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Crab Cakes


Staff member
Dec 13, 2023
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This crab cakes recipe is uses a foolproof pan-frying method for golden, seasoned cakes that are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Serve with creamy tartar sauce for a taste of magic!

Crab Cakes

Every time we see crab cakes on the menu at a restaurant, we have to order them. So finally we decided, why not try them at home? This amazing crab cake recipe makes patties that are golden and seasoned, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Old Bay, Dijon mustard and tarragon accentuate the juicy lump crabmeat perfectly, and served with creamy tartar sauce, they’re a little bit of heaven in each bite! We cannot resist these and they’re great as an appetizer or a simple dinner. Here’s how to experience the magic for yourself!

Cooking for vegan eaters, too? Make a batch of Vegan Crab Cakes alongside.

Ingredient notes for crab cakes​

Many people claim to have the perfect crab cakes recipe. We’ve ordered crab cakes loads of times at restaurants, and we must admit: these taste just as good as our favorite rendition! You’ll just need crab meat, panko, and a few key spices to bring these together. Here are some notes on the ingredients for crab cakes:

  • Crab meat: Use fresh jumbo lump crabmeat if you can, but it can be expensive especially if you don’t live near a coast. Canned lump crab meat also works.
  • Eggs: Eggs hold the crab cakes together and are important as a binder.
  • Mayonnaise and Dijon mustard: Mayo and Dijon act both as binders and provide key flavoring for the crab cakes.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire sauce adds savory flavor, but you can use these substitutes or omit if desired.
  • Old Bay: Old Bay seasoning is a classic American seafood seasoning that’s easy to find in the US in grocery stores in the spices aisle. Or, you can buy Old Bay online or make homemade Old Bay.
  • Dried tarragon: Tarragon is a common spice to pair with seafood, which has a delicate anise flavor. It’s key to the flavor, so we suggest using it here! If you’re in a pinch, you can omit.
  • Green onion: Fresh green onion adds freshness and savory flavor; you can substitute chives if desired.
  • Panko (plain): Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb mixture that is airier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs. We suggested using panko for this recipe and not breadcrumbs, which have a finer texture.
Crab Cake recipe

Tips on making crab cakes​

Crab cakes are made like fritters or other savory cakes like tuna cakes or salmon cakes. Mix up the batter, then form into patties and pan fry them until golden. Here are a few notes for the process:

  • Check over the crab before using. Depending on the brand and type of crab meat, you may find pieces of hard shells or cartilage. Take a quick look before using!
  • Form into ⅓ cup patties. Use your fingers to form the patties. You might have to wash your hands a few times if the batter becomes sticky.
  • Chill for at least 15 minutes before cooking. This step is key and helps the cakes to hold together when pan frying.
  • Pan fry in a thin layer of olive oil or butter. Pan fry the crab cakes about 3 minutes per side. If desired, remove them to a baking rack to keep the bottom crispy. Then fry the remaining batch.

Meal prep and storage info​

Want to prep these crab cakes in advance? After forming them, you can refrigerate for up to 24 hours before cooking. If refrigerated, allow them to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking.

Store cooked crab cakes for up to 3 days refrigerated. They make great leftovers; reheat gently in a skillet.

Tartar sauce

Dipping sauces​

Crab cakes taste great on their own, but of course they’re best dipped into a creamy sauce. Our top choice? Homemade tartar sauce is so simple to make and we often have most of the ingredients on hand. Remoulade is also common for crab cakes. Here are a few dipping sauce ideas:

  • Tartar Sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce that’s often served with seafood, made with pickles, capers and seasonings
  • Remoulade Sauce is mayonnaise-based sauce that originated in France and is popular in US Cajun and Creole cuisine
  • Creamy Dill Sauce is a mix of sour cream, mayo, lemon, and fresh dill.
  • Horseradish Sauce is creamy and spicy, featuring sour cream, mayo, horseradish and chives.
Crab cakes recipe

What to serve with crab cakes​

Crab cakes are often served as an appetizer, but for home cooks they work great as a main dish. Because they take a bit of effort to whip up, we prefer them as a light lunch or dinner. Here are a few ideas for what to serve with crab cakes:

Crab Cakes recipe

More types of cakes and patties​

Crab cakes has spawned a whole list of seafood cakes using different types of fish and shellfish: you can even make them vegan! Here are a few more ideas:

Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties (aka Tuna Cakes!)

Salmon Patties

Easy Salmon Patties (Salmon Cakes!)

Vegan Crab Cakes with Vegan Tartar Sauce

Vegan Crab Cakes

Salmon croquettes

Salmon Croquettes

This crab cake recipe is…​

Pescatarian and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free panko.

Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes​

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • icon-clock.png
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
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    Chill Time: 15 minutes
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    Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • icon-clock.png
    Total Time: 45 minutes
  • icon-cutlery.png
    Yield: 8
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This crab cakes recipe is uses a foolproof pan-frying method for golden, seasoned cakes that are crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth tender. Serve with creamy tartar sauce for a taste of magic!


  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat (fresh or canned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • ¾ cup plain panko (or gluten-free panko)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, for frying
  • 1 recipe Tartar Sauce
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  1. Check through the crab meat for any hard pieces and discard. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, tarragon, kosher salt, and green onion. Add the crab and panko and gently stir to combine, trying not to break up the chunks of meat.
  2. Form the dough into 8 patties using a ⅓ cup measuring cup to portion it out, then pat it into a patty with your hands. Refrigerate the patties for 15 minutes to firm up the texture (or up to 24 hours).
  3. When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the patties and cook for about 3 minutes until lightly browned, then gently flip them with a spatula and cook about 3 to 4 minutes more until lightly browned on the other side. Repeat with the next batch, adjusting the heat because the pan will be hotter on the second batch. Cool 1 to 2 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges and tartar sauce (or remoulade).
  • icon-folder.png
    Category: Main Dish
  • icon-squares.png
    Method: Stovetop
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    Cuisine: American

Keywords: Crab cakes, crab cakes recipe


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