Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Cakes

These Maryland Crab Cakes have been in my family for generations. I’ve never had a better crab cake in my life, and I’ve tried countless versions!

A photo of three broiled Maryland crab cakes on a plate.

I’ve lived in Maryland for my entire life and I can tell you this: we love our crabs. Steamed, soups, 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 grandma, Zelda, has been making these jumbo lump 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.

If you think you’ve had better, all I can say is this: don’t knock ’em till you’ve tried ’em. And be sure to check out all of those 5 Star ratings below.

How to Make Crab Cakes

A photo of crab meat in a bowl, surrounded by the other ingredients for the crab cake recipe.

What type of crab meat is best for crab cakes?

For BEST results, you need fresh, good quality jumbo lump blue crab meat for this recipe. I know that jumbo lump meat is ridiculously expensive, but there’s a reason for that.

I’m not saying the flavors won’t still be good here with less expensive crab, but if you want the most authentic Maryland crab cake experience, you need to go for the best ingredients.

I realize that many parts of the country/world will not have access to jumbo lump crab meat, so do the best you can. Ask around. Ask your local seafood restaurant for recommendations.

Some people like to mix in backfin crab meat because it has a bit more flavor than the lump meat. You can do this if you like! It’s just not how my family does things. Give me all lump meat, all day long.

If you can help it, I strongly recommend avoiding national chain brand crab meat. More likely than not, it’s not even blue crab meat; it’s probably from Asia. No flavor at all.

Stirring crab meat with crab cake ingredients

What are Fines Herbs?

Fines Herbs refers to a dried spice blend used commonly in French cuisine. It’s sold by many brands, but I’ve always used the one from Spice Island since it’s available at my grocery store.

If you can’t find it at the store or online, you can make it at home. It’s made from a mix of commonly used herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. Google around and you’ll find plenty of recipes.

What is Old Bay?

Old Bay is a seasoning that’s considered a staple in many Maryland homes, including mine. It’s amazing on many seafood dishes, especially steamed crabs! I also use in things like dips and potato latkes.

To me, a good crab cake MUST include Old Bay.

Fried, Broiled or Baked?

We always broil our crab cakes.

Fried crab cakes are tasty, but broiling truly allows the flavors and textures to shine through. Broil on the lower setting, and do not flip the crab cakes.

The meat is already cooked; you are simply cooking the egg and solidifying the filling. These crab cakes are delicate because of that beautiful lump meat. Flipping them might cause them to fall apart.

The low broil will give them a nice golden color, but you can adjust the setting to high for the final 30-60 seconds for an even deeper caramelization if you’re willing to watch them like a hawk.

Baking will technically work, but you won’t get that crisp, caramelized top. Broiling is truly the way to go when it comes to crab cakes.

A bowl of crab cake mixture next to a sheet pan with formed crab cakes.

How do you store crab cakes?

Store the crab cakes covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you’re not going to use them within a few days, these crab cakes freeze very well.

Like everyone else in the family, I tend to make a double recipe and then freeze the leftovers (wrapping them individually).

The crab cakes reheat in a couple of minutes and are a perfect meal. They make a great sandwich.

What is a good crab cake sauce?

I like crab cakes with dijon mustard (and Saltines). But many prefer tarter sauce. You can purchase jarred varieties at the store, but it’s easy to prepare at home. Check out this basic tarter sauce recipe from Ina Garten.

Looking for More Crab Cake Recipes?

Check out my Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Sliders as well as my Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Bites!

5 from 22 votes
These jumbo lump crab cakes are my grandma's recipe, and they've been in our family for generations. I've never had a better crab cake in my life, and I've tried countless versions!
Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

These crab cakes are my Grandma Zelda's recipe, and they have been in our family for generations. I've never had a better crab cake in my life, and I've tried dozens!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 258 kcal
Author: Jennifer Farley
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon fines herbs (I like the one sold by Spice Island, see notes)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Set the oven to low broil and place the oven rack near the top.

  2. In a medium-sized bowl, carefully pick through the crab meat to remove any shells. Try not to break up the lumps. Be as thorough as possible. 

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add in the mayonnaise until combined.

  4. 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.

