These Maryland Crab Cakes are made with jumbo lumps of crab meat, fresh herbs and spices. Finished with lemon juice and tartar, they’re absolutely amazing!
We often serve these crab cakes as a fancy appetizer, quick lunch or main dish with sides for dinner. Make sure to try them with my Spicy Chickpea Cucumber Salad. YUM!
My husband and I spent our post-college years living in the San Francisco. He worked for the Opera House and I worked as the accounting manager for the restaurant division of PIER 39. I never needed to make crab cakes at home… because I had an endless supply of them daily at my office. However, when we moved to North Carolina I was determined to master a fabulous recipe in my own kitchen.
SPOILER ALERT: Crab cakes are incredibly easy to make at home.
To make the best crab cakes, first you’ll need to start with jumbo lump crab meat. Yes, I know this is more expense… but it’s worth the splurge. This recipe calls for 1 pound of crab meat… so I’ll often get a 1/2 pound jumbo lump crab meat and a 1/2 pound of lump or claw crab meat. Can you do 100% jumbo? Of course! However, I find that mixing the two types gives these bad boys a little more texture (plus it’s a little more friendly on your wallet).
I’ve tried all sorts of binders when it comes to Maryland Crab Cakes.
Surprisingly, my favorite turns out to be crushed saltine crackers. I like to use the unsalted variety and add my own kosher salt when mixing the ingredients together. They turn out flawless every time. You can also use buttery rounds or panko bread crumbs if that’s all you have on hand. However, if you can make them with saltines… that’s a guaranteed hit.
Traditionally, Maryland Crab Cakes are served with fresh lemon, a sprinkle of dill and tartar sauce. Sometimes we mix things up and add Korean seasoning to the crab meat mix and serve them with kimchi and fresh cilantro. If you think that sounds like a weird combination… please try it. I promise you’ll be just as addicted as we are.
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- ½ lb. Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
- ½ lb. Lump or Claw Crab Meat
- 1 cup Crushed Unsalted Saltine Crackers (about 21 crackers)
- 1 Large Egg
- ½ cup Mayonnaise
- 2-3 Dashes Tabasco Sauce
- 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ⅛ tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 tbsp. Minced Fresh Italian Parsley
- 2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp. Lemon Zest (optional)
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil, for cooking
- Tarter Sauce, as needed for serving
- Fresh Dill, as needed for garnish
- Lemon Wedges, as needed for garnish
- Combine crab meat and crushed crackers in a large mixing bowl.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, tobacco sauce, old bay seasoning, Worcestershire, salt, Italian parsley, lemon juice and optional lemon zest.
- Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the crab meat and set the mix in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors merry.
- Once you'r ready to cook, divide the crab cake mixture into 8 patties. Be careful not to overwork the mixture (this will ensure you still have large clumps of crab meat).
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and heat. Test the oil with a tiny piece of crab cake mix. If it sizzles... the oil is ready.
- Once the oil is hot enough to sear the crab cakes, cook them for about 3 - 4 minutes per side. You know they are done when they are golden brown and hot in the center. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may have to work in batches.
- When finished, transfer crab cakes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Serve immediately with tater sauce, fresh dill and lemon wedges.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
JESS NOTES ON MARYLAND CRAB CAKES:
- Additional add-in’s that taste yummy: 1 clove of minced garlic, 2 tsp. of dijon mustard or 1 tbsp. sesame seeds. Sometimes I’ll even add a dash of baking powder to make them a little more fluffy (about 2 tsp.).
- If you only have salted saltines on hand, go ahead and use those… just skip adding salt to the mixture during step 2. You can add between 2/3 cup to 1 cup of saltines to this recipe, depending on your personal binder preference.
- Not an Old Bay Seasoning type of person? (Gasp!) That’s ok, you can substitute with whatever seasoning you enjoy most. Old Bay gives this a kick of heat, so keep that in mind when you’re swapping it out.
- To make the Pepperoncini Tartar, simply mix the following ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl: 1.5 cups Mayo, 2 tbsp. Pepperoncini Juice, 4 Pepperoncini’s (minced), 2 Baby Dill Pickles (minced), 1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice, 2 tsp. Stone Ground Dijon, 1 tsp. Sugar, 1 tbsp minced Shallot, 1 tbsp. Fresh Chives, 1 tsp. Minced Parsley, Dash of Tabasco, Salt + Pepper (to taste).
Got some leftover crab cakes? Try making them into sandwiches! I’ve used them in a classic recipe with lettuce, tomatoes and red onions as well as a Korean inspired stacker with kimchi!
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