Maryland Crab Cakes – deliciously easy crab cakes made with fresh lump crab meat and various spices and seasonings then pan-fried to perfection. Slightly crusty on the outside and succulent and juicy on the inside. Pair it with your favorite sauce and you’ll have an appetizer or main dish ready in less than 30 minutes!
How is your summer planning so far? Are you booking a beach vacay? Well, if you happen to decide to just stay at home and fill your inflatable pool with water, I’m all for that. Actually, I just bought a bigger inflatable pool that could also accommodate a few adults. Hey, no judging! 😀
And while you’re debating to either book that flight or stay at home for summer, let these easy crab cakes be your summer inspiration.
Easy Crab Cakes
Succulent fresh crab meat with that distinct sweet ocean-y taste with boatloads of flavors and without sweating out in the kitchen. What more could you ask for?
Crab cake is a variety of fish cake that is very popular in the U.S. made with crab meat and other ingredients such as breadcrumb, mayo, mustard and other various seasonings. It can be cooked in various ways: sauteed, pan-fried, baked, deep-fried, grilled and broiled. You know it’s delicious when you can eat an entire batch of this recipe all by yourself.
Traditional Maryland Crab Cake
Okay, just a heads up. This version here is not for the purist. Traditional Maryland Crab Cake uses mostly the following: lump blue crabmeat, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, enough breadcrumbs to bind the meat, egg and lemon juice.
As for the Old Bay seasoning, most would claim that it’s a classic ingredient for Maryland crab cakes. But looking at Daniel Gritzer of Serious Eats response in his article’s comment section, he did some digging and has an interesting take on this claim. Old cookbooks don’t claim that to be a Maryland crab cake, it should and must contain Old Bay seasoning. Nor is broiling the only way to cook a true Maryland crab cake.
So for that matter, you may use Old Bay seasoning, if preferred, or use Creole seasoning to spice up your crab meat. Furthermore, you may broil, grill or pan-fried your crab cakes, whichever feels efficient for you.
Restaurant vs Boardwalk Style
As for the breading style, restaurant style (gourmet) crab cakes are not breaded and the meat isn’t shredded that much, so you get to taste a lot of the crab meat. On the other hand, boardwalk style uses egg and breadcrumbs as binders.
Finding a Good Crabmeat
First off, you need to know that you could get it whole or picked. Picked means all the hard work has been done for you like – cracking and picking through the meat. Second, crabmeat are categorized into five grades or groupings..
- Colossal Lump/Jumbo Lump Crabmeat – large chunks of meat that connect to the swimmer fins. They have fine texture and a sweet taste which are perfect when you want your fingers to lift chunks of crabmeat and dip them in a sauce. This is the most expensive of all of the groups.
- Lump Crabmeat – less expensive compared to the first group. This type of crabmeat consists of broken jumbo lumps and large chunks of body meat. The chunks also hold pretty well even with minimal binders which makes it great for crab cakes.
- Backfin Crabmeat – smaller, broken chunks of lump crabmeat mixed with flakes of white body meat. It’s ideal for crab salads, pasta or anything that needs crab meat as sort of just a cherry on top.
- Special Crabmeat – consist of small flakes of white crabmeat taken from the body cavity. It has a good color and delicate flavor which would be great for dips, bisques and omelets.
- Claw Crabmeat – least expensive among the five groupings, but is the most flavorful. They are pinkish brown rather than white and has a hearty crab flavor that doesn’t get masked with any seasonings. Great for soups, crabmeat stuffing and stir-fries.
Crab Cake Dipping Sauce
You’ll love these easy cakes even more when you learn that any sauce would complement with this. It could be as basic as a ketchup or any of the following below:
Chipotle Mayo Sauce
Can You Bake Crab Cakes?
Yes, you sure can. If you want to avoid oil as much as possible, you can simply bake these at a preheated oven to 375F and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Can You Freeze Crab Cakes?
Yes, you sure can, too. You can prepare and shape them ahead and freeze. To freeze uncooked crab cakes, place them on baking sheet pan on a single layer and freeze until firm – about 2 hours. Then wrap each uncooked cake in a plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. It freezes well for up to 1 month. When ready to cook, just defrost them in the fridge overnight before cooking.
What to Serve with Crab Cakes?
I personally love to serve them on a simple greens with tomato salad. But here are other tasty options to serve with this equally delicious and easy appetizer/main dish crab cakes:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Twice-Baked Potatoes
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Macaroni Pasta Salad
- Baked Crispy Potato Wedges
- Coleslaw Salad
More Tasty Seafood Recipes
Can’t get enough of seafood? Don’t worry, I have a couple of seafood recipes waiting for you to be discovered.
Shrimp Etouffee (with video)
How To Make Crab Cakes
In a large mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, beaten egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and Creole seasoning, celery, green onions, minced garlic, parsley and whisk together until fully combined.
Add the crab meat (make sure to check the meat and take out any hard cartilage), bread crumbs (or crackers), pepper and salt. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat any further. Using your hands, shape into 6-8 crab cakes forming a disk, about ½ cup each (2-2 ½ inches in diameter) and place them on a greased baking pan. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. This will help the cakes to set and not break apart during cooking.
Heat oil in a large nonstick pan or cast iron pan on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place crab cakes in the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown flipping cake once. Cook crab cakes in badges to avoid overcrowding the pan. Serve immediately with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) mayonnaise
- 1-2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon (7.5 g) Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) Creole seasoning
- ¼ cup finely diced celery
- 1 green onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons (8 g) finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- ½ -¾ cup (25- 37.5 g) Panko, or 10 crackers or 2 slices of white bread
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) freshly ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- canola oil , for cooking
- In a large mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, beaten egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and Creole seasoning, celery, green onions, minced garlic, parsley and whisk together until fully combined.
- Add the crab meat (make sure to check the meat and take out any hard cartilage), bread crumbs (or crackers), pepper and salt. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat any further.
- Using your hands, shape into 6-8 crab cakes forming a disk, about ½ cup each (2-2 ½ inches in diameter) and place them on a greased baking pan. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour. This will help the cakes to set and not break apart during cooking.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick pan or cast iron pan on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, place crab cakes in the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown flipping cake once. Cook crab cakes in badges to avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Serve immediately with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
Tips & Notes:
- If your crab meat pieces are too large, break them up to bit sizes using your hands. Large crab pieces will not hold together well, thus will fall apart during cooking.
- Chilling the molded cakes is a most. This helps the mixture to set and not fall apart during cooking.
- Avoid flipping the cakes over and over when cooking; this might cause the crab cakes to fall apart. Avoid cooking cakes at high heat.
- You could use about 10 crackers or 2 slices white bread in place of Panko bread crumbs.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.