Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes

These gluten free crab cakes are the best you’ll ever have, gluten free or not! They’re thick, full of lump crab meat and hardly any filler, and are so easy to make.

two crab cakes on a white plate with sauce and green beans

I’ve been wanting to make crab cakes for YEARS!! My family has a recipe that they’ve used for a long time now, but I could never find a suitable substitute for the Saltine crackers called for in the recipe. Until now. And I’ve actually found a FEW suitable gluten free subs so if you can’t find one, you can try the other one!

Secrets to the Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes

If you live in Virginia Beach or have ever been here, there’s a restaurant that has several locations that makes the BEST crab cakes I’ve ever had! Surf Rider is a locally owned and local favorite restaurant that’s been making fresh seafood taste fabulous for years and years, since I can remember.

Every time we went for lunch, when I used to work down the street from one, I would always order the crab cake sandwich. Their crab cakes were, and still are, legendary in the VB/Norfolk area. But, unfortunately they’re not gluten free. So once I was diagnosed it was just another thing I had to put on my mental list of things I could no longer have. That list was growing and growing 😢

My son actually used to work at Surf Rider a few years back as a dishwasher (his second job ever). I begged him to ask them if they’d give me their recipe so I could try to make them gluten free, but that never happened. I can tell you, the two things that stood out in a Surf Rider crab cake that most others didn’t have is the use of jumbo lump crab meat and hardly any fillers.

The Ingredients

If there are more than a handful of ingredients in a crab cake recipe, there are too many. Crab cakes should let the crab sing and not be filled with all kinds of other flavors that mask this amazingly perfect gift that we’ve been given from the sea.

  • Jumbo lump crab meat–I can’t stress it enough. Don’t buy the cheap stuff here. The larger the lumps, the better your crab cake will be.
  • Gluten free Saltine-style crackers–I used Milton’s Crispy Sea Salt gluten free crackers (affiliate link), but another great one is Schar Table Crackers (affiliate link).
  • Mayonnaise
  • Egg
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce–just a dash
  • Butter–for drizzling on the unbaked crab cakes
fork full of crab meat from a crab cake

Gentle, Gentle!

Using jumbo lump crab meat is a no brainer to me. The crab has to be the star of the show in a crab cake because it’s not hiding behind anything else. And why would you want it to anyway?

can of jumbo lump crab meat

But if you buy the good stuff and then proceed to break up those lumps, you’re doing the crab (and yourself) a disservice. Make sure to keep those huge lumps of wonderfully sweet blue crab as large as possible when mixing the ingredients. Be very gentle so as not to break up those lumps. Fold those lumps in, just until well combined with the other ingredients.

folding in the crab meat

Surf Rider’s crab cakes were always nice and thick, and that’s the way I like them. Carefully shape your crab cakes, pressing between your hands gently, but enough to help them hold together.

molded unbaked crab cake

Place the crab cakes on a foil-lined baking sheet that’s been lightly coated with softened butter. Then set the baking sheet in the fridge for at least an hour. This will allow the crab cakes and the minimal amount of filler to firm up and be able to hold their shape when ready to bake.

Baked, Not Fried

You may like a fried crab cake and really, crab cakes any way you make them are the bomb. But I urge you to try these crab cakes baked instead of fried.

I feel that when crab cakes are fried, they get too crispy on the outside. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you bake them the crab will still retain the texture it’s supposed to be, tender and meaty. As if you just picked it from the crab yourself.

