Stacked Crab and Avocado Salad

Stacked Crab and Avocado Salad

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crab avocado stack salad

Stacked salads look so fancy, don’t they?  I recently had a couple friends over for a girls night and when I whipped out this salad, they were totally wowed.  ‘Five star’ was what they called it (thanks girls!). But really, they had no idea how easy this is to put together, well until now.  All you need is a 3″ ring and a little patience to put this posh looking starter together.  And not only does it look glam, it’s so full of fresh yummy flavour. 


ingredients for dressing crab avocado on board

A salad is only as good as it’s ingredients.  Nevermind the fancy tower of seafood, if the ingredients aren’t fresh, it’s just a stack of grossness.  So buy the best ingredients you can – you’ll be able to taste the difference.  When cutting fresh mint, make sure your knife is super sharp so you don’t bruise the delicate leaves.  To cut, I stack up a pile of leaves, roll them, and slice into thin ribbons before chopping them up.

mint leaves pile close up

mint slices close up

To get uniformly thinly sliced veggies, you would need a mandoline.  Read more about it here. No mandoline?  No problem.  Just slice thinly and you’re perfect.  This recipe is adapted from the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine from a few years back.  The great thing about this mag is they post all their recipes and gorgeous photos online.  I simplified the salad and modified the seasonings a bit.  This website is a great source for food and drink recipes – I use it often.

cucumber slices mandoline

How do you get cubed avocado?  I cut the avocado in half and cut the flesh into squares. Then use a tablespoon to scoop out the avocado flesh. This way, you don’t need any of those fancy avocado slicers.  To get slices, just cut the avocado lengthwise and scoop out. 

avocado cubes halves

The ring I used here is from Sur la Table for $3.95.  If that’s not convenient, I think you can just go to a hardware store and buy some plastic plumbing parts.  When filling the ring, press the ingredients down gently.  The more compact the ingredients, the less likely it will fall apart when you slowly remove the ring.  Don’t freak out if the crab starts falling out – just gently put the pieces back into place or put them back on top.  Most likely, no one will even notice.  The chives crossed on top are an effective decoy for any errant pieces of crab.

avocado in ring first layer

cucumber layer in ring

This salad can definitely be made ahead of time – up to 4 hours is fine.  Just make sure the avocado is really well coated in the dressing; the lemon and lime juices keep the avocado from turning brown.  The nice thing about making this ahead is that the cucumbers get slightly pickled from the lemon and vinegars in the dressing.  So refreshing.  Reminds me of a california roll.

crab layer in ring

removing ring for salad

Recipe (serves 4)

Stacked Crab, Avocado and Cucumber Salad

Avocado Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pickled sushi ginger finely diced (I found an organic one here)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt


  • 2 ripe medium Hass avocados, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced rounds

Crab Salad

  • 8 oz fresh lump crab meat
  • 2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • pinch of salt

Special Equipment/Tools: one 3″ metal ring, mine was from Sur la Table .


Combine all the ingredients for the dressing.  Set aside.  Combine all the ingredients for the crab salad and set aside.  When ready to plate, place ring in the center of your dish.  In a small bowl, add half an avocado, cubed into squares, and add 1 tablespoon of the dressing so avocado is well coated.  Place in ring and press down to make an even layer.  Add about 10-12 slices of cucumber to create an even layer to cover the avocado.  Press down and add a half teaspoon of dressing.  Add 2 ounces of crab and press down gently.  Slowly lift the ring off while down the crab.  Repeat for additional servings.  Refrigerate for up to 4 hours before serving.  Garnish with two stems of fresh chives, sprig of mint on top of the stack and scatter chopped fresh chives around the plate. 

stacked salad after a bite on plate

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11 Responses to Stacked Crab and Avocado Salad

  1. Derek April 22, 2011 at 3:56 am #

    Looks amazing and so professional!! Can’t wait to try it

  2. Stephanie February 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I just made this. It tasted great. I used a more soy based dressing though. Yours is much prettier. 🙂

    • Ness February 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm #

      Thanks! Your version sounds yum! Ps – just checked your blog and started drooling immediately.

  3. Sharron June 6, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    I used to order a wonderful crab and avacado salad from Jean Michel in Bethesda, MD…….it was so good…..then the resturant closed so I am looking for a new recipie. Can hardly wait to try this one.

    • Vanessa August 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Thanks Sharon! Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  4. Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought July 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I can’t wait to make this recipe to take to the Hollywood Bowl. One question about how much sushi ginger… 1 1/2 teaspoons or tablespoons? finely diced? Thanks!

    • Vanessa July 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

      Hi Cathy – it should be teaspoons and finely diced. Thanks for catching that! Enjoy 🙂

  5. Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought August 10, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Thanks Vanessa. This was a HUGE hit. I will be making this again and again. Thanks for such a great recipe!

    • Vanessa August 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Awesome! Im so happy you loved it – Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Anne September 12, 2015 at 3:59 am #

    If having this for luncheon what would you serve with it?

    • Ness September 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      Hi! I served this for dinner with grilled lamb chops and mashed potatoes which would be great at a luncheon too. Thanks!

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