This authentic Crab Cake recipe is packed with flaky fresh crab meat, just a little panko texture, and flavorful citrus, dijon and Old Bay seasoning with a hint of spice. This is the best you will try and it will keep you coming back time and time again!!
If there is one thing Southerners know it is how to handle their seafood. Whether it’s gumbo, fried catfish or shrimp and grits, I think we can all agree that Southern seafood is supreme. And if you ask me, Crab Cakes are the best of them all.
Gosh, I absolutely love Crab Cakes! Everyone has their own version of the perfect crustation creation but mine is this: full of flaky crab meat, little to no filler, creamy mayonnaise and a balance of wonderful spices. You can serve with tartar sauce or remoulade.
The Heart and Soul of the Best Crab Cakes Recipe
Cuisine Inspiration: Coastal Comfort Food
Primary Cooking Method: Pan-Frying
Dietary Info: Pescatarian-Friendly, Contains Gluten
Key Flavor: Succulent Crab with a Golden Crust
Skill Level: Easy Peasy
- Authentic Coastal Flavor: These crab cakes transport you straight to the seaside with every bite, thanks to the fresh, succulent crab meat that takes center stage in this recipe.
- Crispy on the Outside, Tender on the Inside: Achieve that perfect textural dichotomy with a golden, crispy crust enveloping a moist, tender interior loaded with flavorful crab.
- Quick and Easy Preparation: No need for advanced culinary skills here! This recipe is straightforward, making it perfect for both weeknight dinners and impromptu gatherings.
- Versatile Serving Options: These golden beauties are a hit on their own, but they’re also fabulous dressed up with your favorite dipping sauce or nestled on a bed of mixed greens.
- Crowd-Pleaser: Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or a sunny brunch, these crab cakes are a universal delight, winning over the hearts of seafood lovers and foodies alike!
What is a Crab Cake?
Ever wonder where the Crab Cake got started? Well so did I! Here’s a little sprinkle of knowledge for you to pass on.
In 1930, a man named Crosby Gaige introduced the world to his recipe for the “Baltimore Crab Cake”. Gaige used a mixture of savory crab meat, breadcrumbs and spices to create the delicacy we know today. The recipe took on a life of its own and became a staple dish in Gaige’s home state of Maryland.
Since then, Maryland has led the way in recreating this dish and spreading enjoyment across the country! Maryland’s access to fresh blue crabs make for the absolute best Crab Cakes ever.
Fresh vs. Frozen vs. Canned Crab
If possible, always buy fresh or frozen crab meat rather than canned.
TIP 1: I repeat avoid the canned options! Canned options are typically flavorless and rubbery. For a brand that I love that is fresh, check out Pontchartrain Blue Crab. It is imported regularly and can be found at Whole Foods Market. You will find it over ice in the seafood section so it stays fresh.
TIP 2: Another amazing tip is asking your local grocery store seafood section. They usually have fresh crab in the back of the store and will go to their fresh deliveries and gather and weigh it for you if in stock. This guarantees you get fresh delicious crab for your crab cakes.
For this recipe, I highly suggest “flaked” lump crab meat which refers to smaller pieces of meat that come from the claw. The flavor is delicious and the texture melts in your mouth.
TIP 3: If using frozen meat, be sure to properly defrost, rinse and dry off excess moisture. The result will be a bit different but nonetheless, delicious.
There is an impression that crab cakes are difficult to make. In reality, it all comes down to the quality of ingredients and quick hands. There aren’t many components to this recipe which both simplifies the process and allows each one to shine.
Below are a few of the most important ingredients that make this recipe as great as it is.
Seems a bit strange huh? Mayonnaise aids the eggs in binding together the looser ingredients in this mixture. It also lends a mild, clean flavor and a nice tart-salt balance. If you hate mayonnaise (I personally do so I totally understand), Trust me when I say you don’t taste it.
- Panko Crumbs
Breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs are the usual ingredient you will find in most crab cake recipes. I avoid saltines here because I find they make the crab cakes a bit too salty for my liking. I opt for panko crumbs which add a wonderful bite and texture but also add no additional salt allowing the other ingredients to work their magic.
