Adam’s Maryland-Style 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 or watch our quick video showing you 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.

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 Cakes, Ever!

It’s no secret that we love a good crab cake. Here are our best tips for making them:

How To Make The Best Crab Cakes, 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 Cake

After 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!

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

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).

The Best 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

Adam's Maryland-Style Crab Cake Recipe

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

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.

Makes 6 large crab cakes or 24 mini crab cakes

You Will Need

Crab Cakes

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 neutral flavored oil

1 tablespoon butter

For Serving

6 bread rolls

Lettuce

Tomato

Tarter sauce

Cocktail sauce

Lemon wedges

Old Bay seafood seasoning

Directions

  • Prepare Crab Cakes
  • Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for any rogue shells. Toss the cracker crumbs, herbs, and crabmeat together, using your fingers to gently break apart some of the lumps.

    Whisk the mayonnaise, egg, mustard and Worcestershire sauce together then stir into the crab mixture. It will look somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

    Scoop the crab mixture into six 1/2-cup mounds and lightly pack into patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cook the crab cakes — our method for pan-searing and broiling are below.

    • 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.

      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.

      • 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.

        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.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • How to make mini crab cakes or crab balls: Instead of making six large crab cakes, divide the crab mixture into 24 mini crab cakes.
  • This recipe has been inspired by both Fine Cooking’s Recipe and Andrew Zimmerman’s Recipe.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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46 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Susan November 2, 2016, 12:00 pm

    This is my go to recipe for crab cakes! I recommend it to anyone who loves crab cakes

    Reply
  • JD October 23, 2016, 6:26 pm

    Phenomenal Recipe! Thank you so much. I’ve added, scallions and sweet jalapeños (my own pickeling) as well as Old Bay to the cream mixture.

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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).

      Reply
  • 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. 😉

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

    Hi,

    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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  • 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!

    Reply

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