These homemade Maryland style crab cakes are simple to make and full of flavor and absolutely delicious. If you're looking for an easy seafood dish, look no further! This recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight meal or for parties and special occasions. Follow these simple steps and you'll have an appetizer that everyone will love!
These delicious little Maryland style crab cakes are perfect for an easy meal served with some home fries and veggies. It honestly takes barely any effort at all to make these!
Some people are intimidated by cooking seafood at home, but I'm here to tell you that it's not as difficult as it seems! These easy homemade crab cakes are a great place to start. They're packed with flavor, and they come together in just a few minutes.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
*This post has been updated from an earlier version to include new photos and a few tweaks to the original recipe to make it even more scrumptious!*
What makes Maryland Style Crab Cakes different from other crab cake recipes?
What makes Authentic Maryland crab cakes are typically made with blue crab meat, which is considered to be the highest quality crab meat. They are also made with a higher proportion of crab meat to breading than other crab cake styles. The key is to use just enough filler to hold the crab cakes together – the delicious sweet crab meat is the star of the show! This makes them lighter and fluffy, and gives them a distinctive crabby flavor.
So to summarize, real authentic Maryland crab cakes are usually characterized by:
- Blue crab meat, which is specifically from Maryland
- use of little breading filler – just enough to hold the crab cakes together
- Old Bay Seasoning – I've heard from several Marylanders that Old Bay seasoning is typically always used in Maryland style crab cakes. I've also been told by other Marylanders that Old Bay isn't necessary if you add your own similar seasonings to the crab cakes. For this recipe, I've given you the option to use a combination of seasonings or Old Bay – it's up to you!
What kind of crab is best for crab cakes?
There are many types of crab that can be used for crab cakes, but the most popular is definitely the blue crab. Blue crabs are caught in the Chesapeake Bay and have a very sweet, delicate flavor.
Another great option for crab cakes is Dungeness crab. These crabs are found on the west coast of the United States and Canada and have a slightly more robust flavor.
You can also use imitation crab meat flakes with this recipe and the results are just as great!
Which is better lump or claw crab meat?
The best crab cakes are made with jumbo lump crab meat is the better choice for crab cakes because it is less stringy and has a more delicate flavor. You can use fresh crab meat or frozen for this recipe – if using frozen, be sure to thaw it beforehand.
What is crab cake filler made of?
What Ingredients are used to make Crab Cakes
The crab cake filler for this recipe is made with a combination of fresh dill, fresh lemon juice, grainy dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, a little cayenne, some salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, some mayonnaise, an egg and some bread crumbs. The final ingredient is of course the crab meat!
How to make Easy Homemade Crab Cakes – Overview
The Best Maryland Style Crab Cake Recipe
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make homemade crab cakes!
Making crab cakes is super easy!
Basically, all the ingredients for this recipe are combined in a medium bowl and the crab mixture is then formed into small patties and then fried up in a skillet with some canola oil.
The crab cakes only need about 2-3 minutes per side to brown up in the skillet since the crab meat is already cooked. I then lay them out on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet to make sure any excess oil is drained and the crab cakes stay crisp.
You can also bake your crab cakes if you like, which is what I've been doing lately since I don't have to keep such a close eye on them while frying. You can find the instructions for baking crab cakes below and in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Once the crab cakes are ready they are delightfully crispy with a soft and flavorful flaky inside. I love to use fresh dill when cooking seafood and it tastes so wonderful in this recipe along with the other spices.
If you'd like this recipe to be even easier you can try making the patties ahead of time and freeze them.
You can cook the crab cakes right from frozen by just adding a couple more minutes to the cooking time in the skillet. Having these on hand and ready to go straight from the freezer make this such a simple addition to any meal.
These crab cakes also make for a great appetizer as well! Serve these at your next dinner party and watch them disappear.
Is it better to bake or fry crab cakes?
This is a hotly contested question among crab cake lovers. Some people say that baking crab cakes results in a cake that is more moist and flavorful, while others say that frying gives the cake a crispy outer crust.
Originally, my favorite way to cook crab cakes was to pan fry them, but after making these many many times, I discovered I actually enjoy baked crab cakes the most!
There are a few reasons why I now prefer to bake my crab cakes:
- As crab cakes are delicate, baking them will help them hold their shape better and are less likely to fall apart, when compared to frying them.
- Baked crab cakes tend to be more flavorful! I found that when you fry crab cakes, you end up losing a lot of the flavors of the ingredients and end up tasting mostly the fry oil. Sure, they'll come out extra crispy when fried, but you'll mostly taste the oil. The ingredients in this recipe are quite delicate, so when you fry them, their flavors become hidden underneath the oil.
- Baking crab cakes is easier! I find that baking crab cakes in the oven requires a lot less “baby sitting” as you don't have to watch over them as much. When you fry them, you have to be a lot more careful not to burn or overcook them.
- When you bake crab cakes, you'll have less to clean up! All you need to bake your crab cakes is a metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper. When frying crab cakes, you'll have to clean up the oil and any splatters that hit your stovetop!
How to bake crab cakes instead of frying them
Yes! If you prefer not to fry your crab cakes, you can bake them instead!
Preheat your oven to 420°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your crab cakes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes (carefully flip over once), or until golden brown.
How do you keep crab cakes from falling apart?
