This lump crab cake recipe is easy to make, uses barely any filler, is PACKED with lump crab meat, and SO delicious! We kept to tradition with a little bit of old bay seasoning, but also added in plenty of lemon juice, zippy dijon mustard, and hot sauce for a little kick.
We kind of have a thing for crab over here on Cooking for Keeps, so be sure to check out our Crab Cake Spaghetti (tastes JUST like a crab cake in spaghetti form), these Spring Crab Cakes (packed with tons of green spring veggies), and these Crab Stuffed Artichokes (such a great appetizer!).
Gosh, do I love crab cakes. Especially crab cakes that are FULL of lump crab meat, very little filler, and just the right amount of veggies, spices, and delicious additions for a perfectly balanced cake.
Everyone has their own idea of what the perfect crab cake entails, but my version is honestly, pretty basic, and that’s what I love about it. When I’m craving a classic crab cake, I don’t want a lot of fuss, I don’t want a ton of ingredients, and I certainly don’t want the flavor of the crab to be masked by ANYTHING.
Also, I need a sauce to go with it. It’s just something I have to have, and I’ll take whatever – tarter sauce, an aioli, mustard – it all works. Today, I made quick lemon dijon mayo that pairs perfectly with the ingredients in the crab cake, and bones? It’s super simple.
The base of this lump crab cake recipe has just a touch of mayo, zippy dijon mustard, a splash of hot sauce, and a few sprinkles of Old Bay seasoning (remember we’re keeping things classic). And because a crab cake would just be, well, crab without a little bit of filler we have an egg and a little bit of breadcrumbs to glue and bind everything together.
Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need for this Lump Crab Cake Recipe
- Lump Crab Meat. There are only three types of crab meat I’d recommend for good crab cakes. There’s backfin crab meat, which is a finer texture than you’ll find in lump or jumbo lump crab meat. It has a similar taste, and is FINE to use crab cakes. However, I prefer slightly bigger pieces of crab. So that leads us to lump crab meat and jumbo lump crab meat. If I can find it, I prefer to use jumbo lump crab, however, my grocery store doesn’t alway carry it, and in today’s case, they only had lump crab meat, so that’s what I used. The difference between jumbo lump crab and lump crab is the pieces in jumbo lump are larger than regular lump crab. The taste is exactly the same. If you can find jumbo lump, buy it, if you can’t, no big deal, lump crab is great! It’s a little pricey, but trust me, it’s worth it!
- Vegetables: I try to keep this minimal, again we want the crab to shine through. A little bit of diced red pepper and green onion is all I add. I love the color of both, but I also love the subtle sweetness from red pepper, and the very mild onion flavor from the green onions.
- Seasoning: Dijon mustard, old bay seasoning, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt.
- Binders: light mayo, panko bread crumbs, plain bread crumbs, one egg. The reason I use a combination of panko and plain breadcrumbs is because I love the light texture of panko, but the plain breadcrumbs tend to bind a little bit better.
- Baking soda: Ok, so this is kind of a weird one. However, I picked up this trick from one of those traveling food shows, and have stuck with it. The baking soda adds this light and airy element to the crab cakes. It’s completely subtle, and you may not even be able to detect a difference, but it’s there.
How to make Lump Crab Cake Recipe
- Add mayo, dijon, egg, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, Old Bay, and baking soda to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Toss in red pepepr and onion. Use a spatula to combine. Carefully add in crab meat, panko, and plain bread crumbs.
- Use a spatula to GENTLY combine the crab with the sauce, vegetables and breadcrumbs. You want to keep the crab as in tact as possible.
- Form into six crab cakes and place on baking sheet. Place in the fridge and chill for 25 minutes. Once the crab cakes have chilled, heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Add olive oil. Once oil is hot, fry crab cakes until golden brown and hot throughout, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve right away with dijon mayo.
The perfect Crab Cake Sauce
There are a ton of different sauces you can make to go with the crab cakes. I like to stick with the ingredients I’m already using, to keep things minimal. Here, I went with a super easy dijon aioli made with mayo, lemon juice, dijon, and just a touch of salt and pepper. Add everything to a small bowl, whisk to combine. Done.
Where to buy crab meat for crab cakes
You want to avoid anything that’s not refrigerated. Even if it says lump crab meat and it’s in the canned tuna isle, it’s not going to be the kind of quality you’ll find from something more fresh in the refrigerated section. You can find lump crab and jumbo lump crab at most grocery stores these days. I usually find it up buy the seafood.
Baking vs. Frying this Lump Crab Cake Recipe
I prefer to pan-fry the crab cakes because I adore the crispy exterior you get by cooking them in a little bit of olive oil. It’s just a personal preference, but I just love having a super crispy exterior and biting in to a soft, sweet interior. And keep in mind we’re not DEEP frying, so the additional calories and fat is there, it’s just minimal.
How to make Baked Crab Cakes instead
This is easy! If you want to skip the added fat and calories that comes along with pan-frying, no big deal. Line the crab cakes up on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in a 375-degree oven and bake until golden brown and hot throughout, about 15 minutes or so.
Can you make mini crab cakes?
Condensing these down into a mini crab cake would be PERFECT for a party. Use a small ice cream scoop to form them into mini crab cakes. You could still fry them, but if you’re worried about making a mess, bake them up instead.
Can you reheat crab cakes?
Yes and no. You can make them from start to finish, I’d say an hour or so before you serve them. Fry them up, and then store them at room temperature. When you’re ready to serve, pop into a 300-degree oven for a few minutes until hot and crisp again.
What to serve with crab cakes for dinner?
The great thing about crab cakes is they go with anything! I love to serve them with my favorite Everyday Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad for a complete meal. I also love to pair them with this easy tomato basil bruschetta, and this Sparkling Rosé Sangria for the perfect happy hour menu.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Use green bell pepper instead of red. Drained pimentos would also work.
- Feel free to leave out all the veggies if you ONLY want crab.
- It is SO important to gently mix the crab, sauce, and binders to together. You don’t want to break up the meat.
- If you’re pan isn’t big enough to hold all of the crab cakes without touching, cook them up in batches. You may need to add more olive oil. The key is to have enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Like anything you make, season to taste. I know there is a raw egg in the mixture, but if you’re not completely opposed to it, test to make sure the crab cake doesn’t need more salt and pepper.
- 3 tbsp. light mayo
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp hot sauce (I like Frank's)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- 1 lb lump or jumbo lump crab meat
- 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup olive oil for frying
Lemon Dijon Mayo
- 1/4 cup light mayo
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Mixing bowls
- Cast iron skillet
- Add mayo, dijon, egg, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, Old Bay, and baking soda to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Toss in red pepepr and onion. Use a spatula to combine.
- Gently add in crab meat, panko, and plain bread crumbs. Use a spatula to GENTLY combine the crab with the sauce, vegetables and breadcrumbs. You want to keep the crab as in tact as possible.
- Form into six crab cakes and place on baking sheet. Place in the fridge and chill for 25 minutes.
- Once the crab cakes have chilled, heat a large non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Add olive oil. Fry crab cakes until golden brown and hot throughout, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve right away with dijon mayo.
Lemon Dijon Mayo
- Add mayo, lemon juice, and dijon to a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.