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 gluten free crab cakes on white plate with remoulade sauce and green beans.

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.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Egg
  • Dijon mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce–just a dash
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter–for drizzling on the unbaked crab cakes
fork full of crab meat from a crab cake with green beans in the background.

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?

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.

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.

molded unbaked crab cake

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

What Kind of Crabmeat is Best for Crab Cakes?

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.

What’s the Best Way to Stop Crab Cakes From Falling Apart?

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.

Can I Fry These Crab Cakes?

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?

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

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 gluten free crab cakes on white plate with remoulade 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
CuisineAmerican
Keywordbest ever, crab cakes, Gluten Free
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Servings6 crab cakes
AuthorKim

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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.  



19 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: https://www.phillipsfoods.com/products/crab-meat/ 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.

  • In your recipe, 1 lb of jumbo lump crab meat makes approx. how many cakes? Also in your comments you mention season w/ salt & pepper to taste, but not listed in the actual recipe, perhaps 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper? Also, in your photo you show some garnish on top of the cakes — is parsley, or dill, etc? I can get Jumbo Lump Crab Meat at our local Whole Foods, so I’m anxious to try this recipe this weekend!

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