Nowhere does crab cakes quite like the East Coast- and Maryland crab cakes hold the title of the best in the world! What makes them so great? The answer is one simple ingredient- Old Bay seasoning.
Old Bay crab cakes are a classic fan favorite on the Eastern shore and beyond- and this recipe lets you bring that incredible flavor home whenever you want it. Enjoy delicious crab cakes with friends and family- Maryland style!
My Old Bay crab cakes recipe is a simple 10-step method that champions strong flavors and glorifies crab meat the way it deserves. The process takes less than two hours and is sure to have the whole family praising you for your cooking skills- without having to do anything too complicated.
What Is a Maryland Crab Cake?
The humble crab cake is a staple for spring- and Maryland crab cakes are next-level delicious. A true Maryland-style crab cake uses jumbo lump crab meat from blue crabs and has heaps of Old Bay seasoning to perfectly compliment the rich, sweet crab.
There are plenty of ways to make Maryland crab cakes, but Old Bay seasoning is non-negotiable. The rest of the ingredients can be tweaked to taste, but I think the following combination is a winner every time.
What Do I Need for This Recipe?
Part of the beauty of crab cakes is how easy they are to make. They don’t require much skill or any fancy equipment- just the usual things you find in your kitchen and some simple but incredibly tasty ingredients.
Here is a full list of everything you will need to make your Old Bay crab cakes.
You don’t need much for making crab cakes, just a few everyday kitchen utensils:
- A fork
- Two mixing bowls (one should be large enough to hold all the ingredients together- the other is just for the crab meat)
- Something to drain the crab meat- a sieve or colander is fine
- One baking tray covered with a baking sheet
- Plastic wrap
- A skillet (cast iron skillet is best)
- Spatula for mixing
- Fish slice for frying and flipping the patties
- Tablespoon, teaspoon, and cup measures
Something great about making your own crab cakes is the freedom to put in whatever you want to get the flavors you like the most. In this recipe, I have tried to stick as closely as possible to what a classic Maryland Old Bay crab cake tastes like to really replicate the taste of the East Coast.
- Crab Meat
If you want to replicate a real Maryland Old Bay crab cake, you really need to use jumbo lump crab meat. Blue crabs are best- but avoid the claw meat as it is not quite as sweet and tasty.
Whatever you do, don’t use canned crab. It is not the same and won’t give you the juicy flavor or lovely texture of fresh lump crabmeat. Trust me- it is worth getting the real stuff. Otherwise, it is simply not a Maryland crab cake.
I use eight ounces of meat to make four large patties or six smaller patties. Make sure you still have eight ounces once all the water is drained.
- Old Bay Seasoning
It sort of goes without saying that the original recipe Old Bay seasoning is an absolute must for this crab cake recipe, just like in my Cajun crab boil recipe.
I like to use a generous tablespoon, but you can reduce or increase this measurement depending on your taste preference. Sometimes I also keep a little bit aside to sprinkle on the patties later.
- Red Pepper
You can also add yellow pepper if you want, but I usually just stick to red. Finely dice enough to fill a tablespoon measure.
Again, your onion should be finely diced (as small as you can get it), and fill a tablespoon measure to the top.
Sometimes I put a little less onion- it depends on how much of the taste I want to come through. If you are not a big onion fan, you can half the measurement- or leave it out altogether.
Whether or not you like mayonnaise, it is essential for well-combined, juicy crab cakes. The flavor doesn’t come through much, but I still like to use a good quality, real egg, full-fat mayonnaise for the best results.
Low-fat works fine if you are trying to cut the calories and have a healthier crab cake.
You need around a tablespoon and a half of mayo.
There is debate over what kind of mustard is best for crab cakes. In some recipes, I use dried mustard powder rather than the real thing, but to get the Maryland flavor right, I use a mixture of Dijon mustard and yellow mustard.
If you don’t like yellow mustard, use only a tablespoon of Dijon- it works fine by itself. I use both, so I put in half a tablespoon of each.
Egg helps combine the ingredients and hold your patties together. One large egg is enough for this recipe.
