’s used to cleanly preparing raw fish in a delicious and sanitary manner, then you might risk contaminating the sticks by serving them raw without reheating.

There’s a real risk of bacterial spread and food poisoning by mishandling your cooking of crab sticks in the kitchen. Therefore, don’t ever eat the precooked crab sticks raw because its precooked condition is for the sake of making them easier to cook instead of being consumable straight out of the store.


  1. Baidy Swagat, “How do you heat imitation crab meat?”, January 15, 2020

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