Spicy Crab Cakes with Horseradish Mayo

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.

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


Chop up the bread into big chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until you have fine bread crumbs. 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 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 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 the bread crumb mixture. Carefully form six crab cakes patties. Lightly dredge them in the remaining bread crumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

4 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.

5 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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  • Elise

    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.

  • 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.

  • janie

    Here’s a gluten free alternative:

    Replace the bread with mashed boiled potatoes. I do that often when making meatballs. These sound delicious and I can’t wait to make them!!

  • alamobecky

    I haven’t ventured too much into crabcake world — my experiences with them in restaurants have been disappointing and I’ve never made them at home. I will definitely try yours, though.

    Two quick mentions: Trader Joe’s sells a one-pound can of wonderful crab meat for around $8.99. It’s sweet and delicious, great texture — a great buy. Secondly, I have made Mario Batali’s halibut cakes which are fantastically good and . . . and . . . I want one right now!! You can find his recipe on foodtv.com.

  • kevin

    In Kipling’s immortal words: “You’re a better crab than I am, Dungeness.”

    Next time you make crab cakes, try topping them with Romesco Sauce. Seriously good eating.

  • jonathan

    For Heather – I made some spicy mayonnaise a few weeks ago for crabcakes (no horseradish). If your husband likes the heat, but not horseradish, try this-

    2/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
    3/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    1 garlic clove, pressed
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    Just mix all together, and fridge until needed (can be made a day in advance). Since it’s spicy, a little goes a long way. You can certainly reduce the cayenne. Start with an 1/8 t. and go up from there until you like it. Remember – as it sits, the heat increases. The quantity made was more than enough for 5 jumbo lump crabcakes. Crab (good crab) has a very sweet, delicate flavor, and you don’t want to kill it with too much spice. Enjoy!

  • Jennifer

    These look delicious. I have too many daily post recipes of yours in my inbox waiting to be made… How many crabcakes does this recipe make and about what size are they?

  • Jan

    I have never eaten crab (that I know of :). Where I live, in Southern Central MO, I don’t know that I would be able to find or afford the Crab meat. I love Salmon Patties, or Salmon Cakes, & I love Horseradish thus I am curious to know if I could create those using this recipe for the Crab Cakes.
    I love the recipes you post here, & am anxious to have your response to my inquiry.

  • Mendie

    These look delicious, I can’t wait to try this recipe! Not being from a coastal area, I’ve never tried to cook crab meat…do you purchase it cooked? If not, how do you cook it? Thanks!!

  • Sarah

    Do you think there would be a way to do it gluten free? The pieces of white bread make me think: no.

    By the by: I love this website. Everything I’ve ever made from here has been d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s

  • Heather

    We love crab cakes! These sound delicious! I would love the horseradish mayo as well, but my husband does not like horseradish. Can you suggest another dip/dressing for the crab cakes that doesn’t involve horseradish?
    I’m so excited to try these out!