Of course, you can fry them if you’d like. To fry, place them in a skillet that’s been heating over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of butter. Fry on one side for a few minutes, flip to the other side and fry until crisp. When frying, you may need to make the crab cakes a little thinner.

baked crab cakes on baking sheet

Blue crab is the star in these best ever gluten free crab cakes. They’re meaty and tender with just the right amount of filling, and they’re ready in a snap!

two crab cakes on a white plate with sauce and green beans

Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes

These gluten free crab cakes are the best you'll ever have, gluten free or not! They're thick, full of lump crab meat and hardly any filler, and are so easy to make.
Print Recipe
CourseMain Course
Keywordbest ever, crab cakes, Gluten Free
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Servings6 crab cakes


  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shells
  • 1 cup crushed Saltine-style gluten free crackers (Milton's, Scharr, or any other brand will do)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp butter


  • In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and egg until smooth. Shake in a couple of drops of hot sauce, or more to taste. Stir in cracker crumbs.
  • Add crab meat and fold in very gently so as not to break up large lumps.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spread with some of the softened butter. Set aside.
  • Using your hands, carefully mold each cake, using about ½ cup mixture per each crab cake. Place them on the buttered baking sheet a few inches apart.
  • Chill crab cakes for at least one hour, or up to 4.
  • Preheat oven to 450° F. Remove crab cakes from the fridge. If desired, brush or drizzle each crab cake with the rest of the butter that's been melted and bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and sizzling.


Wrap leftover crab cakes and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for 3 months.  Reheat leftover crab cakes in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes.  
Crab cakes can also be frozen before baking.  Place pre-portioned cakes on lined baking sheet and freeze until solid.  Place cakes in a freezer ziptop baggie and remove as much air as possible.  Thaw overnight in refrigerator before baking as directed.  

17 thoughts on “Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes”

  • Hi! I can’t wait to make this- please tell me about the crab meat you use. Is it fresh from the seafood case? My grocery store only has imitation crab meat. Is it canned? If so- can you tell us what brand? Thank you! And thanks for all you do!

    • Hi, Margie! I actually got this particular crab meat at my local commissary (my husband is retired Navy). It was Phillips seafood brand and here is a link to their website, which has a “where to buy” section on it to try to find it locally: I bought two of their 1/2 pound containers and I could have eaten the crab meat cold right out of the container, it was that good!

      If you can’t find jumbo lump crab meat in your area, the next best thing is lump and then backfin. I wouldn’t use claw crab meat for crab cakes.

      I hope you’re successful in finding this in your area. It truly is sensational, especially if you’re a blue crab lover like I am 🙂

      • I am in Maryland and made this recipe last night for New Years Eve and my family said it was the best crabcakes they’ve ever had! I used JUMBO lump crab from the grocery store seafood counter and Schar gluten free crackers (only 1 pack very crushed). I baked for 11 minutes in my ninja food and then broiled them for a few minutes at the end.

  • Made these mini size as apps for Thanksgiving. They were amazingly delicious! I followed the recipe exactly except I used lump crab vs Jumbo lump, and Sriracha instead of hot sauce. These were so easy. I’m so excited because I can never find a GF crabcake when I eat out. My family enjoyed them so much, we’re having them for Christmas too.

    • That’s wonderful, Donna! I’m so glad you and your family loved them!! I year you on finding gf crabcakes anywhere. I hope offering gluten free options will be second nature to most restaurants, but until then we’ll just have to make everything at home 🙂

  • They were ok, but there’s no actual flavouring to them. The second time I did these, I added a little fill, and some of my creole spice mix that I always keep on hand for cases like this, and it turned out a lot better. If you’re ok with no flavour, be my guest. But if you want something that actually makes you feel like you’re eating more than just crab meat on a cracker, play with the recipe. You’ll be thankful you did.

    • I personally like the flavor of the crab with little to no filler, Ivy, and I wouldn’t consider that “no flavor”, but to each his own. We have very flavorful blue crab here in the Chesapeake Bay area. If you like to add more flavorings, then by all means add more 🙂

    • I think it was something like a remoulade sauce. I kind of just threw a bunch of stuff together (I do that often when I’m cooking and not baking). If I can remember right, it was some mayo as the base, a little ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, and capers.

  • I encourage you to try your recipe with your gf brioche. While I was a sous chef at Atlanta Fish Market we used ground brioche for a moisture and richness in our carb cakes and I continue to do so today. I think you’ll love them.

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