Maryland Style Crab Cakes

Maryland Style Crab Cakes

Dive into the authentic flavors of Chesapeake Bay with this Maryland-Style Crab Cake recipe. Relish in tender crab meat with a crispy exterior, paired with a tangy homemade tartar sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. Can I use canned crab meat?
    • Yes, but fresh crab meat is always preferred for taste and texture. If using canned, ensure it’s drained well and pick through to remove any shells.
  1. Can I pan-fry the crab cakes instead of baking?
    • Absolutely! Heat some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry each side of the crab cakes until golden brown, approximately 4-5 minutes per side.
  1. How can I make this gluten-free?
    • Substitute regular cracker crumbs with gluten-free cracker crumbs or gluten-free breadcrumbs. Ensure other ingredients, like Worcestershire sauce, are gluten-free as well.
  1. How long can the crab mixture be refrigerated before cooking?
    • Ideally, use the mixture within 24 hours. However, it can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Beyond that, the flavors may start to diminish.
  1. What other sauces can pair well with crab cakes?
    • Besides tartar sauce, you can try a lemon aioli, spicy remoulade, or a simple cocktail sauce.
  1. Can I freeze crab cakes?
    • Yes, after forming the patties, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then transfer to a zip-lock bag or an airtight container. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking or frying.


  1. For the Crab Cakes:
    • 1.5 lbs lump and jumbo lump crab meat (preferably blue crab)
    • ¾ cup crushed saltine crackers (alternative: breadcrumbs)
    • ½ cup mayonnaise (Dukes or any available brand)
    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
    • 1 tsp hot sauce (Old Bay Hot Sauce or any variant)
    • 1 tsp sweet pickle or relish juice
    • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning (mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder)
    • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 egg
  1. For the Homemade Tartar Sauce:
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot (or white/yellow onion)
    • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley (flat or curly leaf)
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped capers
    • 2 tbsp sweet relish
    • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • Pinch of white sugar
    • Dash of all-purpose seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder)


  1. Preparing the Crab Cake Mixture:
    1. Begin by ensuring your crab meat is clean and free of shells.
    2. In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce, sweet pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, all-purpose seasoning, and lemon juice. Blend well.
    3. Taste your mixture before adding the egg. Adjust seasoning as needed.
    4. Beat in one egg until the mix is smooth.
    5. Gently fold in the crab meat, ensuring not to break the lumps.
    6. Gradually mix in the crushed saltine crackers just enough to bind the mixture.
    7. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to firm up. (source:
  2. Whipping Up the Tartar Sauce:
    1. Combine mayonnaise, chopped shallot, parsley, capers, sweet relish, lemon zest, and juice in a bowl.
    2. Sprinkle in a pinch of sugar and the all-purpose seasoning.
    3. Mix well, taste, and adjust the flavor according to your liking. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Baking the Crab Cakes:
    1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
    2. Form the crab mixture into patties, placing them on a foil-lined and lightly greased baking sheet.
    3. Sprinkle the top with a touch of Old Bay seasoning.
    4. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. For a golden finish, broil for an additional 2-3 minutes.
    5. Optional: During the last 5 minutes of baking, brush the crab cakes with melted butter for an extra rich flavor.
  4. Serving Suggestions:
    • Serve the crab cakes hot, paired with your homemade tartar sauce. For a slider version, place a crab cake on a slider bun, top with lettuce, bacon, and a slice of tomato, then generously spread with the tartar sauce.

Tips for Making the Perfect Maryland-Style Crab Cakes:

  1. Quality Matters: Use the freshest crab meat you can find. The taste of fresh crab is unmatched, and this is the star of the dish.
  2. Gentle Handling: Handle the crab meat with care. You want to retain those luscious lumps. Over-mixing can break them down and change the texture.
  3. Cracker Crumbs: Use fresh cracker crumbs instead of store-bought breadcrumbs. They give a softer, more authentic texture.
  4. Refrigeration is Key: Before forming the patties, refrigerate the mixture. This makes the crab cakes easier to handle and helps them keep their shape.
  5. Seasoning Balance: Old Bay is strong, so use it judiciously. The focus should be the crab meat, with the seasoning elevating, not overshadowing, its flavor.


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