Today, more and more vegan alternatives for meat are hitting the market. But unfortunately, when it comes to seafood, specifically crustaceans, there is still a massive gap in the market.
So today, we will take a look at the best vegan crab products and alternatives you can buy.
Our list includes many options that are premade so that you don’t have to exert any effort or waste any time. However, these are mainly crab cakes, which, as you can imagine, have limited use.
Then, we’ve also included some alternative products you can use to make your own vegan crab recipes.
In this article, we will discuss how you should choose the best option for you, look at some amazing products you can find online, and explain how and when you can use them for your dish.
What Is Vegan Crab?
A vegan-based diet essentially revolves around excluding animal products or animal-derived products. Obviously, crab is an animal product, completely excluding it as an option to use.
However, that doesn’t mean you cannot still use an alternative.
Now, there is no straight-up perfect substitute for crab. If you look at pure crab itself, it’s a pretty rare ingredient, to begin with! Most crab products are made from imitation crab. And before you get excited, imitation crab isn’t vegan either.
So, finding a good vegan crab alternative is even more challenging – but not impossible.
Vegan crab refers to any product that is similar to crab in flavor and texture but doesn’t contain any crab or other animal product.
Now, that being said, many of these recommended alternatives used as vegan crab are completely different from the vegan products offered. An example of this is artichoke hearts.
Obviously, they aren’t close to the real thing. However, neither is the “vegan crab cakes” or meat companies offer. They just did you the favor of processing the vegan ingredients so that you don’t have to.
Many of the options on today’s list do require some altering. But all of them work great as a substitute for texture and, to some extent, flavor as well.
How to Choose the Best Alternative for You
Now, there are a couple of factors you can consider before choosing one of the vegan crab alternatives below. Some options will make flawless swaps, but others, as mentioned before, may require some form of processing.
What Are You Making?
This is arguably the most important consideration of today. As with all of our “best alternatives” lists, all of the options we add work well!
But when it comes to crab, the way it is used is unique, and therefore how the alternative is used will be unique as well.
Let’s first take a look at crab cakes. These cakes are often made with imitation crab that has been boiled and blended into a chunky or fine pasta. The paste is crumb-coated and deep-fried for that crispy finish.
In this case, you can either buy vegan crab cakes (which is an easy premade option) or make your own at home with one of our less-common alternatives.
But, if you use something like artichokes or palm hearts, you will need to cook, blend, shape, crumb, and fry the cakes yourself.
Now, if you are making a crab dip, premade crumb-coated crab cakes won’t work at all. In this case, you would need a vegan alternative like jackfruit, artichokes, or palm hearts.
Hopefully, these examples clarified the importance of choosing an alternative based on what you are making. But if you are still unsure, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Availability and Cost
This is probably going to be the second most important factor to consider – what can you actually get your hands on?
In some countries, many of these alternatives aren’t available or extremely difficult to find. And even when you do find them, because they are likely imported, they will be very difficult.
In Asia, you likely won’t have any trouble finding palm hearts. But in South Africa, it may not be as easily available.
In America though, most of these options can be found in one way or another. But even then, if you live in a small town or rural area, you may have to undergo some extra troubles to find these vegan swaps.
Furthermore, many of these options, especially the premade vegan crab alternatives, will be expensive. With these products, you are paying for the vegan, meat-free, healthy, and crab labels. Even though it may not have cost the company more to make, it’s the cost of that “lifestyle.”
Taste and Texture
This is not nearly as important as the above-mentioned points. And that’s solely because there aren’t that many workable vegan substitutes AND all of ours make great swaps for texture and flavor.
Obviously, no alternative will ever be the same. Even swapping out cow’s milk will result in different textures, creaminess levels, flavors, and nutritional values.
So, at the end of the day, choose an alternative that you like the flavor of. The texture won’t matter as much if you are using it blended or broken down.
Best Vegan Crab You Can Buy
Let’s get to it! The best vegan crab product substitutions and crab meat alternatives you can find.
As always, we tried to include as many options as we could find. You can definitely buy a different brand if you can find it.
Plus, all of these products can be easily bought online. It makes your life a lot easier and you don’t have to spend hours searching for alternatives in stores.
|1.||Gardein Mini Crispy Plant-Based Vegan Crab Cakes||Convenient pre-made mini vegan crab cakes that are high in nutrients, rich in omega 3’s, and kosher certified. Makes excellent snacks, canapes, or protein for mains.|
|2.||Hungry Planet Vegan Crab Cakes||Larger vegan crab patties that are perfect for sandwiches, burgers, wraps, and salads.|
|3.||Good Catch Plant-Based Crab Cakes||Comes in two flavors and textures (crumbed and uncrumbed) for a more versatile range of use. Both are high in protein and packed with flavor, perfect for virtually any use.|
|4.||Hungry Planet Plant-Based Vegan Ground Crab||Amazing all-in-one ground vegan crab meat that is suitable for any use. You can make crab cakes, soups, stews, dips, spreads, and loads more.|
|5.||Goya Whole Hearts Of Palm||A delicious unprocessed plant-based option that can be used in any way regular crab sticks are. They are versatile, easy to find, and very easy to work with too.|
|6.||Reese Quartered Canned Artichoke Hearts||An easy-to-find vegan alternative that is versatile in how you can use it, budget-friendly, and comes in different flavors too.|
|7.||Native Forest Canned Organic Jackfruit||Best suited for recipes where the meat needs to be worked down, for example, crab cakes or spreads. It has a soft and stringy texture, making it easy to work with.|
|8.||Mori-Nu Silken-Style Extra Firm Tofu||A vegan alternative that can be used in any way regular crab sticks can. It’s uber-creamy and super easy to find.|
1. Gardein Mini Crispy Plant-Based Vegan Crab Cakes
This is one of the easiest alternatives you can find to date. These are easily and readily available in chain grocery stores and online retailers like Amazon.
