Publix Neptune Salad is a salad of sorts that’s been served by the Publix supermarket chain since the early 1980s.
Consisting primarily of a creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing, cucumbers and crab meat, it’s also known for its signature plastic-sealed packaging.
Stuffed inside the top-and bottom-opening boxes, the “salad” itself is a whole or half cucumber peeled and then split lengthwise.
The salad is then filled with crab meat, a fried egg, tomato slices, lettuce, and black olives. A blue plastic bag of dressing is tucked inside one of the halves.
The origins of Publix Neptune Salad are unclear; some sources say it’s named after Neptune (a sea god), while others say it’s named after an East Coast restaurant vendor.
The salad has also been called a “Florida” style salad because its ingredients are similar to those used in Florida cuisine (e.g., hard-boiled eggs).
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What Is Publix Neptune Salad Made Of?
According to the product’s official recipe, which can be found on the Publix website for its corporate recipes, Neptune Salad is prepared by creating a dressing out of mayonnaise, mustard, and red wine vinegar, with some sugar and pepper stirred in to give it flavor. Next comes the addition of chopped cucumbers and crumbled cooked crab meat.
If you want to make your own batch of Neptune Salad at home, this is a good template to follow. Be careful with the crab meat: canned varieties are generally unnaturally thick and full of water content — so much so that they’re often difficult or impossible to drain properly.
Fresh is always better — but fresh Alaskan king crab meat can be extraordinarily expensive. Make sure you buy the best quality, freshest crab meat you can afford.
Depending on the store’s recipe or secret recipe, extra ingredients are often added to the salad, including peeled, chopped, hard-boiled eggs and sliced onions.
Note that soft-boiled eggs don’t work since they break apart the dressing mixture. I’ve also seen it with bottled blue cheese dressing (which has more calories than mayonnaise) and chopped celery — but that’s pretty uncommon.
Publix Neptune Salad Recipe
Here’s a sample at-home recipe for Neptune Salad with extra ingredients; you can adjust it to your own liking.
3 to 6 servings
- 1 (8 oz) package Kraft Thousand Island dressing, separated into three equal parts
- 1 cup water chestnuts, chopped finely (or substitute thinly sliced carrots or celery — or use a mix of all three)
- 1 cup cooked crab meat, fresh or canned
Combine all three Kraft Thousand Island dressing portions with the water chestnuts and crab meat in a large mixing bowl. Stir everything together well until it’s nice and creamy.
You can make the Neptune Salad in advance and store it in the refrigerator until right before serving. It lasts pretty well that way — up to several days if you use a tight container.
Prepare the dressing ahead of time and let it cool down before you proceed with your Neptune Salad recipe. You can make it hours ahead of time and store it — but don’t toss in the other ingredients until just before serving since cold dressing breaks down much faster than room-temperature dressing does.
Another common feature seen in many recipes for Publix Neptune Salad is plastic-sealed packaging. This is commonly found in Publix retail stores and also in specialty gift shops that sell the salad as a novelty item.
The key to getting a tight-sealing plastic seal on your homemade Neptune Salad is to make sure that the bowl or storage container you’re using is completely dry and clean. Any water residue will ruin your seal. Allow any excess water to drain off as much as possible.
You can also pour leftover dressing over any cucumbers or other ingredients you’re planning on tossing into the salad — just don’t mix it all together until you’re ready to serve it.
If you have the opportunity to watch a demonstration of how these plastic seals work at a specialty gift shop, ask them to show you how it’s done. It can look very intimidating at first — but the key is that you don’t want any water or moisture residue on the bowl at all.
Once it’s sealed, the Neptune Salad should last for several weeks, as long as you store it in a dry spot with minimal exposure to light and air.
The biggest problem most people have with this type of packaging is leaking or spillage which is caused by improper storage. Make sure that no extra dressing has leaked out of the package onto your serving bowl when you seal it up before refrigeration.
If you’re storing a Neptune Salad in this manner, and it lasts longer than a day or so, check the seals and make sure none of them are loose or broken.
As an added precaution, keep your storage container away from any direct heat sources in the kitchen — including countertops that are too close to a stove.
Again, the biggest problem people have is not storing it properly.
Publix Neptune Salad Dressing
In addition to a mayonnaise-based dressing, some recipes for Publix Neptune Salad call for bottled blue cheese dressing as an additional ingredient. If desired, you can also add other ingredients to give your salad some extra flavor — like chopped celery or bottled sweet pickles.
As with the crab meat and hard-boiled eggs, you can use either fresh or canned ingredients — but use the best possible quality available.
Suppose you want to make your Neptune Salad more like a seafood salad; add some cooked shrimp or other fish along with the crab meat. Make sure that your seafood is well-drained before you combine it with the dressing and other ingredients.
Watch out for rendered fat when cooking your own seafood — it can congeal if left at room temperature in your kitchen for too long. Be prepared to refrigerate it as soon as it’s done.
If you want to make a full-fledged seafood salad, use cooked shrimp or fish that are already fully cooked — or even cooked chicken or turkey along with the crab meat. Toss in some cooked, canned catfish and drained black beans, as well.
And if you have leftover egg salad, canned tuna may be added to the mix.
Publix Neptune Salad Nutrition Info
Here’s what’s in your Publix Neptune Salad:
One serving (6 oz) contains 370 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 320 milligrams of sodium. It also has 80 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of fiber — and 3 grams of protein.
Health Benefits Of Publix Neptune Salad
The crab meat in the Publix Neptune Salad is a healthy source of protein, but the salad also has many other nutrients, which make it a healthy choice — including vitamins A, C, and E.
As a side note, the dressing is actually made with mayonnaise — not oil. While some people prefer to avoid mayonnaise because of its high-fat content, a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is associated with reduced heart disease and stroke risks.
If you’re interested in reducing your cholesterol intake and raising your HDL level (the “good” cholesterol), mayonnaise consumption could help you achieve both goals.
Here are some other reasons to consider adding this Publix Neptune Salad to your diet:
- A low-sodium, low-fat alternative.
- A good source of fiber.
- An excellent source of calcium.
- A high source of potassium and vitamin C.
- A good source of antioxidants that help fight cancer, heart disease, and age-related degeneration.
- It’s low in sodium — approximately half the amount found in a typical serving of the popular French fry, onion, and ranch dressing combination on a dinner roll.
- Offers a large quantity of vitamin C, which is essential for preventing scurvy — a disease that was prevalent throughout the United States Naval Forces during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
- A good source of potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure, keep proper electrolyte balance and prevent muscle cramps.
- The dressing is also a good source of niacin and vitamin A, which help improve the body’s immune system and vision.
The Bottom Line
Publix Neptune Salad is a fancy name for a simple, tasty combination of vegetables and crab meat. You can make this delicious side dish from scratch or pick up a prepared version from the supermarket. Either way, it makes an impressive addition to any table.
Don’t have time to make your own? You can always pick up a Publix Neptune Salad for yourself and your friends today!