Absolute Best Crab Cakes

It's actually difficult to describe how much I love these crab cakes. They're one of the few things my whole family loves to eat, so for years they came second nature. I never stopped to ask - how can something so decadent be so low calorie, and so quick and simple to make? 

The decadence of crab cakes comes from crab, an ingredient I think of as pretty expensive. Recently, though, I've found 1 pound Chicken of the Sea cans of claw crab meat at Trader Joe's for less than $10; it's a high quality steal. The big chunks of claw meat have great flavor and are a great alternative to $30 fresh crab or $3 "white" canned crab. Plus, they keep well when refrigerated. 

The brilliance of these crab cakes is their simplicity. They're really just little pillows of high protein, low calorie crab without a lot of fillers - just a pinch of breadcrumbs, scallions, herbs, and mayo. (If you want a big, bready, heavy crab cake - this is not the recipe for you.)

All of the ingredients come together in a single bowl and get portioned out to quickly bake, not pan fry. Pan frying requires more calories, takes a lot longer, and the cakes fall apart when you flip them.

One round of these crab cakes is about right for three people, four if you serve them with a good side dish. You could make three or four huge crab cakes, but I prefer to make 14 smaller ones; it feels like you're eating more, and it's easier to portion out exactly how much you want to eat.

Absolute Best Crab Cakes

Yield: 14 Mini Crab Cakes
Serving Size: 4 Crab Cakes
Nutrition: 170 Calories | 28g Protein | 4g Fat

Time to Food: prep time + cook time

Ingredients

  • 1 lb crabmeat (I love the large Chicken of the Sea cans from Trader Joe's)
  • 1 bunch of diced scallions (around 100g)
  • Handful of herbs, diced (parsley, cilantro, or dill)
  • 1 tsp Old Bay
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 1/4 cup light mayo
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 egg white

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients, excluding egg white. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don't mash up your lumps of crab - big pieces are what you pay for - unless you like a really pureed, smooth crab cake.
  3. Carefully mix in egg white to bind everything together. (Stop tasting!)
  4. Scoop 1.5" diameter cakes onto a foil or parchment lined pan. I love to use an ice cream scoop for this - makes it so much easier. Scoops are great for anything that needs to be evenly portioned, like muffins.
  5. Chill crab cakes in the fridge. This isn't required, but they'll hold their shape better if they're cold. You can chill for as little as 10 minutes or as much as 24 hours.
  6. Bake crab cakes for 12 minutes, until golden. Let them cool a bit before you dig in! These crab cakes continue to be fanstastic frozen and reheated.

Variations

The original recipe for these crab cakes came (years and years ago through my family) from Cooks Illustrated, where they recommend dusting the cakes in flour and pan frying them. You can do that if you like, but I find it's unnecessary.

I like to make these cakes on the smaller size, so I get to eat 3-4 as a meal, but you can also make 3-4 large cakes from this recipe. They would be killer topped with an egg (crab cakes benedict!) or as appetizers. A very similar set of ingredients would also make a great crab salad - just leave out the egg white!