Spicy Crab Cakes with Horseradish Mayo

Favorite WinterLentCrabCrab Cake

Spicy crab cakes recipe with fresh Dungeness crabmeat, parsley, bread crumbs, egg, lemon jice, Tabasco, Wocestershire sauce, Dijon, paprika, thyme, onion, and bell pepper. Serve with a horseradish mayo.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

The big food thrill of winter in Northern California is that it is Dungeness Crab season.

There is simply nothing better than fresh cracked crab, but you have to make sure the crab is very fresh. During the season we will call Whole Foods and ask when the last shipment came in. If it is the same day, we’re there.

Sometimes we greedily pick up more crab than we can actually eat in one sitting. In these cases, the crab meat gets formed into crab cakes to be eaten at the next meal. My father found this recipe for spicy crab cakes in the Marshall Field’s Cookbook and they were are absolutely delicious.

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Spicy Crab Cakes with Horseradish Mayo Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes six 4-inch wide crab patties.


  • 4-5 slices white bread
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 pound cooked fresh Dungeness crabmeat, picked over and drained

Horseradish Mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (see how to make horseradish for a scratch version)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt


1 Make fresh breadcrumbs: Chop up the bread into big chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until you have fine breadcrumbs. You'll need about 4 cups. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and stir in 1/2 cup of the chopped fresh parsley. Clean out the food processor bowl.

2 Process crab cake binder ingredients: Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard, paprika, thyme, celery seeds and black pepper into the food processor. Pulse until blended.

While the motor is running slowly add a thin stream of olive oil through the feed tube until the sauce emulsifies. Remove from food processor to a large bowl.

3 Make crab cake mixture: To the large bowl with the sauce, stir in the chopped onion, bell pepper, and remaining 1/4 cup of parsley. Gently fold in the cracked crab meat. Do not over mix! Gently fold in half of the breadcrumb mixture.

4 Make patties, dredge in remaining breadcrumbs: Carefully form six crab cakes patties. Lightly dredge them in the remaining breadcrumbs.

5 Chill: Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

6 Fry crab cakes: Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Working in batches, fry crab cakes gently 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown and heated through. Add more butter to the pan if necessary.

7 Make horseradish mayo sauce: To prepare the horseradish mayonnaise, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

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Spicy Crab Cakes with Horseradish Mayo

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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16 Comments / Reviews

No ImageSpicy Crab Cakes with Horseradish Mayo

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. George Crosby

    Old Bay is also terrific on poultry. Applied liberally to the interior and exterior of a turkey or chicken before cooking makes a fabulous bird!!

  2. Susie Phillips

    Looks amazing….can’t wait to make it..

  3. Mary

    What are the leaves of horse radish used for?

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Elise Bauer

    Hi Sarah – I think there are gluten-free bread crumbs on the market that you might try.

    Hi Mendie – We purchase whole crabs that have been cracked and cleaned by the fish monger at Whole Foods. We then painstakingly remove all of the crab meat from the shells. The shells themselves are good to keep for making shellfish stock. When purchasing fresh crab, the most important thing is how fresh? We ONLY buy crabs if they have arrived at the store that day or the day before. Any older and they don’t taste nearly as good. Too old and they are barely edible (I’ve actually returned a crab once to WF because it just wasn’t good).

    Hi Jan – Fresh crab meat is definitely a luxury, which is why we only get it in season. My mom used to make salmon cakes for us when we were kids. I’ll see if I can wrangle a recipe out of her (not as easy as you might think).

    Hi Jonathan – thanks for the spicy mayo alternative!

    Hi Kevin – LOL Only you could connect a crab cake recipe to my dad’s favorite movie of all time – Gunga Din. Thanks for the laugh. :-)

    Hi Laughinsal – sorry your crab cakes were a disappointment. I’ve got to believe it was the can that made the difference. I made crab cakes from a crab from a can last year and they too completely disintegrated. I also didn’t refrigerate them. Now I know that refrigeration is the key to keeping the cakes firm. After my fiasco with the canned crab, we only use fresh now.

  5. laughingsal

    I was very disappointed. They didn’t hold together at all. My old crabcake recipe was much better. We tossed these in trash, and are not usually that fussy. However, I was using fancy pasteurized crab in cans (Von’s, $36/lb) and not fresh so that might have been difference. I usually use cheap canned crab which has more consistent texture. Noticed there’s no salt in recipe.

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