Today I'm sharing my best and favourite crab cake recipe. This one is full of crab and no extra filler. Just enough ingredients to hold them together and highlight the sweet, fresh flavour of the crab.
I've made quite a few crab cakes in my time. These are the classic, meaty, panko coated cakes. You might also love the quicker Crispy Corn And Crab Fritters With Spicy Mayo or Gluten-Free Crab Cakes too.
Crab Cake Competitions On The Boat
If you've been following along for awhile, you likely know I used to commercial fish. I loved fishing so much that I would get my sports fishing license each spring and sports fish after a day of commercial fishing! Fishing for salmon or halibut off the back deck or putting the crab trap in the water for the ultimate West Coast dinner.
One year, my late brother and I got to deckhand together and it is a fishing season I'll always fondly remember. It was a season we got to spend together as young adults (in close quarters no less). Fishing can be exciting but there are also lots of monotonous tasks like sorting prawns or cleaning fish when you have a lot of time to talk.
Ski Bum To Chef
My brother had headed to the interior with his best friend after graduation to hit all the best ski hills. They naturally fell into the ski bum life which meant I didn't see much of him for awhile. When I did hear from him, I heard tales of working in the restaurants in Banff and Lake Louise, drinking amazing wines that customers would leave behind for staff and learning recipes from top chefs. So you can imagine once we were on the boat together, it was game on!
Two Chef Showdown
It was fun trying to recreate fancy food with the confines of fishing boat life but where it got really interesting was when the crab cake competition began. We were catching so many crabs with our one little trap that we started to get creative and decided we were having a crab cake showdown. This went on all season as we tried to out do each other with different sauces, different textures and different flavours. The skipper (our dad) got to be the judge though I can't recall a clear winner....funny.
(Because of a family members gluten allergy, I have also made a gluten-free, low carb Crab Cake recipe that is delicious too.)
What Makes The Best Crab Cakes
I do remember that the highest rated crab cakes had one thing in common, they were mostly just crab without any filler. Crab is my favourite type of seafood. We catch Dungeness crab here in BC and they are naturally sweet with a wonderful firm texture. Whenever I use crab in a recipe, I want to highlight that mild delicious flavour and not overpower it.
My recipe uses a small amount of finely chopped red bell pepper (capsicum) which adds a little more warmth and texture. I use egg and a small amount of the panko crumbs to hold them together. I like a tangy dipping sauce and I've shared my lemon aioli dip here. I like texture in mine so I use shallot and capers but if you prefer a smooth sauce, you can omit those two ingredients.
Top Tips For Perfect Crab Cakes
Less filler makes tastier crab cakes but it also makes them harder to hold together before cooking. I recommend letting your crab mixture sit for 15-30 minutes in the fridge before forming and frying. It helps soften the panko and make the hold together a little easier. And of course using fresh crab is a no brainer. While you certainly can use well drained canned or frozen and thawed crab, fresh lump crab meat will give you the very best result by far.
And so, with warm memories of my brother, I invite you to try our favourite style of crab cake. (My brother Tavis was a stellar adventurer and skier. If you'd like to see some of his ski videos, you can find the on his Youtube Channel here).
Crab Cakes With Lemon Aioli
- 1 ½ c Dungeness Crab Meat
- 2 Eggs
- ¼ c Red Pepper, diced small
- ¾ tsp Salt
- ½ teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
- 1 c Panko Crumbs, divided in half Or other bread crumbs
- 2-3 tablespoon Vegetable Oil For frying
- Optional Local Greens, Edible Flowers and Pickled Radishes For garnish
- ½ c Real Mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 Lemon, Zest and Juice
- 1 tablespoon Chives, minced
- 1 tablespoon Shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon Capers, coarsely chopped
- 10 dashes Hot Sauce (Optional, use more or less to your taste)
- Whisk egg until frothy and then stir in all ingredients except crab and ½ c of panko until well mixed. Then gently mix in crab, trying not to break up chunks more than necessary. (Tip: Let sit in fridge at this point for 15-30 min to make forming patties easier)
- Preheat a large frying pan on medium heat with enough vegetable oil to lightly coat the pan.
- Pour the remaining ½ c panko into a shallow bowl. Divide crab mixture into 6 large or 12 smaller cakes, press gently into panko, and then place in the frying pan. Fry approx. 5-7 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve warm.
- Add all ingredients into bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made up to 3 days prior to using.
Kristy @ She Eats
I definitely agree fresh crab + less filler makes tastier crab cakes. I'll take 2, please. Or 5. Or all of them. Crab is SO good!
The best right?!
Although I eat fish cakes all the time, there's nothing like crab cakes - those are the best.
Absolutely, nothing like crab 🙂
I am a crab cake fanatic, but only with fresh crab, and only if they are really good, and these ones are. Delicious.
Thanks so much Colleen, I totally agree!
Love crab cakes, and loved your story! This was an easy recipe to make gluten-free!
Aw thanks Elaine. It’s been a story I wanted to put in for awhile 💕
I love how simple this crab cake recipe is, and I love how you've written about memories with your brother. Making these crab cakes must often bring back such warm memories of him! Thanks for sharing!
Aw, thanks so much Lisa 💕
I love crab cakes and love that this recipe focuses on the actual crab meat - the point is to taste it after all! The lemon aioli is the perfect accompaniment
These are so delicious! Thank you for this recipe.
You’re welcome Sara! Thanks so much for letting me know you liked them 🙂
The lemon aioli really takes these to the next level!!!
So glad you loved it!
This recipe is so flavorful! I love the behind the scenes photos and stories!
Thanks Addison, definitely cherished memories 💕
oh i love a good crab cake recipe. I used to order this a lot at restaurants... i miss dining out!
I love the lemon aioli you included.
Thank you Amanda!
Soo jealous of all your fresh seafood, but I've never even caught a fish (bucket list)! The crab cake showdown on the boat sounds really fun. And these sound absolutely delicious!
Thanks so much Terri 💕
This looks amazing! I've been looking for a crab cake recipe for a long time. Definitely giving this a try as soon as I can get some fresh crab.
Thanks, enjoy Amy!
Yes! Fresh crab always brings the best result and this crab cake looks absolutely delicious.
I've always eaten them in restaurants! I can finally make my own crab cakes at home. thanks for the recipe
You are so welcome. Enjoy 😊
Such sweet memories! These crab cakes look delicious as well!
I loved reading this post so much! Can't wait to try your recipe next time I have fresh crab in my hands! <3
Aw thanks Nicky 💖 I hope we can make and enjoy them together soon!
Mmm made these tonight with our fresh caught crab 🦀 Fun to catch and delicious to eat! Great recipe! I also love that’s it’s full of crab and not much filler.
Thanks for the million dollar coastal tour! The whales, scenery and fresh seafood were priceless. And Yes! I love meaty crab cakes too. Thanks for everything and glad you liked the crab cakes.
I live in the PNW, so I have eaten lots of crab cakes in my lifetime. These are by Far the best I have ever had!
Wow, that is an awesome compliment. Thank you so much,