Crab Cake Burgers

These crab cake burgers, made with plenty of crab, pimento, Old Bay seasoning, and a little egg, mayo, and crackers to bind, are an enduring summer classic.

A platter with several crab cake burgers topped with tomato in a soft roll.

Good old Old Bay. It’s what lends the distinctive taste to these crab cake burgers as it does to fresh blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay. Simple. Honest. Spectacular. And less is more, both in terms of the amount of Old Bay as well as the type of crab you use. And don’t bother splurging on the pricier lump crabmeat, it will only cause the crab cakes to fall apart during cooking.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Crab Cake Burgers

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes 4 crab cakes
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In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, pimiento, 1/3 of the crumbled crackers, salt, Old Bay, and parsley and mix well.

Gently fold in the crabmeat. The mixture will be wet.

Using your hands, gently shape the mixture into 4 patties, being careful not to press them too compactly. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Gently coat the crab cakes with the remaining crumbled crackers, sprinkling some of the cracker crumbs over the crab cakes and then turning and repeating.

Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add at least 2 tablespoons oil and heat until hot but not smoking.

Add 2 crab cakes to the skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side, gently turning the crab cakes once with a thin metal spatula. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes, adding more oil if needed.

Place a crab cake on each bun and top with a tomato slice, if using. Serve with tartar sauce on the side. Originally published May 11, 2004.

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    *What You Need To Know About Using Salted Saltines In This Recipe

    • If all you have on hand are salted saltines (and really, who can blame you?!), then go ahead and use them and simply cut back on the amount of kosher salt you use in the recipe to no more than 1/2 teaspoon.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This crab cake recipe made a delicious crab burger.

    When I formed the patties, I wrapped them securely in plastic wrap to help hold and compress the mixture before I refrigerated them for 4 hours. I did not coat them with the cracker crumbs until just before I cooked them. I had no trouble with them falling apart in the skillet, although I took great care to handle them very delicately.

    I used all the good stuff to take the crab cakes over the top. I toasted and buttered a soft potato roll, garnished with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce. I would make this again, except I might substitute finely chopped red bell pepper next time instead of the pimentos, as I like just a little bit of crunch in the mixture. I also took note of the saltine flavor coming through and I really enjoyed that!

    One important note about salt, though. I used regular saltines as I wasn’t about to buy a box of unsalted crackers. I couldn’t imagine that using eight small salted crackers would make that much difference. But I found the crab burger to be a bit salty. Once I checked the Old Bay seasoning ingredients I found that it contains salt as well. So, fair warning, if you are using salted saltines make sure to dial back on the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt called for. I also used Dungeness crab instead of lump crab.

    These crab cakes are quite good and make a very good burger or they can be served without the roll on a plate with sides as a main course.

    The mixture is quite wet and may be difficult to handle. Using 2 spatulas for handling the cakes will also help with setting them in the pan and flipping them over. Also, there is a large amount of mixture which could be made into 6 slightly smaller easier to handle cakes rather than 4 large ones. And you could brown them on the stovetop for a couple of minutes on each side and then finish them in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes at 350°F. This will help finish cooking without burning them.

    I suggest adding a full tablespoon of Old Bay rather than the 2 teaspoons to amp up the flavor.


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    1. This recipe sounds wonderful. For those who might not have crabmeat in their budgets during this pandemic time, and knowing that the flavor and texture would suffer a bit, could surimi be substituted for part or all of the crab?

      1. Rita, we appreciate you asking that question as no doubt others are wondering the same. We haven’t tried it that way, and suspect it would be fine, although in my experience surimi can be a touch more watery than crab and also fall into longer strips rather than flakes, so be certain to squeeze it dry and know that it may not hold together quite the same as crab. And if you do try it, kindly let us know how it goes!

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