Another source of contention is what type of crumbs are best to use in crab cakes. I usually use Saltine crackers or something similar when making normal crab cakes because they are lighter, but most Maryland crab cake recipes call for Panko bread crumbs. You could also use cornmeal.
It doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as you have half a cup to add to your mixture to firm it up and help the patties hold their shape.
In this Old Bay crab cake recipe, I am using Panko bread crumbs for the crispy finish and tasty flavor, but the choice is yours when you make them at home.
- Worcestershire Sauce
You might not have this in the cupboard at home, but it is worth going out to buy some! Old Bay crab cakes are not the same without it. In fact, I never make any crab cakes without a glug of this tangy sauce.
Don’t use a lot, though- as the flavor is very strong. Half a teaspoon or a quick dash if you are not into measuring is enough to add a kick.
Lastly, you need a teaspoon of parsley. You can use dried flakes or fresh minced parsley- either work.
Useful Tips for this Old Bay Crab Cakes Recipe
The best crab cake is one that tastes the way you want it to so feel free to tweak the ingredients to suit your preferences. As long as you use the right amount of egg, mayo, and crumbs to get the mixture well combined, the rest is ok to play around with until you find the perfect combo.
If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight tub or wrapped in plastic wrap. You can save them for up to three days. Don’t freeze them.
Why not use them to make a crab cake sandwich or in a salad?
Of all the ones I have tried, this is the best crab cake recipe to replicate the classic Maryland Old Bay flavor. It is quick, easy, and makes perfect crab cakes every time.
Transport yourself to the Eastern shore in spring without leaving your house- your friends and family are sure to thank you for it!
- 8 oz jumbo lump crab meat
- 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tbsp. diced red pepper
- 1 tbsp. diced onions
- 1.5 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. parsley
- Take your juicy lump crab meat and drain it thoroughly using your sieve or colander. Make sure all the water is fully removed to avoid having a soggy mixture and even soggier crab cakes! Once drained, place the crab meat in one mixing bowl and use the fork to break down the large chunks. You don't want to shred it or make the pieces too small, just small enough to make it easier to coat them with the rest of the ingredients.
- Set the crab meat aside and grab your red pepper and onions. Dice the peppers and onions as finely as you can and put them together in the large mixing bowl.
- Take all the ingredients except the egg, and add them to the large bowl with the diced veggies. Mix everything together until combined. Once everything is completely mixed, add the egg and stir again.
- If you are using Panko bread crumbs, you can add them straight into the bowl. Mix everything well!
- Gently fold the crab meat through the mixture being careful not to break the chunks too much. Make sure all the meat is fully coated before moving on to the next step.
- Use your hands to split the mixture into even balls. As I mentioned, this mix makes four large patties, but you can make them smaller if you want. Start by rolling them into balls then squash them into disks roughly half an inch to three-quarters of an inch thick.
- DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Wrap the individual patties, put them on your baking sheet, and refrigerate for an hour.
- If- like me- you love your crab cakes pan-fried, get your skillet out! Preheat butter in the pan before you start to fry to help get that perfect golden brown color.
- Fry for roughly five minutes on each side for large patties. Keep an eye on them and flip when they turn golden brown on the outside. Be careful not to burn them!
- That's it! It really is that simple. Now, all you have to do is decide how to dress and serve the best crab cakes you have ever made.
- I always lightly beat the egg in a separate cup before adding it to the bowl. You don't have to, but I find it easier to get it evenly through the rest of the mixture if I do it this way.
- You may use crackers as a substitute for the breadcrumbs. I use a zip-top plastic bag to break them down using my hands or a rolling pin until they are finely crushed.
- I love crab cakes served as they are with some lemon wedges and a little olive oil. The fresh lemon juice brings out the flavors and is a classic way to serve crab cakes in Maryland.
- You could also make a crab cake sauce, cocktail sauce, or tartar sauce. Use the time your patties are in the refrigerator chilling to prepare whatever you plan to serve them with on the plate.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 161Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 883mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g