Seriously the BEST Dungeness crab cakes recipe with little filler. Whether you're catching live crab or buying them pre-cooked from the grocery store we show you how to make easy crab cakes with Dungeness crab. It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
We're fortunate to live in an area where we can catch live Dungeness crabs in the summer (and quite thankful for having friends with boats willing to take us with them!)
Summers equate to crab season in our home like they do with many others who live in the PNW. The hours spend cracking freshly caught and cooked crab is worth the 8 oz of crab meat you'll yield from each crab. And seriously, what can be better than a crab cake dinner?
And if you caught live crab this year, be sure to check out our tutorial on how to cook Dungeness crab.
Why You'll Love This!
- Our crab cakes without breadcrumbs are made with little filler which means they taste like crab and not breading
- Making crab cakes with claw meat chunks and large chunks of crab takes on a better texture than the finely shredded canned crab you can get at the store.
- The addition of minced vegetables adds a punch of flavor and added nutrition
- We show you how to make a pan-fried crab cake recipe, a baked version, and air fried all in one recipe.
- We include lots of variations such as using different types of breading or adapting the recipe to various dietary restrictions. Just 6 net carbs per serving make these low carb, plus they're dairy free.
Whether you're buying crab at the grocery store, defrosting crab from your freezer, or using a different type of crab, the crab cakes will turn out terrific.
- eggs - large eggs, brown or white. This helps bind the ingredients together.
- mayo - use high quality such as Best Foods or Hellman's. Using mayo instead of sour cream, yogurt, or cream makes this a dairy free crab cake recipe.
- lump crab meat - fresh caught and cooked Dungeness crab or store-bought crab. You can also use other types of crab such as Maryland blue crab, rock crab, or others. Many grocery stores sell 8 oz containers of crab meat in water, make sure to squeeze out the water.
- minced red onion - red is a great choice for eating raw, leave them out if you're an onion hater
- finely minced red pepper - this can be left out if preferred but it adds
- green onions, thinly sliced - garden chives can be used instead
- fresh parsley
- Old Bay - critical for that traditional crab cake flavor!
- dry mustard - dijon mustard can be used also
- saltine crackers, (about 13 crackers) - saltine are the best imo, Ritz are also fantastic
- canola oil - any high heat mild flavored oil works, olive oil works great too. The oil and butter are used for making pan fried crab cakes.
- butter - used for pan frying the cakes or brushing on the top of baked crab cakes.
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
Binder- Instead of Saltine crackers you could also make crab cakes with Ritz crackers, another type of crushed crackers, or breadcrumbs such as panko. You can use fine breadcrumbs but the texture of the Dungeness crab cakes will be "breadier" than using crackers.
vegetables - Other vegetables you could use or swap out include celery or shredded zucchini.
Lemon juice - we don't add fresh lemon juice to our crab cake recipe, but you definitely can. Mixing in lemon zest is another option.
- Whole30/Paleo- use almond flour as a binder
- Gluten Free- use gluten-free crackers such as Scharf table crackers
- Keto/Low carb- use almond flour or keto bread crumbs as a binder
How to Make Dungeness Crab Cakes
Making Dungeness crab cakes is pretty straightforward. Once the fresh crab is prepped, you simply combine them with a seasoned binder and shape them into patties and pan fry, bake, or air fry.
- Crack the cooled fresh crab, making sure to pick out the shell remnants and Cartlidge pieces from the lump crab meat. Break up the large crab pieces such as the claw meat.
- In a small bowl beat the eggs and then add the mayonnaise, red onion, red bell pepper, green onions, parsley, Old Bay seasoning, and dry mustard.
- Fold in the crushed saltine crackers. Gently fold in the cracked crab meat, being careful not to break up the crab lumps.
- Shape the crab mixture into 6 evenly sized crab cake patties and place the crab cakes onto a baking sheet (about ½ cup each). Refrigerate for 1 hour up to overnight.
- Pan fried crab cakes: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the canola or olive oil and butter to melt. Place the crab cakes in the skillet. Cook until golden brown (about 4 minutes), flip them over, and cook until golden brown on that side as well.
- Baked crab cake recipe: Brush the crab cakes with melted butter. Bake them in a preheated 450 F oven for 12-14 minutes. Do not flip.
- Serve warm with your favorite sauce such as tartar sauce, garlic butter, seafood boil sauce, or garlic aioli.
- Break up the large crab meat chunks otherwise they won't hold together and could fall apart in the recipe.
- If you're concerned about the crab cake potentially falling apart during pan frying (ours did not), baking or air frying are great alternatives since you don't flip them over during cooking.
- To cook the live crab before proceeding with the recipe, boil them for 17 minutes in salted water. Let them cool and crack them into crab meat pieces before proceeding with the recipe.
Dungeness crabs are a type of crab found in the Pacific Ocean. They get their name from the Dungeness Spit, a narrow strip of land in Washington state where they were first discovered.
The cooked crab will last in the fridge for 2-3 days.
To freeze leftover crab cake, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 2-3 hours. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months.
More Crab Recipes
- How to cook Dungeness crab
- How to clean Dungeness crab
- Seafood Boil
- Gluten free crab cakes
- 15 Best Dungeness crab recipes