If you have eaten at a sushi restaurant, chances are you have seen California Rolls with imitation crab. This artificial crab is cheaper than real crab, making it attractive for restaurants. Is imitation crab gluten free?

This is an important issue if you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten because sushi is so popular.

A close up photo of the imitation crab on a cutting board.

What Is Imitation Crab?

Imitation crab is crab made with non-crab ingredients. Imitation crab is used frequently at sushi restaurants because it is less expensive than real crab meat.

It is a little weird, but imitation crab is often made into crab sticks with white fish that has been pulverized into a paste. This paste combines binding agents like egg wheat and other ingredients to form it into sticks.

The typical ingredients in artificial crab are white fish meat like wild Alaska pollock, modified food starch, vegetable oil, and egg whites. These are mashed into a fish paste and then molded in stick form. These fish products also have artificial crab flavorings like monosodium glutamate (msg). It is filled with common additives and occasionally wheat flour or malt vinegar.

You can taste the difference between real fresh crab and imitation. I always opt for the real thing when I can. Some restaurants will offer a real crab option, but it is not at the same affordable price as fake crab meat.

You can often tell the crab is artificial by the name on the package. Krab is often spelled with a K instead of a C. Imitation crab is also uniform in size and shape, making all crab sticks identical. Real crab has color and size variations.

Imitation crab is used in crab cakes, sushi, seafood salads, crab rolls, crab rangoon, etc. If you are using other Asian sauces to make the crab, be sure to read Is Fish Sauce Gluten Free?

When shopping for imitation crab, always read the ingredients label to see if it is gluten free before buying it. If you are new to gluten free living, this gluten-free guide will help you get started!

Answer: Is Imitation Crab Gluten Free?

No, imitation crab is NOT gluten free. It is filled with gluten ingredients, including wheat. See below for a list of gluten free imitation crab brands. A few brands make gluten-free imitation crab, but not many. Imitation crab is sort of like junk food with all of the additives; many joke crab sticks are the equivalent of a hot dog in quality.

Imitation crab is full of gums, coloring, and preservatives. It also often includes MSG, which many can not eat without a reaction.

This Is Sushi Gluten Free article can learn more about gluten and sushi.

Pieces of imitation crab on a tray.

What Brands of Imitation Crab Are Gluten Free?

Gluten free imitation crab is newer on the market, and they are made at either a gluten free facility or a facility that doesn’t handle wheat. Always read the ingredients list to be 100% sure these are gluten free. Brands often change the recipe they use, so take the time to double-check when shopping for imitation crab meat.

  • TransOcean Imitation Crab is the only certified gluten free manufacturer of imitation crab.
  • Kanimi Seafarer Treasures is gluten free but not certified.
  • Dyna Sea claims their imitation crab is gluten free on the label, but it is not certified.

If you are making sushi with your imitation crab, be sure to read Is Wasabi Gluten Free! It is important to know what Asian ingredients are gluten free!

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