Adam’s Crab Cake Recipe

Learn how to make our favorite Maryland-style crab cake recipe. This is definitely a must make if you are a crab cake fan! Jump to the Crab Cake Recipe now or read on to see how we make it.

One thing we’ve enjoyed experimenting over the last month or two have been crab cakes. They’re somewhat of a passion of ours. Living near the Chesapeake Bay means that our summer weekends are full of sunny days, cracking crabs, an abundance of sweet corn, Old Bay and the water. Its all incredibly exciting.

Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake

With all of that comes a serious love for Maryland-style crab cakes. A great crab cake doesn’t call for lots of ingredients, it has a ridiculous amount of sweet blue crabmeat and has very little filler.

How To Make The Best Crab Cake Recipe, Ever!

Use Jumbo Lump or Backfin Lump Crabmeat

So lump crabmeat is pretty expensive. That said, we really do believe that lump (preferably jumbo lump) crabmeat makes the absolute best crab cake. It was hard for us to take out our wallet at first, but once we realized 1 pound of crabmeat can make 6 generously sized cakes — or 24 mini crab balls — we were sold.

Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake

Oh, and don’t worry, nothing else called for in our recipe racks up the bill — it’s just saltine crackers and a few extras you probably already have in your fridge.

Saltine Crackers, Mayonnaise & Egg Make a Great Binder

Around here, fillers and extras are a no-no. All the menus promise “no filler” crab cakes. In all honestly, you do need a little bit of filler so they stay together. We go for the absolute minimum, which is a glue made from crushed saltine crackers, mayonnaise and one egg. It works beautifully.

How to Make Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake Recipe

We start by tossing the lump crab meat with the crushed crackers. The crackers absorb extra moisture from the crab. Then, we make a mixture of mayonnaise, egg, mustard and some Worcestershire sauce and add it to the crab and cracker mixture. After a few stirs, the mixture is pretty loose. That’s why you see us sliding it into the refrigerator. We keep it in there for an hour or so. The crackers continue to absorb the liquid and that glue I was talking about earlier forms.

How to Make Adam's Maryland-Style Crab CakeAfter some time in the refrigerator, you can easily form the cakes. We like using a 1/2-cup measure to make 6 generous cakes, but you can make them slightly smaller and make 8 or make them donut-hole size for mini crab balls.

Pan-Fried or Broiled?

Our local restaurants usually give us three options for how they are cooked: fried, pan-fried and broiled. We never request fried, so we’re not going to spend time talking about that. We do, however, ask for pan-fried and broiled often.

Pan-frying is great — they become dark golden brown and a little crispy on both sides. We love using our cast iron pan, which really helps get that golden brown sear.

Pan-Fried Maryland-Style Crab Cake

Broiled crab cakes are also pretty delicious. We like to start with a hot pan on top of the stove until the underside of the crab cakes are golden brown. Then, we add a little dot of butter to the tops and broil until golden brown. The nice thing about broiling is that the cake is never pressed or squashed flat. The tops stay perfectly rounded.

Broiled Maryland-Style Crab Cake

Ask most Marylanders and they will have a preferred cooking method. If you don’t know which you prefer, try them both, you really can’t go wrong!

Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake

When we make these at home, we’ll always serve them with a lemon wedge, a little tarter sauce and if we’re feeling it, a touch of Old Bay Seasoning (just be careful, it’s pretty potent). Joanne loves turning her’s into a sandwich and I pretty much eat them out of the pan (I can’t help myself).

Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake Recipe

Try our crab cakes with one or two of these popular sides: Smoky Black Bean and Corn Salad, Perfect Potato Salad, Rosemary Roasted Potato Wedges or our Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

Recipe updated, originally posted August 2014. Since posting this in 2014, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

