This Crab Cakes Recipe is made with crab meat, panko crumbs, shallot, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic powder, chives and fried to perfection.
Crab cakes are an American seafood staple, particularly Maryland, that are made with fresh lump crab meat, panko crumbs, and vegetables. You can either bake or fry them. Crab cakes are often served as an appetizer or as the main course in seafood-focused meals. They are typically accompanied by various sauces or dips such as tartar sauce, remoulade sauce, cocktail sauce, or aioli. Lemon wedges are also commonly served alongside crab cakes for added flavor.
Crab cakes are highly regarded for their delicate and sweet flavor, as well as their crispy exterior. They are enjoyed by seafood lovers and are a popular menu item in many seafood restaurants along the East Coast of the United States and beyond. These Crab Cakes Panko get the stamp of approval from my family and friends. The key is to use fresh lump crabmeat and go light on the filler. These crab cakes are full of flavor and are served with a delicious chipotle
What are Crab Cakes?
Crab cakes are a popular seafood dish that originated in the United States, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region. They are typically made with crab meat, which is combined with various ingredients to form patties or cakes. The exact recipe can vary, but common ingredients include fresh or canned crab meat, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and various seasonings such as Old Bay seasoning, paprika, or cayenne pepper.
To make crab cakes, the ingredients are mixed together to form a cohesive mixture, and then shaped into round patties. The patties are usually coated with additional breadcrumbs before being pan-fried, baked, or sometimes deep-fried until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. The cooking method may vary depending on personal preference or regional traditions.
Why you will love this recipe
- Flavor: Crab meat has a delicate and sweet flavor that is highly regarded by seafood enthusiasts. The natural sweetness of the crab meat shines through in crab cakes, creating a distinct and enjoyable taste.
- Texture: When prepared well, crab cakes have a pleasing texture that combines the softness of the crab meat with the crispness of the outer coating. The contrast between the tender interior and the crunchy exterior adds to the overall eating experience.
- Versatility: Crab cakes can be served in various ways, making them versatile in terms of presentation and pairing. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a main course, or even in sandwiches or sliders. The ability to adapt to different dining occasions makes them appealing to a wide range of preferences.
- Regional pride: Crab cakes have strong associations with the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, particularly Maryland. They are often seen as a regional specialty and a point of culinary pride for those who hail from these areas. The cultural significance and local traditions surrounding crab cakes contribute to their appeal.
Crab Cakes Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Lump crab meat
- Garlic powder
- Panko crumbs
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil
- Lemon wedges
See recipe card for Crab Cakes Recipe quantities.
How to make Crab Cakes
Prepare the Crab Cakes Mixture: In a large mixing bowl, combine the lump crab meat, chopped chives, minced shallot, and garlic powder. Gently fold these ingredients together to preserve the lumpiness of the crab meat. Make the Binding Mixture: In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Combine the Mixtures: Pour the egg mixture over the crab mixture and gently fold everything together until well combined. Be careful not to overmix; you want to keep the crab meat as intact as possible.
Add Panko Breadcrumbs: Gradually add the panko breadcrumbs to the crab mixture. Continue folding until the mixture holds together and is thick enough to shape into patties. If it's too wet, you can add more breadcrumbs. Shape the Crab Cakes: Divide the crab mixture into equal portions and shape them into crab cake patties. You can make them as large or small as you prefer. Coat with Panko: Place some extra panko breadcrumbs on a plate. Carefully coat each crab cake with breadcrumbs on both sides, pressing gently to adhere.
Chill the Crab Cakes: Place the crab cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes. This helps them firm up and hold their shape while cooking. Cook the Crab Cakes: Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the crab cakes and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown and heated through.
You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Serve: Serve the crab cakes hot with lemon wedges and tartar sauce on the side.
Hint: If you would rather bake in the oven, do so at 450°F for 12-14 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
What to serve with Crab Cakes
- Remoulade Sauce: A classic accompaniment to crab cakes is remoulade sauce. This tangy and creamy sauce typically includes ingredients such as mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, capers, pickles, herbs, and spices. It adds a flavorful and complementary element to the crab cakes.
