Southern-Style Crab Cakes

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There are crab cakes, and then there are these babies. Insanely good.

This dish is popular on so many seafood and fine-dining restaurant menus around the world, but, especially in the New England region of the U.S. (non-spicy) and in Louisiana (a little spicy). This version has a little bit of kick, but not too much, and is truly crab-forward. Meaning, the crab is the absolute star. 

A close-up view of a Southern-style crab cake simmering on a hot cast-iron flat skillet.

How To Make Southern-Style Crab Cakes

There are a few tips and tricks that will ensure you produce the most delicious crab cakes. We’ll show you what works for us. 

But probably even more important than the technique of preparing them, is the quality of the ingredients and balancing them just right to achieve crab perfection. We’ll review that, too. 

 

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The Ingredients You Will Need

Again, the key ingredient for this dish is the crab. See below for our recommendations.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Have on Hand

Lump Crabmeat – We recommend seeking our Blue Crab. It’s from the Gulf of Mexico and is sweet and not overly “crabby” tasting. It’s a bit pricey, but so worth it. However, any type of regular lump crabmeat will work. We don’t recommend jumbo lump crabmeat
Butter – Unsalted
Onion – Finely chopped
Poblano pepper – Finely chopped, can also substitute fresh jalapeño or serraño, but be sure to remove the seeds for less heat. Poblanos are mild and jalapeños and serranos carry much more heat.
Garlic – Minced
Seasonings – Chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt
Mayonnaise – Our favorite is Dukes, but whatever your favorite is will work
Mustard – Stone ground (or whole ground) is fantastic, but again, any kind will be great
Hot sauce – Such as Louisiana, Crystals, or Tobasco – Add more or less, depending on your desired spice level
Scallions – Green and white parts, thinly sliced
Parsley – Fresh, Italian (flat-leaf), chopped
Lemon juice – Preferably fresh, from half of one lemon
Breadcrumbs – We remove the crusts from a demi-baguette and then pulverize it in our food processor. We love the texture of fresh breadcrumbs, but store-bought will work, too. Regular or Panko are both fine choices
Oil – Vegetable is perfect for lightly frying the cakes, but canola and peanut oil will work wonderfully, as well
Dipping sauce – Jalepeño remoulade is spectacular. See the ingredients below and in the recipe card

Southern Style Crab Cakes recipe

Tips for Perfect Southern-Style Crab Cakes

Quality Crabmeat – The crab cakes are really as good as the quality of the crabmeat. This could be considered one of those “special occasion” dishes. In our eyes, it’s worth it to spend a little more on the best crabmeat available. Gulf Coast blue crabmeat is our favorite and can be found a food markets like Whole Foods or online. Ask your fishmonger for a good recommendation.

Allow the Cakes to Chill – This is very important. The crab cake mixture is intentionally somewhat loose. This allows the crab to really be the prominent ingredient and component. Forming the cakes and then letting the chill for at least 30 minutes allows them to firm up and makes cooking them easier. It’s okay if they break apart somewhat when frying them. The taste is worth it.

Serve with a Sauce – These cakes are spectacular on their own, no doubt. But the addition of a remoulade honestly puts them over the top. More on that below.

Southern Style Crab Cakes recipe

How To Serve

These are definitely best served fresh off the griddle. You can form the cakes up to 2 or 3 hours before cooking them but wait until just before serving to fry them up.

Frying them in batches may be necessary. If that’s the case, keep cooked cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an oven that has been preheated to 275°F.

Serve them with the traditional accompaniments. Sliced lemon is a must. Louisiana hot sauce is strongly recommended. And a good remoulade (or sauce) puts them over the top. Our favorite is the Jalepeño Remoulade. Simply mix the following together in a bowl and chill for 30 minutes or overnight:

Jalepaño Remoulade Ingredients

A small jalepeño, seeded and finely diced
A small onion, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely sliced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime

EXPERT TIP: We use our English muffin rings to form the cakes. However, use whatever you have on hand. A 1-cup measuring cup works wonderfully! You can help shape them with your hands, too, before placing them in the refrigerator.

