Classic Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe

Classic Maryland Crab Cakes

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Chill Time: 60 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 6 crab cakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
176 Calories
11g Fat
4g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 176
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 485mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 82mg 6%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 220mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The best crab cakes showcase crabmeat in all its deliciousness, with the other ingredients playing back-up to the main attraction. Some cracker crumbs and egg hold the patties together, while a little mayo, mustard, and seasoning accentuate the flavors. When done right, crab cakes are always a big hit with seafood lovers everywhere.

Traditionally, Maryland crab cakes tend to be made with crabs caught in the Chesapeake Bay and are often flavored with Old Bay seasoning. For the best results, don't overwork the mixture so that the patties have nice big flakes of crab and, after forming into patties, let chill before cooking on the stovetop. Saltines are the perfect filler for crab cakes since they offer structure and some saltiness without masking the crab.

Serve crab cakes with fresh lemon and tartar sauce, rémoulade, or crab cake sauce as a fun appetizer. For a light lunch, pair them with a lemony arugula or walnut and apple salad.


  • 1 pound lump or backfin crabmeat

  • 8 saltine crackers

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, or more to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Lemon wedges, for serving

  • Tartar sauce, or rémoulade, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Maryland crab cakes

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  2. Drain the crabmeat and pick through it, discarding any shells and cartilage. Put the crabmeat in a bowl and set it aside.

    Crabmeat in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Crush the saltine crackers until very fine and mix with the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Old Bay, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.

    Saltine crackers mixed with other ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  4. Fold in the crab gently. Only mix enough to combine ingredients (take care not to break up the crab into fine shreds).

    Crabmeat added to the crab cake mixture

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  5. Shape into 6 crab cakes, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Shaped crab cakes on a plate

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the crab cakes until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

    Cooked crab cakes in pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Serve the crab cakes with tartar sauce, rémoulade, or simply with a squeeze of lemon.

    Classic Maryland Crab Cakes

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

How to Store

  • If planning ahead, you can make and form the patties up to a day ahead of time. Lightly cover and store in the fridge.
  • Leftovers will keep for a day or two in the fridge and can be re-crisped in a pan. In general, crab cakes are better when served fresh.


When shopping for crabmeat for crab cakes, lump meat is the top choice. It has excellent flavor and large chunks for tender, tasty crab cakes. The next best option is backfin crab meat, and will produce almost as good results. Backfin is the most common choice for most crab cakes.

Is it better to fry or bake crab cakes?

Most crab cakes are pan-fried for an extra crisp, brown exterior, but they can easily be baked instead. To bake these Maryland crab cakes, place on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a 375 F oven for about 15 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 more minutes, or until nicely browned on the outside.

What can I use instead of mayonnaise in crab cakes?

Mayonnaise adds flavor without overwhelming the crab cakes and helps bind them together. A vegan mayonnaise alternative will work just as well. Other options that make a decent substitute include plain whole milk yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

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