Lemon Scallion Crab Cakes are a delicious Pacific Northwest style crab cake made with fresh or canned crab, panko breadcrumbs and lots of lemon and herbs.
A pan fried crab cake appetizer or main dish that easily be prepped ahead of time and served in minutes!
Crab cakes with canned crab
The best crab cake recipes are made with delicious, fresh from the ocean lump crab meat like sweet, succulent Dungeness crab. But when fresh crab isn’t in season and isn’t available you can still make crab cakes with canned crab!
Canned crab is an amazing pantry staple to turn to when fresh seafood isn’t available. Canned salmon is also a great addition to your pantry and can easily be made into delicious Crispy Pan Fried Salmon Cakes, also called salmon patties or salmon croquettes.
- Lump crab meat – of course fresh lump crab meat is ideal for this recipe but when fresh crab is unavailable canned crab is delicious too! Or you can substitute canned salmon. Or you can even make this crab cake recipe with tub crab meat.
- Panko breadcrumbs – are a binder in the filling and also as a coating to help make the crab cake exterior super crispy.
- Scallions – also called green onions, finely chopped. Or substitute for finely chopped red onion or shallots or a mixture of all.
- Lemon – zested and half cut in pieces for serving and the other half juiced.
- Flat leaf parsley– or substitute cilantro or dill, or a mixture of herbs.
- Celery – optional
- Old Bay seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- Frying oil – canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, etc. Or you can even pan fry crab cakes in butter.
How to stop crab cakes from falling apart
Crab cakes typically fall apart because of lack of binder in the recipe. This crab cake recipe uses both egg and a starch binder, in the form of panko breadcrumbs, as well as a quick chill in the freezer to firm up to ensure each crab cake retains its shape. Some recipes also call for mayonnaise as a binder but this simple crab cake recipe is made without mayo.
Step by step instructions
- In a large bowl toss lump crab meat with lemon zest and juice. Season crab with salt and pepper to taste. Mix with scallions, herbs, egg and a bit of the panko.
- Divide and form into patties then coat in remaining panko.
- Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
- Then pan fry crab cakes until lightly browned and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Serve with lemon wedges.
How to serve
When wondering what to serve with crab cakes there are many different options you can choose. Serve crab cakes and eggs for breakfast with a little avocado and a half a sourdough English muffin with herbs or an arugula salad.
Serve them on a bed of lettuce or coleslaw with more dipping sauce on the side as a light lunch recipe.
Or serve with grits, pasta, quinoa or rice for dinner.
You can also serve crab cakes with sauce for dipping as a classic easy appetizer recipe.
Sauce for crab cakes
There are many different dips and spreads that you can use as a sauce for crab cakes!
This crab cakes recipe yields about 8 – 10 cakes, enough for 3-4 servings.
Make a single serving crab cake recipe by halving the ingredients. Or if making for one and you don’t want to bother with halving the ingredients simply make a full batch and freeze for later.
How to make ahead
Refrigerate for up to 2 days before frying with great results. The extended chill time only helps them firm up. Place crab cakes in a single layer on a small baking sheet or large plate. For best results place on a thin layer of panko breadcrumbs and lightly cover with plastic wrap.
Or prepare crab cakes ahead of time and freeze, uncooked, in a single layer on baking sheet. Once frozen transfer to a freezer bag or vacuum seal and freeze for up to two months. Pan fry from frozen or defrost slightly on the counter then pan fry as directed.
Reheat fried crab cakes in air fryer at 400 degrees for several minutes. Or place on a baking sheet and gently reheat in oven on low until warm.
- 1 pound lump crab meat fresh or canned, drained
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs divided into ½ and ¼ cup portions
- 1 large lemon zested, ½ sliced for serving ½ juiced
- 1 medium scallion finely chopped
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 medium garlic clove minced
- ½ rib celery finely chopped, optional
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons cilantro roughly chopped, optional
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons frying oil canola, vegetable, peanut, etc.
- Zest lemon then slice half into wedges for serving. And juice the other half.
- In a large bowl toss lump crab meat with lemon zest and juice. Season with Old Bay, salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped scallions, parsley and celery, if using.
- Whisk egg then add to crab mixture with ½ cup panko. Stir lightly then divide the mix into 8 equal parts. Take ⅛ of the mix and press together firmly with your hands to hold together then shape into a round, flat patty.
- Spread the remaining ¼ cup of panko in another shallow bowl or plate and lightly coat crab cakes in panko, pressing lightly to adhere. Place on a plate, then repeat with remaining mixture.
- Once all crab cakes are formed and dredged in panko breadcrumbs place in the refrigerator, or freezer, to chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
- To a large, heavy skillet add the oil over medium heat. Carefully place the crab cakes in the pan, do not crowd. Pan fry crab cakes until lightly browned and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Transfer fried crab cakes to a rack set over a baking sheet or a paper towel lined plate, and season immediately with salt.
- Keep warm in a low oven until all the crab cakes are fried.
- Or serve immediately with hot sauce and remaining lemon wedges.