Southern Crab Cakes

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Southern Crab Cakes are made with lump crab meat, panko breadcrumbs, and Old Bay and Cajun seasonings. Once fried, the end result is flavorful crab patties that are crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.

Two crab cakes stacked on each other

The Best Crab Cakes Recipe

If you love crab, then you’re going to LOVE this easy crab cake recipe. These come together in practically no time at all, though you do need to allow about 20 minutes for them to chill. And since they’re made with lump crab meat, every bite is filled with tender, juicy crab.

For seasoning, I went with Old Bay seasoning and Cajun spice, so these have a bit of heat to them, but it’s balanced perfectly by other flavors. Panko breadcrumbs help to keep them extra crispy (I don’t recommend any substitutions there!) while mayonnaise keeps them moist.

I always serve these up with a spicy tartar sauce that I’ve included the instructions for. Just 3 ingredients and super tasty. If you’re not a fan of spicy, regular tartar sauce, a remoulade, or aioli will work too.

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What You’ll Need

You’ll need crab meat (obviously), panko breadcrumbs, a handful of seasonings, and just a few other ingredients to make these easy crab cakes. See the recipe card below for measurements.

  • Crab meat – See notes below.
  • Eggs – Help to hold everything together.
  • Mayonnaise – Adds moisture to the crab cakes and is the base of the spicy tartar sauce.
  • Dijon mustard – For flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce – Adds savory undertones to the flavor.
  • Lemon juice – A bit of citrus helps to enhance the other flavors in the crab cakes.
  • Seasonings – Garlic powder, Old bay seasoning, cajun spice, and fresh parsley are added to the crab patties to ensure each bite is bursting with flavor.
  • Panko – I recommend using panko breadcrumbs and not regular breadcrumbs for added crunch.
  • Olive oil – For frying.
  • Hot sauce – Adds that spicy to the spicy dipping sauce.
Overhead view of crab cakes on a wooden cutting board

What Crab Should I Use?

Lump crab meat and jumbo lump crab meat are the best options for making homemade crab cakes. Claw crabmeat is a cheaper option that will work in this recipe as well but lump crab meat is the best option. Avoid imitation crab – it won’t taste the same!

Homemade crab cakes on a wooden cutting board

How To Make Crab Cakes

Once you realize how easy this Southern classic is to make at home, you’ll never order them in restaurants again.

  • Make the crab mixture. Combine the eggs, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and seasonings. Fold in the crab meat, parsley, and panko crumbs.
  • Form the patties. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the mixture. Roll into a ball then press lightly to form them into patties.
  • Chill. Place the crab patties on a baking pan covered with parchment paper and cover with a second piece of parchment paper. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Fry the crab cakes. Pan fry the crab cakes in oil, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Make the spicy tartar sauce. Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients.
  • Enjoy. Serve immediately while the crab cakes are hot.
Homemade crab cakes on a wooden cutting board

Tips for The Best Homemade Crab Cakes

Here are a few tips for making crispy on the outside, moist on the inside crab cakes packed with flavor.

  • Do not stir the mixture. Carefully fold in the crab meat and panko breadcrumbs but take care to not stir the mixture, as that can cause the crab to break down and prevent the patties from holding their shape.
  • Don’t skip the chill time. Make sure these crab patties get at least 20 minutes of chill time before frying. Though it’s a short amount of time, it helps to ensure that they don’t fall apart when you transfer them to the frying pan.
  • Add more oil if necessary. The patties will absorb some of the oil as they cook, so add more oil as needed.
  • Cook in batches. To avoid crowding the frying pan, cook in batches. Crowding the pan will prevent the patties from browning properly and cooking evenly.

Serving Suggestions

Wondering what to serve with your Southern crab cakes? The spicy tartar sauce included with the recipe is the obvious answer but regular tartar sauce, remoulade, and garlic aioli are other good options as well. I also always serve these with a lemon wedge as some freshly squeezed lemon over the top before taking a bite is just *chef’s kiss*.

These can be served as an appetizer or main course. If you’re serving them as a main course, consider sides like coleslaw, potato salad, and French fries.

Homemade crab cakes on a wooden cutting board

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Homemade crab cakes are best enjoyed immediately but if you do have leftovers here’s how to store them:

  • Fridge. Store leftover crab cakes in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • Freezer. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months. Place in a freezer-safe container with parchment paper between patties.
  • Reheat. You can reheat the leftovers in the microwave, on the stovetop, or even in the oven. Just keep an eye out to reheat until hot to avoid them drying out.

More Crab Recipes:

Two crab cakes stacked on each other
5 from 4 votes

Southern Crab Cakes

Southern Crab Cakes are made with lump crab meat, panko breadcrumbs, and Old Bay and Cajun seasonings. Once fried, the end result is flavorful crab patties that are crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes



Spicy Tarter Sauce



  • In a medium bowl, add and stir together eggs, mayo, dijon mustard, Worcestershire, lemon juice, garlic powder, old bay seasoning, and cajun spice.
  • Now add the crab, parsley, and panko crumbs.
  • Fold to combine
  • Do NOT stir.
  • Use a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop out your crab mixture and roll into a ball.
  • Now form them into patties by pressing lightly down on the crab ball.
  • Refrigerate crab cakes for 20 minutes on a parchment covered baking pan and place another parchment paper on top of the crab cakes.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan big enough to hold half of the crab cakes.
  • Add crab cakes and cook 4-5 minutes on each side.
  • You may need to add a little more oil, if necessary while pan frying.
  • In a small bowl add all ingredients for the dipping sauce and stir to combine.
  • Serve immediately.

Last Step:

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Calories: 572kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 68g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 228mg | Sodium: 3227mg | Potassium: 879mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2216IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 5mg