Crab Louie

A creamy, briny dressing of mayo, ketchup, relish, olives, and onions steals the show in this elegant salad.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    15 minutes


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on February 12, 2024

There are plenty of theories about Crab Louie’s name, including a tall tale involving the outsize appetite of Louis XIV. A recipe for the dish first appeared under the title “Crabmeat a la Louise” in chef Victor Hirtzler’s 1910 The Hotel St. Francis Cookbook. The hotel, now the Westin St. Francis, still stands on San Francisco’s Union Square, but it doesn’t serve the city’s best Crab Louie. For that, you must wait in line on Polk Street to nab one of 20 seats at Swan Oyster Depot. Peggy Knickerbocker raved about Swan in SAVEUR’s March 1998 issue—and convinced the place to divulge its Louie secrets, including the dressing, comprised of mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish, olives, and onions.

Dungeness crabs are fished in the Pacific waters from California to Alaska and prized for their sweet, buttery meat. The season begins in mid-November, but if you don’t live on the West Coast, order them cooked (whole or fresh-picked) from Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, or Giovanni’s Fish Market in California’s Morro Bay—which also ships them live.

Featured in the March 1998 issue.


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1⁄4 cup ketchup
  • 1⁄4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped black olives
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head iceberg lettuce, shredded (about 8 cups)
  • Meat from 2 cooked 2-lb. Dungeness crabs (or substitute 4 cups cooked lump crabmeat)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Tabasco sauce, for serving (optional)


Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, olives, and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, pour 1 cup of the dressing over the lettuce and toss to combine. Divide the dressed lettuce between 4 chilled salad plates, then top each with ¼ of the crabmeat. Drizzle the crab with the remaining dressing. Serve cold, with lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce, if desired.

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