4.6 from 13 reviews
Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Spending much of our childhood and young adult life in and around Maryland, we like to think we know a little when it comes to a great crab cake. We've enjoyed countless crab cakes and have come to the realization that our favorite is this one -- it's simple with few ingredients, little filler and tastes of sweet crab. When we're out at our favorite restaurants, we usually get three options for how the crab cake is cooked: fried, pan-seared and broiled. We hardly ever choose fried, but often go for pan-seared or broiled. We have shared our method for both options below.
Created By:
Yield: 6 Large Crab Cakes or 24 Mini Crab Cakes
You Will Need
  • 1 pound jumbo lump or backfin lump crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized
  • 20 saltine crackers, crushed into crumbs (65 grams or just less than 1 cup of crumbs)
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives or parsley, optional
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams or 2 ounces) mayonnaise, try our homemade mayonnaise recipe
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) canola oil, or mild flavored oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Prepare Crab Cakes: Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for any rogue shells. Toss the cracker crumbs, herbs (optional) and crabmeat together, using your fingers to gently break apart some of the lumps.
  2. Whisk the mayonnaise, egg, mustard and Worcestershire sauce together then stir into the crab mixture until mixed. It will look somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
  3. Scoop the crab mixture into six 1/2-cup mounds and lightly pack into 6 patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cook the crab cakes -- our method for pan-searing and broiling are below.
  4. How to Cook Pan-Seared Crab Cakes: In a 12-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the crab cakes to the pan. Cook until the underside of the cakes are dark golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
  5. Carefully flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the butter. Continue cooking until the second side is well browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  6. How to Cook Broiled Crab Cakes: Position an oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the top of the oven. Turn broiler to high. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the crab cakes to the pan. Cook until the underside of the cakes are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Cut the butter into six pieces then add one to the top of each crab cake. Slide the pan under the broiler and cook until the tops are well browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. A + J's Serving Suggestions: We love adding a splash of lemon juice to the tops of our crab cakes. Adam also adds a dash of seafood seasoning (like Old Bay). You can serve these as-is or on top of a soft roll with crisp lettuce and a slice of tomato. Tarter sauce and cocktail sauce are also great to have on the side. One more thing: a pickle spear on the side doesn't hurt, either.
  9. Making Mini-Crab Cakes or Crab Balls: Instead of just six large crab cakes, we make 24 mini crab cakes for parties.
Notes and Tips
This recipe has been inspired by both Fine Cooking's Recipe and Andrew Zimmerman's Recipe.

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43 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Mary Mulholland August 22, 2016, 4:31 am

    I live in the UK. I have never seen saltine crackers in our supermarkets. The nearest are cream crackers or Ritz crackers which are smaller and slightly salty. Have you any idea which would be suitable for this recipe or any suggestions for an alternative. Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Joanne August 22, 2016, 1:43 pm

      Both will work very well. Ritz crackers will add a buttery taste (some in Maryland actually prefer using them over saltine crackers).

  • Katherine August 18, 2016, 12:38 pm

    These are cooling in the fridge right now, getting ready for a sumptuous lunch of crab cakes, roasted corn and fresh fruit salad.
    I was looking for a recipe that could use just what I had on hand, and this is perfect.
    Thank you.
    Looking over the comments makes me want to try the hummus recipe as well. 😉

  • catherine casey June 30, 2016, 1:40 am


    These look great and I want to make a very large batch for a party. What’t the best way to cook these when making the mini crab cakes?Do you form them into little patties or crab balls? Pan fry, bake or broil?

    Thanks! Hope to hear from you.

    • Joanne June 30, 2016, 1:24 pm

      Hi Catherine, We recommend making mini crab balls then pan frying on one side and finishing by broiling the tops until cooked through and brown. I’d expect to get 24 mini crab cakes from our recipe.

  • Gregg June 10, 2016, 11:29 am

    Tried the crab cake recipe and the mayo recipe. Only major modification was that I was out of crackers so I used panko – still came out great. This will be a frequent treat at our house going forward!

  • Patrice May 31, 2016, 2:49 pm

    Our entire family are complete food snobs and have had restaurants all over the country. These are hands down the best I have had. I added a few flakes of cayenne to the mixture and served them with my fresh dill tartar and home-made hollandaise. Absolutely incredible

  • Marianne April 2, 2016, 6:42 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Excellent recipe. The restaurant from which I used to get delicious lump crab cakes went out of business years ago. I’ve tried in vain to find a local place that made them and was always disappointed. Don’t ask me why it took me so long to make them myself, but I’m thrilled to have found your recipe on my first attempt! Had to substitute Ritz crackers for the saltines as that’s what I had, and I added 1/2T of Old Bay. I broiled them on a buttered cookie sheet for 4 minutes with a small pat of butter on top, then flipped them over and broiled an additional 4 minutes. They were perfection. Might add a tad more Old Bay next time, but I can always add after cooking as you suggested. Thanks again! 🙂

  • ig February 19, 2016, 2:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Maryland crab cake recipe.

  • Den January 12, 2016, 10:53 am

    I made these last night and they were excellent. I actually did use imitation crab meat too. I Just shredded it and followed the recipe! Very very good! I will definitely make them again!

  • Mel November 14, 2015, 4:04 pm

    I love your recipe! So simple, yet so delicious. Thank you for sharing a wonderful way to prepare restaurant-worthy crab cakes at home.