  5. Gently stir the wet mixture into the crab meat, one spoonful at a time. This part takes some patience because you really want to avoid breaking up the lump meat as much as possible.

  6. Carefully form 5-6 crab cakes.

  7. Lightly grease the bottom of a baking sheet (cooking 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.

  8. Broil on low for 12-15 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure they don't burn. Don't flip them, 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. You're not cooking the meat but you want the filling to solidify and the egg to cook through.

  9. If you want the tops a bit more golden, switch the broiler to the high setting for the last minute or so.

  10. When the tops are golden brown, remove the pan from the oven and allow the crab cakes to cool slightly before serving.

  11. I recommend serving them with Saltine crackers and dijon mustard. They also make a great sandwich.

Recipe Notes

I personally like to serve these with saltine crackers and some dijon mustard. That's it.

 

There are recipes online for making Fines Herbs from scratch, but my grocery store sells the blend from Spice Island, which is what I've always used. 

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The BEST Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes you'll ever try. My grandmother's recipe!

About Jennifer Farley

Jennifer graduated from the Culinary Arts program at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has worked professionally as a line cook, pastry chef, and cooking instructor. Her cookbook, The Gourmet Kitchen, was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster.

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  • Thank you SO much for a recipe that doesn’t have peppers in it!!! And it looks easy enough even for me, the cooking challenged. I’m glad you included this in your year end blog post. Now to find good crab in Minnesota.

  • I am from ireland but I spent 2 wonderful summers in the mid 80s working in Ocean City MD and remember Crab Cakes so well. OMG, When ever we went out for dinner I had crab cakes. I even get old bay sent to me when I can from my friends in the US or pick it up when Im over there.!. lovely post full of memories for me.

  • I made these tonight exactly as directed and they are delicious! I’m a Maryland girl and your recipe was perfect! Thanks for sharing your family recipe. :)

  • Yummmm….. A great Valentine’s dinner thanks to this recipe!! My husband says “better than Timbuktu!!!” I followed the recipe and served with a homemade lemon aioli!! Thank you SOOOO MUCH for sharing!! These will forever be in my recipe book!! Cheers!!!

  • My mom’s from Sykesville, Maryland. Spent many happy summer afternoons & evenings there at my grandmother’s, either picking steamed crabs around a table with my relatives, or eating the crab in crabcakes or soup. The gal who posted the recipe from the restaurant in Brooklyn? Well, that’s much closer to what I’m used to – crab, a touch of mayo, Saltine crumbs, salt & pepper; maybe a touch of Old Bay. I’m sometimes amazed by the recipes that are supposed to be “THE authentic Maryland crab cake”. What I’m coming to realize is that authentic varies, depending on whatever we grew up with. BTW, my family on that side is from Maryland back to at least the mid-1800s. Thanks!

    • Fines Herbs is a dried spice blend. Several brands sell it, but I typically use the one from Spice Island, which is available at my local grocery store. If you have trouble locating it, it’s available for sale online. But it’s made from very basic spices, so you might be able to just make your own! I’ve never tried this, but I’ve seen lots of recipes for it online.

  • FROM BALTIMORE MD TOO MAKE CRAB CAKES TOO, BUT OMIT THE WORCHESHIRE SAUCE.. THANKS FOR YOUR RECIPE I EAT THEM THE SAME WAY AS YOU

  • I like what I have just seen, the crab cakes, and would like to be included on your list to see more great ideas from you!

    Thank you,
    Jean

  • I live in Plymouth Massachusetts. Yes, we have lobster but I CANNOT find good lump crab. Do you know of any places down where your from that ship?

    • If I lived up in the Northeast, I’d try lobster cakes. Why not? They should be fantastic and a good way to use “culls”.

      • My husband dives for all our lobsters. I have made lobster cakes and Lobster everything else. Thats why I would rather try Crab. Just something new for me to try. Thanks for your reply

  • We ((Maryland) have the best crab cakes !!! I use the
    Recipe on the Old Bay can but use crackers instead of bread and no
    Milk. No fine herbeds or Italian bread crumbs. They ch
    Change the flavor.

    • Most ovens have broilers with two settings: low and high. Does yours only have one setting? If so, I’d use a rack toward the bottom, maybe 1/3 of the way up, and keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Low broil still cooks them from above but with a less intense heat.

