Vegan "Crab" Cakes

Vegan "Crab" Cakes on a platter, served sauce and orange wedges

The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 5
Yield: 8 to 10 cakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
440 Calories
21g Fat
58g Carbs
14g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 5
Amount per serving
Calories 440
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 1326mg 58%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 14g 51%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 86mg 430%
Calcium 192mg 15%
Iron 7mg 36%
Potassium 599mg 13%
*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.

"I appreciate the plant-based/vegan options that have become so popular. This recipe is a win! The flavors resemble a classic crab cake, and the secret flavor is nori seaweed! I encourage you to swap this recipe in for a nice change to next week’s meal prep or as an hors d'oeuvre for your next gathering!" — Kiana Rollins

Vegan Crabcakes/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 1 sheet coarsely chopped nori, or to taste

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

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained

  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, more as needed

  • Vegan tartar sauce, for serving

  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vegan "Crab" Cakes ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

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

    Scallions, parsley, garlic, and nori mixture in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  3. Add the chickpeas and pulse until combined into the mixture. Careful not to over process the chickpeas so the texture is preserved.

    Herb and chickpea mixture in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  4. Add the vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper; pulse until blended together.

    Chickpea mixture with vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  5. Roughly chop the hearts of palm so that they resemble lumps of crab meat. Cut on the diagonals and make it as coarse or as fine as you wish.

    Chopped hearts of palm on a cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  6. Fold in the chopped hearts of palm and the breadcrumbs with a silicone spatula. If the mixture is too dry to form crab cakes, gently fold in the reserved chickpea liquid 1 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached, being careful not to over mix.

    Hearts of palm and breadcrumbs combined with the chickpea mixture in the food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  7. Use about 1/4 cup of the mixture to form a crab cake.

    Chickpea mixture formed into a patty on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

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

    Chickpea mixture patties on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  9. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat 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 until golden brown and heated through, refreshing the oil as needed, about 3 minutes per side.

    Vegan crab cakes cooking in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

  10. Keep cooked crab cakes warm on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven while you finish cooking the remaining crab cakes.

    Vegan crab cakes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

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

    Vegan "Crab" Cakes on a platter garnished with orange wedges, served with sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Christine Ma

How to Store

You can easily freeze these vegan crab cakes before or after pan frying. If fried, cool completely, then 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, just add them to a skillet with oil and pan fry on medium low heat until brown, about 5 minutes per side.

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 imitates 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.

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