- Tartar Sauce: Another traditional option is tartar sauce. This creamy sauce is made with mayonnaise, pickles, capers, onions, and sometimes herbs. It provides a cool and tangy contrast to the richness of the crab cakes.
- Aioli: Garlic aioli or other flavored aioli sauces can be a delicious choice to serve with crab cakes. Aioli is a creamy and garlicky sauce that pairs well with the seafood flavors.
- Salad: A refreshing salad can be a great accompaniment to crab cakes. Consider serving a light green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a simple vinaigrette. The freshness and crunch of the salad can balance the richness of the crab cakes.
- Grilled Vegetables: Grilled vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, or corn can make a tasty and colorful side dish. The smoky flavors from the grill can complement the crab cakes nicely.
- Rice or Quinoa: Serving crab cakes with a side of rice or quinoa can make the meal more substantial. Choose plain or seasoned rice, or opt for quinoa for added protein and nutritional value.
- Sweet Potato Fries: For a twist on traditional fries, consider serving sweet potato fries alongside the crab cakes. The sweetness of the fries pairs well with the savory flavors of the crab cakes.
For some substitutions for this Crab Cakes Recipe, you can do the following:
- Crab Meat: If you're unable to find or prefer not to use crab meat, you can substitute it with other types of seafood such as cooked and flaked white fish (like cod or haddock), cooked and flaked shrimp, or even canned tuna.
- Chives: If you don't have chives, you can use other herbs like finely chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onions (scallions) to add a fresh and herbaceous flavor to the crab cakes.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is commonly used as a binder and adds moisture to crab cakes. You can substitute it with plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or even mashed avocado for a healthier alternative.
- Mustard: Dijon mustard provides a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to crab cakes. You can create a similar flavor profile by mixing Honey mustard or whole grain mustard.
- Panko Crumbs: Panko crumbs are used as a crispy coating for crab cakes. You can substitute them with regular breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers for a similar texture. For a gluten-free option, you can use crushed gluten-free crackers or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is commonly used for frying or sautéing crab cakes. If you don't have olive oil, you can use other cooking oils like vegetable oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil.
Crab Cakes Recipe Variations
- Cajun Crab Cakes: Add some Cajun or Creole flavors to your crab cakes by incorporating ingredients like diced bell peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. This variation adds a bit of spice and a Southern twist to the dish.
- Asian-Inspired Crab Cakes: Give your crab cakes an Asian twist by adding ingredients like minced ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped scallions, and a touch of sriracha or chili sauce. This variation adds an umami-rich flavor profile and pairs well with a soy-based dipping sauce.
- Southwest Crab Cakes: Add a Tex-Mex flair to your crab cakes by mixing in ingredients like diced jalapeños, corn kernels, black beans, chopped cilantro, cumin, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve them with a side of avocado salsa or chipotle mayo for a zesty kick.
- Mediterranean Crab Cakes: Incorporate Mediterranean flavors by adding ingredients like chopped Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, minced garlic, dried oregano, and lemon zest. This variation brings a tangy and savory taste to the crab cakes.
- Crab Cake Sliders: Shape the crab mixture into smaller patties and serve them on slider buns or mini rolls. Top them with a dollop of remoulade sauce or a slice of tomato and lettuce for a bite-sized treat.
Check out my Sweet and Sour Shrimp Recipe.
To make this Crab Cakes Recipe, you will need the following:
- Mixing Bowl: A mixing bowl is essential for combining all the ingredients for the crab cakes.
- Mixing Utensil: A spatula or a spoon will be needed to mix the ingredients together thoroughly.
- Cutting Board: A cutting board is useful for chopping ingredients like chives, or any other vegetables you may be using in your crab cakes.
- Knife: A sharp knife is necessary for chopping vegetables and herbs and for any other ingredient preparation required.