  • Can’t wait to try these. How do you freeze and then cook them. Do you thaw them first or cook them straight from the freezer?

    • Hi Barb! I recommend cooking them first, wrapping individually, and then freezing, as opposed to freezing them raw (which I think is what you’re asking). They reheat so easily in the microwave. I’d try 1 minute at a time, covered, until they’re at a temperature you’re happy with. I’m not sure how well the raw egg would freeze.

      • I also use a little lime juice.
        The right recipe (as in the recipe above) for Crab Cakes are the BOMB!!

        I use cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs.

        I freeze mine uncooked. I do individual patties, like hamburger, put them in Saran Wrap. (I use Tupperware hamburger patty freezer containers). Freeze until frozen, put wrapped patties in a ziploc freezer bag and take out whatever amount pf patties I plan on cooking that day. They freeze and last very well. Dont get freezer burn on them because they are wrapped and frozen.

  • Wow these recipes sound amazing!!! You don’t look that old , how did you come up with these holy moly!!! I must try one day !!! There’s another lady on here her name is Jean and her recipes are amazing too , how come I can’t cook like this and I’m an old lady darn it!!! Thank You

  • I love crab cakes and yours look delicious. Your recipe is very similar to mine with the exception of the mayo and mustard. I’m going to try your version. Thanks for sharing.

    • I just found some claw meat on sale and made cakes from it last night. No, not as good as the “real thing” but at $6.99/lb on sale, they were pretty darn tasty. I’m going back for more cans to freeze while they’re on sale.

  • I grew up in Texas, and we went crabbing armed with stew meat on a string and a net for hauling them in. My Mom made the best crab cakes!!! Unfortunately, I never saw her useee and a recipe for any of her delicous dishes – even hot rolls, pies and cakes!!! I fully intend to try your recipe as it looks delicious. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, (God willing, I will be 93 in Dec.), but I am going to prove them wrong by trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Greetings! A fellow Maryland Girl living in a Virginia world here! You are so right about your recipe. My parents and grandparents were born and raised in Baltimore and depending on where you lived (Baltimore itself, the Metropolitan area, Eastern Shore, Southern or Western Maryland) Crab Cake recipes can differ greatly by region and by family. It’s all in what you were raised with, use this and not that and so on. The only ingredient that everyone agrees with is the necessity of Old Bay. I remember The Baltimore Spice Company when it was located near the Inner Harbor and they still made Old Bay (since they were the original makers of Old Bay before McCormick’s bought them out and acquired the recipe). My mother’s Old Bay tin had so many recipes on it for seafood, shellfish, poultry, beef and salads. Trust me she made them all and they were always wonderful. I have been attempting to collect family recipes that were never written or passed down so they are never forgotten. This is incredibly difficult when those members of your family are no longer available to ask, so here I am searching the internet and I found your wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! I can close my eyes and smell them cooking in my grandma’s tiny rowhouse kitchen as I type this. If only I could get the recipe from the Sisters at St. Michael the Archangel for their kielbasa and pierogies. Then my kids and eventually grand kids will know what kielbasa is really supposed to taste like!!!

  • Many Thanks to Grandma Zelda! These were better than any East Coast crab cake I’ve ever had! As I’m in Ohio I had to make my own Old Bay seasoning and Fines herbs but beyond that, really easy and totally delicious! Thanks again!.

    • You can easily order Old Bay online. It’s worth it, and having that colorful can adds a touch of class to your kitchen ;-)

  • I followed the recipe exactly and the result was pure perfection. Hate to brag about my own cooking but damn! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Tammy! If I ever can’t locate it, I usually buy some on Amazon. That was the first one listed, but I think I saw some cheaper options listed below as add-on items. Here’s a recipe to make it from scratch (I’d use the dried one), if you happen to already have these 4 herbs on hand. You could probably get away with omitting the chervil and doubling the dried parsley.

  • As a fellow Marylander, do you also side eye every Maryland crab cake recipe you see until you read the ingredients? I’m completely guilty of it! But, I make mine the same as you and I’m even more thrilled you like to eat yours with saltines because I don’t know anyone else who does that!

