Freezing & Thawing Imitation Crab Meat (Easy Guide)

Imitation crab is made with blended, processed fish and is much less expensive than real crab. Because it’s often bought in larger quantities than you may want to use at one time, you’ll want to know if you can freeze imitation crab meat?

Imitation crab meat can be easily frozen, and it is safe to freeze for up to 12 months. If you buy it frozen, be sure to keep it frozen. You should not refreeze imitation crab once it has thawed as it will likely ruin the texture and it may be unsafe if left at room temperature too long.

The rest of this article will discuss how to freeze imitation crab, how to thaw it, whether you can cook it from frozen or not, whether freezing affects its taste, and how long it lasts in the freezer.

So, keep reading to find out what you need to know to successfully freeze imitation crab meat.

How To Freeze Imitation Crab Meat

To freeze imitation crab, you generally don’t need to prepare anything. However, you’ll always need to ensure that your imitation crab meat is protected and sealed. Then, you can place it in the freezer and leave it to freeze for up to 12 months. 

Luckily, there is no preparation involved when freezing imitation crab. As soon as you buy it, you can put it straight in the freezer if you wish. You can break it up and freeze it in small portions if you want to use it gradually. 

Pro Tip: Oxygen is the enemy to all frozen foods including imitation crab, so make sure to place the meat in an air-tight, freezer-safe bag or container prior to placing it in the freezer.

How to Thaw Imitation Crab Meat

One of the best ways to thaw imitation crab is to leave it in the fridge for a few hours. This ensures it stays at a safe temperature and doesn’t get contaminated while thawing.

If you leave it out on the counter to thaw, it will be more likely to spoil due to it being left for an extended period at room temperature.

Another safe way to thaw imitation crab meat is to submerge it in cold water. You may think it seems odd to use cold water rather than warm, but the FDA recommends cold water. It’s a much quicker way to thaw than using the refrigerator, so you should only use this method if you plan on using the imitation crab soon.

Once it is fully thawed, it will last up to five or six days, so be sure to eat it before it spoils.

Can You Cook Imitation Crab from Frozen?

You can cook imitation crab meat from frozen, but it’s safer and easier to thaw it before cooking. Additionally, frozen food, including imitation crab, takes longer to cook when frozen. Cooking from frozen can cause uneven cooking of the meat, making it unenjoyable and unsafe to eat.

So, if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to defrost your imitation crab meat, you can cook it from being frozen. But you need to be sure that it cooks through because it’s common for the outside to cook more than the inside when cooking frozen food.

If you decide to cook it from frozen, you should use a lower heat first; using too high a heat will cook the outside quickly, leaving the inside frozen and raw.

A better way to prepare and cook imitation crab when you’re in a hurry is to defrost it in cold water. It will take between 30 to 90 minutes, but it’s safer than cooking it from a completely frozen state!

Can You Refreeze Imitation Crab Meat?

You can refreeze imitation crab. However, it’s not recommended because generally, it will affect the taste and texture. Refreezing uncooked imitation crab meat will turn it soft, watery, and unappetizing. 

Can you refreeze imitation crab meat?

That is why it’s important to defrost all your crab meat only when you are sure you’re going to use it all. You could consider freezing your imitation crab in small portions to avoid waste. That way, you can defrost smaller quantities at a time and reduce waste.

If you decide to refreeze your imitation crab meat even though you know the texture will change, take note of the following:

  • You shouldn’t refreeze imitation crab meat if it has been defrosted for more than four days.
  • If it has been sitting for a time at room temperature, you should never refreeze it.
  • If you notice any odd or foul smell, don’t refreeze it; instead, you should dispose of it.

Refreezing Imitation Crab Meat After Cooking

If you defrost your imitation crab meat and then cook it, it’s safe to refreeze it after cooking; this shouldn’t affect the taste or texture. However, there are some things to note:

  • Don’t refreeze imitation crab if you leave it at room temperature for more than an hour after cooking it.
  • Only place it in the freezer once it has completely cooled down.

Placing warm food in the freezer can affect the freezer’s temperature and the temperature of other foods, causing them to defrost partially; this can cause bacteria to grow on other food in the freezer, which you certainly want to avoid.

Does Freezing Affect the Taste of Imitation Crab Meat?

Freezing shouldn’t affect the taste of imitation crab meat the first time around, but it is a possibility. The texture will turn soft and watery if you refreeze it again before cooking. Additionally, if you keep it frozen for an extended period, the texture and taste may eventually change.

When frozen for the first time, your imitation crab’s taste and texture should remain fairly normal. However, the taste will change if you refreeze it before cooking because the water in the imitation crab will expand in the freezer. Therefore, there will be a higher water content, so it will be more watery when you defrost it.

The extra water content can lessen the taste of the food, making it blander. So, not only can it ruin the texture, but it can also ruin the taste!

How Long Does Imitation Crab Last in the Freezer?

Imitation crab meat lasts up to a year in the freezer. Keeping it frozen for too long can impact the texture and taste, so you should aim to use it within a year of freezing it. Although leaving it for longer than a year is generally safe, it won’t be as enjoyable to eat.

For the best quality and taste, it’s best to eat it within six months of freezing. The aim is to keep it frozen for as little time as possible because you want to have tasty and firm imitation crab (not soft and mushy imitation crab)!

There Won’t Be a Loss of Nutrients When Freezing Imitation Crab

Imitation crab has fewer nutrients than real crab meat, so you may be concerned about losing even more nutrients if you freeze it! Luckily, freezing doesn’t strip imitation crab of any nutrients. If anything, freezing can help lock in nutrients, so you shouldn’t be concerned about this.

However, cooking can affect the nutritional value of your imitation crab. So, if you cook it and then freeze it, there may be a loss of nutrients. But you should know that it is because of the heat from cooking rather than the freezing.

In this video, you’ll find out what imitation crab meat is actually made of.


It is generally safe to freeze imitation crab for up to 12 months as long as you do it safely. Remember, don’t freeze imitation crab meat if you have left it at room temperature for more than an hour, and know that even though you can refreeze it, doing so will turn it soft and watery.

Additionally, the best ways to thaw imitation crab meat are refrigeration and cold water, and you should always thaw it before cooking; cooking from frozen can cause unevenness. Finally, freezing doesn’t remove nutrients from imitation crab, so freeze away!