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Lump Crab Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce

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The best Crab Cakes are made with tender tasty chunks of Lump Crab Meat, combined with lemon, parsley, a little bit of heat, and a secret ingredient… that makes this crab cake stand out from all the rest! Pair these scrumptious Crab Cakes with a mouth-watering homemade tartar sauce, lay them on a bed of Citrus infused baby arugula, and you’ve got a restaurant quality meal! 

Lump Crab Cakes with homemade tartar sauce on a plate with arugala

Happy New Year! I know I’ve taken my sweet time posting the first recipe for 2021! I just needed to take a little “detox” from 2020….then I realized we aren’t detoxing yet! (Evidentially not everyone got the memo!) After my break, I got back in the kitchen and whipped up one of the most amazing seafood recipes. Crab Cakes! Made with those favorite “Under the Sea” Crustaceans.  

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Several years ago we took a trip to Virginia to visit our Son, his wife, and more importantly, our new grand baby! (It’s an unwritten rule that children come in second to grandchildren! Sorry kids…we still love you…but your kids have stolen our hearts… and we can send them home when we want to!)

Any who…I digress…While we were there visiting, they took us out to eat at the most wonderful restaurant! Everyone else was having burgers…but I believe when your that close to the sea…you go seafood!

I’d never had Crab Cakes….sad, but true! I’d always wanted to try them, and since we were hugging up next to Maryland, and there were Crab Cakes on the menu, made with the next door neighbors Crab…you bet your bippy I ordered them!

They did not disappoint! Totally worth the 50 year wait! (Hard to believe I’m only 32 and had to wait 50+ years to have them…hmmm? How is that possible?) 

Those Maryland Crab Cakes were plump, thick, loaded with chunks of delicious crab meat, and fried to a perfect golden crisp! Served with a fantastic tartar sauce and drool worthy “Chippies” (that was for all my English ancestors). They were yummy and memorable! So memorable… I’ve been dying to make them myself! 

How To Make The Best Crab Cakes

Before I begin to tell you how to make Crab Cakes from scratch…I want to talk about the BEST crab meat to use for Crab Cakes. 

If you can find it, fresh lump crab meat is best! I bought mine at Costco.  Lump crab meat is composed of smaller broken pieces of jumbo lump and  larger pieces of jumbo lump meat, along with other smaller pieces of the body meat. It’s white and has a delicate flavor. Since it is a mixture of both large and small pieces, it’s a good choice for Crab Cakes. 

Also…before beginning…take note…you’ll want to make sure you give yourself time to refrigerate the cakes after you have shaped them so that they will hold together better when you cook them.

Crab Cake Mixture

In a medium size bowl combine 2 eggs (binding for the cakes), 6 Tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise (Duke and Best Foods Fans…this is your time to shine!) 8 teaspoons freshly squeeze lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), 2 Tablespoons minced green onions, 1 Tablespoon dried parsley, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasonings. 

Seasonings and spices for Crab Cakes in a mixing bowl

Add 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers, like Ritz. Reserve 2 Tablespoons for later.

This is where my recipe differs slightly from most. Most Crab Cake recipes call for bread crumbs or Panko. I love the buttery flavor the crackers give to this recipe. 

Adding cracker crumbs to crab cake ingredients.

Mix until well combined. Add in 16 ounces, or 1 pound, of lump crab meat. There is nothing like big chunks of crab to get your taste buds going! If it is packed in water, rinse in a colander before adding to the cracker mixture.

TIP: Make sure you gently pick over for bits of shell and cartilage. 

Adding Crab Meat to Crab Cake Mixture

Gently fold the crab meat into the cracker crumb mixture. The goal is to keep as much of the crab intact as possible. We want those big chunks!

crab cake mixture in a bowl

Once you have the crab incorporated into the buttery cracker mixture, shape the crab mixture into 8 small , or 4 large, cakes. Place the shaped cakes on a plate covered with wax paper, or parchment paper, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. (I busted out our best plates for the photos this time!)

crab mixture shaped into cakes on a plate

How To Cook Crab Cakes

Before cooking, use the reserved cracker crumbs, pat them onto the top and bottom of each crab cake. This will give the cakes a little extra crunch. It’s optional…but if you love crispy golden crab cakes, I recommend this step.

When ready to cook, heat in a large skillet over medium heat 1/4 cup melted butter or oil. When the fat is hot, add the cakes, 1 at a time; do not crowd, it is fine to cook them in two batches. 

TIP: I like to use a combo of butter and olive oil. The olive oil prevents the butter from burning!

Crab Cakes cooking in skillet with butter.