- Dijon Mustard
This not only aids the binder as a liquid ingredient but also adds an abundance of nuance and flavor to the crab cakes. It is subtle but seriously delicious.
- Lemon Juice
Seafood loves acidity. Even just a little squeeze of lemon will add a brightness and a slight tang to the crab meat. I would even suggest serving your cakes with slices of lemon for an extra pop!
If seafood loves acidity then Old Bay is its best friend. Old Bay was actually invented for the use of seasoning crab meat! The iconic blend is made of spices such as mustard, paprika, celery salt, mace and so much more. The end result produces flavor like none other.
If you ask me, everything’s better with a little spice can go a long way. Just a pinch gives that classic Southern flare that we associate with so many comfort foods. Here, I’ve added a hint of cayenne because I love how it brightens this recipe just a bit. You can also substitute this with cajun seasoning if you want to keep the spice down but add tons of flavor. Note: Just make sure your cajun seasoning isn’t very salty.
How to Make Crab Cakes
- Mix Ingredients: Start by combining mayonnaise, eggs, parsley, mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, and a dash of cayenne in a large bowl. Give it a good whisk until everything is well incorporated.
- Fold in the Stars: Gently fold your crabmeat and breadcrumbs into the mix. You want to keep those precious lumps of crab intact for texture and flavor!
- Shape and Chill: Form your mixture into 6-8 lovely crab cakes. Pop them into the fridge for about 30 minutes. This step is crucial as it helps the cakes hold their shape while cooking.
- Get Cooking: Heat a mix of butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat — we’re talking flavor and crispness here! Cook your crab cakes for 4-5 minutes each side until they’re a gorgeous golden brown.
- Drain and Serve: After their skillet sizzle, let them drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil. Serve them hot with lemon slices for that extra zest and a side of creamy remoulade sauce for dipping.
How to Serve
Crab cakes are incredibly versatile and capable of being served with just about anything. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
- As an Appetizer w/ Remoulade Sauce
- Salad Topper
- As a Main Dish w/ Roasted Veggies
- Crab Eggs Benedict
- On a Po’ Boy
- Serve a seafood bite menu with Mexican Crab Cakes, Crab Stuffed Salmon, Salmon Croquettes and Jerk Salmon Burgers.
How to Store and Reheat
Crab Cakes consist mainly of crab, eggs and mayonnaise; all of which are quite perishable. In the interest of food safety, be sure to properly wrap and refrigerate your leftovers promptly after they’ve been served. I would suggest consuming your leftovers within 24 hours.
To reheat: bring your crab cakes to room temperature, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lay the cakes on a foil-covered baking sheet. Give each cake room, so they’re not crowded and heat for 10-15 minutes.
To prevent drying out, I would suggest placing a pad of butter on each cake or tenting the pan with additional foil.
Avoid the microwave at all cost! A microwave will render your cakes rubbery and tough. Such a waste.
More Seafood Recipes to Try
Almost nothing comes in between me and my love for seafood. Whether it’s got a shell, scales, or some combination of the two, I’m here for it. If you come to love this recipe just as much as I do, you’ll love some of these other recipes. Bon appetit!
Best Crab Cakes
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper can go up to 1/2 tsp if you want more spice
- 2 lbs fresh crabmeat drained, flaked and all cartilage removed
- 3/4 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp oil canola, vegetable or olive oil is best
- 1 tbsp butter
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, eggs, parsley, mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay and cayenne until combined.
- Next fold in crabmeat and breadcrumbs and shape into 6-8 crabcakes. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Add butter and olive oil to the skillet over medium heat.
- Cook crab cakes for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels then serve with lemon slices and a side of this remoulade sauce.
- If possible, always buy fresh or frozen crab meat rather than canned. Canned options are typically flavorless and rubbery. My favorite brand is Pontchartrain which I find at Whole Foods. It is fresh and delicious. I get their lump crab.