  • Just tried this recipe again using leftover King Crab from New Year’s Eve. Other than a texture difference between Blue and King, the cakes were amazing. I’m hooked!

  • As a relative newcomer to Maryland (year and a half) I’m happily becoming indoctrinated into all things crab.I’ve tried several crab cake recipes and this is the best I’ve found, and I won’t look any further. The butter on top and broiling make a huge difference over other recipes.
    As a retiree on fixed income, I’ve had to cut corners on the crab. Yes, I’ve had the good stuff and sure it’s better but the price is ridiculously high. I’d rather settle for less primo crab and enjoy it a lot more often. I’ve also found that I can buy several containers/cans of crab when I find it on sale and freeze some for future cooking.

  • I made these over the weekend for my born and raised Baltimore sweetheart and he said they’re restaurant quality and it’s better than anything he’s had before (including Timbuktu and Jimmy’s). Huge compliments to you! He hasn’t stopped raving about them! Thank you for sharing and I will definitely be making these again and again.

  • I need help with the broiler issue. I have an old stove, the kind with the broiler in what looks like a drawer at the bottom. There is only one setting for it. Can I bake or grill these instead? I have an outdoor gas grill and an indoor Foreman grill, although the Foreman also does not have a temperature setting. TIA!

    • Hi there! I would bake as opposed to grilling these since they’re so delicate. I’ve never tried this before, but I can’t see it being an issue. I looked at a few other recipes with similar quantities, and they suggest 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let me know if you have any feedback on this method after you try it!

      • 25 minutes at 375* worked great! I didn’t mean to pray the entire meal, but I’m pretty sure I said GOOD LAWD all during dinner! Huge hit, thanks!

  • I have to say, I love GOOD crab cakes so much, I HAVE to multiply the recipe by at least 5! (I do make them on the larger side, & HAVE to have some to freeze! Lol)…but, just thawed out and am broiling one at this moment, they are SO good!!!!!!

  • I’ve made your crab cakes about 5 times now, and they’re a household staple. On a fixed income I don’t want to spend the $$$$ for the lump crabmeat. I wait for a sale on the cheaper stuff, and while it may not be perfect, it’s pretty darned tasty.
    Yesterday I made an excellent variation. I’m a diehard griller so I made smoked crab cakes. I got one side of the grill heating with applewood chips in my smoker box. When the grill got up to 350 I put the crab cakes in (on a wire mesh cake cooling rack) on the unheated side for indirect baking. Other baked crab cakes I’d seen recommend 30 minutes so that’s what I gave them.
    The smoky flavor was an excellent addition to the crab! It wasn’t a heavy smoke, just enough to give the cakes a hint of outdoor cooking.

  • Delicious crab cake recipe! Broil vs fried is a personal preference here in Maryland, but most will broil over fry when dealing with blue crab meat. It usually takes a lot of filler to not fall apart in a fryer. To me, you want to taste the crab meat without the saturation of oil. Usually cheap, frozen crab cakes are fried to dress up the fake or frost-bitten crab meat. Making them fresh is the way to go. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jennifer, I too am a Maryland gal. I have lived in Alaska now for 20 years! It is almost Mother’s Day 2018. I asked my Sons to send me Jumbo Maryland Lump Crabmeat, due to arrive on Friday! Can’t wait to use your crab cake recipe and share some with our neighbors and freeze some, too! Thank you for your post.

  • These crab cakes look amazing and I am planning to try them. I’m in Maryland too, and can’t find the fines herbes at any of my local stores (Spice Island’s website shows none within 20 miles of Rockville that carry it). Which grocery store chain in Maryland do you use that carries it?

  • This is probably one of the best crab cake recipes that I have tried. You have to be real careful that the crab meat does not fall apart when combining ingredients. You have to delicately fold the mixture or you can ruin them. I used this recipe, but broiled them instead. Thank you for sharing! Rated By Crab Dynasty

  • Excellent crab cakes. Lots of butter and Old Bay!!! I made them for my first date, and she loved them. She wants to go out on another date, so I must have impressed her. I hope she likes me more than the crab cakes!

  • ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE, JUST MADE THESE AND WIFE SAID THEY WERE VERY GOOD AND MOST OF THE TIME ALL I GET IS IT”S OK.