Crisp and delicate crab cakes on a fresh green salad topped with remoulade sauce ~ make this easy elegant meal with fresh or canned crab.
Whenever I’m brainstorming quick summer supper ideas, crab cakes are always on the list. And one of our favorite ways to gobble them up is on a fresh salad. The warm sizzling crab cakes on cool crisp lettuce with a light vinaigrette, juicy tomatoes, and a fabulous homemade remoulade sauce is a memorable meal. And guess what? You don’t have to live on the Maryland shore to enjoy top quality crab cakes, my recipe uses canned crabmeat!
what you’ll need to make classic crab cakes
Let’s face it, unless you live on the Maryland shore most of us are making crab cakes with canned crab. So I’ve devised this recipe to work with a couple of cans of pasteurized crab. It’s special, but won’t bust the budget.
- 12 ounces pasteurized crab meat
- Pasteurized crabmeat is crab meat that has undergone a pasteurization process to kill harmful bacteria and extend its shelf life. Pasteurized crabmeat is usually kept in the refrigerated seafood section of the supermarket. Look for the area where they display fresh fish, shrimp, and other seafood products and read those labels!
- panko bread crumbs
- panko are extra crispy Japanese bread crumbs. You can use regular bread crumbs if you like, or make your own!
- I like to finely mince the slender inner stalks. I use the leaves, too, they’ve got great flavor!
- be sure to mince your onion finely. Big chunks will prevent your crab cakes from holding together.
- yellow mustard
- Old Bay seasoning
- snipped chives
- Tabasco sauce
- salt and black pepper
WHAT TYPE OF CRAB TO BUY FOR CRAB CAKES
Crab meat is expensive, so it pays to educate yourself about this pricey shellfish. If you live in an area where you can find fresh picked crab meat, go for it! For the rest of us, I recommend pasteurized crab meat, found in cans in the refrigerated section near your store’s fish counter. Shelf stable canned crab from the tuna aisle will not be nearly as tasty.
- jumbo lump ~ the highest grade crab meat, it’s pure white, firm, with a delicate flavor. If you can afford it, this will make amazing crab cakes.
- MY CHOICE: lump ~ lump crab meat is also white and delicate, but in smaller pieces than the jumbo grade, making it a good choice for most crab recipes, including crab cakes, crab balls, and crab dip. It’s also more affordable.
- special ~ special crab meat is the smaller pieces of white crab meat from the body, legs, and claws of the crab. It is smaller than lump crab meat and often has a slightly shredded texture. Special crab meat is versatile and used in dishes such as dips, crab rolls, and crab-stuffed mushrooms.
- backfin ~ smaller pieces of lump, plus other random bits of crab body meat.
- claw meat ~ darker, oilier, and ‘fishier’, this is the lowest grade, and doesn’t have much texture.
how to make the best crab cakes, step by step
step 1. Blend ingredients together in a bowl
Mix all your crab cake ingredients together except for the crab!
step 2. Fold in the crab meat
We do this carefully to avoid breaking up the crab as little as possible.
step 3. Scoop and chill
Use a 1/4 cup scoop to portion out crab cakes. Chill until ready to cook. Why chill? Crab cake mixtures can be delicate, and refrigeration helps the ingredients bind together. This way the crab cake won’t fall apart when you fry it.
step 4. Brown & bake
I like to brown my cakes in a little butter and olive oil to get them golden and crispy on both sides, then I’ll pop them in a moderate oven to cook through. This makes it easy to finish multiple crab cakes at one time, and avoids over cooking the outsides of the cakes in order to get the insides nice and hot. Now all your crab cakes can be ready to serve at the same time!
step 5. Serve ’em up!
Serve over a fresh green salad with lemon wedges and remoulade sauce.
crab cake faqs
Can I use other fish for these cakes?
- Yes, I encourage you to experiment with other types of fish ~ use cooked and flaked cod, halibut, salmon, chopped shrimp, etc.
I don’t have panko crumbs, what else can I use?
- Plain breadcrumbs will work, and I love to use crushed Ritz crackers!
Can you make these with imitation crab?
- Yes, if you like the flavor then go for it!
Can I make crab cakes ahead?
- Crab cakes are best cooked and served right away, but you can certainly make and portion out the cakes up to 2 days ahead. Just cook when ready to serve.
Is it better to fry or bake crab cakes?
- The best way to cook crab cakes is to fry and bake! That’s right, I fry the cakes in a a little butter and olive oil to get them golden and crispy outside, then slide them into the oven to finish baking so the insides get nice and hot. A bonus to this method is that all your crab cakes are ready at the same time.
What dips or sauces go with crab cakes?
- We serve with Remoulade Sauce, which is traditional, but there are lots of other choices
we love crab!
Crab Cake Recipe
- 4 cups fresh salad greens
- 16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
- 1/3 cup red onion slivers
- olive oil and vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Drain any excess moisture from your crab. Be careful not to break it apart. I like to turn it out onto several layers of paper towels and pat dry.
- Mix all of the crab cake ingredients except the crab, in a bowl. Get everything blended well.
- Fold in the crab meat. Do this gently so you keep chunks of crab intact.
- Use an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure to portion out crab cakes. Chill until ready to cook. Why chill? Crab cake mixtures can be delicate, and refrigeration helps the ingredients bind together so they won't fall apart when you cook them.
- Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and brown the crab cakes on both sides until golden. I flatten my cakes with the back of my spatula as I add them to the pan. Brown in batches do you don't crowd your pan and add more oil and butter if necessary.
- Once all your cakes are golden on both sides, place them on a baking sheet and finish cooking in the oven. They will take about 12-15 minutes to cook through. The cakes should register 165F in the middle.
- While the cakes are baking divide the salad greens between 4 plates. Top with cherry tomatoes and sliced onion. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and vinegar.
- Top each salad with 2 hot crab cakes. Serve with lemon wedges and remoulade sauce, or tartar sauce.