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.
This recipe was originally posted in August 2020 and has been updated with new pics, video, and updated copy.
Some of the items linked in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission.
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 list of ingredients
If there are more than a handful of ingredients in a crab cake recipe, there are too many. At least in my opinion. 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 fake crab or even backfin if you want a really great crab cake. 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). UPDATE: Since first posting these crab cakes, I’ve taken the advice of reader Marshall (thanks, Marshall!) for using ground gluten free brioche instead of crackers. I prefer it now, but any of these options are great.
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Hot sauce–just a dash
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Butter–for drizzling on the unbaked crab cakes
shaping the crab cakes
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?
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.
Surf Rider’s crab cakes were always nice and thick, and that’s the way I like them. Carefully shape your crab cakes, being very gentle so as not to break up all those large pieces of crab. I like to use a large cookie scoop (affiliate link) to scoop them directly onto the parchment, but you can also use a measuring cup (1/3 to 1/2 would be perfect) or something similar.
Place the crab cakes on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet that’s been lightly coated with softened butter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to four. 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 crispy. But if you bake them, the crab will still retain the texture it’s supposed to be, tender and meaty, with just a few crispy areas. As if you just picked it from the crab yourself.
crab cake faq’s
The bigger lumps, the better. If you can find it in your area, jumbo lump crab meat is by far the best. The next best thing is lump, then backfin. Claw meat is not a good option for crab cakes.
Chilling them before baking or frying them will keep crab cakes from falling apart. After shaping, cover them with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour and up to four.
Yes, you can, but you’ll need to make them a little thinner so the egg will be cooked all the way through. 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.
what can i serve with crab cakes?
- Lemon Basil Potato Salad
- No Fuss Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Green Beans with Dijon Cream Sauce
- Fire Roasted Artichokes with Garlic Aioli
- Cheddar Bay Biscuits
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!
Best Ever Gluten Free Crab Cakes
- 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over for shells
- 1 cup (120 g) soft gluten free breadcrumbs, such as from gluten free brioche OR gluten free crackers
- 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 breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs.
- Add crab meat and fold in very gently so as not to break up large lumps.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and spread with some of the softened butter. Set aside.
- Using a scoop, a ½ cup measuring cup, or your hands, carefully mold each cake. Place them on the buttered baking sheet a few inches apart.
- Cover with plastic wrap and 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.