Vegan "Crab" Cakes

vegan crab cakes

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4
Yield: 8 cakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
475 Calories
23g Fat
56g Carbs
16g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 475
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1565mg 68%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 20%
Dietary Fiber 14g 49%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 32mg 159%
Calcium 207mg 16%
Iron 8mg 43%
Potassium 563mg 12%
*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.)

Vegan crab cakes are the perfect alternative to the traditional recipe if you can’t eat shellfish or you're vegan. Instead of crab, we used chickpeas and hearts of palm to mimic the texture. Then, we combined the mixture with nori seaweed, lemon juice, old bay seasoning, and mustard to give you that familiar flavor profile. 

The vegan crab cakes are mixed up in a food processor for ease. Then they’re formed into patties and panfried to a beautiful crispness. Make sure to form the patties ahead of frying. You can make them up to 2 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Serve these delicious cakes as an appetizer or make them bite sized for a casual barbecue bite. We like them paired with a salad or pasta. Drizzle or dip the cakes into vegan tartar sauce and serve with plenty of lemon wedges.


  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions

  • A handful of chopped parsley

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 sheet nori

  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 (19-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained

  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

  • Vegan tartar sauce, for serving

  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    vegan crab cake ingredients

  2. Add the scallions, garlic, parsley, and nori to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the mixture is finely chopped.

    herbs mixed in a food processor
  3. Add the chickpeas to the food processor and pulse until the chickpeas are blended into the mixture. Careful not to overprocess the chickpeas so the texture is preserved.

    crab cake mixture in food processor
  4. Add the vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper; pulse until blended together.

    crab cake mixture in food processor
  5. Roughly chop the hearts of palm so that it resembles lumps of crab meat. Cut on the diagonals and make it as coarse or as fine as you wish.

    sliced hearts of palm
  6. Fold in the chopped hearts of palm and the breadcrumbs to the mixture.

    crab cake mixture in food processor
  7. Form about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a patty and shape with your hands.

    crab cake patties
  8. Repeat with remaining mixture until all the patties are formed.

    vegan crab cakes
  9. Preheat the oven to 200 F.

    Heat the canola oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a few patties at a time and cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and heated through.

    vegan crab cakes cooking in a pan
  10. Keep cooked crab cakes warm in the preheated oven while you finish cooking the remaining crab cakes.

    vegan crab cakes
  11. Serve immediately with vegan tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Can a Vegan Eat Imitation Crab Meat?

Vegans cannot eat imitation crab meat. It is typically made from a white fish that is dyed with red food coloring to look like crab meat. Fish is not vegan, so this is not a vegan food. Our crab cakes use hearts of palm, which are a plant to imitate the crab meat.

Is Tartar Sauce Vegan?

You can make your own vegan tartar sauce using vegan mayonnaise. Most store bought tartar sauces are not vegan.

How to Store

You can easily freeze these vegan crab cakes before or after pan frying. Just make sure they are cooled and place them in one even layer in a plastic freezer bag. To reheat you can put them in an air fryer at 400F for 8 minutes. Or you can pop them in a 400F oven for 15 minutes. If you froze them before pan frying, then add them to a pan with oil and pan fry on medium low heat for 5 minutes per side.

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