Make restaurant-quality, Gluten-Free Crab Cakes at home! Lump crab meat is the star of these Maryland-style crab cakes with little filler. You'll love their crispy outside texture and buttery, savory flavor inside!
It's easier than you think to make homemade crab cakes! You'll feel like a chef when you serve up these amazing Gluten-Free Crab cakes for an appetizer or main dish.
They're crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and bursting with buttery, savory flavor. Lump crab meat is the star of these Maryland crab cakes, which contain little filler.
Don't look for any bits of pimento here, because there are none. I firmly believe the only chunks in crab cakes should be chunks of crab!
I've been making a version of these for years and recently overhauled my recipe to include better-quality canned crab from the seafood department instead of the so-so stuff in the pantry aisle at the grocery store. I also added ingredients like Old Bay and mayo to take these crispy crab cakes over the top.
You have to try them! And don't miss my other seafood recipes!
Lump crab meat: This is the best crab meat for crab cakes, due to its convenience, quality and taste. There are no shells to crack and clean, and it's more economical than buying fresh crab.
Look for lump crab meat in the refrigerated section of the seafood department. It's often sold in large cans, but you may see it in plastic tubs. Lump crab meat is fully cooked.
Note that lump crab meat is gluten-free, while imitation crab meat contains wheat and is not gluten-free.
If using rolled oats instead of quick oats, you'll need to pulse them in a blender or food processor first to make them more fine.
If you need the crab cakes to be gluten-free, you must use gluten-free oats. While oats are naturally gluten-free, during the manufacturing process they may come in contact with wheat products. Always check the label first.
If you don't need to make gluten-free crab cakes, feel free to use regular oats or even bread crumbs.
Shallots: These look like small onions with a brown papery skin and purple interior. Shallots taste milder though, and almost sweet.
Unlike sautéed onions, shallots are so delicate, they practically melt when cooked with butter or olive oil.
So, you won't notice any chunks. Just delicious savory flavor!
If you don't have a shallot, you can substitute part of a red onion.
Seasonings: I love adding Old Bay (affiliate link) to seafood dishes. It's delicious here, but if you don't have any, you can add a little extra salt and perhaps some paprika.
Oil: We're making pan-fried crab cakes, so use oil with a high smoke point and mild flavor. Canola oil works best, but you could substitute avocado oil. When making crab cakes, avoid using olive oil, which has a lower smoke point and will burn during frying.
How to make crab cakes
(See the recipe card at the end of this post for full instructions, but here's an overview.)
- Saute the shallots in melted butter until soft.
- Whisk the mayo into a beaten egg.
- Add the shallots and egg mixture to a bowl with the crab, oats and seasonings.
- Gently fold the ingredients together with a silicone spatula (affiliate link) to combine. Chill the crab cake batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Shape the crab patties and pan fry them until browned and crispy on both sides.
Tips to keep crab cakes from falling apart
- Use some mayo, along with the egg, as a binder. Use a filler such as fine oats.
- Chill the crab cake batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to one day before shaping and cooking the crab cakes.
- When pan frying the crab cakes, let the bottoms develop a browned crust before flipping them. If you nudge the crab cakes and they move easily, they're ready to be flipped. If you try to flip them too soon, they'll break.
- Use a narrow metal spatula (affiliate link) to flip the crab cakes if possible. A wider spatula can bump into the other crab cakes and break them.
What to serve with crab cakes
Have lemon wedges ready to squeeze onto these mouthwatering crab cakes. You technically don't need anything else, but you can use mayo or my Homemade Basil-Garlic Mayonnaise as a crab cake sauce.
They're also delicious with a drizzle of balsamic glaze! In fact, you can make a meal out of these Gluten-Free Crab Cakes like I do by serving them with long-grain rice, Italian peas with onions and balsamic glaze on top.
Pan frying crab cakes in oil will give them a nice, crispy texture on the outside, and a tender texture inside. After testing other methods, I can say frying makes the best crab cakes. A splatter screen (affiliate link) helps keep the oil from splashing out of the pan.
Air fryer crab cakes are the next best thing to pan-fried. Spray the tops of the crab cakes with cooking spray, then air fry them at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes total. You'll need to flip them over after the first six minutes and spray the other sides with oil before continuing to cook them.
Baking crab cakes will not provide the same crispy results as pan-frying them on the stove. But if you wish to make crab cakes in the oven, you can bake them on a greased sheet pan at 450 degrees F for 12-14 minutes without flipping them. Then, broil them on the top rack of your oven for three minutes.
More seafood recipes
- Beer-Steamed Littleneck Clams
- White Wine Clam Sauce for Pasta
- Parmesan Baked Cod (Keto, GF)
- Jumbo Fried Shrimp
- Oven-Fried Cod
- Pan-Fried Cod Fish
If you try these Gluten-Free Crab Cakes, be sure to leave a comment and rating!
Gluten-Free Crab Cakes
- 1 pound canned lump crab meat (from refrigerated seafood area)
- ½ cup oats (quick or rolled) (Use gluten free if needed.)
- 1 medium shallot (Peel it and use both cloves inside.)
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 ¼ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- lemon wedges for serving
- Place the crab in a medium mixing bowl. If there are large lumps of crab, flake them with a fork a bit, so the crab cakes will hold together better.
- If using rolled oats instead of quick oats, measure out ½ cup and pulse them in a food processor or blender to make them more fine. Add the oats to the bowl of crab.
- Peel a medium shallot and finely chop it. (It should equal about ⅓ cup of chopped shallot.) Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and cook the shallots in it until they are soft. Add the buttery shallots to the crab bowl.
- Beat an egg in a small bowl or measuring cup and whisk in the mayonnaise. Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the crab. Add the Old Bay, pepper and salt and gently fold the crab cake mixture with a silicone spatula to combine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour (or up to one day) so the crab cakes you make will hold together better.
- To shape the crab cakes, use a ½-cup measuring cup to scoop each one. Place the mound of batter between your hands and gently squeeze it into a patty. You should end up with seven crab patties.
- Wipe out any bits of shallot left in your skillet with a paper towel, so they don't burn during frying. Add three tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Heat it on medium high until hot. Use a narrow metal spatula to carefully add the crab cakes to the pan in a single layer, without any of them touching.
- Cook the crab cakes on the first side until a brown crust develops on the bottom, and the crab cakes are easy to nudge. It could take 5-6 minutes. (If you try flipping them too soon, they'll break.) If the oil splashes, lower the heat slightly, so it's just higher than medium. If you have a frying shield, it helps to place it over the pan to prevent oil splashing out.
- When you can easily nudge the crab cakes and they slide, flip them over carefully using a narrow spatula. Cook the second side for about five minutes, until the bottom is browned and crispy. Transfer the cooked crab cakes to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Let them rest for five minutes.
- To serve, squeeze on some lemon juice and serve with lemon wedges. You also could serve the crab cakes with mayo, if desired.
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C. Originally published on September 24, 2015 and updated now with an improved recipe, new photos and additional information.)