These succulent crab cakes are spiced just right for kids and adults alike! Plus you can use real crab meat or imitation crab. My family was completely surprised that I made these myself, because they taste like they're from a fancy restaurant. But they were super-easy! Serve these crab patties straight from the stove or place on a bun.
Update Notes:This post was originally published in August 2013, but was republished with tips, step by step photos, and a recipe change in August 2020.
👩🏻🍳 Crab Cakes Back Story
Originally this post was published (in 2013) as a crab cake burger recipe. But, after serving it many times, it turned out that the family prefers these without all that bread! So I'm updating it as a recipe for crab cakes, but of course you can still serve them on buns if you prefer.
Why might you prefer to serve these crab cakes on a bun? Well, sometimes younger kids will have more of an open mind to try things if they are served on a bun. At least that was the case with my kids when they were little.
This recipe has evolved over the years to better suit my family’s tastes and also to streamline the preparation as much as possible (without sacrificing flavor!) in order to make it a great option for weeknight dinner prep.
Easy enough for busy weeknights, elegant enough for guests...that's my kind of dinner recipe!
Looking for imitation crab recipes? You've found a good one right here! This crabcake meal works really well even with fake crab meat, because the yummy seasonings create a result that minimizes the differences between the real and imitation crab.
And remember that imitation crab is actually made from fish, so either way you are still eating seafood.
🥘 Ingredients Needed
- crab meat - there is so much good nutrition in crab meat, including those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, and a bunch of B vitamins. Crab is also low in fat, high in protein, and is considered a low-risk seafood for mercury.
- egg - helps to hold the crab cakes together.
- panko bread crumbs - adds a bit of texture and ensures that the patties don't fall apart.
- mayonnaise - for a touch of creaminess.
- Old Bay spice - a classic seasoning for any seafood dish.
- lemon juice - a bit of acidity to help develop the flavor profile.
- onion powder - this will add a punch of extra flavor.
- pepper - to contrast the saltiness of the onion powder/Old Bay.
- Place crab, egg, bread crumbs, mayonnaise, Old Bay spice, lemon juice, onion powder and pepper in a large bowl.
- Mix this together thoroughly.
- Form your mixture into 6 patties.
- Heat some butter (or a substitute) in a large skillet over medium heat, then cook the patties until they're golden brown. It should take about 5 minutes per side.
- You can serve these crab cakes right from the stove, or place them on buns and serve as sandwiches!
Not at all! Imitation crab meat is a great substitute and works just fine with this recipe.
Imitation crab does actually contain some traces of real crab meat in some cases, but for the most part it's composed of a fish paste called surimi, which is made from pollock. This product is typically low in fat and calories as a result, and high in protein. It's also more affordable than classic crab meat. It's a great alternative to use in many recipes with crab!
While on the pricier side, real crab won't have any kind of added starches or sugars that are often used to enhance the flavor. The taste of real crab is also more genuine, and the texture tends to be flakier and not as chewy. It really comes down to personal preference and price point; either real crab or imitation would work just fine with this recipe!
Yes; if you need to make the patties a significant amount of time before cooking (like a few days or more), form and place on a parchment-lined tray and freeze for 2 hours. Then, wrap them individually in plastic and place them back in the freezer. They can last up to 3 months this way. To cook them, follow the regular instructions, but be sure to defrost in the fridge overnight.
Absolutely! If you know you'll be eating them soon (as in the next 3-5 days), wrap them in plastic and/or place them in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also store them in the freezer the same way for up to 3 months. If you use foil to wrap them, you can actually reheat them in the oven right in the foil, which is so convenient! To reheat from refrigerated or frozen, pop them in the oven and bake until heated through.
💭 Top Tips
- If you're using imitation crab, try running it through a food processor or blender first. This will ensure small enough pieces to create consistent texture and crab cakes that won't fall apart!
- Some people are allergic to shellfish, so you need to be watchful if this is the first time you are introducing crab to your kids. (And of course, you only want to try this if you are willing to share your seafood from now on!)
How do I buy the best crab?
It make take some trial and error to find a good brand that has consistently good crab meat. Here are some things to look for:
- Make sure the product is mostly chunks of the crab itself. A small amount of additives/preservatives is normal, but if there's too much you may not be getting your money's worth.
- Of course, the crab shouldn't smell bad or have an off-color to it. If the product smells heavily of salt or other chemicals, this is a bad sign. Go for crab that smells fishy and natural.
- While these crab patties are already quite flavorful, you can to play around with additional spices to add into the mixture to switch things up!
- You can substitute roughly chopped cooked shrimp (or even chopped cooked scallops) for the base.
- Add in some finely chopped bell peppers, celery, or scallions for extra texture and taste.
- Serve these crab patties as they are or slap them on a bun; a crab cake sandwich with chipotle mayo or tartar sauce would be delicious.
- An easy way to vary this recipe is to serve it with a sauce or dip. Something as simple as mustard or a delicious Thai-style sweet chili sauce can change everything!
🥗 Suggested Side Dishes
Though these delicious crab cakes will surely be the star of whatever meal you're serving, here are some great ideas for a supporting cast of tasty sides!
🍥 Additional Seafood Recipes
Here are a few more more seafood ideas for you!
Love this recipe? Awesome! Please give it a 5 star ⭐ rating below! And if you make this, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram. You can find me at DizzyBusyandHungry or #dizzybusyandhungry!
📋 Recipe Card
- 16 ounces lump crab meat (1 can) (you can also use imitation crab, finely chopped)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay spice (or more - season to taste)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 teaspoons butter (or substitute)
- Place crab, egg, bread crumbs, mayonnaise, Old Bay spice, lemon juice, onion powder and pepper in a large bowl.16 ounces lump crab meat (1 can), 1 egg, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons Old Bay spice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix thoroughly.
- Form mixture into 6 patties.
- Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties until they are browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side.3 teaspoons butter
- Serve straight from the stove, or place on hamburger buns for crab cake sandwiches.
- To use imitation crab (which is much less expensive than the real thing), pulse it through the food processor just once or twice, or just chop it finely, for a better texture in your crab cakes.
- You can form the patties ahead of time and refrigerate for a day or two, or freeze for up to 3 months, prior to cooking. If you freeze them, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and then follow the above instructions to cook them.
- Or, you can cook them ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze. Thaw frozen patties overnight in the refrigerator prior to reheating. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until hot. If they start to get dried out, loosely cover with aluminum foil.
- Try with chipotle mayo or tartar sauce for even more flavor!
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