Southern Style Crab Cakes recipe

Other Classic Seafood Dishes To Try

We love all kinds of seafood dishes, and here are some of our favorite recipes we think you’ll enjoy, too.

Sautéed Soft-Shell Crabs
Jumbo Lump Crab Au Gratin
Almond-Crusted Cod with Orange Sauce
Parmesan Cod with Romesco Sauce
Mediterranean Baked Red Snapper
Seared Tuna Steaks with Tomatoes and Olives
Salmon Puttanesca
Veracruz-Style Shrimp Enchiladas with Pumpkin (Pepian) Sauce
Spanish Shrimp with Garlic
Cajun Baked Shrimp
Grilled Swordfish Steaks
Classic Fish ‘n Chips

These are all amazing. But aren’t you craving these right now? Yum!

A close-up view of a Southern-style crab cake with a drizzle of jalepeño remoulade poured over the top and a lemon wedge next to it.

If you like crab cakes, and you like just a little bit of kick, then these Southern-Style Crab Cakes are going to rock your world. And everyone you serve them to.

They make for a wonderful appetizer or even as a main course. You can easily freeze any of the crab cake filling that you don’t use.

If you’re looking for a crab cake that isn’t heavy and gets lost in too much breading and other ingredients, this is the recipe you’ve been looking for. Every bite is a true taste sensation.

A close-up view of a crab cake topped with a jalapeño remoulade and has been half eaten.

Ready to make the best crab cakes this side of the Gulf of Mexico? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of them, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A close-up view of a crab cake topped with a jalapeño remoulade and has been half eaten.

Southern-Style Crab Cakes

These Southern Style Crab Cakes are simply the bomb. Serve with some Jalapeno Remoulade, and you will not believe how incredible these are. Truly something special.
4.86 from 14 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer or Entree
Cuisine: Seafood / Southern
Keyword: how to make crab cakes, Louisiana-style crab cakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 426kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat Preferably blue crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup poblano pepper stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper more for extra heat, less for little heat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • Louisiana hot sauce several dashes
  • 2 scallions white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley chopped
  • Juice from ½ lemon about 1 tbsp
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs divided, fresh, if possible. See NOTES
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil plus more as needed

Jalapeño Remoulade

  • 1 small jalapeño pepper stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 scallions white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  • Place the crab meat in a large mixing bowl and carefully pick through for shells, then set aside.
    1 lb lump crabmeat
  • Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
    1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Add the onion, poblano, garlic, salt, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until the veggies are soft - about 4 minutes.
    ¼ cup onion, ¼ cup poblano pepper, 2 cloves garlic, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • Transfer the veggie mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, gently mix together the crab, cooled vegetable mixture, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, and ⅓ cup of the breadcrumbs.
    1 egg, ⅓ cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp whole-grain mustard, Louisiana hot sauce, 2 scallions, 2 tbsp Italian parsley, Juice from ½ lemon, ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • Using a 1-cup measuring cup, form the mixture into cakes, packing gently; they should resemble hockey pucks (in size) - about 2 inches thick.
  • Cover the cakes and chill for 30 minutes, or overnight (covered with plastic wrap).
  • When you are ready to cook the crab cakes, place the remaining breadcrumbs on a plate.
  • Dredge both sides of each cake in the crumbs, shaking off the excess.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • When the oil is hot, but not smoking, fry the crab cakes for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan - fry in batches if necessary, adding more oil if needed.
  • Serve immediately - with Jalapeno Remoulade!

JALEPENO REMOULAD

  • Whisk together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
    1 small jalapeño pepper, 2 scallions, 1 cup mayonnaise, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tsp red wine vinegar, Juice of 1 lime
  • Cover and place in the fridge until needed...or for at least 30 minutes.

