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You are sure to fall in love with this easy and delicious recipe for Baltimore style crab cakes! Baltimore crab cakes are famous for using very little filler mixed with meaty, and tender lumps of crabmeat. Flavors of lemon, worcestershire, dijon mustard, fresh parsley and a few savory seasonings balance the sweetness of delicious crab meat!
What are Baltimore style crab cakes?
Baltimore style crab cakes (also referred to as Maryland style crab cakes) are traditionally made from blue crabs that are sourced from the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore style crab cakes are famously known for using very little breading to hold them together. Gourmet or restaurant versions of Baltimore crab cakes contain no breading at all.
For this easy crab cakes recipe, it is perfectly acceptable to use whatever type of lump crab meat you can find. I live in New England, where Blue Crabs aren’t always available.
So why would a blogger from New England be posting a recipe for Baltimore crab cakes? Truth is, as much as I love New England seafood, the crab cakes from my region contain a little too much filler for my liking. This is why I prefer Baltimore style crab cakes.
Is it better to fry or bake crab cakes?
Crab cakes can be baked, broiled or fried. Whether you should bake or fry them depends purely on your preference. It goes without saying that baking or broiling is healthier and easier, but there are many people who prefer to fry them.
My personal preference is to bake the crab cakes and stick them under the broiler for just a few minutes to brown them. I don’t like the cleanup that’s associated with frying, and I don’t notice a discernible difference in taste. Plus, I shape my crab cakes into mounds, which are harder to flip when frying.
Baltimore style crab cake ingredients:
- 1 pound of handpicked lump crab meat – Blue Crab is preferred if you can find it, but any lump crab meat is fine
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Mayonnaise-acts as a binder to keep the crab meat and breadcrumbs together
- 1 large egg-another binding agent
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Juice from ½ lemon
- Homemade seasoning blend – celery salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper OR you can substitute 1-teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning
- Fresh chopped parsley
- Salted or unsalted butter – melted
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Cocktail sauce or tartar sauce and extra lemon wedges for serving
A few tips before we get started:
- Try to find handpicked lump crab meat. Fresh is always best, but fresh crab meat can be pricey. You can find packaged handpicked lump crab meat in the refrigerated seafood section of your grocer. Handpicked is important because machines tend to leave behind bits of shells.
- Inspect the crab meat for shell remnants, even when using handpicked crab meat. If you find any shell remnants, pick them out and discard them.
- Mix the wet ingredients and seasonings together first, before combining them with the panko, parsley and crab meat. You want to avoid over-mixing so that the juicy lumps of crab meat remain in-tact.
- Don’t pack or flatten the crab cakes! Use an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup dry measuring cup to form/shape the crab cakes. I repeat, don’t pack or flatten them!
- Use non-stick cooking spray to grease your baking sheet. You don’t want the crab cakes to stick!
- Pay close attention when you stick your crab cakes under the broiler so they don’t burn. 3-5 minutes of broiling time is all you need!
How to make this easy Baltimore style crab cakes recipe:
Step 1: Prep your ingredients and workspace
Preheat your oven to 400°F and drain your crab meat. You can gently pat the crab meat dry with a paper towel, but don’t handle the crab meat too much! You don’t want the crab meat breaking apart.
Place the crab meat in a bowl and inspect it for broken shell remnants. Chop your fresh parsley if you haven’t already.
Step 2: Whisk wet ingredients with the dry seasonings.
In a small separate bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and dry seasonings together.
Step 3: Combine all ingredients
Add the seasoned wet mixture from step 2, to the large bowl of crabmeat. Add the egg, panko breadcrumbs and chopped parsley. Mix everything together with a rubber spatula until just combined. Try not to over-mix because you want the lumps of crab to remain in tact.
Step 4: Form the crab cakes
Using an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measuring cup, portion the crabmeat mixture into mounds. Don’t flatten flatten the crab cakes! Arrange the crab cakes on a greased baking sheet as you portion them.
Step 5: Brush each crab cake with butter
Melt a half-stick (4 tablespoons) of salted or unsalted butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has melted, brush each crab cake with a generous amount of butter.
Save any left-over butter to serve with the crab cakes (you may need to re-heat it). Feel free to melt more butter to serve with the crab cakes later.
Step 6: Bake then broil the crab cakes
Bake the crab cakes in the oven for 13 minutes, then turn your broiler on and let them sit under the broiler for 3-5 minutes more. Watch the crab cakes closely to make sure they don’t burn under the broiler!
Step 7: Plate and serve the crab cakes
Remove the crab cakes from the oven and use a metal fish spatula to loosen the crab cakes from the baking sheet. Transfer the crab cakes to a plate or serving tray.
Garnish with some fresh parsley sprigs and lemon wedges. Serve these Baltimore style crab cakes with melted butter or a dipping sauce of your choice (see below for suggestions).
What side dishes go with crab cakes?
Simple sides really compliment Baltimore style crab cakes. Corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, a side salad, clam chowder or any type of seafood bisque are all great accompaniments!
In terms of condiments, you can keep it simple with melted butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon, or you can serve the crab cakes with a side of cocktail or tartar sauce.