A plate of baked crab cakes with a big green salad and a glass of chilled rose wine make for a wonderful impromptu summer dinner. Sometimes I bake my crab cakes instead of pan-frying them. They are always a hit at my house and for catered parties.
As I cook most every night we rarely eat out. When we do, one of our favorite place makes fantastic crab cakes. While restaurants often use sweet pacific Dungeness crab, at insane prices a pound (when you can find it), it’s a little pricey for an every day dinner. Good thing is you can make them at home for a lot less.
For homemade crab cakes, I use jumbo lump pasteurized crab available in tubs and cans. It’s a lot more affordable than Dungeness. For far less you can enjoy crab cakes at home whenever the mood strikes.
Appetizer or Full Size
A pound of crab will make about 8-9, 2 ½ ounce crab cakes that will serve 2-4 people. It also makes about 18 mini-sized cocktail crab cakes for easy entertaining. Many recipes use Saltine crackers and I do too, but specifically the non-fat crackers. They do not contain any partially hydrogenated oils, a healthier choice.
These days I use homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs or GF saltines.
Old Bay seasoning is traditional and Phillips Seafood Seasoning is good but not easy to find. I now make my own spice blend with smoked paprika, cumin, celery seed and other spices.
The best thing about making your own spice blend is that you can adjust it to your taste preference. See this link for a homemade Old Bay recipe.
Trick for Perfect Shape
To get perfectly formed and portioned crab cakes I use a metal ring mold. For dinner size use a 2 ¼” (5.7cm) across the bottom edge.
For cocktail size, use a smaller one, about 1″ – 1 ¼”” in diameter. My cutter set has 16 concentric circles. You can get similar sets on Amazon or in kitchen and restaurant supply stores.
Drain juices from the crab. Mix together Dijon mustard, dry mustard, egg, (mayonnaise and seasoning. Add to the crab and mix gently adding the crumbs.
Pack the crab in the ring lightly but firmly. Put fingers in the center of the crab and gently lift off the ring. Place the crab cakes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
Cover with plastic film and refrigerate until ready to bake. They can be made several hours ahead.
To bake, coat the crab cakes with toasted breadcrumbs gently pressing the crumbs on. Place on a rimmed baking sheet topped with a wire rack and bake. The wire rack provides air circulation around the crab cakes so they get crisp. Bake until golden brown and hot.
Serve with your favorite sauce; tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or make your own. I mix mayo (Vegenaise), finely chopped shallot, lemon zest and juice, capers, fresh chopped dill and parsley.
With a crisp exterior from toasted breadcrumbs and a tender interior, these crab cakes are hard to beat.
Another Seafood Appetizer
For another easy seafood appetizer, make the roasted garlic shrimp. They were a standard appetizer at my catered parties and always disappeared quickly.
Baked Crab Cakes
- 3 slices sandwich bread each white, whole wheat or gluten-free
- 2 teaspoons olive oil sub melted coconut oil, avocado oil
- 1 pound pasteurized jumbo lump crabmeat
- 6-7 tablespoons finely crushed non-fat Saltine crackers*
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 large egg
- 4 tablespoons Mayonnaise or Vegenaise
- 2-3 teaspoons Old Bay or Phillips Seasoning or your own spice blend
- Salt and pepper to taste
For Homemade Bread Crumbs
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Trim crusts from bread and tear into pieces. In a food processor fitted with steel blade, place bread and process to fine crumbs. Add 2 teaspoons oil and pulse to evenly combine. Place breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Cool.
- Drain any juices from the crab. Place crab in a medium bowl. Toss crab with Saltine crumbs and chives. Start with 6 tablespoons of cracker crumbs. If it seems wet, add another tablespoon.
- In a small bowl mix together Dijon mustard, dry mustard, egg, Vegenaise (or mayonnaise) and seasoning. Add to the crab and mix gently. Taste and add more seasoning if you prefer.
- With ring mold, pack in crab gently but firmly and smooth the top. Place crab cakes on a rimmed backing sheet lined with wax paper or parchment. Cover with plastic film and chill for 30-60 minutes, or several hours.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Gently coat crab cakes with toasted breadcrumbs. Place crab cakes on a rimmed baking sheet topped with a wire rack. Spray the rack with non-stick spray. Bake crab cakes until golden brown and hot, about 12 minutes.