How to Make the Best Crab Cakes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crab cakes can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make them. There are a few main ingredients that make the crab cake a crab cake but there are also a variety of different ingredients to make them your own creation.

Crab Meat

Whether you choose to use canned, bought or freshly caught the best crab meat to use is either Blue Crab meat or Dungeness Crab Meat. Both are very sweet tasting and are white meat. The claw meat can also be used but it has a stronger flavor that may be overwhelming to some recipes.

Cooking the Crab Meat

The secret key to cooking the crab meat is to boil the crabs in a pot of water with a little Old Bay spice or to boil them in beer. This will add a nice flavor to the meat even before putting it in the crab cake.

Binding Agent

There are many different options to binding the crab cakes together. Usually it is done with bread crumbs or saltine crackers. You can also use flour and eggs for the binder but that makes the cakes less fluffy and more rich. The secret ingredient in some old school recipes is Ritz crackers which provide the right balance between bread crumbs and crackers. The binder is just to bind the ingredients together and should not be over used or can make the crab cakes less crab and more cake.

There is another binder that is more of a liquid option which can be mayonnaise or sour cream. Both these choices make the crab cakes a little smaller but a lot more calories. They are a great part of the recipe if you are making small crab cakes for appetizers but would not be recommended when making them for a meal. They quickly become rich and pack a lot of cholesterol.


There are a ton of different little add-ins to crab cakes like mustard and mustard powder but also Worcestershire sauce, although it’s not for everyone. Another favorite is Old Bay seasoning, if you can find it where you live. There are also nice hints of herbs you can add like parsley, dill and chives. To add a little color to the crab cakes you could add red or greed bell peppers, celery or onions and even tomatoes.


Most crab cakes are either deep fried or fried in a pan with butter or oil. For the coating on this option you can use flour and an egg or flour and egg and bread crumbs. Some options only coat the outside lightly with flour as to no overwhelm the bread component of the crab cake.


When cooking the crab cakes there are some recipes that tell you to fry the crab cakes on each side and then pop them in the oven for a few minutes to cook the inside. This is a great way to do them but time consuming, especially if the crab cakes are thin, you can just fry them on each side and skip the oven part. When frying them, it’s best to use olive or vegetable oil instead of butter or lard. It provides a healthier way to cook the crab cakes. Another option is to broil them in the oven. This is a better alternative to frying the crab cakes and provides a nice crunch to the outer layer as well.

When making the crab cakes, be sure to gently fold in the crab to the ingredients, if you are too hard with the cooked meat it will break and that special jumbo lump meat will not be as jumbo. Also, be sure to let the crab mixture sit for about 20 minutes in the fridge before cooking. This allows the flavors to blend and often results in the best crab cakes.

Once you find your favorite way of doing crab cakes make sure to be a little adventurous and try some different alternatives to the way you usually make them, the different ingredients may surprise you.