Gluten Free Crab Pasta Salad with Cilantro & Smoked Paprika

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I love crab! One of my fondest memories as a kid was heading to the Carolina coast for vacation and hitting up an ‘All You Can Eat’ crab joint. This was the hi-light of my trip as crab was considered a vacation food and this indulgence only came once a year!!! I was nobody’s fool…I knew these places banked on a ‘one & done’ serving of heaping crab…especially from the likes of a little girl, but this was my time to take advantage of these delectable crustaceans and I was not stopping at ONE!

As I grew older my taste for crab remained the same, but I started to welcome it in different dishes…not just straight out of the shell. I remember back to my high school graduation party (25 years ago…YIKES)! My aunt made a crab salad with all kinds of goodies it…lettuce was the base and cilantro was in each tasty bite. I had never tasted cilantro before and another love connection was born. With these fond memories crab and cilantro my taste-buds have engrained in my brain, as well as a combination of various crab salads I have tasted along the way…I developed this gluten free crab pasta salad. It is reminiscent of my childhood love of crab on an adult budget (SPOILER ALERT – I use Imitation Crab).

I like to take familiar recipes mad make them my own. It is my comfort zone because it reminds me of the food I ate growing up; still some of my favorites! And it allows me to introduce new flavors to the familiar. This combo usually pleases my crowd..Hopefully yours too!


For the Salad:

  • 12 oz. gluten free pasta (I used Barilla Penne)
  • 1 – 8 oz. package of flaked imitation crab (here is the budget part)
  • 1 large celery stalk (small dice)
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 green onions (chopped – greens & whites)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (small dice)

For the Dressing

  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt


  • Cook noodles based package directions and set aside too cool. You can even run cold water over them to speed up the cooling process if needed.
  • Chop the crab, celery, cilantro, green onions, and red bell pepper and add to a large bowl with the cooled pasta.
  • In a separate bowl add the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth like a dressing.
  • Add the dressing to the salad and mix until coated.
  • You can dust the top with more smoked paprika or cilantro but it’s not necessary.
  • serve immediately.

    This will be a hit on any dinner table or potluck gathering!!!

Remember, I made it the way I like it, with fond food memories driving the design, but you can make this your own by changing up the ingredients to match your memories. It’s always fun to bring tastes you love to the table. When food comes with fond memories each bite tastes a little more delicious. 

Making Memories one Dish at a Time,



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