You’ll want to make these Easy Crab Cakes over and over – it’s a simple 15 minute, no fuss seafood recipe that’s always a crowd pleaser! Make them mini to serve as an appetizer or larger for a main course, and be sure to have some fresh lemon to squeeze on top along with a dipping sauce like tartar sauce or remoulade sauce. This recipe uses any kind of crab meat you want – jumbo or claw, fresh or canned, meaning it can be very budget friendly to make.
These simple crab cakes are a great go-to recipe for any time of year. Because you can use fresh or canned crab meat, you can make this wherever you live. And if you use claw meat, you’re looking at a surprisingly budget-friendly meal for something that’s usually expensive (though indulging in fresh jumbo lump meat would certainly take them up a notch!).
My friends in Maryland may shake their heads because I didn’t include Old Bay seasoning in this recipe. My friends in New Orleans may wish I served them with remoulade sauce instead of tartar sauce.
But that’s the thing about these crab cakes – they’re a blank canvas! Add old bay if you like, and serve them with any crab cake sauce you like. With simple flavors from green onions, dijon mustard, soy sauce (SO good for a salty punch), and a little hot sauce, you can make these crab cakes your own or make them exactly as written. It’s hard to go wrong!
PLUS, I have a nifty trick for making the patties mess-free and uniform in size that you’re going to love – you never even have to touch the batter with your hands at all!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Crab Meat – Any kind! I used refrigerated (fresh) claw meat for a budget-friendly option, from the refrigerated seafood section of my grocery store. Use fresh or canned, jumbo lump, lump, or claw – anything you like! Though I do recommend fresh/refrigerated crab meat for the best taste.
- Egg – essential to bind it together.
- Green onions – you can use chopped yellow, red, or white onion instead if you prefer.
- Dijon mustard
- Soy sauce – I love the umami flavor from soy sauce, but you can use 1/4 teaspoon salt instead if you prefer.
- Breadcrumbs – I used panko, but regular is fine too, or gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed.
- Hot sauce – not required, but delicious. Omit if you don’t want a little heat.
- Canola oil – for frying (or another neutral tasting oil).
- Fresh lemon slices, parsley, and sauce such as tartar or remoulade for serving.
How to make Crab Cakes
- First, mix crab meat, egg, dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, mayo, hot sauce, soy sauce, pepper, and green onions in a medium bowl.
- Heat a large skillet such as cast iron over medium-high heat (I recommend 12 inch, otherwise you may have to do two batches).
- Add oil to the skillet – enough to completely coat the bottom.
- Scoop the crab cake mix using a large ice cream/disher scoop (or a small-medium cookie scoop for smaller, mini crab cakes!). Add the mix directly to the hot oil in the skillet and press down on the back with a spatula to flatten them.
- Cook the crab cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside.
- Place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve with fresh lemon wedges, chopped fresh parsley, and a dipping sauce, such as tartar sauce or remoulade sauce.
Do you use cooked or raw crab meat for crab cakes?
You use cooked crab meat for crab cakes. It’s very rare to find raw crab meat removed from the shell for sale – so the crab meat you buy in your store is almost certainly cooked. These crab cakes can also be made with leftover cooked crab meat, such as from a crab boil.
If for some reason you do use raw crab meat for these crab cakes, you’d need to make sure you cook them thoroughly enough so the crab is fully cooked through.
Should I rinse the crab meat?
If you like, you can rinse the crab meat before using it. This is a good idea to make it taste fresher if you are using canned crab meat, or if using refrigerated fresh crab meat that has any kind of preservative for freshness. Rinsing may also help reduce any extra saltiness from these preservatives, meaning you can add more salt or seasoning as you like.
To rinse crab meat, soak it in water with a couple ice cubes for 10 minutes, then drain in a fine mesh sieve before using.
Serving Suggestions for Crab Cakes
- Make them mini and serve as an appetizer
- Serve on their own with a side of a salad, like zucchini ribbon salad or coleslaw, for a summery dinner
- Top with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce for a fun brunch
- Serve on a bun as a sandwich
- A large ice cream scoop / disher scoop will make easy work of forming the patties. Just scoop the batter right into the hot oil for mess free crab cake forming! You can also use a smaller scoop, like a cookie scoop, to make mini crab cakes (perfect for serving as an appetizer).
- A fish spatula is great for flattening the patties and flipping them. The grooves in the spatula reduce the potential for the cakes to stick to the spatula, and the thin flexible shape makes it easy to flip the crab cakes. This is my go to spatula for cooking almost anything, and as a bonus, it’s only around $8!
- A 12-inch heavy skillet, such as cast iron, is recommended for frying these crab cakes.
Other delicious fried patty recipes
Other quick and easy seafood recipes
- Garlicky Sautéed Shrimp with Lemon and Herbs
- Oven BBQ Salmon
- Garlic Butter Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies
- Blackened Tilapia with Cucumber Avocado Salsa
- Oven Fried Catfish
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Easy Crab Cakes
- Large heavy skillet (such as cast iron)
- 8 oz. crab meat picked through to remove any shell pieces (see notes)
- 1 egg
- 2 green onions thinly sliced (white, green, and light green parts)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce more or less depending on spice level preference
- 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs regular or panko is fine
- canola oil for frying (or another neutral tasting oil)
- fresh lemon slices, fresh chopped parsley, and tartar sauce or remoulade sauce for serving (optional)
- Combine all ingredients (except for canola oil) in a medium bowl.
- Heat a large heavy skillet, such as cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup oil to the skillet. (I recommend 12 inch – anything smaller than that and you may need to cook two batches.)
- Use a large ice cream scoop / disher scoop to get a portion of the crab cake mix from the bowl (or smaller, cookie scoop to make mini crab cakes). Place directly into the hot oil in the skillet and use the back of a fish spatula to press down on the top. (Alternatively, you can divide into four-six equal portions and form patties with your hands.)
- Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes, flip carefully, and cook for another 3-4 minutes (more or less time depending on how big the patties are or how hot your burners are) over medium-high heat, until the outside is golden brown and crispy.
- Place cooked crab cakes on a paper towel lined plate. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and garnish of fresh parsley, and tartar sauce or remoulade sauce, on their own or in a bun or lettuce wrap as a sandwich.
- You can use any kind of crab meat you want in this recipe, such as claw or jumbo lump. Canned or fresh (refrigerated) is fine, but for the best taste I recommend fresh. Fresh claw meat is a bit less expensive than lump, so it’s a great budget-friendly option without sacrificing taste.
- If you like, you can rinse the crab meat before using it. This is a good idea to make it taste fresher if you are using canned crab meat, or if using refrigerated fresh crab meat that has any kind of preservative for freshness. Soak it in ice water for 10 minutes, then drain in a fine mesh sieve before using.
- If adding Old Bay or another seasoning that contains salt, I recommend omitting the soy sauce.
- The nutrition information estimate is calculated assuming four total crab cakes are made.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:
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