The lucky residents of Virginia and Maryland were the first people to enjoy crab cakes in the U.S., but now, you can find crab cakes all over the country.
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Have you ever enjoyed crab cakes at a seafood restaurant and wondered how to cook crab cakes? If so, we have good news for you.
While crab cakes may seem fancy and complicated, making them is easier than you think.
Crab cakes are a delicious, versatile appetizer or main course that can be easily prepared with just a few simple ingredients. Known for their tender, flaky texture and rich seafood flavors, they make the perfect addition to any seafood lover’s menu.
Preparing easy crab cakes doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming. In fact, many recipes involve using canned or pre-cooked crab meat, which significantly reduces the preparation time. Combining these meats with breadcrumbs, seasoning, and an egg binder creates a mixture that easily forms into patties. Cooking them in a skillet or oven allows for a delicious golden crust to form, locking in the succulent interior flavors.
Crab cakes are one of the most fun ways to feed seafood to a crowd, and this recipe for Old Bay Crab Cakes has only seven ingredients.
Besides needing just a few common pantry staples (and some crabmeat), this easy crab cake recipe comes together quickly.
A delicious and easy Maryland crab cake recipe? Yes, please!
The best crab cake recipe has lumps of tender crab meat, breadcrumbs, and Old Bay Seasoning.
Oh, and here’s some more good news: you can broil, bake, grill, or fry these yummy little crab cakes.
Let’s dive in and learn all about this lump crab cake recipe.
What Is the Best Type of Crab Meat for Making Crab Cakes?
When you first learn how to make crab cakes, you may be wondering which type of crab is the best for making the best crab cakes. If you’re surprised that there is more than one type of crabmeat, read on.
There are four different crab meat types and while you can use any crab meat in crab meat recipes, some types of meat are better suited than others for crab cakes.
1. Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
In terms of flavor, this type of crab meat is delicious, but it’s also the most expensive crabmeat you can buy.
Jumbo lump crabmeat comes from the crab’s fin muscles that are used for swimming. Crabs have just two fin muscles, so you need a lot of crabs to get enough meat for even one serving of this delicious meat.
In most cases, this type of crab meat is used either on its own or served in a salad. The color of this meat is off-white.
2. Lump Crab Meat
This crab meat is off-white in color and it’s absolutely packed with delicious flavor.
This crab meat comes from the crab’s body and makes perfect crab cakes. Since it is more affordable than some of the other options, this crab meat is a popular choice for use in lump crab meat recipes.
3. Flake Crab Meat (Backfin)
Backfin crab meat is harvested from the body of a crab, but it also usually includes some lump meat shreds.
In terms of consistency, flake crab meat is slightly flakier than jumbo lump crab meat. One thing you can do is combine some backfin crab meat with lump crab meat for the very best combination of meat for your crab cake recipe.
4. Claw Meat
Darker in color than the other types of crab meat, crab claw meat has tons of flavor and is slightly less sweet than the other crab meat on our list.
Perhaps most importantly, crab claw meat is the most affordable crab meat you can buy. This crab meat is perfect for stews and soups.
What Type of Crabs Have the Best Meat?
Now that you know which types of crab meat are best for making crab cakes, which type of crab has the best meat for crab cakes?
Some people suggest that meat from blue crabs makes the most flavorful crab cakes. Blue crab meat has an incredible buttery flavor that is unlike any other crab meat.
Nevertheless, other folks believe that meat from the huge west coast Dungeness crabs is perfect for your lump crab cake recipe.
Can you make crab cakes with imitation crab meat? You can, but of course, fresh crab meat is always best.
How to Choose the Best Crab Meat for Crab Cakes
It’s unusual to find live crabs for sale at supermarkets, but out-of-the-shell crab meat is typically sold cooked and ready to serve.
In other cases, you can buy canned crab meat or frozen crab meat, but neither of these is ideal for making crab cakes. If you can find refrigerated crab meat, you’re off to a better start.
When you’re selecting crab meat for your Maryland style crab cake recipe, look for meat that is labeled “hand-picked” or “fresh-picked.” This indicates that the meat is nearly always free from cartilage and shells.
Crab Cakes Ingredients
Besides the crab meat, the best crab cake recipe has just six basic ingredients from your pantry.
Use our guidelines above for choosing your crab meat. Also, some recipes recommend that you shred your fresh crab meat, but leaving it in lumps will result in the best and tastiest crab cakes.
The egg in your crab cakes recipe helps to find the other ingredients together. You can also use a product like Egg Beaters as an egg substitute.
