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Crab cakes on a restaurant’s menu will usually catch our attention, but we’ve found that they are easy to make at home. Authentic Maryland crab cakes require blue crabs caught in the Chesapeake Bay and are traditionally flavored with Old Bay along with very little filler. We prefer a Maryland style without all the extra add-ins used to make up for a lack of crab meat and this is our go-to recipe. It’s the only crab cake recipe you will ever need.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
For crab cakes, we recommend jumbo lump, lump, or backfin. Since all the other ingredients are inexpensive, splurge on the best crab you can afford.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Crab: If you are lucky enough to get fresh definitely buy it, but if you are like us we can usually only get the pasteurized crabmeat that is in a little plastic tub with a resealable lid. It typically has a shelf life of 6-12 months until it is opened then it should be consumed within 3 days.
- Egg and Mayo: These two ingredients serve as the binder for the cakes, so use your favorite brand.
- Saltine Crackers: Saltine crackers make the perfect filler for crab cakes since they offer structure but don’t mask the flavor of the crab. We have made these with crumbled or crushed saltines as well as panko bread crumbs. Both versions come out delicious so use whichever you prefer.
- Old Bay: This is a must-have blend of spices for crab cakes but can be used on fries, veggies, chicken, and burgers in addition to seafood. We also added a tiny bit of smoked paprika.
- Mustard: For this recipe, we used stone-ground mustard for a little bit of zing. You can substitute Dijon mustard or even generic yellow mustard.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This adds a tang and umami flavor to the crab cakes.
Types of Crabmeat
For crab cakes, we use meat from blue crabs and from not snow crabs, Dungeness crabs, stone crabs, or king crabs.
- Jumbo Lump: This meat comes from the muscle connected to the swimming legs of the crab and since they only have two this is usually the most expensive crabmeat. Jumbo lump is sturdy, with a fine texture and a sweeter flavor, and is delicious alone or as a topping for salads or other dishes. We use jumbo lump for our crab cakes.
- Lump: Made up of smaller pieces of crab body meat and broken pieces of jumbo lump, it also has a delicate sweet flavor. It is great for crab cakes as well as salads.
- Backfin: Backfin crab meat comes from the body of a crab and smaller, broken chunks of lump crabmeat. It is less expensive than lump but still has a delicious flavor. It is perfect for pasta dishes or crab cakes.
- Claw: Claw meat is the least expensive but still has a delicious crab flavor although not as sweet as the lump. It is darker than the other types of crab meat and has a pinkish-brown color. It is ideal for soups, dips, and stews.
How to Make Maryland-Style Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Don’t overwork the crabmeat mixture so that the cakes have nice big pieces of crab meat.
1. Prepare the Remoulade Sauce: In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, salt, and lime juice then cover and refrigerate until ready the crab cakes are ready to be served.
2. Make the Crab Cakes: In a large bowl whisk the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, Old Bay, parsley, green onions, black pepper, and salt together. Place the crabmeat on top, followed by the crumbled saltine crackers. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, gently fold everything together. Be careful not to break up the crabmeat too much.
Form the crabmeat mixture into 4 patties about 1 ½ inches thick and place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Fry the Crab Cakes: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown, crispy, and heated through (about 3 minutes.) Use a fish spatula to carefully flip the crab cakes and cook for another 3 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and spicy remoulade.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Follow the recipe as instructed and place the uncooked cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Proceed with cooking according to the recipe instructions. They can also be prepared and frozen uncooked. Defrost them in a single layer overnight in the refrigerator then cook according to the recipe instructions.
How to Store: You can freeze cooked and uncooked crab cakes for up to 3 months. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and place them in the freezer. Freeze them until firm then transfer them to a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Leftovers can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an air-tight container.
How to Reheat: Crab cakes can be reheated in a skillet with a little bit of butter or oil. Cook them for 2-3 minutes per side until warmed through. Frozen crab cakes should be thawed in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Crab Cakes
Crab cakes make a delicious appetizer or are a perfect main dish when paired with a few sides. We love it with a green salad, coleslaw, French fries, or as part of a surf and turf dinner. They also make a delicious sandwich paired with arugula, and remoulade inside a toasted brioche bun.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Handle the crabmeat carefully. Gently fold the crabmeat into the other ingredients and do not break it up too much.
- Chill the crab cakes before cooking. To help prevent the crab cakes from falling apart when cooking chill them for at least 30 minutes before baking or frying.
- Carefully flip the cakes. Use a thin metal fish spatula to flip the crab cakes. It’s flexible and easily slides under delicate crab cakes without them falling apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Bake crab cakes in a preheated 375°F oven. Bake on a greased baking pan or sheet for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and on top. Carefully flip them halfway through baking.
We do not recommend using imitation crab meat. Imitation crab is made from a finely shredded fish that has been heated and pressed into shapes that resemble meat from a crab leg.
The egg and crumbled saltines serve as binders that will help to hold the patties together so don’t leave them out. Refrigerating the mixture for at least 30 minutes after forming the cakes will also help everything bind together.
Let’s Connect! If you make this recipe or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Other Seafood Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this seafood recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Maryland Style Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
- Large Skillet
- Large Bowl
- Small Bowl
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
- ½ teaspoon lime juice
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 green onions, sliced
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
- ½ cup saltine crackers, crumbled
- neutral oil for frying
- Combine mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, salt, and lime juice in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a large bowl whisk the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, Old Bay, parsley, green onions, black pepper, and salt together.
- Place the crabmeat on top, followed by the crumbled saltine crackers. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, gently fold everything together. Break up crab meat slightly.
- Form the crabmeat mixture into 4 patties about 1 ½ inches thick and place on a wax paper-lined cooking sheet or baking pan. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown, crispy, and heated through, approximately 3 minutes per side.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges and spicy aioli.