Crab Quinoa Salad with Lemon Butter

Crab Quinoa Salad with Lemon Butter

When I was a kid, my family went out to eat about once a month, and for a long time, we almost always went to Red Lobster.

I learned quite young that crab meat dripping with drawn butter is amazing. My parents graciously let me steal chunks of crab from their plates and didn’t complain when I dipped more finger than crab into the warm butter.

Let’s all agree that we love crabs and we love butter, okay?

As Sarah and I were thinking about what to cook this week, we just knew that throwing some sweet crab meat into a bowl of mixed quinoa would result in something delicious! This quinoa salad is full of buttery, lemony pieces of King crab legs, garlic, creamy avocado, and fresh herbs. It will make your house smell unmistakeably like Red Lobster, and it will put a smile on your face!

King CrabAs quinoa salads go, this one is fairly easy…once you harvest all the crab meat. (Umm…I let Sarah do that part while I nursed the baby. I think I had the easier end of that deal!) I was really tempted to add in a bunch of veggies (tomatoes! bell peppers!) and spices (Cajun! maybe a minced serrano for heat against the sweet crab), but Sarah and I decided to keep this salad simple and creamy, highlighting the buttery seafood instead of muddying the salad with too many ingredients. This is the hardest lesson I am learning in my cooking: keep it simple.

Cook the quinoa over medium heat in a covered pot. If you use a covered pot, you can basically ignore the quinoa for about 20 minutes and it will not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. We used a 3:1 mix of white quinoa and black quinoa, but any variety of quinoa will work!

Quinoa and Garlic ButterMeanwhile, melt butter in a pan over low heat with minced garlic. You can use either salted or unsalted butter, but you will definitely want to salt the salad well if you use unsalted butter here! We used unsalted because the crab legs had been salted during cooking, and we didn’t want to overwhelm the tender, sweet flavor of the crab meat with too much salt. (I wrote the recipe below to reflect unsalted butter; if you go with salted butter, please adjust the amount of added salt!)

Let the garlic butter simmer over low heat while the quinoa cooks, but do not let it brown (brown butter would be delicious, but it’s not at all like drawn butter!). After the butter has simmered for 3–5 minutes, remove it from the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice.

Seafood + SaladCombine the quinoa and crab and toss with lemon butter. Gently fold in avocado chunks, drained capers, and fresh chopped parsley and chives. Taste and adjust lemon and salt as needed. Yum!

Sweet and Creamy

Crab Quinoa Salad with Lemon Butter

a Smells Like Brownies/Well Dined collaboration
serves 4

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1½ lbs. king crab legs, or 1 lb. lump crab meat
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
¼–½ tsp. salt
1 large ripe avocado, cut into cubes
1 tbsp. capers, drained
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tsp. minced chives

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, then cover and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until the curlicues pop out and the water is absorbed.
Meanwhile, harvest the crab meat and discard the shells.
Combine the butter and garlic in a small pot over low heat. Melt the butter, then allow to simmer for 3 minutes more, to bring out the flavor of the garlic. Remove the butter from the heat and add the lemon juice and salt to taste.
Toss the quinoa with the crab and lemon butter. Fold in the avocado, capers, and fresh herbs.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


  1. One year ago: Open Face Lentil and Greens Sandwich
  2. Two years ago: Loose Leaf Salad with Warm Garlic Scape Vinaigrette
  3. Three years ago: Giada’s Bruschetta
  4. Four years ago: Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Sandwiches

2 comments to “Crab Quinoa Salad with Lemon Butter”

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  1. Sarah@WellDined - June 26, 2015 Reply

    There’s something really satisfying about getting every piece of meat out of those legs, lol. Such a good idea!

  2. Bill Edwards - June 26, 2015 Reply

    Looks tasty!

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