This Maryland crab cake recipe is THEE recipe for crab cake enthusiasts! It’s baked with simple ingredients like fresh jumbo lump crab meat, Old Bay seasoning, and very little filler. Whether you are a proud Baltimore native like me or a visitor who appreciates the taste of coastal cuisine, this is hands-down the best Maryland crab cake recipe! (This recipe is gluten-free.)
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This Maryland crab cake recipe is a delicious ode to my beloved home state, the origin place for crab cakes. Baltimore, Maryland is my hometown, and growing up along the Chesapeake Bay, eating crab was as common as chicken. This recipe is long overdue and I can’t wait to share it with you!
Each time I visit family, I HAVE to get a Maryland-style crab cake. So, it is only right that I finally share my own recipe! This authentic Maryland crab cake recipe makes large crab cakes with huge lumps of crab in every bite. And my mouthwatering aioli dipping sauce is the perfect side — you won’t want to skip it!
Reasons This Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe Works
- Authentic Crab Cake Recipe! Maryland crab cakes are the quintessential crab cakes. Learn how to make crab cakes from a Maryland local.
- Nearly No Filler! Nothing’s worse than a crab cake that is mostly breadcrumbs. When you’re eating crab cakes, you expect lots of crab and that’s what you can expect with this recipe. I use just enough “filler ingredients” to keep the structure of the cakes and I use gluten-free breadcrumbs to keep it gluten-free. Keep in mind that you can use regular breadcrumbs or saltines if you prefer
- Easy to Make! These crab cakes are made with simple ingredients and baked in the oven for convenience and easy cleanup. All you do is add the ingredients to a large bowl, form the crab cakes, let them set, then bake!
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Maryland Crab Cakes
- Fresh Crab Meat: You can use jumbo lump (crab muscles) or lump crab meat (the body of the crab). I like to use a mix of both types of crab meat. However, I always use blue crabs for Maryland crab cakes because they are rich, buttery, and sweet.
- Egg: Make sure to use a large egg. The egg helps to bind the ingredients together.
- Mayonnaise: The mix of mayonnaise and mustard keeps the crab cake juicy. It also acts as a binding ingredient.
- Dijon mustard: Make sure to use Dijon mustard, not regular mustard. While subtle, it is a key ingredient that helps give the crab cake even more flavor
- Worcestershire sauce: Make sure to use gluten-free Worcestershire sauce if needed to keep these crab cakes gluten-free. (Here is a good option: Lea & Perrins The Original Worcestershire Sauce | Amazon.)
- Fresh lemon juice: Lemon is always a great pairing option for seafood and lemon juice gives the crab cakes a bit of zest. Serve the crab cakes with a few lemon slices.
- Old Bay seasoning: This seasoning blend is a must to make authentic Maryland-style crab cakes. It’s a mix of celery salt, red pepper, black pepper, and paprika. You can usually find it at your local grocery store in the spice aisle. If not, try purchasing it from Amazon | Old Bay Seasoning.
- Fresh parsley: This adds a bit of color and fresh flavor.
- Gluten-free Panko bread crumbs: This keeps the recipe gluten-free but you can use regular bread crumbs or saltines. If using saltines, crush them in a small ziploc bag until you have the amount needed for the recipe (about 10-12 saltines).
- Salt: Add salt just to taste. Keep in mind that Old Bay is salty so not much additional salt is needed.
Old Bay Lemon Aioli
- Lemon juice and lemon zest
- Olive oil
- Fresh Herbs: finely chopped parsley, fresh chives
- Garlic Cloves, minced
- Dijon mustard
- Seasoning: Old Bay seasoning, salt and ground black pepper to taste
Crab Cake Filler
Crab is, of course, the star ingredient for this recipe. However, additional ingredients enhance the flavor and contribute to the structure. The mayonnaise, mustard, and egg act as a binder to keep the crab cakes together, so only a small amount of breadcrumbs are needed.
What Kind of Crab Meat to Use When Making Crab Cakes
Choosing the right crab meat makes a big difference in your crab cakes! Look for fresh lump crab meat in the clear plastic containers in the seafood department. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but one pound is enough to whip up five to six big crab cakes (or ten smaller ones).
If you can’t find fresh lump crab meat, the next best thing is refrigerated crab meat, which is typically available all year round. Stay away from canned crab meat on the shelf because it has additives that might change how it tastes and feels.
Although I prefer lump crab, here are more options:
- Claw: This is a darker crab meat that’s not as sweet as lump crab. It has a stringy consistency but it’s also more affordable.
- Jumbo: This variety provides large chunks of crab meat. It has a mild, buttery flavor.
- Backfin: This type of crab meat comes from the back of the shell and is flakier than lump meat. It has a light, sweet taste.
