Few things are as easy to make and delicious as this crab cake recipe. Combine fresh lump crab meat with savory seasonings and a crispy coating. The result is perfect for sharing as an appetizer or enjoying a main course.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Crab cakes are a classic American recipe that you can find on restaurant menus all across the country. And while there are many variations, they all have one thing in common: they're absolutely delicious.
They're so easy to make, and all you need is some fresh crab meat and pantry staples like Old Bay spice, mayonnaise, an egg, and bread crumbs to bind everything together. Whether they're fried or baked, you'll have juicy crab cakes with a crispy coating.
The mayonnaise in this crab cake recipe gives it a nice creamy texture, while the Old Bay seasoning adds a touch of heat combined with the green onions, and the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese add a crispy, flavorful exterior.
Fantastic for dipping into creamy sauces like:
Perfect for sharing with friends and family, or served with green salads, veggies, and soups, making them perfect for lunch, dinner and tasty party appetizers.
This recipe takes under an hour to make with 5 minutes prep time, 30 minutes freezing, and 10-12 minutes frying. Plus, they're great for freezing and frying for a quick midweek meal for busy parents.
🍽 Key Ingredients
Homemade crab cakes are so easy to make and require minimal ingredients to prepare them. The main ingredients are fresh lump crab meat and Old Bay seasoning.
Crab meat - You'll need 1 pound of fresh lump crab meat for this recipe. Be sure to check the crab meat for any shells that may be hiding in it.
Old Bay seasoning - This is a classic crab cake seasoning that adds a nice touch of heat.
Mayonnaise - The mayonnaise gives them a nice creamy texture and a touch of fat.
Egg - The egg acts as a binding agent and helps to hold the cakes together.
Panko bread crumbs - The bread crumbs help to bind them and add a crispy flavorful exterior.
Parmesan cheese - Parmesan cheese adds a nice salty flavor and helps to bind them together.
Green onions - The green onions add a touch of sweetness and flavor to the crab.
Fresh basil - The fresh basil adds a nice touch of Italian flavor and freshness.
The flavor and texture of crab cakes can vary depending on the type of crab meat you use. While jumbo lump crab meat is always best, you can also use canned crab meat and even frozen. If you use canned or frozen crab meat, make sure to drain and rinse it before using.
Note that imitation crab works as well and drastically reduces the overall cost of this delicious recipe.
Old Bay spice
If you don't have Old Bay spice, you can substitute it with Creole seasoning or Cajun seasoning.
The perfect substitution for fresh basil in this recipe is fresh parsley. Both herbs taste amazing with crab meat.
🔪 How to make
This recipe is fool-proof; anyone can learn how to make crab cakes. These tasty cakes are ready in under an hour. Just follow the step-by-step instructions, and you'll have made the best crab cakes you've ever had.
Finely dice the green onions and fresh basil leaves.
Cooking Crab Cakes
Make the crab cake sauce by combining the dry ingredients: parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, Old Bay spice, minced green onions, and basil in a mixing bowl.
Add the egg, mayo and combine well.
Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, add the crab meat, and toss gently to combine.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and form the crab mixture into several small round patties.
Note that smaller or mini crab cakes are fantastic as appetizers, finger food, and are my go to party appetizer. While jumbo lump crab cakes are perfect for dinner.
Add to the lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Time is a guideline, you want firm not frozen.
Set a skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil and remove the from the freezer.
Place into the hot skillet 1 inch apart to cook evenly. You'll probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches, depending on how big your skillet is.
Cook crab cakes for about 3 to 4 minutes on either side until they turn golden brown.
Tip: Add an extra dash of olive oil to the skillet after cooking each batch.
Place on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil and transfer them to a serving plate.
Serve with tartar sauce, cilantro lime sauce, or lemon dill sauce and lemon wedges for a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.
💭 Cooking tips
You can make the crab cakes bigger if you prefer, but bear in mind they will need cooking a few minutes longer. The smaller ones are better for party appetizers while bigger ones are better served for lunch or dinner.