  • Cloe November 2, 2015, 4:24 pm

    Hi Adam & Joanne,
    I’ve been looking for a good crab cake recipe for a loooong time and I think I’ve found it now, thanks to you. I’ve been looking for something to enjoy while he has his beloved steak. I’m looking forward to trying it!
    I also enjoyed your hummus recipe… Simple, clear instructions – much appreciated.
    Vancouver, Canada

  • Donna B Vaughn September 4, 2015, 6:48 pm

    I’m 78yr old & Adam your crab cakes are keeper’s! I Live on the Gulf, so fish & crab
    Or a must.Your voice is nice also, it easy
    To understand all you have to say, as I’m
    Hard of hearing.Back to your crab, easy to make & all my grandkids loved them!
    Thanks for some good eating?Donna

  • Mary H. July 6, 2015, 8:34 pm

    I used the meat from freshly caught Dungeness crabs to make this recipe. I think I had too much crab and not enough binder, because the patties didn’t hold together at all. Pan-seared them as best I could with them falling apart…and then enjoyed every bite!

  • Leah June 3, 2015, 9:35 pm

    Thank you!!!!!! The recipe and bonus video were super easy to follow. This is the first time I came across the blog and you are definitely an inspiration:) I am truly a beginner cook and I made Adams Crab Cakes like I studied at Le Cordon Bleu, keep up the good work and I’ll keep cooking, fair ???
    Thanks guys☺️

  • Hilda Mendez April 6, 2015, 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration. I have been researching how to make crabcakes and all of the recipes ask for too much breadcrumbs. Yours is perfect. I can taste the sweet flavor of the crab. I wish I had more thumbs to rate it way high up. 5 stars for me.

  • Kathy March 27, 2015, 7:08 am

    I made these crab cakes recently and was very disappointed. I followed the recipe exactly. The taste was a little too breast and salty. I like trying different recipes for things that I like especially crab cakes. The best I’ve had so far is the Chesapeake Bay recipe. I’m mad that I spent a lot of money on the lump crabmeat for it to go to waste

    • Adam March 27, 2015, 12:17 pm

      Hi Kathy, Sorry you didn’t enjoy our recipe. We’re not sure why the crab cakes would have been too salty since we don’t add salt or seafood seasoning to the recipe (we stay away from that since it can sometimes result in making things on the saltier side). It is possible the crabmeat itself was saltier than usual — did you taste it before mixing other ingredients? Another possibility is that you are not a fan of the Worcestershire sauce — you could try reducing the amount a little. I hope that helps a little and thanks so much for commenting.

  • Wendy Bryant March 22, 2015, 3:05 pm


  • Joanne March 18, 2015, 10:08 am

    I have been making crab cakes from a recipe similar to this one. Love them! I found that forming them was a bit sticky. I learned that if you can get a tin can and remove the top and bottom lids (the can of Pasta sauce with sardines-for St. Joseph’s day has removable tops and bottoms) or a pastry ring. Place bread or cracker crumbs on a sheet of waxed the ring over the crumbs, drop some of the mixture in the ring and press down (add more mix if needed) sprinkle crumbs on top and press to form a patty. Then lift the ring while holding the patty down. Slide a metal spatula to transfer the patty to a hot greased or oiled pan. I also use this method for hash patties with flour instead of the crumbs.

  • Bill W March 13, 2015, 6:31 pm

    Great recipe. So easy, and so tasty.

  • Tevvy February 8, 2015, 12:32 pm

    The crab cakes are delicious but I do not understand how you get them ready to cook in 1 hour and twenty minutes. I, like Susan, grew up in Maryland and agree you can not beat the taste of ” Blue Crab Cakes.”

  • Anderson February 8, 2015, 2:31 am


    I am Brazilian and I Love seafood. I like to fish and prepare crabs. I Was searching some recipes for crab cake but mostly were complicated or difficult to do with native crab meat. I think I’ll get it with your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  • Becky February 5, 2015, 12:38 pm

    Hi, all. After experiencing fresh seafood all over the USA and Europe, it is a little frustrating to be back home in Wisconsin. The options here are somewhat limited. Can I make crabcakes with fake crab, or will they be awful? Is there a way to incorporate celery and onions? Working with limited ingredients, I am a fairly accomplished cook, so am not afraid to make subsistutions. I am willing to share some of my award-winning recipes.


    • Adam March 2, 2015, 2:29 pm

      Hi Becky, We probably wouldn’t try using imitation crab meat for this recipe. The taste and texture are so different. You could add onions and celery if you wanted — we would cut them very small and cook them in a little oil or butter first to soften them.

