This Old Bay Crab Cakes recipe is from my grandmother on my mother’s side. We had family on the Eastern shore and spent time there every summer eating crabs.
Sunny days were spent catching crabs and playing with our cousins, and evenings were spent eating the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay. Though the United States has an abundance of coastline, the crabmeat from the Eastern shore is the absolute best!
Why This Recipe Works
This is the absolute best crab cake recipe because it only takes a few ingredients, but the result is flavorful and delicious! The star of the dish is the fresh lump crabmeat flavored with Old Bay seasoning, baked, and broiled at the end until it’s golden brown and crispy.
These crab cakes are also great because they don’t require a lot of work.
Sometimes the best dishes are the simplest!
What Goes Into This Recipe
Fresh crab meat - The best crab cakes use the meat from fresh crabs.
Old Bay Seasoning - You just can't make Maryland crab cakes without it!
See recipe card for the rest of the ingredients and quantities along with full directions.
How to Make This Recipe
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425º.
Step 2: Chop onion.
Step 3: Heat butter over low heat until melted.
Step 4: Saute onion until soft and translucent.
Step 5: Lightly pick through crab meat for shells. Set aside.
Step 6: Beat eggs and set them aside.
Step 7: Tear bread into small pieces.
Step 8: In a medium bowl, add onion, bread, egg, baking powder, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, mustard, and mayonnaise. Add pepper flakes if you like spice. Set aside.
Step 9: Add crab to mixture and very gently mix with hands, being careful not to break up lump crab pieces.
Place mixture in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. Don't skip this step as the chilling really helps hold the crab cakes together.
Step 10: With clean hands, make crab 6 cakes about 6-inches in diameter.
Step 11: Bake crab cakes for about 12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Finish them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Serve warm or cold with lemon slices and optional chopped fresh parsley.
Maryland crab cakes are a very versatile food so it’s easy to add or take away ingredients to fit your taste!
Types of crab meat
- Jumbo lump crab meat: The largest, most expensive grade of blue crab meat.
- Backfin crab meat: Smaller pieces of jumbo lump crab meat mixed with other grades. Less expensive but still pretty good.
- Crab mix: This is flake crab meat which is a blend of king crab meat and Alaska pollock. I wouldn't make Maryland crab cakes with this one.
- Dungeness crabs: This type of crab is popular on the West Coast and has a sweet flavor. I've never had a crab cake with this meat, but it is delicious on its own.
- We prefer baking the crab cakes and broiling for a couple of minutes at the end.
- You can use a deep fryer to get these crab cakes extra crunchy.
- You can also try this recipe in the air fryer for a healthier “fried” version. I plan to try this soon!
- You can omit the onions if you don't like them in your crab cakes, but this is how my grandmother made them so I like to keep it traditional.
- We have added chopped fresh parsley to our crab cakes as well as chopped fresh cilantro. My Maryland friends would probably say they are no longer Maryland Crab Cakes then, but we like to switch things up!
- Louisiana crab cakes: This style has small pieces of lump meat with a lot of filler, as opposed to traditional crab cake recipes, like Maryland crab cakes. Using a seasoning like Slap Yo Momma will give them traditional Cajun flavor.
- Carolina crab cakes: Add in scallions, shrimp, and dill, to give it that sweet southern charm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to bake or fry crab cakes?
It’s really a matter of preference. Baked crab cakes are really delicious and a bit healthier than fried.
Why do my crab cakes keep falling apart?
This is a common mishap. Be sure to stick the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour before you make the crab cakes. This will help them hold together nicely while they are cooking. Also, be gentle while handling the crab mixture because you don’t want to break up those nice, juicy pieces of meat!
What is the best kind of crab meat for crab cakes?
If you want to stick as close as possible to the original recipe it is best to use jumbo lump crab meat from Maryland blue crabs. Lump meat has large chunks that work perfectly with this recipe.
Can I make crab cakes with claw meat?
You can use claw meat if you don’t mind a stronger crab flavor. It is considered the dark meat of the crab and is typically used in chowders.
Crab cakes are often eaten as an appetizer, but they can easily be turned into a meal for the whole family!
At our house, we love to serve these crab cakes with a side of French fries and delicious Old Bay aioli. In a large bowl, toss French fries with olive oil and salt, then spread on a baking sheet. Bake the fries at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
You can also use any leftovers to make a crab cake sandwich. Use a rubber spatula to slather some crab cake sauce on fresh-baked bread and squeeze a little lemon juice on top.
If you’re not a big fan of tartar sauce try dijon mustard, hot sauce, cocktail sauce, aioli, crab cake sauce (Remoulade), or fresh lemon juice. You can also serve these with fresh parsley, lemon wedges, red pepper, green onions, or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
If you’re like me, you probably associate eating blue crabs during the summer after a long, hot day at the beach. While this is a great time of year to enjoy them, it’s not the best.
The best time of year to catch and eat crabs is in the fall during September and October. If you want to make Maryland-style crab cakes, this is the time to do it. The water will be plentiful with large, fat Maryland blue crabs.
More Seafood Recipes
Old Bay Crab Cakes (Maryland Style Crab Cakes)
- ½ cup onion chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons butter salted
- 2 eggs
- 1 pound lump crab meat
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1½ teaspoon prepared mustard or regular dijon mustard
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup bread white bread preferred, crusts removed, torn into small pieces.
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teasp red pepper flakes optional
- parsley fresh, optional
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- Chop onion. Set aside.
- Heat butter over low heat until melted.
- Sauté onion until translucent and soft. Set aside.
- Lightly pick through crab meat for shells.
- Beat eggs and set them aside.
- In a medium bowl, add onion, egg, crab meat, baking powder, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, mustard, and mayonnaise. Set aside.
- Tear bread into small pieces.
- Add crab mixture to bread and very gently mix with hands, being careful not to break up lump crab pieces.
- Place the crab mixture in the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This really does help hold the crab cakes together.
- With clean hands, make 6 crab cakes about 4-inches in diameter.
- Bake crab cakes for about 12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Finish with them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.