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Simple Crab Cakes & Creole Sauce

I’m A Sucker for a Crab Cake – My wife Ally will tell you that I’m probably addicted them. I have no idea why, it’s an craving that pops up on a regular basis. When the urge for a crab cake hits me I have to have a crab cake right then or in the next hour, or day or two. The downside is that we live in East Tennessee… not known to be prime crab cake territory.

So, I’ll order a crab cake somewhere and it will be good… but not “the” crab cake that quenches my desire for one of my favorite foods. This means that every where Ally and I go for a meal over the course of the next few weeks I’m almost guaranteed to order a crab cake. I’ve stumbled across some darned good crab cakes from restaurants doing this and I’ve hardly ever had a sub-par one. Knock on wood.

Too many variations?
I don’t think there can be too many variations of a crab cake! These little seafood cakes are my go-to small meal when I can’t decide what I want at a restaurant. For some reason they hit the spot. They’re are almost as many variations of crab cakes as there are variations of barbecue sauces. This recipe is simple and uses ingredients that are easy to find. You can use crab meat, imitation crab, lobster, imitation lobster and even crawdad meat if you wish.

Here’s a simple Southern “Seafood” cake recipe that you can tweak as needed. The main thing is this – don’t use too many crackers and don’t over pack or form your cakes.

For the Crab Cakes:

  • 1 pound lump crab meat – broken
  • 3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1- 2 tablespoons Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • Half handful minced red or green pepper if desired
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 12 Saltine crackers, crushed
  • Parsley flakes

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and if you don’t have Old Bay, try Cajun or creole seasoning. Cover and chill for an hour or more. Then form into balls smaller than a ping pong ball. Smaller cakes are easier to flip. The cakes tend to break apart if made too big. You can cook them in hot oil until golden on each side or place on a nonstick cookie sheet with a bit of butter spread on top and bottom and bake at 450° until golden brown.

For the Creole Tartar Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • Several dashes of creoles seasoning to taste
  • Small dash of chili powder
  • Dash of lemon or lime juice
  • A few drops of hot sauce
  • Combine in a bowl and chill before serving. Top with paprika and parsley to garnish.

Crab Cake Tips:
Wheat crackers or other seasoned crackers can be used in place of saltines. Try not to crumble the crab meat too much so that it maintains its clump form. Pencil eraser size pieces are as small as you would want to go. I prefer vegetable or canola cooking oil over butter or olive oil. Butter is perfect if oven cooking the crab cakes. Don’t make the crab cakes too big or they may break apart when cooking. Turn as few times as possible.


Kent Whitaker, also known as "The Deck Chef," is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He's also penned Young Reader and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motor sports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill.

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