Real Deal Crab Cakes

​This recipe is dedicated to my Mom and my Aunt Barb, two outstanding crab cake makers.  Special mention to my sister-in-law, Dana, who always orders crab cakes if they are on the menu. 

People from Maryland – especially Baltimore – are passionate about crab cakes.  Crab cakes are made of the finest Chesapeake Bay blue crab meat.  No, peppers, carrots, celery, or other nonsensical things are added to our crab cakes.  If you want an authentic crab cake recipe, keep reading.  Only the necessary ingredients are used.  Be prepared to eat the best crab cake of your life.


1 pound jumbo lump / backfin Maryland crabmeat
1 egg plus 1 egg white, beaten together
60 grams of plain crackers, crushed by hand and soaked in milk
Milk – to cover the crackers, about ½ cup
About ¼ cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (more or less to taste)
2 to 3 Tablespoons butter for frying

Ideally, you steam a bunch of blue crabs and pick the backfin and big meaty pieces from the crab to make a pound of crabmeat.  That takes a while.  It is acceptable to buy prepared jumbo lump / backfin crabmeat, but look for Maryland blue crab, or at least US blue crab.  This cake is all about the crab, and quality is key.

Another “must” is to use an oversized bowl when mixing the crab with the other ingredients.  This helps you avoid a crowded situation where the lumps of crabmeat might be squished or broken.

Here we go!  Crush the crackers by hand, put them in a bowl and cover with milk.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and dry mustard.  Then, squeeze the milk out of the crackers, and add the crackers to the mayo mixture.  Break up any large cracker clumps.  Stir until the crackers are evenly incorporated.

Next, gently (very gently!) fold the crabmeat into the mayo mixture.  Take your time.  Protect those large lumps of crab. 

Now, add the Old Bay.  I suggest a teaspoon to start with, but you can add less, taste, and then add more if you wish.  I use a little more than a teaspoon, because my family likes Old Bay, but this is a personal choice.  And note that we haven’t added the eggs yet, so if you’re squeamish about raw eggs, you’re still safe at this point.  Fold with a light hand.  Taste!  

When you are happy with the spice level, add the beaten egg and egg white, and once again, very gently combine the egg with the crab meat.

Divide the crab mixture into 6 even patties.  I do this by scoring the mixture in its bowl, marking thirds, and then making 2 patties out of each third.  Place them on a sheet pan or large dish lined with wax paper.  I cut 6 squares – 1 for each patty, as this makes it easier to move the patties to the skillet when the time comes.

Let the patties sit in the fridge for at least an hour.  This gives the egg and crackers time to bind with the meat so that your patties hold together.

When you are ready to cook, heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter is bubbly, carefully remove the wax paper from the cakes and place the patties in the skillet.  Cook on the first side for 3 minutes.  Peek underneath and see if a brown crust has formed.  If not, give it another minute.  Flip to the second side when the crab cake is golden on the bottom and the cake holds together.  Reduce heat to medium, and cook on the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes.  When that side is golden brown, it is time to eat.

That, my friends, is how you make a crab cake.  Use only the finest crabmeat.  Omit unnecessary fillers.  Use a very gentle hand, and be patient when mixing, forming, and flipping.  This is the real deal.  Enjoy!

May 13, 2018