West Indies Salad, An Easy Make Ahead Salad Recipe From Alabama

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Did you know there’s a famous salad recipe from Alabama? Food of Alabama is actually more varied than barbecue despite the fact that many of the more popular recipes from Alabama do feature the barbecue or deep fryer. A West Indies salad is actually a fast and easy make ahead salad perfect for lunch or a crab salad starter recipe for dinner. Originating in Mobile Alabama, this crab meat recipe is similar to ceviche in that the acidic marinade cooks it. Let’s face it – a cold crab salad recipe would be great in southern Alabama where there’s lots of fresh crabmeat and the heat is through the roof.

West Indies Salad

The West Indies salad origin story is fairly straight forward. A chef in Mobile Alabama had too much crab meat and decided to make a salad special for the ladies who lunch in 1947.

Mr. Bayley, the chef, called his creation a West Indies Salad because the name sounded exotic. It has absolutely nothing to do with the West Indies other than that Mr. Bayley had travelled to the West Indies when he was in the merchant marine.  Mr. Bayley’s original recipe was outed by a leak in the Mobile Junior League cookbook.

I did not actually have a West Indies salad in Mobile Alabama. Frankly, there was just so much good food in Mobile, Alabama that I didn’t get around to the West Indies salad. I will next time though because my husband has heard me rave about Mobile Alabama so much, he wants to visit the food scene in Mobile too.

ingredients for West Indies Salad includes salt,peper, vinegar, oil, lemon, crabmeat, onion apple and lettuce
Among the more healthy crab salad recipes, the West Indies Salad recipe does not use mayonnaise.

West Indies Salad Recipes

Although there are lots of West Indies Salad recipes, one of the most famous is the West Indies crab salad Southern Living suggests. It’s the traditional Southern version with the layered dish and the chilled water addition.

In terms of make ahead salads, this easy make ahead recipe is perfect for a summer’s day. How many easy make ahead salads need to be chilled for a few hours? You can come back from the beach and have a hearty yet light salad with crab meat.

You can also make the West Indies Salad as a crab salad starter recipe for dinner as well. We have created several variations as well – a dip on top of crackers as canapés and on top of avocado toast as another lunch dish.

shrimp in sauce, bread and west indies salad at Elyton Hotel Room service
Room service at the Elyton Hotel in Birmingham Alabama with a delicious crab meat salad

A Kid-Friendly West Indies Salad Recipe

We’ve gone for a more healthy crab salad recipe. Our West Indies Crab Salad recipe adds actual salad leaves in the form of lettuce. We also added radishes and apple. The green apple slice into the salad is definitely not the traditional way but we tried apple in a crab salad in Birmingham Alabama and loved it.

Moreover, Instead of the vegetable oil, we also often make our West Indies salad with olive oil.

west indies salad on wood table
A variation on the West Indies Salad recipe which is a quick and easy make ahead salad

Finally, we have simplified the salad with crab meat to suit a simpler palate.  Our kids have issues with soggy food so we don’t add chilled water like the traditional recipe to keep the mixture drier. This dish is similar to Txaka, a crab meat recipe for Basque tapas that our Spanish nanny used to make.

NB!  The longer you marinate, the more the vinegar will kick into the taste.
A west indies inspired crab salad
A cold crab salad recipe inspired by the West Indies Salad from Mobile AL

West Indies Crab Salad Video

You can make this West Indies salad with olive oil which is what we often do. In terms of salads to make ahead, this crab meat salad is one of our favourites (along with Txaka).

This video will show how fast and easy you can make a West Indies Crab Salad.


West Indies Salad, An Easy Make Ahead Salad Recipe From Alabama
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