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Treat yourself to a memorable dinner with baked Crab Stuffed Salmon. This easy recipe, with an optional lemon butter sauce, is ready in 30 minutes!
Whether you're hosting a special occasion or simply want to elevate a family dinner, salmon stuffed with crabmeat is a show-stopping centerpiece that will steal the heart of any seafood lover. It's a great way to turn someone on to enjoying the healthy benefits of salmon too.
The combination of tender salmon fillets filled with succulent sweet crab stuffing is irresistible... if I do say so myself. Whether you serve it with lemon butter sauce, aioli, or lemon wedges, it's sure to become a favorite.
If you think making this restaurant-quality dish at home is too complicated, you're in luck! It's not.
In fact, it's just the combination of two simple recipes: baked salmon and crab cakes, except that you don't need to shape and cook the crab cakes first.
Here are a few more reasons why you'll love this crab-stuffed salmon recipe:
- You won't need to head out to a fancy restaurant to enjoy this gourmet main dish, making it more affordable too.
- It's low-carb.
- You can make the crab filling or the entire dish ahead of time. You can even freeze it before you cook it. We did this at our meal assembly stores.
- Make it in the oven or use the air fryer option, whatever is easiest for you.
Here's what you'll need to make the best crab-stuffed salmon:
- Salmon fillets - Choose center-cut pieces so they are thick enough to make a slit. I prefer skinless salmon for this recipe. Sockeye salmon, wild-caught Pacific salmon, and Atlantic salmon are all great options. Frozen salmon should be fully defrosted. Other fish that will work in this recipe include sea bass, flounder, tilapia, and cod.
For the filling:
- Crab - Lump crab or claw meat, whichever option fits your budget best. We don't recommend imitation crab as the flavor will be altered too much.
- Saltine crackers, breadcrumbs, or buttery Rize Crackers. Crush the crackers, retaining some texture, so they're not too fine.
- Mayonnaise - Use your favorite brand, the thicker and creamier, the better. You can also use mashed avocado like we did to make Avocado Crab Cakes.
- Spicy brown mustard or Dijon mustard adds a tangy flavor.
- Egg helps hold the stuffing ingredients together. But it can be left out if your mayonnaise is thick and creamy.
- Onion that's very finely diced.
- Celery is finely diced too.
- Old Bay Seasoning gives the crab cake bites the signature flavor you expect. Use Cajun seasoning for a spicy version.
Staples for cooking include olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Make appetizer-sized crab balls and store them in the freezer. When you're ready to may stuffed salmon, lift a few out to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Use 2-3 per piece of salmon in this recipe.
The cooking instructions for crab stuffed salmon couldn't be easier.
First, make crab stuffing and set it aside.
- Combine egg, mayonnaise, mustard, and Old Bay seasoning in a medium bowl.
- Add diced onion, celery, and cracker crumbs to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix to incorporate.
- Add crab to the bowl, breaking up large crabmeat lumps and removing stray shell pieces. Fold the crabmeat into the cracker mixture just until combined. Leave some crab clumps, and there will be no doubt what the stuffing is made with!
Now prepare the salmon, stuff it, and bake it.
- Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel and place them in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and generously season with salt and black pepper.
- Use a sharp knife to cut a slit down the center. Don't cut through the fish entirely, and leave the fish uncut at each end. Use your fingers or a fork to gently spread the opening apart.
- Fill the center of each salmon fillet with about 2 Tablespoons of crabmeat stuffing, gently pressing some down into the bottom of the slit and mounding the rest on top of the fish. Drizzle melted butter over the top.
- Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes in a 400°F oven or until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches about 135°F. See notes on cooking temperatures below.
The final result? Flaky salmon that's moist and delicious. Garnish the plate with fresh lemon wedges, chopped fresh parsley, or green onions. Serve with a side of lemon butter sauce, if desired, using the recipe below.
Why it works!
Cooking salmon quickly at a high temperature allows it to cook and retain moisture so it's not dried out. The temperature will continue to rise once it's out of the oven. Allow it to rest for about 5 minutes so that the juices redistribute.
Note: The FDA recommends cooking seafood to an internal temperature of 145°F. However, most professional chefs recommend taking it out a little earlier.
Want to make crab stuffed salmon even more amazing? Serve it with this easy lemon butter sauce. Here's how to make it.
Melt ¼ cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. If using unsalted butter, add salt to taste or about ¼ teaspoon. Remove from heat once it has melted and stir it with 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice. You can add chopped fresh herbs or red pepper flakes for a twist on the basic recipe.
What to serve with salmon
Looking for side dishes to serve with an elegant dinner where salmon stuffed with crab is the star? Here are my favorite dishes to round out the meal:
- Roasted asparagus
- Crispy green beans
- Mashed potatoes or loaded cauliflower mash
- Simple salad with mixed greens and red wine vinegar dressing
- Lemony rice or roasted cauliflower rice
Crab Stuffed Salmon will always taste best the day that you cook it. However, if you happen to have leftover salmon, here's what to do:
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Reheat in the oven at low heat (about 275°F) for about 15 minutes.
Crab stuffed salmon can be frozen before or after you cook it in an airtight container. For the best result, enjoy within 2 months of freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then cook as usual.
Crab stuffed salmon can be made in an air fryer too. Preheat the air fryer to 390°F. Spritz the basket with olive oil before placing the salmon inside and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135°F.
More Elegant Seafood Recipes
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Baked Crab Stuffed Salmon Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise thick and creamy is better
- ½ teaspoon spicy brown mustard or Dijon mustard
- 1 small egg may be omitted if desired for a looser filling
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons onion finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons celery finely diced
- 12 crushed saltine crackers to yield ½ cup; or Ritz crackers
- 8 ounces crabmeat lump or claw
- 20 ounces salmon fillets center-cut, preferably skinless
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- 2 Tablespoons butter melted
- 1 lemon for squeezing over the top at serving time.
- Combine mayonnaise, mustard, egg (if using), and Old Bay Seasoning in a mixing bowl.
- Add diced onion, celery, and crushed saltines to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix to incorporate.
- Add crabmeat to the bowl, breaking up large lumps of crabmeat and removing any stray shell pieces. Fold the crab into the cracker mixture just until combined. I like to leave some small clumps of crab for visual appeal.
- Set crab mixture aside while preparing salmon.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Pat the salmon dry and place it in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
- Use a small sharp knife to cut a slit down the center of the salmon. Don't cut through the fillet entirely, and leave the fish uncut at each end. Use your fingers or a fork to gently spread the opening apart.
- Fill the center of each salmon fillet with about 2 Tablespoons of crab stuffing, gently pressing some down into the bottom of the slit and allowing the rest to mound over the top.
- Drizzle melted butter over the top of each salmon fillet.
- Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes in a 400°F oven or until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches about 135°F. See notes on cooking temperatures below.
- Allow crab stuffed salmon to rest for about 5 minutes so the juices redistribute. Serve with lemon wedges or optional lemon butter sauce (see instructions below.)
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Reheat in the oven at low heat (about 275°F) for about 15 minutes.
- Crab stuffed salmon can be frozen before or after you cook it in an airtight container. For the best result, enjoy within 2 months of freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then cook as usual.