Notes

See the video near the top of the blog post (to come) for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
These crab cakes are intentionally somewhat "loose." There's not a ton of breadcrumbs or mayo. They have a tendency to come apart (a bit) while frying. Flip them gently, and use a spatula to press them together while cooking. It's okay if they come apart somewhat. The taste is well worth it. 
You will most likely need to fry up the crab cakes in a couple of batches. Simply place the first batch on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and place it in a 275°F oven while you prepare the remaining batch. 
For the breadcrumbs, we take a demi-baguette and cut off the hard edges (crust). Then tear it apart and pulverize it in our food processor. We love the taste and texture of fresh breadcrumbs, however, store-bought will work, too. Regular or Panko are both fine choices.
Be sure to pick the crab over and remove any extra shells or cartilage. 
Uncooked crab cake mixture freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. 
These crab cakes are definitely best served right off the griddle, but leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days. Reheat in a low-temp oven or in a skillet. 

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 968mg | Potassium: 410mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 790IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published December 2014, but was updated with new tweaks to the recipe with new photos and tips and a fabulous new video in May 2024.
NOTE: This recipe is adapted from the brilliant Chef Donald Link.

37 Comments

    • Hi Leslie! That is wonderful to hear! We are so happy you had great success with the crab cakes! And thank you so much for sharing and the good review. That means the world to us!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I never made crab cakes before. This was my first attempt. They were fabulous! One problem I had was they fell apart and didn’t hold their circle when I flipped them over. Any hints on what I should do to prevent that in the future? I’ll definitely be making these again! Thanks so much!

    • Hi Monie!! We are so excited to hear that you loved the crab cakes!! They purposely don’t have a lot of a binder so the crab can really shine through. This can make them a little loose. We use a measuring cup, or large ramakin, and press some of the crab mixture into it. We compact it pretty tightly, this helps during the flipping process. If you want them to stay together tighter, you could add another egg and then add more bread crumbs. This will probably require the cakes to cook a little longer, but they’ll stay together more tightly. Hope this all helps and thanks for letting us know that you loved the crab cakes and for the great review. That means the world to us!!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    These are the ABSOLUTE BEST Crab Cakes you will EVER have! I have not always been able to get Poblano Chili’s so I typically use Fresh Jalapeños & they work just as well.
    These best any restaurants versions as well.
    Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe!

    • Hi Jen!! Woo hoo!! We are so so happy you loved the Southern Crab Cakes! We think they’re the bomb, too!! Thank you so much for letting us know and for the awesome review! That means the world to us!! All the very best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    OMG!!! let me start off by telling y’all to take a bow! I am on my feet with a standing ovation! Holy cow these babies are the real deal. Melt in you mouth, bursting with flavor and that lightly breading doesn’t overpower the crab making it so succulent. I’m from the Charleston area down south and I know my crab cakes but no Charleston restaurant down here comes even close to y’alls! A-freaking-mazing! I would have given this more stars if it was available. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I just loved the video and looking forward to making other recipes from y’all’s site! God Bless

    • Christina!! You have no idea how happy hearing this is making us right now! You just filled our hearts with joy! We are so so so thrilled you loved the crab cakes and thank you SO MUCH for letting us and the AMAZING review!!! We appreciate that so very, very much!! Much love, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Hey Guys!

    I’ve been making these crab cakes for a couple years now (originally stumbled on your website in 2017 I believe). Anyway, incredible. The best recipe out there and believe me, I’ve tried tons. I do these as an appetizer when entertaining new groups and everyone invariably comments on how delicious they are. I never change a thing. They’re perfect as they are. Thank you for the recipe and please keep on cookin’!

    • Hey Lonnie! You have no idea how happy that makes us to hear! We are thrilled that you had such amazing success with the recipe!! And thank you SO MUCH for letting us know and the GREAT review! That means the world to us! Please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Hello!!! I’m typing with my mouth full of these absolutely wonderfully delicious crab cakes! I made them for tonight’s dinner and would’ve loved to send a photo but they were eaten so quickly that getting a good shot of them was impossible. I followed the recipe to the letter and I can honestly say that these are much better than any I’ve ever eaten, including my mother’s and those served at Pappadeaux Restaurant here in Beaumont, Texas. Thank you for publishing it! It will, from here on out, be my go-to recipe for crab cakes. Simply delicious!!! Btw, I served the crab cakes with grilled fresh corn on the cob and yellow squash and zucchini, also grilled. Oh, and the sauce—to die for. I’m considering bathing in a tub of it!!! Many thanks and take good care. Cindy

    • Cindy…first of all…we are SO SORRY for the delayed response!! But…you have no idea how thrilled we are to have read your comment!!! We could not be happier to hear you had such great success with the Southern Crab Cakes! We think they are crazy good, too!! And a side of corn on the cob, with grilled squash and zucchini…WOW! That’s a feast worth writing home about!! Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to let us know. And please stay in touch!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Are these okay to eat room temp or cold? Want to take to a pot luck and need to make a few hours before.

