How To Make the Absolute Best Crab Cakes

updated Jun 28, 2019
Crab Cakes
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Crab cakes should be all about the crab — no questions asked. They should be crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside, and taste exclusively of fresh, delicious crab: no fillers or excess spices getting in the way. If you agree, you’ve come to the right place.

Our crab cake recipe is intentionally unfussy. We’ve put crab meat at the center of the equation, and thrown in just enough extras to hold the patties together. Here’s our method for the best crab cakes possible.

What’s the Secret to the Absolute Best Crab Cakes?

The secret is simple: Crab, not breadcrumbs or mayonnaise or spices, should be the focus of crab cakes. Yes, including all three makes for flavorful cakes that won’t fall apart when you pan-fry them, but here, too much isn’t a good thing. If you load up on fillers, the delicate crab meat will get lost in the noise.

We know crab meat is a splurge, so it’s a waste if it’s not the star. This is the kind of recipe you make for a date night or a special occasion, so we know there’s no room for error. That’s why this recipe was thoroughly tested to ensure it’s utterly foolproof.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

What Ingredients Do I Need for Homemade Crab Cakes?

First, it’s important to buy the right type of crab. You’ll want to reach for jumbo lump crab meat here. It’s pricey, but, like we said, this is a special treat. Head to the fish counter to find it — either fresh or frozen is fine since it’s typically flash-frozen to preserve quality. If frozen, let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

To ensure the crab shines, each secondary ingredient has a distinct purpose. The egg, mayo, and breadcrumbs help bind the patties; the mustard adds tang; the parsley lends color and freshness; and the Worcestershire and hot sauce provide zip.

Don’t be afraid of the hot sauce here — it simply adds flavor, but doesn’t actually make these crab cakes spicy. If you do like heat, try stirring a few drops into a bit of mayo to make an easy sauce to dollop on the finished cakes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

How Do I Serve Crab Cakes?

With crab cakes at the center of the plate, you don’t need much else to make this a special meal. Serve them on top of a bed of salad greens (we particularly like frisée or arugula) with a big squeeze of lemon, or serve them next to your favorite grilled or roasted vegetable. Popping open a bottle of crisp white or rosé wine is optional, but we do think it rounds out the occasion, if you’re so inclined.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn
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Crab Cakes

A guide to making the easiest classic crab cakes.

Prep time 30 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 16 minutes

Makes8 (3-inch) crab cakes


Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large egg

  • 1/4 cup


  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    hot sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 pound

    jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shells

  • 1/4 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons

    chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • Lemon wedges, for serving



  1. Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk the egg in a small bowl with a fork until broken up. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

  2. Mix the remaining ingredients. Place the crab meat, breadcrumbs, and parsley in a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

  3. Fold the egg mixture into the crab mixture. Add the egg mixture to the crab mixture and gently fold it in until it’s evenly distributed, being careful not to break up the crab too much. Cover and refrigerate 10 minutes.

  4. Shape the crab cakes. Shape the mixture firmly into 8 (1/3-cup) patties that are about 3-inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.

  5. Pan-fry the crab cakes. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Swirl so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Using a wide, flat spatula, gently transfer 4 of the patties into the hot oil and pan-fry until golden-brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and remaining crab cakes. Serve warm with lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The crab cakes can formed and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead before pan-frying.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and either enjoyed cold, at room temperature, or re-heated in a low-temperature oven.

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