This crab cake recipe works best when they are chilled in the freezer first. This helps the crab mixture to firm up so that they do not fall apart when cooking.
This recipe is the best I've come across in a long time. But feel free to add salt and freshly ground black pepper to the mixture to suit your palate.
The best crab cakes are perfectly seasoned and have just the right amount of flavor. If you want to enhance the flavor further, here are a few variations:
Maryland Style Crab Cakes
Crab meat and mustard are a really good combination to add a bit of heat. Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the crab cake mixture and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce to add depth of flavor.
Garlic and onion
Add 1 clove of minced garlic and ½ a diced onion to the crab mixture for a more savory flavor. Use ½ teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder if you don't have fresh on hand.
If you love your food spicy, add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the crab mixture. It will really enhance the flavor and give them a nice kick of spice.
🥗 What to serve with
There are so many ways to enjoy crab cakes! Serve them as an appetizer with a creamy dipping sauce, or enjoy them as a main course with a salad and a side of roasted potatoes. You can also serve them on a bed of greens as a light lunch or dinner.
Here are some of my favorite serving suggestions:
This simple recipe for sauteed asparagus with butter and almonds takes just 20 minutes to make and is the perfect side dish to complement crab cakes.
Potato salad is an all-time classic side dish at most BBQs, family get-togethers, and potlucks, and this recipe is unlike any you have ever tried!
It's packed with goodness with bacon bits, cheddar cheese, boiled eggs, tender potatoes, mustard, sweet relish, and mayo. Also, sweet potatoes cubes are phenomenal with this recipe.
For desserts I recommend you to check my collection of orange desserts recipes that includes my easy orange cake recipe!
🙋 Frequently asked questions
Is it better to fry crab cakes or bake them?
I prefer frying crab cakes because it gives them a crispier exterior, but you can also bake them. To bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Can I make the crab cake mixture ahead of time?
Yes, you can make the crab cake mixture ahead of time. Refrigerated crab meat keeps well for up to 24 hours. Just shape them into patties and then fry them as instructed in the cooking instructions.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ Reheating
If you have leftover crab cakes, you can store them in the fridge or freezer and reheat them another day or even eat them cold.
Fridge - Store leftovers in an airtight container or place them on a plate covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for 2-3 days.
Freezer - Transfer the leftovers into a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Reheating - When reheating, you can fry, bake, or microwave them. I prefer to fry them because it gives them a crispy exterior.
👪 Serving Size
This crab cakes recipe will make around 12 to 15 depending on how big you've made them, which is enough for 6 to 7 servings with each person having 2 each. Although, this recipe is so easy to scale to make more or freeze them.
Crab cakes are a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, main course, or side dish. With just a few ingredients that combine to make something so tasty, they are sure to be a hit at your next party or family gathering!
The Best Crab Cakes
- 3 tablespoons Grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons minced green onions - (green portions only)
- 3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil - (or lemon basil)
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 pound Lump crabmeat - (check for shells, but do not wash)
- Olive oil - (for cooking)
- Remoulade sauce (for serving) tartar and chives on top with lemon wedges
- Finely dice the green onions and fresh basil leaves.
- Make the crab cake sauce by combining the egg, parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, mayo, Old Bay spice, minced green onions, and basil in a mixing bowl.
- Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, add the crab meat, and toss gently to combine.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and form the crab mixture into several small round patties.
- Add crab cakes to the lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
- Set a skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil and remove the crab cakes from the freezer.
- Place the crab cakes into the hot skillet 1 inch apart to cook evenly. You'll probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches, depending on how big your skillet is.
- Cook crab cakes for about 3 to 4 minutes on either side until they turn golden brown.
- Add extra oil to the skillet after cooking each batch.
- Place the cooked crab cakes on a paper towel-lined plate to remove the excess oil and transfer them to a serving plate.
- Serve with remoulade or tartar sauce and lemon wedges for a squeeze of lemon juice.
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