The BEST Crab Cake Recipe (2024)

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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!!

The BEST Crab Cake Recipe (1)

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.

Table of Contents

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

Sweet Highlights:

  • 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.

  • Mayonnaise

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.

  • Cayenne or Cajun seasoning

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  • Sliders
  • 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 CroquettesandJerk 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!

  • Seafood Gumbo
  • Easy Citrus Shrimp
  • Low Country Boil
  • Maple Glazed Salmon
  • Cajun Shrimp Pasta

The BEST Crab Cake Recipe (5)

Best Crab Cakes

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!

4.26 from 94 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Appetizer, Main Course

Cuisine: American, Cajun/Creole

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Resting Time in Refrigerator: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes minutes

Servings: 6 servings

Calories: 280kcal

Author: Jocelyn Delk Adams


  • 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.


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 1427mg | Potassium: 330mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 281IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 2mg

Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @GrandbabyCakes or tag #grandbabycakes!

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The BEST Crab Cake Recipe (2024)


Is it better to bake or pan fry crab cakes? ›

Are crab cakes better baked or fried? You can either bake or fry these crab cakes. My personal preference is to bake them because it's easier (no risk of them falling apart when you flip them) and they are less prone to drying out (it's easy to overcook the crab cakes when frying them in a pan).

How do you keep crab cakes from falling apart? ›

Refrigerate Your Crab Cakes

There's actually a pretty easy fix for this common problem. Simply stick your crab cakes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The time they spend there will allow the crab cakes to solidify their shape.

How do you get crab cakes to hold together? ›

For example, I personally add a little flour to my crab cakes to help them hold together. 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs is a filler; 1 Tbs is a binder.

What causes crab cakes to fall apart? ›

What Can Make Crab Cakes to Fall Apart
  • Sauce – It helps to bind things together. ...
  • Overworking the meat – This can cause your crab cakes to become dry and eventually fall apart when fried or baked.
  • Too many breadcrumbs – Don't toss in more than ½ cup of panko.
Dec 20, 2022

Do crab cakes contain mayonnaise? ›

Ingredients in Maryland Crab Cakes

Egg: Egg is the main binding ingredient in crab cakes. Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise is another binding ingredient. I don't like mayonnaise and I LOVE these crab cakes, so if you aren't a mayo person, don't worry. You can't taste it.

Why do my crab cakes fall apart when I deep fry? ›

While egg is a popular choice, it alone is not enough to make crab cakes retain their shape. A starch binder is also required. The key here is maintaining the proper balance, as too little binder means your crab cakes will fall apart, but too much will give your crab cakes an unfortunate texture.

What goes good with crab cakes? ›

You will want a starch like mashed potatoes or rice, a nice saffron rice would go very well. You may want to serve any number of veggies like asparagus, brussel sprouts, fresh garden peas or wax beans. A nice salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and sliced mozzarella cheese. The choices are limitless.

Which cooking method is best for crab? ›

One of the most popular ways to cook a crab, especially in Maryland and along the eastern shore, steaming provides an even and gentle cook for the delicate meat. The extreme heat caused by the method brings exquisite flavor into it without as much of a threat of overcooking.

Should you rinse canned crab meat? ›

After you open a can of crab, drain the juice and rinse the meat off before using it for the best flavor and to remove any preservatives left on the crab.

How do you tell if crab cakes are done? ›

Crab Cake Cooking Directions

Place crab cakes in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown on top and firm to the touch. When you remove the crab cakes, their internal temperature should be 145° F. Take them from the oven and let set for about 5 minutes before serving.

Should I refrigerate crab cakes before cooking? ›

Cover and chill until ready to serve. Make-Ahead Instructions: The crab cakes can be formed, covered, and refrigerated a day ahead of time before cooking. The tartar sauce can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. Note: If you can only find jumbo lump crab meat, you may need to break the pieces up a bit.

What is the difference between Maryland crab cakes and regular crab cakes? ›

The Differences In Maryland Crab Cakes

For starters, they typically use more meat and less other filling compared to regular crab cakes. Of course, every recipe is different, but Maryland's versions really allow the crab meat to shine and only use enough fillers to hold the cakes together.

What is the binding agent in crab cakes? ›

The eggs and mayonnaise act as a binder, but a filler is also important to help hold the patties together when they cook. Saltine cracker crumbs make the best filler for crab cakes.

Why are my crab cakes mushy? ›

Using canned crab meat that hasn't been fully drained may lead to extra liquid in the mixture, making the cakes mushy. Using low-quality crab meat may also lead to mushy cakes, which is why I recommend using lump crab meat.

What ingredients go well with crab? ›

Eating crab is messy and can take a lot of work but these tools make it much more pleasant.
  • Dipping Sauces. Other than butter, you can create all sorts of sauces to serve with crab. ...
  • Lemon Rice. Another side option is a lemon rice pilaf. ...
  • Fresh Salad. ...
  • Roasted Vegetables. ...
  • Potatoes. ...
  • Corn. ...
  • Wine. ...
  • Dessert.
Mar 9, 2023

What are the two types of crab cakes? ›

Maryland Crab Cakes

Restaurant style cakes are more gourmet and are made with large chunks of crab meat so it the crab is the main focus. Boardwalk style cakes are filled with smaller chunks of crab, egg, breadcrumbs, and seasoning- Old Bay, of course.

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