How To Make Homemade Gourmet Crab Cakes For the Holidays

Chef Andrew Wilkinson


A single gourmet crab cake on a white plate with Dijon sauce dripping over the side

 

Table of Contents:

Making Gourmet Crab Cakes at Home

Today, I’m sharing one of the most popular and well-known seafood dishes that belongs on every holiday dinner table: Gourmet Crab Cakes! Even just saying it, you might already be getting hungry, and forming a mental picture in your head. Getting comfortable preparing a gourmet crab cake recipe is a must for any seafood-loving home chef.

There are many crab cake recipes out there. But, I believe it’s best to keep it simple. So, I’m sharing the recipe I’ve used that has treated me–and thousands of my restaurant customers–very well over the past 30+ years.

The recipe is straightforward, and can be done with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

If you prefer to watch and cook, check out this quick YouTube video showing my Gourmet Crab Cake recipe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sJVWDhSZwg&feature=youtu.be

But, before I share the recipe, I want to mention how important it is to use high-quality crab meat, and the right fresh base mix ingredients.

Can I Use Canned Crab Meat?

Yes, you can absolutely use canned crab meat! In fact, I like to use our NorthCoast Culinary Reserve Super Lump crab meat, which are large flakes of delicious crab meat, hand-picked from wild-caught Blue Swimming Crabs.

The Blue Swimming crabs are steamed immediately after catching, their meat is hand-picked, and then they’re chilled and pasteurized.

You can count on Culinary Reserve to be among the best crab meat products on the market. And of course, this premium quality crab meat is also straight up delicious, with a sweet, clean buttery flavor that people just love.

Our canned crab meat makes preparing crab recipes easy, and it has a gorgeous appearance that will make your crab cakes really stand out over the holidays.

 

 

How Do You Keep Crab Cakes from Falling Apart?

You may also be wondering how you can keep crab cakes from falling apart. To me, it all starts with having a solid, base mixture! I call it the “glue” that’s going to hold our crab cakes together.

This base ingredient mixture includes: one egg (beaten), mayonnaise, dijon mustard (I personally love the Maille brand of mustard, but you can substitute any brand you like), Old Bay Seasoning (which gives it that traditional Maryland Crab Cake flare), fresh parsley,  Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, white pepper, and bread cubes. You’ll want to gently fold this base mixture together.

Naturally, the real star of the show is our crab meat. You’ll want to squeeze out any excess moisture by pushing on the lid of the can, gently begin to break up the crab meat and combine the crab with the base mix. Again, it’s important to gently fold it all together to avoid breaking up any of those large pieces of crab meat.

Chances are, you will be able to form your crab cakes by reusing items you already have in the kitchen. I’m a pack rat, so  I love to save small cans to then mold burgers, cakes and more. But, you can also use a half-cup measuring cup, which equals a 4-oz crab cake. 

Culinary Reserve premium crab meat

Homemade Crab Cakes – Baked and Pan Fried Recipe

Yields (6) 4 oz. Crab Cakes

Base Mix Ingredients:

  • (1) Extra Large Egg, beaten
  • 1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, gently rinsed under cold running water and chopped
  • 4-6 Shakes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ Teaspoon White Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Panko Crumbs (optional)

 

Final Mix:

  • 1 lb. Culinary Reserve Super Lump crab meat, excess moisture drained
  • 1½ Cup Pepperidge farm thin sandwich bread (crust removed), cut into ¼ in. diced squares.

Method:

  1. Mix all base mix ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Fold in cubed sandwich bread.
  3. Carefully break up crab meat into the mixture and gently combine all ingredients together, so as to not break up crab chunks. Chill mixture for at least 1 hour. 
  4. Portion crab mixture into six, 4-ounce patties. If baking, mold into “muffin top” shapes. If pan frying, mold into a “patty” shape.
  5. Place cakes on plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before cooking or up to 1-2 days ahead of cooking.

Bake or Pan Fry?



You can either bake or pan fry crab cakes, and add a tasty but subtle dijon-lemon mayonnaise sauce, or as you hear in restaurants, an aioli. If you’re going all-in on restaurant-style gourmet crab cakes, I recommend learning how to pan fry these cakes. Pan-Frying will produce a crispy exterior, with a pillowy soft interior.

To oven bake:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and wash hands with soap and water. Spray sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place crab cakes on a sheet pan. Optional: Brush top of cake with melted butter or spray. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

To pan fry:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and wash hands with soap and water. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Optional: Gently press top and bottom of cakes into panko crumbs, do not bread the sides. Add 1-2 tablespoons canola oil to coat the pan.

