I’ve lived in Maryland for my entire life and I can tell you one thing for sure: we love our crabs. Steamed, boiled, fried, soups, dips, pretzels, crab cakes… it’s what’s for dinner. When I have friends visit from out of town they always want to go out for crabs and beer. It’s a tradition! My family has been having steamed crab get togethers forever. It’s what we do. And my grandma has been making these crab cakes for as long as I can remember. I can tell you with complete certainty: these are the BEST crab cakes you’ll ever have. All jumbo lump meat, very little filler, no unnecessary ingredients. This recipe is legit.
First note of importance: you need good quality Maryland jumbo lump crab meat for this recipe. I’m not saying it won’t still be good with grocery store canned meat, but if you want the authentic experience you need to get the good stuff. We buy ours from a shop attached to a seafood restaurant that sells nothing but fresh seafood prepared in house and the standard fixings: coleslaw and potato salad. I realize that many areas will not have shops like this but do your best. Ask around. Ask your local seafood restaurant for recommendations.
Next: we’ve always used the exact same brands for certain ingredients. Old Bay, Spice Island’s Fines Herbs, Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard and Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs. If you follow my blog you know that I don’t typically make a bazillion brand recommendations for a specific recipe. I’m not saying any old breadcrumb or dijon mustard will cause the recipe to fail but these ingredients are tried and true. If you use them I guarantee this recipe will live up to its full potential of awesomeness. This is how I’ve been eating them for over 30 years. This is how my mom makes them. This is how my aunt makes them. Why mess with success?
Last note: these crab cakes freeze very well. Like everyone else in the family, I tend to make a double recipe and then freeze the leftovers (wrap individually). They reheat in a couple of minutes and are a perfect meal. In fact, I think I’ll go defrost one right now!
- 16 ounce container fresh Maryland jumbo lump crab meat (Louisiana crab meat is an acceptable substitute)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup regular mayonnaise
- ½ cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon fines herbs
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Set the oven to broil and place the oven rack near the top.
- In a medium sized bowl, carefully pick through the crab meat to remove any shells. Try not to break up the lumps.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in the mayonnaise until well combined.
- Add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Add the Old Bay, fines herbs and garlic powder.
- Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, stir until well combined.
- A little bit at a time, gently stir the wet mixture into the crab meat. This part takes some patience because you really want to avoid breaking up the lump meat.
- Carefully form 5-6 crab cakes.
- Lightly grease the bottom of a baking sheet (baking spray works well for this) and place the crab cakes on the sheet.
- Place a small piece of butter on top of each crab cake.
- Broil for 10-15 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure they do not burn. Don't flip the cakes, just allow them to cook on one side the entire time (the lack of filler makes them very delicate). If the tops seem like they're going to burn, lower the oven rack or switch the broiler to a lower setting. You're not cooking the meat but you want the filling to solidify and the egg to cook through.
- When the tops are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and allow the crab cakes to cool slightly before serving.