Vegetarian Substitute for Crab Meat: What Can You Eat Instead?

If you’re vegetarian, it might be challenging to stay away from food that is so popular that it has its own national holiday.

When it comes to crab, you don’t have to avoid it – not on National Crab Day or other days.

You just have to find a convincing vegetarian substitute for crab meat, which is where my guide comes into play.

Luckily, there are many different ways you can use plants to replicate crab meat in your favorite sushi rolls, crab cakes, or crab dips.

Familiar favorites like tofu and mushrooms can do the trick, or you can learn about the wonders of jackfruit, heart of palm, and artichoke hearts.

Keep reading to learn about all your options and which is best for the recipe you might have in mind.

vegetarian substitute for crab meat

Why Choose a Vegetarian Substitute for Crab Meat?

With so many delicious recipes, some might find it challenging to stay away from crab meat. However, there are plenty of reasons you might want to avoid consuming this food.

The global appetite for seafood has wreaked havoc on the oceans and their inhabitants. Large-scale fishing operations lead to water pollution and the risk of species extinction.

Additionally, the seafood industry is deadly for many animals that people don’t even eat. Sea turtles, whales, and dolphins are just some of the sea creatures harmed in the process.

Apart from ethical and environmental concerns, consuming seafood also causes health concerns.

For example, raw or undercooked crab meat can be infected with various bacteria and parasites.

As a result, consuming such meat can lead to food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses.

What Is a Good Vegetarian Substitute for Crab Meat?

Crab meat is a much-beloved food thanks to its delicate and sweet taste.

However, many popular crab meat dishes require a mushier texture, so replicating the main ingredient is reasonably simple.

In addition, you can use a variety of plants as a vegetarian substitute for crab meat.

When choosing the best option for mock crab meat, it’s crucial to pick ingredients with a more neutral taste. This way, it’s easy to transform them with the proper seasoning.

While you can mix herbs and spices to achieve the desired fishy taste, Old Bay Seasoning is undoubtedly a favorite.

Once you’ve got the flavor covered, focus on matching the texture of the crab meat, depending on the recipe you’re going for.

If you’re go-to crab dish is crab cakes, you’ll be happy to know this is one of the easiest dishes to replicate.

Various plants can also work great in crab dips, chowders, and salads.

Sushi rolls and crab sticks may be the most challenging crab dishes to replicate, but luckily, tofu never lets us down.

Whatever recipe you have in mind, you’ll probably find a vegetarian substitute for crab meat that can get the job done.

Let’s take a look at my recommended substitutes for crab meat.

Hearts of Palm

The name of this vegetable is pretty self-explanatory – it’s harvested from the heart of a palm tree.

Due to its soft and stringy texture, it’s perfect for replacing smaller seafood, and crab meat is no different.

These vegetables also have a mild flavor with a slightly sweet bite. As a result, mixing them with the right seasoning will create a dish not many people can tell apart from the real deal.

You can typically find hearts of palms in the canned food sections.

So grab a can, mash its contents up and create delicious mock crab cakes, stews, chowders, and salads.

Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke hearts are another canned goodness that can get you pretty close to real crab meat.

They have a tender, flaky texture that makes them an excellent substitute for crab meat in various applications.

In addition, they can bear an uncanny resemblance to the real deal in crab cakes, dips, soups, and tarts with appropriate seasoning.


Jackfruit is a tropical tree fruit that made it possible for vegetarians to imitate some of the more demanding food textures.

Although it’s commonly used as a pulled pork alternative, it’s also ideal as a vegetarian substitute for crab meat.

This fruit has a meaty but flaky texture similar to crab meat. When shredded and cooked, it even looks like it.

In addition, its mild flavor absorbs the spices and sauces it’s cooked with exceptionally. So, with some Old Bay Seasoning, you’ll have a perfect crab cake in no time.

Alternatively, jackfruit works well with crab rangoon dips and crab salads.


Whatever recipe you’re trying to make vegetarian, there’s probably a mushroom that can imitate your main ingredient. They can be used to substitute a variety of foods from steak to shrimp.

This nature’s gift comes in many textures and tastes that are terrific regardless of your preparation method.

When it comes to crab meat, Lion’s Mane mushrooms look and taste quite similar.

These mushrooms are juicy and tender when cooked and can effortlessly replace crab in seafood pasta, crab cakes, or soups.


Crab cakes and dips typically don’t pose much of a challenge to replicate due to their mushy texture.

But, if you’re craving sushi, most of the plants mentioned in our list won’t cut it, except tofu.

This versatile ingredient can serve as the perfect mock crab meat for sushi rolls or imitation crab sticks.

After marinating the tofu block, the trick is to slice it thinly and pan-fry it. Next, add your sushi rice and roll it up in a piece of nori.

Not only will it taste remarkably similar to “regular” sushi, but you won’t be able to tell it apart visually.

And after all, one of the many delights sushi offers is how pretty it looks when served.

Pre-Made Vegetarian Substitute for Crab Meat

If you don’t feel like cooking, you can go for a store-bought vegetarian substitute for crab meat.

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many options available as for more traditional meat types.

However, specialty grocery stores keep popping up, so the assortment should be much better in the upcoming years.

One of the most popular choices for faux crab meat is Gardein’s Mini cr’b cakes. They’re non-GMO and vegan and taste just as good as the real deal.

Fortunately, Gardein is one of the most popular protein alternative brands, so you should be able to find them in your local Walmart.

In Summary

If you’re a fan of crab meat, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the numerous delicious recipes that feature this ingredient, even if you’re vegetarian.

Simply read through my guide for a vegetarian substitute for crab meat that best fits your recipe and indulge in a guilt-free vegetarian feast.

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