    • Elizabeth December 16, 2015, 6:48 pm

      Hi Becky
      I too live in Wisconsin. I get my fresh seafood and crab from local meat markets. We also have a “shrimp” man that comes to the area 1x per month with fresh shrimp, oysters, fish, and crab. Ask around and you may find something.

  • StefZero January 21, 2015, 3:13 am

    Hi, Adam. Thanks for sharing this recipe to me. Tonight I will try to make it because all of my family will have a big gathering tonight

  • Kelly Thompson December 5, 2014, 1:15 pm

    They look amazing but being born and raised in Maryland I have to ask why is there no old bay in this recipe ?

    • Joanne February 3, 2015, 1:18 pm

      Hi Kelly, Adam usually sprinkles a little Old Bay over the cooked crab cake. You could always add some to the crab cake mixture, though!

  • Susan M December 2, 2014, 11:58 am

    made your crabcakes (as mini’s) broiled. Loved them. They reheated well. Am making a double batch this weekend for a party ! Thank you !!

  • Nicole November 6, 2014, 8:20 am

    My husband is from Maryland and I’m from south Mississippi. We both grew up with very different ideas about how to make a crab cake. After visiting Maryland for the first time, I immediately became a Maryland Crab Cake SNOB. I have tried many “authentic” crab cake recipes. HANDS DOWN, you have provided everyone with the perfect crab cake recipe. I added some Old Bay to the wet ingredients which was in your recipe to sprinkle over the cake.

    It was my husband’s 55 th birthday last night and I served these crab cakes. I thought he was going to cry after his first bite. My Mississippi parents were also here for dinner and we have new fan’s of the MARYLAND crab cake. Using my trusty cast iron skillet, the crab cakes came out perfect. THANK YOU. I will give you full credit but I am handing your recipe out to family and friends. Thank you so much for making my husband’s birthday dinner so special.

    • Joanne January 8, 2015, 2:02 pm

      Hi Nicole, Your comment is just amazing. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing with us. Thank you so much for sharing our recipe 🙂

  • Nanette Post October 20, 2014, 8:37 am

    Hi Adam,
    I made your crab cake recipe last night.I must and I am so happy and thrilled to say they were the very best crab cakes I ever ate or made.I am from Maryland and now live in Virginia. All of your directions were easy to follow and the pictures assured me that I was preparing them correctly. I will never be intimidated to make crab cakes again. Everyone thanks you. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!

    • Joanne October 23, 2014, 11:08 am

      Hi Nanette, We are SO happy you gave the crab cakes a try. Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  • Elaine October 5, 2014, 7:18 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I made these last night. I put in minced green onions instead of the herbs and added in some old bay seasoning. The recipe is delicious and one I will be saving. I served it with some Salsa Fiesta dressing on the side.

  • Patricia Steele September 12, 2014, 11:58 am

    Just found your site today while looking for a good blueberry pie receipe. Never did lattice before. Pie is in the oven. Looking f.olrward to trying crab cakes. Most have more filler than crab. Havn’t been east in years but will try next year. Let you know about the pie. Pat

  • Donna Turner August 15, 2014, 3:12 pm

    I too have been scared by the cost of good crab meat but after you mentioned how many I can make that makes it better. Next payday I’m buying some because this recipe sounds perfect to me. Thanks. P.S. Did you freeze extra cakes or just the crab meat alone if you didn’t use it all?

    • Joanne August 19, 2014, 9:37 am

      The crab cakes never last long enough for us to freeze, although you should be able to without any issues. We’d place the formed crab cakes (uncooked) on a baking sheet and freeze just until firm then wrap them with plastic wrap and place them back into the freezer.

  • Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen August 5, 2014, 10:15 am

    This looks really good – I am a huge fan of crab cakes! Pinned!

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche August 5, 2014, 2:43 am

    ..these burgers look so delicious, love that you used crab – i cant get enough of the stuff at the moment!

  • Nancy Long August 3, 2014, 9:15 pm

    will be trying this soon. Happen to have crabmeat in the frig and have been wanting to make hubby his fave eggs benedict, but serving them on crab cakes.

  • Robyn August 1, 2014, 6:03 pm

    Wow, these crab cakes look amazing! I must give your delicious recipe a try. Thanks!

  • Susan August 1, 2014, 3:17 pm

    Hi Adam –
    I’m from Maryland, now living in Maine. Everytime I get there, I order all the crabcakes that I can and then I bring home a couple of pounds of frozen crabmeat. I grew up on those things and still absolutely love them. You cannot beat the Maryland Blue Crab – which is sadly becoming extinct. Love your inspirational cooking.


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