Appetizer/ Entertaining

Cilantro-Lime Crab Salad with Paprika Toasts

March 19, 2019 (Last Updated: June 18, 2020) by Chef Molly

Cilantro-lime crab salad served on paprika toasts is a easy and elegant appetizer recipe, featuring fresh crabmeat tossed in a light and creamy dressing.

appetizer plate of crab salad on paprika toasts

Crabmeat can make some stunning party appetizers, but boy it is not cheap. When I’m in Maryland, I’m lucky enough to have access to beautiful local blue crab meat almost year-round. Every now and then I splurge and buy some to make this elegant Cilantro-Lime Crab Salad with Paprika Toasts. I never regret it, as these little toasts are both pretty and delicious, and 8 oz. of crabmeat really stretches a long way.

Ingredient tips:

  • Crabmeat: if you want to really splurge, you can go with jumbo lump crabmeat. Just make sure you stir gently when adding the crabmeat to the sauce, as you don’t want to break up those big clumps of crab. (If you do, you might as well have saved yourself some money and bought lump crabmeat instead.) I would, however, recommend lump over the more inexpensive claw meat or backfin crab meat—this crab salad recipe really showcases the crab meat with just a few ingredients, so the quality of the crab does come through.
  • Paprika: I love the color and slight flavor that the paprika adds to these buttered toasts. You can use smoked paprika as well, which gives the toasts a little extra smoky kick. Or replace with a little cayenne pepper to add heat.
  • Mayonnaise: You can use any kind of mayonnaise you prefer, but my favorite brand is Hellman’s (also known as Best Foods). To lighten up this dish some more, feel free to replace a tablespoon or two of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.

For more crowd-pleasing appetizer recipes, check out my Charred Tomatillo and Red Onion Guacamole, Buffalo Cauliflower Dip with Fresh Herbs, my Red Radish Crostini with Lemon Ricotta, or my Old Bay Shrimp with Dipping Sauce.

Cilantro-lime crab salad on paprika toasts on plates with toppings

Cilantro-Lime Crab Salad

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This crab salad appetizer is incredibly easy and elegant: fresh crabmeat tossed with a creamy light dressing featuring lime and cilantro.


For the Paprika Toasts

  • 8 slices white bread
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt

For the Crab Salad

  • 1/4 c. minced red onion, plus more for garnish
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1.5 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 3-4 T. mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground cracked pepper


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
    3. Stack several slices of bread on top of each other, cut the crusts off, and then cut into 4 squares. Repeat until all bread is sliced into squares.
    4. Lay the squares onto the prepared sheet pan.
    5. Melt the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, then stir in the paprika and salt.
    6. Use a pastry brush to paint a layer of the paprika-butter mixture onto each toast.
    7. Bake toasts in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
    8. Add red onion, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, and 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise to a medium bowl, and stir to combine.
    9. Rinse the crab meat gently in a colander under cold water.
      Pick up small handfuls of crab at a time and squeeze gently to ring out water and feel for any shells. Pick out any shells you might find, then add crabmeat to bowl.
    10. Add additional tablespoon of mayonnaise if mixture is not creamy enough.
    11. Add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
    12. Top each paprika toast with a spoonful of crab salad, then garnish with additional red onion and cilantro, if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 820mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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  • Reply
    mimi rippee
    June 16, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Fabulous. My only problem is getting real crab. I’ve tried canned and it’s awful. But I really like this recipe, so I’m keeping it, just in case I can get real crab!

    • Reply
      Chef Molly
      June 18, 2020 at 11:29 am

      I hear you! Canned crab is just not the same. We were spoiled, living in Maryland. Now that I am in France, I can’t find fresh crabmeat either! 🙁

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