How to Make Maryland Crab Cakes
COMBINE INGREDIENTS. Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, parsley, and old bay seasoning. Then add in the crab meat and gently mix with a rubber spatula until all the crab meat is coated.
Gently fold in the breadcrumbs, making sure not to break up the crab meat while mixing. If it isn’t sticking together, add more breadcrumbs slowly until it binds (about 1-2 tbsp more).
FORM & REFRIGERATE CRAB CAKES. Form the crab mixture into 4-5 jumbo, even-sized balls (or 8-10 small/medium crab cakes). Then, cover the crab cakes and refrigerate for 1 hour (up to 1 day). This helps set the crab cakes and marry the flavors.
BAKE MARYLAND CRAB CAKES. When ready to cook the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Then, remove the crab cakes and preheat the broiler to high, broil for 1-2 minutes until golden.
SERVE. Serve warm with the old bay lemon aioli and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
TO MAKE THE OLD BAY LEMON AIOLI
Whisk the ingredients together. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve with the crab cakes.
It might be tempting to skip the aioli, but I certainly think you shouldn’t. It has a delicious pop of lemon and zest while being perfectly creamy with a subtle hint of old bay in each bit that perfectly enhances the flavors of the crab cakes. If you’re not up for making the aioli, you can always serve your crab cake with Dijon mustard or tartar sauce and fresh lemon slices.
HOW TO COOK CRAB CAKES ON THE STOVE:
After forming the crab cakes and chilling them, add butter or cooking oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the crab cakes for 4-5 minutes per side, flipping carefully. (Instead of the oval shape, you may need to flatten it with the spatula so it cooks evenly)
Tips To Nail this Maryland Crab Cake Recipe
- For the best flavor and results, use fresh, high-quality crab meat.
- Be careful not to overseason so the crab flavor is not overpowered.
- Don’t skip the chilling time. (You can form the crab cakes first, then cover them and put them in the fridge. Alternatively, form the crab cakes after setting them in the fridge. However, I prefer making the crab cakes first.)
- Do not overmix the crab mixture. Crab meat is delicate. Handle it gently to preserve those large chunks. So try not to break up the pieces too much when mixing the ingredients.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze them for up to 2 months. Reheat crab cakes in the air fryer for a few minutes at 300°F for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through, or rewarm on the stovetop.
What makes Maryland crab cakes different?
Real Maryland crab cakes are made with blue crab, a crab native to the Chesapeake Bay. There is also minimal filler. Authentic crab cakes do not include celery, onions, or peppers.
Is it better to cook crab cakes in oil or butter?
Either will work when frying crab cakes. However, I prefer to bake crab cakes for fewer calories and easier cleanup.
What are the two types of crab cakes?
Different regions have variations of crab cakes. West Coast crab cakes are usually made using Dungeness crab. Louisiana crab cakes are similar to Maryland crab cakes but include Cajun seasoning.
Why are Maryland crab cakes so expensive?
Crab cakes are pricy because they are in high demand and increasingly harder to obtain due to environmental changes. Jump lump crab meat is particularly expensive because the meat is difficult to extract from the crab shell.
I Hope You Enjoy This Recipe for Maryland Crab Cakes!
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More Seafood Recipes To Try!
- Creamy Salmon Pasta
- Air Fryer Lobster Tail with Lemon Garlic Butter
- Easy Oven Baked Trout
- Best Mahi Mahi Tacos
Best Authentic Maryland Crab Cake Recipe
Maryland crab cake
- 1 pound crab meat fresh – jumbo lump or lump I use a mix of both
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
- 2.5 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs (I use gluten-free breadcrumbs)
- Salt to taste (keep in mind that old bay is salty so not much additional salt is needed)
Old Bay Lemon Aioli
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 lemon zested
- 2 tablespoons Fresh squeezed lemon juice plus more as desired
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp fresh chives chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon old bay seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
TO MAKE THE CRAB CAKES
- Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, parsley, and old bay seasoning.
- Add in the crab meat and gently mix with a rubber spatula until all the crab meat is coated. Then, gently fold in the breadcrumbs, making sure not to break up the crab meat while mixing. If it isn't sticking together, add more breadcrumbs slowly until it binds (about 1-2 tablespoons more).
- Form the crab mixture into 4-5 jumbo, even-sized balls (or 8-10 small/medium crab cakes). Then, cover the crab cakes and refrigerate for 1 hour (up to 1 day). This helps set the crab cakes and marry the flavors.
- When ready to cook the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Then, remove the crab cakes and preheat the broiler to high, broil for 1-2 minutes until golden.
- Serve warm with the old bay lemon aioli and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
TO MAKE THE OLD BAY LEMON AIOLI
- Whisk the ingredients together. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve with the crab cakes.