We’ve made millions of crab cakes over the years, since our first restaurant opened in Ocean City, Maryland in 1956. Through all the trials and recipe tweaks and crab cake tastings in our kitchens, we’ve learned a thing or two about what takes a crab cake from so-so to melt-in-your-mouth fantastic!
Tip One: This is going to sound obvious, but to get the best end result, you’ve gotta choose great quality crab meat. While it may be tempting to choose your crab meat solely based on price during your weekly shop, selecting a premium quality crab meat normally will deliver stellar results when you take that first bite. Your crab should have a pleasing seawater smell and be moist, but not mushy.
You can definitely save, however, by picking the grade that balances your budget with the general style of your menu. If your crab cakes are for a special party or dinner, using jumbo and backfin will give you an impressive plate presentation. If you’re making simple cakes for a casual picnic, however, give claw meat or special a try, cutting your costs while still retaining great flavor.
Tip Two: Handle the meat really gently while incorporating into your recipe to ensure the large lumps and flakes are retained– there’s no sense in spending the extra cash if you’re just going to break your lumps apart! Whisk together your wet mix first, add your breadcrumbs or crackers and blend, then slowly fold the crab meat in by hand at the end. Try reserving some of the largest lumps of crab to carefully add in while you’re shaping the crab mixture into the final cakes.
Tip Three: Once you’ve portioned out your crab cakes, it’s best to allow them to set in the refrigerator (cover with clingfilm) for at least an hour. This will really bring all the excellent flavors out and allow the ingredients to bind together. It will also help keep your crab cakes from breaking apart while frying or baking.
Looking for a recipe to try? You can find many in our online recipe center, including our founder Shirley Phillips’ original Maryland-style Crab Cakes and a few other Phillips favorites, such as buttery Premium Crab Cakes and zesty Chili Lime Crab Cakes. Happy cooking!
What’s your favorite secret for how to make crab cakes in your kitchen?