Adjust the heat, if necessary, so that the fat is sizzling but not burning the cracker crumbs. Rotate the cakes from side to side, as most stove tops have “hot spots”,  once or twice so that they brown evenly before turning them over after about 5 minutes. 

cooking crab cakes in a skillet

Cook until both sides are nicely browned; smaller cakes need a total of 8-10minutes of cooking.  Larger cakes will take 12 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature should be 165° F. Place cooked crab cakes on a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

Keep any finished cakes warm in a 300°F oven while you complete cooking the remaining crab cakes.

Crab Cakes on a plate after cooking

Don’t they look beautiful! Golden brown and crispy on the outside…tender and flaky on the inside!

I served my crab cakes on a bed of baby arugula tossed in a Citrus Vinaigrette! This is a bonus recipe I’m sharing with you…because honestly…it’s Fantastic!!! You wouldn’t think that all the various flavors combine well…but they are outstanding and compliment each other perfectly.

Bonus Recipe for Citrus Vinaigrette with baby arugula

  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon, or Brown Spicy, mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients using a wire whisk. Toss with 4 cups baby arugula and 1 Tablespoon minced red onion. Serve immediately. 

Crab Cakes on a bed of Arugula with a citrus vinaigrette

You’ll want to top these crab cakes with my amazing homemade tartar sauce and lemon wedges, or you can make a homemade remoulade sauce. I, of course, recommend the tartar sauce! It’s easy to make, and adds the perfect pop of flavor to these simple crab cakes.

How To Make Awesome Homemade Tartar Sauce

In a small bowl combine 1 cup of quality mayonnaise, 1-1/2 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish, 1 teaspoon Dijon or Spicy Brown Mustard (either work great in this recipe), 1 Tablespoon minced red onion, 1-1/2 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Ingredients for homemade tartar sauce in a small bowl

Drizzle Tartar sauce over the top of the crab cakes, or serve on the side in a small serving dish.

Crab cake with tartar sauce drizzled over the top

From the first bite…I was in love! Served on the simple Baby Arugula Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette it’s a dish worthy of any five star restaurant!

I may have made a piggy of myself with this dish! You will too…it just that good!

Crab Cakes with Tartar sauce and arugula salad on a plate

The big chunks of Lump Crab meat are exactly why you want to use Fresh Lump Crab Meat over canned if possible! These aren’t tuna cakes…chunks of meat are what make crab cakes spectacular enough that they can be added to fine dinning menus!

Crab Cakes Flaked open

If you enjoyed this recipe you may also enjoy these other Seafood Recipes

I hope you’ll give this recipe a try! They are so easy to make and so luscious! Even if you don’t live by the seaside, you can enjoy this dish year round! 

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting today! I hope you’ll come back again soon.

Happy Nesting!

Photo of Norine with her signature
Yield: 4 servings

Lump Crab Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce

Lump Crab Cakes with Tartar sauce on a bed of arugula

The best Crab Cakes are made with tender tasty chunks of Lump Crab Meat, combined with lemon, parsley, a little bit of heat, and a secret ingredient... that makes this crab cake stand out from all the rest! Pair these scrumptious Crab Cakes with a mouth-watering homemade tartar sauce, lay them on a bed of Citrus infused baby arugula, and you've got a restaurant quality meal! 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 8 teaspoons fresh squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced green onions
  • 16 ounces Lump Crab Meat
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers; reserve 2 Tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon, or brown spiced, mustard
  • 1 teaspoon old bay seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Oil or butter for frying

Homemade Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon, or brown spiced, mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon minced red onion
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium size bowl combine egg, mayonnaise, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, minced green onion, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, old bay seasoning, and salt. Mix until combined.
  2. Add crushed buttery crackers, like Ritz, reserving 2 Tablespoon for later, into the egg mixture. Mix until combined.
  3. Gently add in the lump crab meat without breaking up the crab too much. Shape mixture into 8 small cakes or 4 large cakes. Place the cakes on a plate covered with wax paper or parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Before cooking press reserved cracker crumbs into the top and bottom of each crab cake.
  5. Heat oil/butter, in large skillet, over medium heat. When fat is hot, add the cakes, 1 at a time; do not over crowd them. It is fine to cook them in two batches. Adjust the heat, if necessary, so that the fat is sizzling but not burning the cracker crumbs. Rotate the cakes from side to side once or twice so the brown evenly before turning them over after 5 minutes. Cook until both sides are nicely browned; smaller cakes need a total of 8-10 minutes, the larger cakes 12-15 minutes. Internal temperature should reach 165°F. Drain on paper towel lined plate.
  6. Keep any finished cakes warm in a 300°F oven, on a baking sheet, while you complete the cooking. Serve hot with homemade tartar sauce.


Tartar sauce can be made by mixing all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4 servings

Serving Size:

2 crab cakes

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 735Total Fat: 64gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 51gCholesterol: 235mgSodium: 1572mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 26g

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