Our easy pan fried crab cakes with their crispy golden brown exterior pair beautifully with our homemade lemon caper sauce. Pan seared to perfection, these crab cakes are bursting with spice, flavor, and juicy crab meat. Ready in less than 30 minutes our delicious crab cakes are a Whole Lotta Yum!
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Pan Seared Crab Cakes
The convenience of having canned crab meat available allows you to enjoy the flavors of crab cakes anytime without the need for preparing fresh or frozen whole crab. You might be tempted to use imitation crab, however, this is usually flavored and shaped fish and not actually crab. Canned crab meat is the best way to go when fresh crab isn't readily available.
We love making a batch of these for dinner, then an extra batch for lunches throughout the week. Filling and flavorful, you'll always feel satisfied. While the lemon aioli sauce with capers is optional, try it at least once! It really is so delicious. Or, you can make your own tartar or dipping sauce or make it with no sauce, it's up to you!
If seafood is what you crave start out with my fresh cold shrimp salad with old bay. Our blackened cod and these air fryer shrimp or lobster tails are all delicious seafood dishes. Gluten free? Try our gluten free crab cakes.
Why You'll Love This!
- Great for meal prep- Prepare this dish in advance for convenient meals throughout the week.
- Super yummy- A delicious crunchy treat for seafood lovers
- Quick and easy! - Simple and quick to prepare make this recipe very easy to make over and over.
- Healthy - Full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium.
🥘 Canned Crab Cakes Recipe Ingredients
A delicious array of fresh and bright flavors and spices make up the tastiest and easy crab cakes!
- Lump crab meat - Pure crab meat that has been canned is ideal. If you have access to fresh crab meat you can use that as well. Using imitation crab meat isn't recommended.
- Italian bread crumbs - Regular unseasoned panko bread crumbs work as well. You can season them with Italian seasoning on your own. In place of traditional bread crumbs try ritz cracker crumbs or saltine cracker crumbs.
- Yellow onion - Yellow is a great cooking onion, use white or Vidalia onions as another option.
- Mayonnaise - If you have a favorite mayonnaise then I recommend you use that.
- Egg - Helps to bind and hold the crab cake together.
- Dijon - If not using Dijon mustard, you can also use hot or spicy mustard.
- Spices - A tasty combination of celery salt, paprika, and dried chili flakes. Other spice options that you could use are garlic powder, old bay seasoning, or seafood seasoning.
- Vegetable oil - Use an oil with a high smoke point like avocado oil or canola oil.
Lemon Caper Sauce
- Mayonnaise - For a similar creamy texture, swap out regular mayonnaise with pureed avocado.
- Sour cream - Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream.
- Lemon juice - Adds a great brightness and acid to the sauce. Use lime juice if you can't use lemon.
- Pickled whole capers - You should be able to find these in your local grocery store in either the international aisle or condiment aisle. They're typically packed in small jars or bottles.
- Chopped parsley - For garnish
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
- Sauce: The lemon caper sauce is completely optional. You can use a store-bought tartar sauce if you'd like.
- Asian-Inspired Crab Cakes: Create an Asian-inspired crab cake by adding ingredients like grated ginger, minced garlic, chopped scallions, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the crab cake mixture.
- Mediterranean Style Crab Cakes: For a Mediterranean twist add ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, chopped basil, and lemon juice to the crab cake mixture.
- Maryland Style Crab Cakes: Similar to our recipe here Maryland crab cakes have the addition of old bay seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.
- Medium or large mixing bowl
- Small mixing bowl
- Large skillet or frying pan
🔪 How To Pan Fry Crab Cakes
Mix the ingredients and form crab cake patties. Sear in a nonstick pan to cook through. Then prepare a lemon caper sauce to serve with hot crab cakes.
Prep Crab Cakes
Drained the canned crabmeat and blot it with paper towels to remove the excess moisture.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the crab meat, bread crumbs, onion, mayonnaise, egg, dijon mustard, celery salt, paprika, and chili flakes.
Take a large scoopful of the crab mixture and using your hands, form it into a patty approximately 2-3 inches wide and between ½ inch to ¾ inch thick.
Cook Crab Cakes
Pour the vegetable oil into a cast iron skillet and pre heat it on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add 4-5 crab cakes to the oil and fry over medium heat for approximately 6 minutes or until browned. Flip them and continue cooking on the other side for an additional 4 minutes or until golden brown.
In a small mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and capers. Stir until fully combined.
Top the fried crab cakes with the fresh lemon caper sauce and enjoy!
🥗 Dietary Substitutions
While pan seared crab cakes with canned lump crabmeat are on the healthier side, there are some easy recipe swaps for certain diet restrictions.
- Keto: Alternative options for bread crumbs include almond flour, coconut flour, crushed pork rinds, or ground flaxseed.
- Gluten free: Swap out bread crumbs for gluten free bread crumbs. If they're not seasoned you can season them yourself with Italian seasoning.
- Dairy free: Use your favorite dairy free tartar sauce, or replace the sour cream with coconut cream.
- Whole30: Swap out the sour cream for coconut cream.
💡 Recipe Tips
- This recipe doesn't work as well with imitation crab. The real thing (whether it be high quality canned or fresh) is flakier and easier to form into shape.
- Don't cook more than 5 crab cakes at a time, any more than that and it will lower the temperature of the oil too much to cook properly.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, place the crab cakes in a skillet on low heat until warmed through. This method will keep them crisp on the outside.
- You can make this recipe a day ahead and keep the uncooked crab cakes in the fridge. When ready to fry, bring them out of the fridge one hour prior to frying to bring them up to room temperature.
🥡 Storing and Reheating
- Storing: Store leftover crab cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. You can also preparing crab cake patties up to two days ahead of time and keep them cool in the fridge. Doing this will allow the flavors to meld together even more.
- Freezing: You can absolutely freeze crab cakes. To freeze raw or cooked crab cakes, let them sit on a plate or baking sheet until firm. Once chilled, transfer them to a freezer safe resealable bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: Reheat in a skillet or warm through in the oven at 400 F for 15 minutes.
Crab cakes with canned crab can be served on their own, but can easily be paired with many types of dishes. If you loved the lemon caper sauce, try this lemon caper pasta. Steamed or roasted vegetables are also another great option.
Both of these options have pros and cons. While baking is easier and doesn't require much attention, you will miss out on the crispy texture you'll achieve from pan frying. If you have time to spend cooking then I'd recommend pan frying, if you're busy or entertaining opt for the baked crab cakes.
😋 More Delicious Seafood Recipes
Enjoy this easy crab cakes recipe, try any of these other new and delicious crab and seafood recipes.
- Gluten Free Crab Cakes
- Dungeness Crab Cakes Recipe
- Baked Branzini Recipe with Lemon Herb Butter
- Seafood Boil Recipe
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