Cakes should sizzle when placed on the pan. Pan-fry 1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown color is achieved. Transfer cakes to a baking sheet, or if oven friendly, place the pan in the oven. Finish baking for 6-7 minutes.

What is a Good Sauce for Crab Cakes?

In my opinion, a good dipping sauce for crab cakes is notoptional!

I try to keep it simple by adding in some mayonnaise, my favorite Dijon mustard, lemon, some heat from hot sauces, and I top it off with fresh-chopped parsley.

What Side Dishes Go with Crab Cakes?

I personally love crab cakes best with my favorite aioli, but you may be considering side dishes to serve them with over the holidays. People like to serve them with corn, a fresh side salad,  or roasted vegetables. If you’re looking for additional inspiration, here are some other side dishes for crab cakes.  

Holiday Suggestion: Mini Crab Cakes

Homemade Crab Cakes (Baked and Pan Fried)


 

Restaurant style Super Lump crab cakes have never been easier. Whether simply baked or pan fried, these cakes are full of fresh flavor and an exceptional texture.

  • 1 lb. can Culinary Reserve Super Lump crab meat (excess moisture drained)
  • 2½ cup Pepperidge farm thin sandwich bread (crust removed) (cut into ¼ inch diced squares)

Base Mix

  • 1 extra large egg (beaten)
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Italian Parsley (gently rinsed under cold running water and chopped)
  • 4-6 shakes Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp. White Pepper
  • ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Panko Crumbs (optional)

Sriracha Mayo Aioli

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha
  • ½ lemon juice

Sriracha Mayo Aioli

  1. Mix all ingredients together well and chill until ready to use.

Making Crab Cake mix

  1. Mix all base mix ingredients together in a large bowl.

  2. Fold in cubed sandwich bread.

  3. Carefully break up crabmeat into the mixture and gently combine all ingredients together, so as to not break up crab chunks.

  4. Chill mixture for at least 1 hour.

Portioning Crab Cakes

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.

  2. Portion crab mixture into six, 4-ounce patties. If Baking: mold into “muffin top” shapes. If Pan Frying: mold into a “patty” shape.

  3. Place cakes on plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before cooking or up to 1-2 days ahead of cooking.

To Oven Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F

  2. Spray sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place crab cakes on sheet pan.

  3. Optional: Brush top of cake with melted butter or spray.

  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

To Pan Fry

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat.

  3. Optional: Gently press top and bottom of cakes into panko crumbs, do not bread the sides.

  4. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons canola oil to coat pan.

  5. Cakes should sizzle when placed on pan. Pan-fry1-2 minutes per side or until golden brown color is achieved.

  6. Transfer cakes to a baking sheet, or if oven friendly, place pan in oven.

  7. Finish baking for 6-7 minutes.

  8. (Optional)Serve with a dollop of Sriracha Mayo Aioli.

 
 

 

If you’re hosting family over the holidays, it can also be fun to make mini crab cakes as an appetizer to enjoy together. I find that these mini bites are always a hit.

Expert Tip: For Baked Crab Cake Appetizer Bites: Form about (24) 1-ounce balls of crab mix and simply spray your sheet pan, using a heaping tablespoon as guidance for size. You can prep and chill the mini crab cakes, and then bake them when you’re ready. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 450 F.

 

What are some of your favorite holiday crab recipes? Do you have any questions about cooking crab meat? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and on social media. Tag @NorthCoastSeafoods to get featured.

About Chef Andrew Wilkinson: Trained at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York Chef Andrew Wilkinson has an instinctive understanding of superior cuisine. In his newest mission; “Real Food for Healthier Kids,” Chef Andrew is spearheading North Coast Seafoods’ commitment to offer all school children the benefits of adding seafood to the weekly menu offering. Wilkinson is constantly looking for innovative ways to utilize lesser-known, sustainable and healthy fish choices for today’s changing diet.

Prior to joining North Coast Seafoods, Wilkinson was Chef/Partner of Skipjack's Restaurant Group in Boston. Wilkinson made his mark in New York City as the Executive Chef of the Rainbow Room. Wilkinson brings extensive international experience to the kitchen. After graduating from the CIA, he worked at the 3-star Kur Hotel Traube Tonbach in Germany. He returned to the U.S. to be the chef at Aurora in New York City and after three years was recruited to Fukuoka, Japan. He was a U.S. Culinary Olympic Team Sous Chef in 1984 & 1988. The most important things in Chef Andrew's life, family and cooking, have always intersected.

 


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