Creative ways to use crab meat

Would you believe us if we told you that cooked crab meat possesses one of the most complex aromatic profiles of any ingredient? It’s true! Follow along through our ingredient analysis of this singularly versatile crustacean and discover its many aromatic matches. Let us know how many crab pairings you can come up with!

Aroma analysis: cooked crab meat

At Foodpairing®, we begin each of our studies of various ingredients with a thorough aroma analysis. This information enables us to determine best matches for crab based on its aromatic profile, and the principle that ingredients that share key scents pair well with one another. Read more on the science behind Foodpairing®.

The findings of our molecular analysis of cooked crab are visualized in this easy-to-understand aroma wheel. As you can see below, the different odorant molecules responsible for aromas have been sorted by category and labeled using more general, familiar ‘aromatic descriptors’ like vegetable (potato), green (cucumber), nutty (popcorn) and fruity (peach).

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Crab meat and its aromatic pairings

But what is especially remarkable about cooked crab is that it boasts of one of the most varied aromatic profiles as an ingredient. Its most dominant aroma categories are vegetable, green, fruity and nutty. However, as illustrated above, you can see that cooked crab also spans a broad aromatic spectrum of secondary scents, ranging from roasted caramel to spicy, woody, cheesy, chemical, animal, floral, citrus, green and more. The potential ingredient pairings for this exciting crustacean are endless!

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vegetal and green notes

Cooked crab’s vegetal aroma is most dominant and best described as being similar to that of cooked potatoes, which makes it a complementary pairing for potatoes (of course), but also eggplant, asparagus, cabbage, chicken, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and even kimchi. The green aromas we find in crab are typical of fish and shellfish, thus pairing well with cucumber, algae (seaweed), avocado, bell pepper and tomato.

Crab canapé with chili mango chutney and wakame


fruity and tropical accents

Our Foodpairing® analysis reveals that the sweet taste and fruity aromas of cooked crab lend themselves to a number of fruit pairings such apple and pear, as well as tropical fruit combinations that include mango, pineapple, passionfruit and even coconut. Additionally, crab’s fruity peach-like notes enable us to combine it with certain cheeses like mozzarella, gruyère and cheddar.

nutty and woody flavours

Some of the more surprising aromas we discovered in crab were its nutty and woody notes. In fact, the descriptors for its nutty scent ranges from nutty to almond to caramel, therefore linking it to chocolate, baguette, tahini, cashew nuts, peanuts and nutty-flavored grains like freekeh and quinoa. And perhaps most interestingly, crab’s unique woody aroma is one that we have yet to find in any of the other 1,700+ ingredients that we’ve analyzed thus far.

Crab Salad with dragonfruit, grapefruit and golden beets

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Chicken and Crab burger with strawberry salsa

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