Crab Cakes

All winter long it’s Dungeness crab season here in the Pacific Northwest. Dungeness crabs tend to weigh in between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 pounds, and have perfect meat for making crab cakes. These crab cakes are a step-up riff off a recipe I found years ago in Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples. The difficult thing with crab cakes is that they don’t hold together that well when forming them, and they can easily fall apart when frying them. The trick is to handle them delicately to begin with, and then chill them on a breadcrumb-lined pan for at least an hour before cooking them. Just that time in the fridge will go a long way in helping them stay together as they cook. There isn’t a lot of binder in this recipe, so it needs the chilling time.

Crab Cakes Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 crab cakes.

We started with two 2 lb Dungeness crabs, which were then cleaned and cracked, resulting in about 1 1/4 pounds of lump crab meat.

Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat, picked through and any bits of shell removed (try not to break up the lumps of crabmeat as you pick through it)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter (divided, 1 Tbsp and 3 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp prepared tartar sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • About 4 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces, yielding 2 cups
  • 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

Method

1 Heat one tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and a half teaspoon of salt. Cook until the shallots are translucent, a couple minutes. Do not brown. Let the shallots cool.

2 Whisk together the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, remaining half teaspoon of salt, paprika, freshly ground black pepper, tartar sauce, lemon zest, Tabasco, parsley, and the cooked shallots. Gently fold in the crabmeat and torn bread, taking care again to not break up the lumps of crab meat. The mixture will be very wet. Using your (clean) hands, take a scoop of the crab mixture and gently form it into a patty form about 2 1/4 inches across and 3/4 inches thick. Continue until you've made 12 crab cake patties. Line a rimmed tray with a piece of wax paper just large enough to hold the cakes and sprinkle the bottom of the tray with half of the bread crumbs. Set the crab cakes in one layer on the top of the layer of bread crumbs and sprinkle them with the remaining bread crumbs. Cover the crab cakes loosely with another sheet of wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

crab-cakes-1.jpgcrab-cakes-2.jpg
crab-cakes-3.jpgcrab-cakes-4.jpg

3 Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat. The butter will melt and foam up. When the foam subsides, working in batches, place the crab cakes in the pan (do not crowd the pan), and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Showing 4 of 31 Comments

  • Lisa

    If you’d like to add a little “zing” to the crabcakes, try Old Bay and a dash of hot sauce. You may want to cut back on the salt to compensate. My family’s recipe wouldn’t be the same without Old Bay. Of course, we are originally from coastal Virginia, where all crabcakes seem to call for it!

  • Mary

    I am from Maryland, and can’t bear the thought of breadcrumbs in a crab cake, even though I realize I am biased! Just use jumbo lump and no binder other than a tiny bit of mayo, a little Old Bay, and lemon and broil rather than fry. You really get the crab rather than an initial taste of fried breadcrumbs.

  • terry just terry

    I skip the bread all together, and use 1-1/2 cups cooked cooled rice. Holds together superbly.

  • Foodie kay

    Are there any tricks for getting the crab meat out of the shell without totally destroying the lumps?

    We use a nutcracker to crack the crabs beyond what the fishmonger has done, and then use cocktail forks to gently pull out the crab meat. You can also use cooking shears to cut through the crab shells to get to the meat. ~Elise

View More Comments