It’s easy to make your own mini crab cakes at home in minutes! These perfectly bite-sized appetizers come together quickly and taste fantastic.
Darlings, these might be some of the best crab cakes ever! And if the manner in which my family circled my shoot like sharks trying to take a bite is any indication, they’re quite good. But the best part? They’re so easy to make!
Funny story, until we moved to the mid-Atlantic a few years ago, I hadn’t made crab cakes. My mom always purchased frozen crab cakes. I just assumed it was a complicated process.
That is, until we moved to northern Virginia. This area, especially when you drive into Maryland, loves crab dishes! The first time we lived here, it inspired my Old Bay onion rings, seafood stuffing, and jalapeno crab dip.
It was also the first time I tried making crab cakes. You don’t realize how easy they are to make until you try it! Of course, homemade crab cakes are also the perfect fancy thing to make for a date night in. That’s actually why I tried them the first time.
Of course, realizing that amazing crab cakes can be made with mostly pantry ingredients was quite a shocker! Kind of exciting, actually. Naturally, that meant I kept making them.
Over time, full-size crab cakes gave way to minis. You know I can’t resist finger food; it’s just more fun.
How to make mini crab cakes
Time for the nuts and bolts chat for this recipe, naturally.
You basically just gather all your ingredients and mix them in a bowl. I recommend mixing by hand, especially when it comes to folding in the crab.
The spices and binder ingredients can be mixed together with enthusiasm if you insist. But when it comes to making amazing crab cakes, you have to have a gentle hand when folding in the crab.
The reason being that you don’t want to break apart the lovely lumps of sweet crab meat. It’s not a cheap ingredient, darlings, and really the star of the show.
A good crab cake has minimal binder, just the right amount of seasoning, and lots of nice bits of crab meat!
What kind of crab should I use for crab cakes?
So… that depends. Getting into crab cake making where I did, jumbo lump crab is the only acceptable option. And for real high-end restaurant-quality results, I agree. Jumbo lump crab meat is big, slightly sweet, and provides the perfect texture for crab cakes.
That being said, jumbo lump crab is also the most expensive crab meat. So if you can’t find it, or if it’s a little more than you want to spend, look for lump crab meat.
Lump crab meat is sold frozen or canned and still has some pretty good-size chunks of crab meat in there. Personally, I think it works really well for the mini crab cakes. Each mini cake is only supposed to be 1-2 bites anyway.
The third option is to use the really fine canned crab meat, which is mostly back fin meat. It’s really good and adds flavor, but no big chunks of meat.
So if chunks in crab cakes are your thing, look for jumbo lump or lump crab meat. If it doesn’t matter, use what you find! I promise, the results will be delicious either way.
Should I fry, bake, or air fry?
That’s totally up to you! For the pictures, I fried the crab cakes to give them that all-over brown look. I also think that pan-frying is the easiest way to ensure a crisp exterior without overcooking the interior.
But if I hadn’t been preparing these for pictures, I probably would have air fried. Using the air fryer is my second favorite way to make crab cakes. Just a quick spritz of oil and a few minutes makes crab cakes that are almost identical to pan-fried.
The resulting cakes aren’t quite the same even deep brown, but honestly, nobody notices. And I save a few calories from cutting the amount of oil. This is especially good when these are part of an appetizer spread.
The third option for cooking is baking, but the results aren’t quite the same. The crab cakes are cooked with a more even distribution of temperature so the texture isn’t as crispy. We don’t mind it with the full-size crab cakes, but a crispy exterior is really good for minis.
What do I serve with mini crab cakes?
They’re delicious as is or with a light spritz of lemon. But a little dipping sauce is wonderful! We use a store-bought remoulade.
Remoulade is a creamy sauce made with egg yolks, vinegar, and mustard. It’s seasoned with a variety of things depending on who makes it. Anything from anchovies to pickle relish or capers goes!
I’m not including a recipe because I often buy it or make a similar shortcut sauce. But this recipe from Serious Eats is pretty good.
The crab cakes can be served warm or chilled. If you do intend to serve these at a party, please keep food safety in mind. Either plan to cook them just before plating for serving, or make them in advance and serve chilled.
I hope you enjoy this easy crab cake recipe, darlings! Enjoy!
- 1 pound crab meat
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (see notes)
- 1/2 cup oil (optional - for frying)
- Look over the crab meat and make sure to remove any shell fragments that may remain.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, melted butter, parsley, bread crumbs, and crab seasoning. Mix everything together until well combined.
- Gently fold in the crab meat so you don't break up the larger chunks.
- Use a small cookie scoop to portion out the crab cakes. Refrigerate the cakes while you preheat oil in a skillet over medium heat or preheat the oven to 375 F.
- If you are pan-frying: Place the oil in a medium skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil glistens, place about a third of the crab cakes in the pan. The exact number depends on the size of your pan. Be sure to leave enough space to flip the cakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until golden brown, then flip and cook another 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain for a few minutes before transferring to a serving plate to serve warm.
- If you are air-frying: Spray the crab cakes with oil lightly on both sides. Place the crab cakes in a single layer in a greased air fryer basket. You may need to work in batches. Fry at 400 F for 4 minutes, then flip the cakes and fry an additional 4 minutes.
- If you are baking: Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush with oil or spray with nonstick spray. Arrange the crab cakes in a single layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping about halfway through baking if you'd like a little browning on both sides.
- The mini crab cakes are best served immediately. You may serve them with lemon wedges or a remoulade sauce for dipping.
- If you find you are out of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and a splash of hot sauce can be used as a substitute.
- If you don't have dry mustard, use 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard.
- Instead of panko bread crumbs, you may use a 1/2 cup of regular breadcrumbs or 1/2 cup of crushed crackers like saltines or Ritz.
- You may use any kind of crab or seafood seasoning you'd like. Cajun seasoning is also an excellent alternative.
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