The main thing you need to do to keep your crab cakes from falling apart is to make sure that the mixture is not too wet. If it is, the crab cakes will fall apart when you try to cook them.
One way to avoid a wet mixture is to use breadcrumbs. If you don't have any on hand, you can use crackers or even potato chips. Just make sure to crush them up into small pieces.
Another way to keep your crab cakes from falling apart is to add an egg to the mixture. This will help to bind the ingredients together and will also make the crab cakes more firm when they are cooked.
Finally, another way to make sure your crab cakes hold together well is to refrigerate the formed crab cakes in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking. This will help the flavors to meld together and will also make the crab cakes less likely to fall apart when you cook them.
What can I use instead of breadcrumbs in crab cakes?
There are a few different options that you can use instead of breadcrumbs in crab cakes. One is to use cracker crumbs, which will give the crab cakes a bit of a crunchier texture. Another option is to use cornmeal or even panko bread crumbs, which will also add a bit of texture and flavor to the crab cakes.
Finally, you could also use flour, which will help to bind the crab cakes together and make them slightly less crumbly. Whichever option you choose, be sure to add enough of it so that the crab cakes hold together well when cooked.
While these crab cakes are delicious as is, there are a few ways you could change them up to suit your taste. Try adding:
Different seafood seasoning: Old Bay seasoning is classically used in crab cakes, but you could also use Cajun seasoning or any other blend that you like.
Fresh herbs: Mixing in some chopped fresh parsley, thyme, or tarragon would be delicious.
Dijon mustard: For a little bit of tanginess and extra flavor, add in a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard.
Hot sauce: If you like things spicy, add in a bit of hot sauce to the mixture. Start with a little and add more to taste.
Change your Crab cake size: You could try changing the size of your crab cakes for a little something different!
Try forming larger more generous crab cakes to make patties for burgers! Place in between a toasted bun with some tartar sauce and coleslaw and you'll have and amazing crab burger – or dare I say “Crabby Pattie”? any spongebob fans out there? lol You could also create mini crab cakes!
Try it with Lobster!! Yes, you can convert this recipe into lobster cakes! Replace the crab meat with chopped lobster claw meat and follow the recipe as usual! Serve with a drizzle of melted butter and lemon wedges.
What to Serve with Crab Cakes
Crab cakes are delicious on their own, but they can also be served with a variety of sides. Even the best crab cake recipe is even better with the right sides and sauces added! I like to serve my crab cakes with a simple salad and some roasted potatoes, but they'd also be great with a dipping sauce or tartar sauce.
Here are some of our favorite pairings:
- Tartar Sauce! Lots of tartar sauce!
- cocktail sauce
- Lemon wedges
- Creamy coleslaw
- Roasted potatoes
- French fries, potato wedges or other crispy potato sides
- Macaroni and cheese
- Green beans
- Hush puppies
- Arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette
- Fresh fruit salad
If you're looking for an impressive appetizer or main dish, these crab cakes are it! No matter what you serve them with, we know you'll love these easy homemade crab cakes!
Leftovers – How to Store and Reheat
Leftover crab cakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, preheat your oven to 400F and bake for 10-12 minutes until heated through.
Can I freeze Crab Cakes?
Yes! Crab cakes freeze really well. After forming the ingredients into patties, I like to flash freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
After the crab cakes are frozen solid, I like to store them in a freezer safe bag or container. When you are ready to eat them, simply remove as many frozen crab cakes as you'd like and cook according to the recipe instructions – no need to thaw first – just give them a little extra time to cook.
Leftover crab cakes can be frozen as well. To reheat, preheat your oven to 400F and bake for 10-12 minutes until heated through.
- 1 lb crab meat, pre-cooked or ready-to-eat crab meat
Jumbo lump crabmeat, claw meat or imitation crab meat work great!
- 1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
OR the following seasonings:
- ¼–½ cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp grainy Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp Worchestershire sauce
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- ¾ cup of mayonnaise, the real kind; like Hellman's
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
For this recipe I used Italian style bread crumbs with herbs in them, but you can also use plan bread crumbs, crushed crackers, panko bread crumbs or similar
- Canola oil for frying
- Chopped green onions, for garnish to place on top of the crab cakes – this adds a nice freshness!
- Optional (but highly recommended): Homemade Tartar Sauce on the side
- In a mixing bowl break up the crab meat so that it's in smaller chunks and flaky.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the crabmeat and combine well.
- Form the mixture into 16 small patties.
- This Step is optional but a good idea. To make sure your formed crab cakes hold their shape well, refrigerate them in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking. This will also help the flavors to meld together and will also make the crab cakes less likely to fall apart when you cook them.
To Bake Crab Cakes
This is my preferred method for cooking crab cakes as they'll turn out more flavorful, hold their shape better and makes for less of a clean up!
- Preheat your oven to 420°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place your crab cakes on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes (carefully flip over once), or until golden brown.
To Fry Crab Cakes
- Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Make sure that the oil is hot before dropping the crab cakes into the skillet. If the oil is not hot enough it will absorb into the crab cakes – you don't want that.
- Cook the crab cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden. If cooking from frozen you'll need to cook an additional 1-2 minutes on each side.
- Once they're finished cooking, remove them from the skillet and place on a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain any excess oil and to keep them crisp.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main
- Method: Pan Fry or Bake