These Maryland Crab Cakes are filled with tender, sweet lump crab meat, held together by a smidge of mayo and panko bread crumbs, and flavored with hints of dijon, chives, lemon zest and Old Bay seasoning. Perfect as a side to a larger feast or as a main course.
The Best Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe
This crab cake recipe is very crab-forward, with very few fillers and almost all crab – just like classic Maryland style crab cakes. There is just enough binder to hold the crab meat together, so treating the crab patties gently is a must so they don’t fall apart.
But in return, you get lots of tender, juicy crab meat and a little texture from panko breadcrumbs. These crab cakes are also bursting with flavor from ingredients like Old Bay seasoning, lemon zest, dijon, and chives.
These Maryland style crab cakes can be served as an easy appetizer or side dish to a fancy dinner or even as the main course themselves.
These homemade crab cakes are made with crab meat, panko, and just a few additional ingredients for flavor and texture.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Crab meat – See notes below on what crab meat to use for the best crab cakes.
- Panko breadcrumbs – Light Panko crumbs help create the texture that holds the crab cakes together.
- Egg – Acts as a binder for the filling to help hold the crab cakes together.
- Mayonnaise – Adds a bit of moisture.
- Chives – For a delicate onion flavor.
- Lemon zest – For a bit of citrus which enhances the flavor of the crab meat.
- Salt – For flavor.
- Old Bay seasoning – Old Bay seasoning is a classic Maryland style crab cake ingredient that adds a bit of savory cajun flavor to the dish as it’s made of spices like paprika, celery salt, and nutmeg.
- Worcestershire sauce – Adds a splash of savory undertones.
- Dijon mustard – For a bit of tanginess and added flavor.
- Tabasco – I recommend adding tabasco or sriracha for a bit of heat but this is optional.
- Oil – Any neutral cooking oil for frying works.
What Crab Meat Should You Use For Crab Cakes?
Good quality crab cakes are made from good quality crab meat. This is not the place to use canned crab meat or claw meat. You’ll want to use the pasteurized containers found at the fish counter. Look for jumbo lump, lump, or white special crab meat.
How to Make Crab Cakes
These Maryland style crab cakes come together in a few easy steps.
(Don’t miss the easy printable recipe card below with all the details.)
- Prepare the crab meat. Double check the crab meat to ensure there are no shell pieces. Set aside.
- Combine the ingredients. Combine the other ingredients in a bowl then gently fold in the crab meat.
- Form patties. Form the mixture into 8 to 12 crab patties, depending on how large you want them.
- Pan fry the crab patties. Heat enough oil in a pan to coat the bottom. Fry the crab cakes in 2 batches, for 4 to 5 minutes per side (adjusting the heat source, if necessary, to avoid over-browning.)
- Enjoy. Serve warm with lemon wedges and desired sauces.
Recipe Tips & Variations
Here are a few easy tips to keep in mind when preparing this easy crab recipe.
- Panko breadcrumb substitutions. If you do not have panko, you could use crushed saltine or butter crackers. Do not use Italian bread crumbs, as they are too fine a texture and can create a pasty crab cake.
- Be gentle with the crab mixture. Maryland crab cakes are very crab-forward and do not contain a lot of binders. So the mixture willl barely stick together and crumble easily. Be gentle when forming the crab patties and transferring them to the oil.
- Bake after frying if needed. If you are concerned that your crab cakes are not completely cooked through the middle after frying them on both sides, you can place them in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.
- Don’t overcook the meat. Try to avoid frying the crab patties for longer than 5 minutes, as that can dry them out and lead to them falling apart. Baking for 5 minutes as mentioned above will keep the moisture in but again, take care to not bake them for too long.
What to Serve with Crab Cakes
Remoulade is what you’ll typically see served as “crab cake sauce” but tartar sauce is also perfect with this recipe. I also like to plate them with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over the crab cakes, as citrus really enhances seafood.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Storing leftovers. Maryland style crab cakes are best served immediately, but can be stored in the refrigerator for one day. Just keep them tightly wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container.
- Reheat. You can reheat them in a non stick skillet over medium low on the stovetop, or pop them in the air fryer at 350 for about 3 minutes. Again, be gentle so they don’t crumble and try to avoid drying them out.
More Seafood Recipes:
- Shrimp Po’ Boy
- Scallops with Pesto Cream
- Salmon Patties
- New-England Style Salmon Rolls
- Mini Fish Tacos
- Garlic Butter Shrimp
- 1 pound jumbo or lump crab meat
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon chives , chopped fine
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons old bay seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 dashes of Worcestershire
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons tabasco or sriracha , optional but recommended
- Oil for frying
- Lemon wedges , for serving
- Remoulade or Tartar Sauce, for serving
- Pick through the crab meat and remove any shell pieces that may have been missed by the packaging process. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients, then gently fold in the crab meat until fully combined. The mixture should still be mostly crab, and should barely hold together. Gently form these into 12 crab cakes (or 8 larger ones.)
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add in a few tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan; swirl to coat.
- In 2 batches, gently place the crab cakes in the hot oil and pan fry for about 4 minutes, flip cakes over and fry for another 4 minutes (adjusting your heat if they're over-browning too fast.)
- Transfer crab cakes to a plate and serve while still warm. Enjoy with lemon wedges, remoulade sauce or tartar sauce.