Crab Cakes

DinnerCrabCrab CakeShellfish

Easy crab cake recipe with fresh Dungeness lump crab meat, formed into patties, breaded, and fried. The trick to how to make crab cakes that don't fall apart? Chill in the refrigerator before frying.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 homemade crab cakes are a step-up riff off an easy crab cake recipe I found years ago in Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples.

crab cakes

How to Make Crab Cakes

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 easy crab cake 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 for our homemade crab cakes.


  • 1 pound 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 breadcrumbs


1 Cook the shallots: 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 Make the crab cake mixture: 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.

How to make crab cakes - making crab cake mixture

4 Form into crab cake patties: 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.

5 Coat with breadcrumbs: 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 breadcrumbs and sprinkle them with the remaining breadcrumbs.

How to make crab cakes - crab cakes on pan ready to chill

6 Chill: Cover the crab cakes loosely with another sheet of wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

7 Cook crab cakes: 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.

crab cakes frying in pan

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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35 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sharon

    I had some left over crab meat from last night, and improvised your recipe. Quite yummy, even with no other chutney or dipping sauce. Thanks!


  2. Sanae

    I made your crab cakes tonight and my family loved it! My husband thanked for making such a special dish! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I love your recipes!!! I made your shrimp scampi recipes too and everyone loved it too!


  3. Noi

    Is the lump crabmeat supposed to be cooked or raw?

    Show Replies (1)
  4. crabcakesearcher

    These crab cakes are divine.


  5. Adel Antado

    I followed your recipy, but didn’t use all the powered ingredients and substituted the crab with canned salmon, and it tuurned out great. Seems to me that any cooked fish mixed with crackers, egg, salt and pepper quckly fried in butter will turn out great. Next week, i’ll try canned tuna and not tell my guests. After a glass or two of wine no cares any way.

    I recommend trying our tuna patties recipe. ~Elise

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