Dungeness Crab Cakes

We started with two 2-pound Dungeness crabs, which we then cleaned and cracked, resulting in about 1 1/4 pounds of lump crab meat for our homemade crab cakes.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Chill time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 12 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
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons prepared tartar sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons 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 make the crab mix

4 Form the crab cakes: 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 cakes.

Best crab cake recipe form the cakes

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.

Crab cake recipe chill on the pan

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 nonstick skillet on medium-high heat until the butter melts and foams 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 cake recipe fry the crab cakes

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  • 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!


  • 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!


  • Noi

    Is the lump crabmeat supposed to be cooked or raw?

  • crabcakesearcher

    These crab cakes are divine.


  • Susan

    Used fresh dungeness for this recipe tonight. These crab cakes are great! I don’t like to use mayo and this recipe fit the bill.


  • Robin

    Looks absolutely delicious! I have to say, as Pacific NW’er, I prefer some filling in my crab cake but just a small amount as Elise suggests. Otherwise it would be a crab patty! :)

    Will be making these tonight, since I’ve been finding dungeness crab for $3.99/# fresh in the markets in Portland.



  • 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

  • GF

    I am allergic to eggs so I make these with powdered egg replacer mixed with white wine (not water) instead of eggs and mayo. I also bake them. I found that they fell apart on a baking sheet, so I use a large muffin tin. Tablespoon panko in the bottom and then one on top. Chill and bake 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness).

  • Dennis

    I made this recipe without the bread crumbs for a BBQ we had this last weekend here in new Zealandand everyone loved them and several asked for the recipe.

  • John keithley

    From Tidewater Va, I was raised on crab cakes using the blue crab.Tried the Dungeoness while in Seattle on a trip so I have tried both.The blue crab has a sweeter taste, but both are very good.We have always used chopped onion in our cakes and as little bread crumb as possible.

  • Jarrod Razzoli

    In my opinion, this recipe, like so many others add too many ingredients. If you really like the taste of crab, you only need a little mayo, bay seasoning, egg, and lemon juice. People add bread crumbs or saltine crumbs to help bind them, but here’s a tip from Maryland restaurants – fry the cakes on one side on the stove and then put the pan in the oven and broil the other side – you don’t need to flip them then and don’t need bread crumbs.

    • Julie

      Great tip Jarrod! I want to try this!

  • T. Hannibal Gay

    A good sauce for crab cakes is beurre blanc. This is French for ‘white butter’. It’s very rich, but it helps to offset crab cakes’dry texture. Be sure and use white wine vinegar in the reduction and you need not add white or gold champagne, although it does add a delicious flavor. Use a good quality fish stock in the reduction instead of chicken stock and it helps make this a wonderful addition to fine crab cakes. Bon Appetit all.

  • Sonia

    Elise, I use slightly herbed panko instead of regular bread crumbs to coat my crab cakes….works beautifully!

  • Stephanie H

    I am from Maryland and I agree with some of the other posts regarding the bread in crab cakes. I don’t use much filler in my crab meat maybe a few crushed saltines (unsalted tops) mayo, some dry mustard and old bay seasoning.

    However I will give the recipe a try, just because I love crab.

  • Scott S

    To the person who wanted to omit the Mayo: Try adding softened Mascarpone cheese to them. It holds together well and makes an interesting addition.

  • Solaera

    Dungeness makes the best crab cakes! As a veteran crab cake maker I’ve found that using the stringy ‘thigh’ meat from the larger sections of the legs of the crabs and forgoing the moister and shorter fibered meat in the body and claws enables me to ditch the bread in the cakes. I use the yolk of one egg, a shot of tabasco, Old Bay, grated shallot and a dash of Worcestershire. As I form my cakes I lay them on a plate of panko crumbs, pressing each down gently, top with panko and refridgerate uncovered for an 1/2 – 1 hour. They never fall apart.

  • Meldrum Cafe

    To bind together and add flavour use flavoured humous.

  • Barbara

    I love crab cakes, but hate mayonnaise. Seriously, can’t eat the food if any mayonnaise (or tartar, aioli, etc.) component. Has anyone used a substitution in crab cakes successfully? Maybe yogurt or sour cream in these?

