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Will Dickey

You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant or take a trip to Maryland to have crisp, golden crab cakes! They’re easy to make right in your own home. The key to an authentic crab cake recipe is the ratio of crabmeat to filling. It should be packed with juicy crab and spices but not weighed down by breadcrumbs or fillers. Our recipe lets the crab meat shine with hints of Old Bay seasoning, lemon, and dijon mustard for added flavor. 

When it comes to cooking them, you can either bake or fry. We chose to bake crab cakes under the broiler—it’s quick, hands-free, and makes for a perfectly flaky finished product. Serve them as an appetizer with a spicy, homemade remoulade, or turn it into a main course served over a salad or on a bun. 

How do you make crab cakes from scratch?

A crab cake is simply a fish cake using fresh crabmeat, fillers, and a few flavorful seasonings. Its simplicity is what makes it so tasty, but it’s also the reason why it’s so easy. To make a crab cake from scratch, all you need to do is mix good quality crabmeat (fresh, not canned) together with the fillers (mayo, egg, and breadcrumbs) and seasonings (Old bay, lemon zest, Dijon, and parsley). Be gentle when forming the crab cakes! You want them to stay in their circular shape—without being too dense—so they stay light, airy, and flaky. Once the patties are formed, they’re baked under the broiler for a few minutes until golden. Yep, it’s that easy!

Is it better to fry or bake crab cakes?

Either cooking method will work. We like the minimal effort of baking the crab cakes under the broiler. It produces a crispy top and keeps the crab cakes intact when cooking. That said, frying crab cakes is a delicious option, too. It takes a little more effort to flip them and keep them together, but frying them in a skillet over medium heat with some butter will still only take 3 to 4 minutes per side.  

What makes crab cakes stick together?

Crab cakes need to be bound with both wet and dry ingredients. Here, we used eggs and mayonnaise (wet ingredients) mixed together with breadcrumbs (dry ingredient), but you can also use ground saltines or ritz crackers instead. Once you form the crab cake mixture, let it sit for a bit in the refrigerator to allow the ingredients to meld. This will help the cakes hold together while cooking.

What can I use instead of mayo in crab cakes?

The mayonnaise not only gives the crab cakes a nice, subtle flavor, but it’s also an important ingredient for binding the crab cakes together. If you don’t like mayo, you can use sour cream or Greek yogurt instead.

  1. For the crab cakes: In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Stir in the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon zest, parsley and Old Bay seasoning and mix well to combine. Add the crab meat and panko and mix gently but thoroughly to combine. Form 8 crab cakes by pressing them into shape with 1/3-cup measuring cup. Place on a greased sheet tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. For the spicy remoulade: In a small bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise, hot sauce, parsley, capers, garlic, paprika, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place an oven rack 8 inches from the broiler element. Heat the broiler over high heat. Brush the tops of the crab cakes with melted butter. Broil until golden on top and heated through, 4 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges and spicy remoulade.

To fry: Add the butter to the skillet over medium heat. Sear the crab cakes until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side.   

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