You can use bread crumbs or saltine cracker crumbs to serve as the filler for your crab cakes. We like using panko bread crumbs because they give our crab cakes a wonderful crispy texture.
One thing we want to caution you on is the flavored bread crumbs. While Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs can be great in some recipes, plain dried breadcrumbs are best for making crab cakes.
Old Bay Seasoning
To get that signature flavor that comes from a Maryland crab cake, you need Old Bay Seasoning. We don’t recommend substituting any other seasoning blend.
Can you use dried parsley? Yes, you can. However, fresh parsley brings out all of the flavors in your crab cakes, so go with fresh parsley whenever possible. The difference is definitely noticeable.
Ground Dry Mustard
Most people have ground dry mustard in their pantries, but if you don’t have any, you can use Dijon mustard instead.
If you don’t love mayonnaise, it’s OK because you won’t taste it in your crab cakes. However, you need to be sure you use it because it helps bind all of the other ingredients together. It also makes the crab cakes more flavorful.
If you’re watching fat and calories, you can use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
Side Dishes for Crab Cakes
Are you wondering what to serve with your delicious crab cakes? You can create a delicious and memorable meal when you pair crab cakes with the perfect side dishes. Here are some ideas.
- French fries
- Green salad with vinaigrette or creamy dressing
- Cornbread or hush puppies
- Creamy coleslaw
- Potato salad
- Veggies like green onion, sliced tomatoes, or sliced cucumbers
For condiments, you can use tartar sauce, French remoulade sauce, and even ketchup if that’s what your family likes. We are partial to tartar sauce. Crab cakes are also delicious with some lemon juice.
Tricks and Tips for the Perfect Easy Crab Cakes
As with any dish, there are some best practices for making the best crab cakes.
- Avoid over-mixing the ingredients. If you stir too vigorously, your crab meat will begin to break apart.
- Slowly and gently fold all of your ingredients together so that the crab meat remains intact.
- After mixing your ingredients together, put the mixture in the fridge for about half an hour. Doing this will make it much easier to form your crab cakes and they will also be more likely to bind together.
- Use fresh crab meat for the best results and the tastiest crab cakes.
- Don’t omit the Old Bay Seasoning or substitute another seasoning mix. Old Bay Seasoning is the secret to making the best crab cake recipe shine.
- Try baked crab cakes. Crab cakes that are baked or cooked in the air fryer are just as tasty as fried crab cakes.
- Serve your crab cake with a tasty crab cake sauce such as tartar sauce, hot sauce, or remoulade sauce. Melted butter also makes a wonderful dipping sauce for crab cakes.
Instructions for Making Crab Cakes
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making crab cakes from scratch. This is an easy crab cake recipe and yours will be delicious.
Here are the steps for making crab cakes.
- Combine the panko crumbs (or other bread crumbs), crab meat, chopped fresh parsley, and Old Bay Seasoning in a bowl. Mix all of the ingredients until they are well incorporated. Don’t over-mix the ingredients. You want your crab meat to be lumpy.
- Combine the mayo, egg, and mustard in a separate bowl. If you want to add a dash of lemon juice or hot sauce to your crab cakes, add it at this step.
- Mix together the egg mixture and the crab meat mixture. Stir well without over-mixing.
- Allow the crab cake mixture to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This will help the formed crab cakes not break up or crack in your frying pan or on your baking dish.
- Lightly grease a cookie sheet or baking sheet.
- Form your crab cakes and place them on the baking sheet.
- Cook your crab cakes on your center oven rack or in your broiler for 10-15 minutes or until your crab cakes are lightly browned.
You can watch this video to see how to make crab cakes in action. Note that this video has different ingredients than our recipe, but it will give you a good idea of the method. As a bonus, there’s a recipe included for a yummy French remoulade sauce that is a wonderful sauce for dipping crab cakes into.
Deliciously Easy Crab Cake Recipe
- 1 pound crab meat
- 3 tablespoons dried panko breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried mustard or 1/2 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Combine breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, crab meat, and Old Bay Seasoning in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. Don’t over-mix.
- Put egg, mayo, and mustard in a small bowl and whisk together.
- Combine the ingredients of both bowls. Stir well without over-mixing.
- Place the mixture in the refrigerator and allow it to chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet or cookie sheet.
- Remove from refrigerator.
- Preheat oven or broiler to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Form your crab mixture into cakes and place them on the baking sheet.
- Bake in the broiler or center oven rack for 10-15 minutes or until the crab cakes are light golden brown.
- Serve with tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, or remoulade sauce.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.