These vegan mini crab cakes are easy to prepare in the oven, air-fryer, deep-fryer, and even in a frying pan. And, they are still loaded with nutrients like real crab cakes are. Arguably, many people claim that they are healthier too!
Each serving contains about 9 grams of plant-based proteins, is high in omega 3’s, and contains various vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
So, what exactly are they made of? Too many ingredients to list here. But the main add-ins include wheat, soy, and a bunch of thickeners and natural flavoring ingredients.
These pre-made crab cakes are also verified to be GMO-free, dairy-free, kosher, and of course, vegan.
They are super convenient to prepare and use, versatile, and absolutely delicious! But again, keep in mind that these cannot be used to make dips and spreads, seeing as it has a crumb-coating on them.
2. Hungry Planet Vegan Crab Cakes
This is another very famous brand that manufactures exceptional vegan plant-based products. And, they offer many alternative seafood products as well!
These crab cakes specifically are quite special. They are obviously larger than the product mentioned above.
Each serving offers 17 grams of protein and is significantly lower in fat and overall calories than imitation crab cakes.
The brand has also certified its product as being GMO-free, antibiotics-free, cholesterol-free, and, of course, vegan.
There are two main ways to prepare these crab cakes/patties. You can either fry them in oil or cook them in a skillet. Another option they don’t mention is that you can air fry them as well.
These, again, work best as snacks or patties for burgers. You can even cut them up and use the crispy pieces in wraps, burritos, tacos, and sandwiches.
3. Good Catch Plant-Based Crab Cakes
This is an extremely well-known brand that offers plant-based seafood products, most of which are pre-made. So naturally, we couldn’t make a list of vegan crab alternatives without adding this option!
Again, we have a couple of crab cakes that come in 2 ways. The first is the “New England-Style” product which is seasoned with delicious peppers, onions, parsley, and a hint of spice. These patties are uncrumbed.
Then, you also get a crumbed version, that is equally delicious and has a crispy texture too.
Both of these options are incredible and should be used in different ways. The uncrumbed (New England Style) option is a better choice for “plain” uses of crab in recipes.
4. Hungry Planet Plant-Based Vegan Ground Crab
Moving on to a less common option, this is another meatless crab alternative from Hungry Planet.
This is a type of ground meat product, similar to bologna. The difference is obviously that it is vegan and made from ingredients that help mimic the crab texture and flavor.
This alternative can be used to make crab cakes, dips, spreads, or “bit” alternatives in soups and stews. Essentially, any conventional way you use regular crab or imitation crab.
Hungry Planet’s vegan ground crab meat is loaded with protein and is surprisingly low in calories and fat. It’s primarily made from soy and wheat, with added natural flavorings and stabilizers.
5. Goya Whole Hearts of Palm
Now, let’s move away from any premade crab meat alternative completely. The first amazing crab meat alternative (that hasn’t been processed) is palm hearts.
These are relatively easy to find in jars and cans. If you are somewhere you can find fresh palm hearts, definitely give them a try as well. But, they are more work to process than the canned alternatives. You can also find this option in the frozen foods section.
Canned palm hearts are shaped into long sticks that mimic imitation crab sticks. So naturally, you can use them in a similar way as well.
These work well as crab sticks, chopped up in salads, for soups or stews, in Gumbo, in a vegan seafood boil, and processed into crab cakes or crab spreads.
They have a very similar texture and a slightly salty, ocean-like undertone.
6. Reese Quartered Canned Artichoke Hearts
Now we know that not many people are fans of artichoke. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make amazing alternatives for crab meat!
These hearts have a very similar texture to crab meat. Plus, you can buy different flavors which may hide that natural earthy, bitter, vegetative flavor you don’t like.
Most professionals use these artichoke hearts as an alternative to sushi. However, as with the palm hearts, you can pretty much use them in any way. They just might not look as “authentic” as palm heart spears do.
These are incredibly easy to find in-store and online. You can even use fresh artichokes and process them down. But again, this requires more work than you may want to get yourself into.
7. Native Forest Canned Organic Jackfruit
If you have never heard of or had jackfruit before, don’t feel bad. It’s not a common ingredient in the States and is rarely used in Western cuisine.
So, the only form you will likely find it in is canned or jarred. This product from Native Forest is one of the easiest to find. It is a little pricey compared to some of the other options on this list, but definitely worth a try!
These fruits have a pretty neutral flavor and work best for homemade crab cakes, spreads, and dips. Any recipe that breaks down the texture of the jackfruit. It has a super stringy texture, so won’t hold up well in soups or stews.
If you want to try something new and work with a unique ingredient, give jackfruit a try.
8. Mori-Nu Silken-Style Extra Firm Tofu
Now, if none of these options sound appealing to you, or you are looking for something truly different, you can always try tofu.
Make sure that the option you pick is firm, or like this product, extra firm. This makes them easy to use as crab sticks or bits in soups, stews, boils, and sauces.
Tofu obviously doesn’t have any fishy flavor. But, that’s what makes it a great neutral alternative you can try. It’s completely vegan, low in fat, high in protein, and versatile in use.