    • Hi Lisa, sorry for the delayed response. This is one of those dishes that we really think served warm is ideal. You could make them and then re-heat them in an oven. Handle them carefully, though, because we don’t like to use too breading or binding ingredients, they are good and flaky. We find that packing the crab mixture into a 1/2 cup measuring cup works well for transferring to the hot skillet. Let us know what you decide to do and how they turn out, or if you have any other questions. All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    This by far the best recipe I’ve tried and it is now my go to crab cake recipe!! Served these delicate jewels alongside a broccoli slaw.
    Absolutely delicious 🙂
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Louise!! That is so wonderful to hear!! We love these crab cakes so much, too!! And thank you so so so much for taking the time to let us know! That means the world to us!! Stay in touch!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Delicious! We could have used a bit less onion in the cake but will definitely make again! I added a couple dashes of hot sauce to remoulade instead of crushed red pepper.

    • Hi Lindsey!! Awesome!!! So glad you enjoyed these crab cakes and we understand about the onions. It’s a good recipe to adapt to your own likes. And hot sauce is always a fantastic addition!! Thanks so much for letting us know!! Please stay in touch!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

    • Hi Mary!! That is so wonderful to hear! We couldn’t be happier that you found success with the crab cakes. We absolutely love them, too! And thank you so much for letting us know, we truly appreciate it! Please stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    I’m southern born and raised but now live in the great Pacific North West. I also come from a long line of amazing chefs. All of this combined makes me very picky when it comes to crab cakes, perhaps even a snob. I made these for my Momma’s 70th birthday party. We ADORE, yes adore, these crab cakes and remoulad. They would disappear the moment I would get them out of the pan. My family has a “must make for dinner list” for when we all get together. This recipe has been added to the list, which rarely happens. It’s been two months and I still have family talking about “those amazing crab cakes”.

    • That is the most amazing thing for us to hear and nothing makes more happy! That is so great that you had huge success with the Southern Crab Cakes. We love them so much, too. Thank you SO MUCH for letting us know. It really means the world to us. Stay in touch! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • Having a big birthday party for dear dad in law. Planning on making these! Just from reading the recipe, I am drooling in the most ladylike way possible! The ingreds and combinations sound just wonderful. I’m so glad I found your blog/site!Thank you muchly!

    • Yay!!! Oh, Lisa, you, your dad in law, and everyone else are going to love these. Truly one of our all-time favs!! Thank you so much for letting us know. And please let us know how they turn out and what everyone thinks. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, D-I-L!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • I don’t generally leave comments on recipes but wanted to say these were fantastic! I’d never made crab cakes before but will definitely be making these again. Thanks!

    • That is so great to hear, Jen! That is without doubt one of our favorite dishes, too. We are so happy to hear that you made them and loved the results! Thanks so much for letting us know. All the best, Kris & Wesley

    • 5 stars
      This comment thus is tricky on an iPhone. Anyways the crab cakes were also amazing and the video helped. I used fresh crab and bought two pounds because they had shells. I’m not sure how many pounds that translated into once the shells were removed. They fell apart a little while cooking… Maybe I needed more egg or crumbs? Regardless these were amazing! I will definitely make them again, the best part is you can make them in the morning and cook them whenever it’s the perfect time.

      • Thanks Skye!! I love crab cakes to be mostly crab, without much binder…but I know…they do kinda fall apart. The solution is just to add another egg and about another 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. That should do the trick to keep them nicely formed. Thank you so much! These are one of our favorites, too! Stay in touch! K&W

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