    Never tried it, but I bet sour cream would be a good substitute, as would a thick yogurt. Regular yogurt, I suspect, would be too thin. ~Hank

    • Shirley

      Replace mayo with an equal amount of potato mashed, no mayo.

    • Carol Winer

      Barbra: My mother’s livelihood was crabcakes. Never ever used mayonnaise. She would pick the crab meat, add a little sautéed celery and onion, salt, lots of black pepper and then would use a white sauce (not too thick). A touch of old bay and then form into cakes. We used to use 20 to 30 pounds of crabmeat every Friday. I was very young (10 or 12) and my job was to pick through the crab meat Mom used what the seafood market called “special” crab meat and added that to the lump meat. Excellent

    • Sandy O

      There is no mayonnaise listed in the ingredients list.

      • Elise Bauer

        Mayonnaise is a component of tartar sauce, which is in the ingredient list.

  • Susan

    My Grandmother, her Grandmother and who knows how many other mothers born in Baltimore made their crabcakes THIS way.
    One pound good quality crab meat (preferably Maryland lump – we used to be able to use “regular” but now have to use “lump”)
    One piece stale Pepperidge Farms white bread (not sandwich or thin sliced)crumbeled by hand.
    One egg
    A bit of chopped green pepper (for color & crunch)

    That’s it. The egg and bread bind the crab and the result is pure “crab”. No mayo, no mustard, no Old Bay….this is the place to celebrate the Maryland Crab!!!

    Fry ( or saute- if you prefer that phrase) in
    Crisco..until done…no butter…no olive oil- just good old lard!!!

    Excellent -serve with cole slaw & Maryland stewed tomatoes or anything else you like…JUST DON’T MESS WITH THE CRAB CAKES!!

  • laura @ a little barefoot

    i *love* this type of crab cake. do you think it would be a disaster to try baking or broiling them on a greased pan instead of frying?

    Nothing beats a fried crab cake, but you might try baking them at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes per side. Let us know how it works! ~Hank

  • falnfenix

    another Marylander here, but i’m actually a bit of a fan of the west coast style crab cake. y’all do it differently but i dig. this recipe is definitely different from what i’ve had in SF, however. it’s almost an amalgam of both east coast and west coast styles.

    i think i’d stick to a less spicy version if i were making it west coast style…no bread (crumbs only), no tabasco, lots of scallion. mmmm, i need to make some. :)

  • Caroline

    I am a softie for Maryland Blue crab, so I would probably use that. Crabcakes are one of the things I miss most since moving away from Maryland! This recipe sounds like a good one – I would probably omit the bread and add a dash of Old Bay to get closer to the “Maryland” style, but this base recipe would be a great go-to recipe for anyone who can get their hands on some good crab meat! YUM!

  • Kathleen Bruno

    Another way to keep the crab from falling apart is to use only the egg yolk in forming the patties. It acts like glue. You can dip the fully formed (and chilled) crab cakes in the egg whites, and they’ll act like glue for some extra bread crumbs.

    I learned this trick many years ago, when I visited my mother-in-law’s hometown in Southern Italy. They make these amazing little appetizers out of rice, and they use the egg yolk solo to hold the rice together.

  • Dawn P

    Just made this tonight – used canned Jumbo lump crab. I did not add the bread. Used Old Bay and Panko breadcrumbs at the suggestion of posters. Also chilled in fridge for the suggested hour. YUM, YUM, YUM…I would probably add a dash of hot sauce to the mixture for a little some n’, some n’. Thanks for the great recipe and the great suggestions

  • Tony D.

    I tried this with a few “since I got my tax refund I’m gonna splurge” modifications: I used blue, dungeness, stone, king, and snow crab meat, a rock lobster tail, whole crawfish, whole scallops, jumbo shrimp and (scary looking)giant freshwater prawns. I left everything in large chunks (no minced meat)and substituted Chesapeake Bay mix for the breadcrumbs. I wish I would have remembered the panko breadcrumbs but they were delicious!

  • 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

  • terry just terry

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

  • 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.

  • 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!