- Baking Sheet or Tray: If you plan to bake the crab cakes in the oven, a baking sheet or tray is needed to place the formed crab cakes on.
- Skillet or Frying Pan: If you prefer pan-frying the crab cakes, a skillet or frying pan will be necessary for cooking them on the stovetop.
- Spatula: A spatula is useful for flipping the crab cakes while cooking to ensure they cook evenly and develop a crispy crust.
- Oven (optional): If you choose to bake the crab cakes, you will need an oven to cook them until they are golden brown.
- Cooling Rack (optional): If you want to keep the crab cakes crispy after cooking, you can place them on a cooling rack instead of a plate. This allows air to circulate around them and prevents them from becoming soggy.
- Serving Plate: Once the crab cakes are cooked and ready to be served, a plate or platter is needed for presentation.
How to store Crab Cakes
To store my Crab Cakes Recipe, do the following:
- Allow Cooling: Let the cooked crab cakes cool to room temperature before storing them. This will help prevent condensation and maintain their texture.
- Refrigeration: Place the crab cakes in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. Make sure they are well sealed to prevent air and moisture from entering.
- Refrigerator Storage: Store the crab cakes in the refrigerator. They can typically be kept in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. Keep in mind that the longer they are stored, the more their texture and flavor may deteriorate.
- Freezing Option: If you want to store crab cakes for a longer period, you can freeze them. Individually wrap each crab cake in plastic wrap or place them in a single layer in an airtight container, separating each layer with parchment paper or plastic wrap. This prevents them from sticking together.
- Freezer Storage: Place the wrapped or container-sealed crab cakes in the freezer. They can be stored for up to 1 to 2 months. Properly sealed crab cakes will help prevent freezer burn and maintain their quality.
- Thawing: When you're ready to use the refrigerated or frozen crab cakes, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before cooking or reheating. This gradual thawing process helps retain their moisture and texture.
- Reheating: To reheat refrigerated or thawed crab cakes, you can either pan-fry them again in a lightly oiled skillet until heated through and crispy, or bake them in the oven at a moderate temperature (around 350°F or 180°C) until warmed.
Crab Cakes Recipe Top tips
- Use Fresh Crab Meat: Whenever possible, opt for fresh crab meat. Fresh crab meat has better flavor and texture compared to canned or frozen crab meat. If using canned crab meat, make sure to drain it well and remove any excess liquid.
- Handle the Crab Meat Gently: Crab meat is delicate, so handle it gently to prevent breaking up the meat into small pieces. This will help maintain the chunkiness and texture of the crab cakes.
- Binders and Fillers: Use the right combination of binders and fillers to help hold the crab cakes together and add moisture. Common binders include mayonnaise, egg, or breadcrumbs, while fillers can include diced bell peppers, chives, or other vegetables. Avoid adding too many fillers, as they can overpower the flavor of the crab.
- Proper Seasoning: Season the crab cakes well to enhance the flavor. Traditional seasonings include Old Bay seasoning, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste preferences.
- Chill the Mixture: Before forming the crab cakes, refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Chilling the mixture helps it firm up, making it easier to shape and prevent the crab cakes from falling apart during cooking.
- Shape the Crab Cakes: When shaping the crab cakes, make sure to form them into even-sized patties. Press them gently together to ensure they hold their shape while cooking.
- Preheat the Pan: If pan-frying the crab cakes, preheat the skillet or frying pan before adding the crab cakes. This ensures a crispy crust and prevents sticking.
- Don't Overcrowd the Pan: When cooking the crab cakes, avoid overcrowding the pan. Leaving enough space between the cakes allows for even cooking and prevents them from becoming soggy.
- Adjust Cooking Time and Temperature: Cooking time and temperature can vary depending on the thickness and size of the crab cakes. Cook them until they are golden brown on both sides and heated through. If baking, follow the recommended oven temperature and timing in the recipe.
- Serve Immediately: Crab cakes are best enjoyed immediately after cooking. Serve them while they are still warm and crispy to fully savor their flavors and textures.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove