How-To: Maryland Crab Cakes

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crab cakes, crab, maryland crab cakes
I’ve known for a long time that there was going to be a crab cake post.  Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved these delicate balls of crabby deliciousness!  Big chunks of the slightly sweet crab drizzled with a little bit of lemon and lightly dipped in tartar sauce.  Oh…so good.  I just knew I had to share a recipe for good Maryland crab cakes.

And there’s only one recipe that I can share. My grandma’s.  My Dad’s mom lived and worked in Baltimore, MD and had the BEST crab cake recipe.  And although she’s passed away, my Dad was able to pass down her recipe to me and now I’m sharing it with you.  It’s simple and quick and holds true to what a proper Maryland crab cake should be.

As a native Marylander and a crab cake eating expert, I’m very picky about my crab cakes and am a tough critic on those serve them.  I have to be!  Many try to replicate this delicate dish and fail miserably.  Adding all kinds of unwanted ingredients (like excessive amounts of bread crumbs) and mashing the crab until its completely unidentifiable.  This is not how Marylanders do our crab cakes.  No sir.  There are rules to follow, ingredients banned from the mixing bowl and proper crab handling techniques!  And without these, I’m sorry to say it’d be mighty tough to produce a true Maryland crab cake.

So here are my tips and tricks to help you make the perfect Maryland crab cake:

  • Use only Chesapeake Maryland blue crab (blue for their bright blue claws and legs).  I know I’m being picky here.  But it’s called a Maryland crab cake for a reason.  This crab has an ever so slightly sweet flavor and pairs perfectly with Old Bay.
  • Speaking of Old Bay… it’s a seafood seasoning from McCormicks and used to be manufactured in Baltimore in the Inner Harbor.  There’s no substitute.  You just have to use it!
  • Use jumbo lump meat if possible.  Jumbo lump is super expensive, but totally 100% worth the cost.  If you really don’t want to spend that kind of money, you can buy an 8 oz container of jumbo lump and an 8 oz container of backfin or mixed meat.
  • Check for shells – gently check over each lump of crab meat for shells.  You’re bound to find at least one.  But be careful!  Crab meat is delicate and breaks up easily.  And you definitely want to keep the lumps together – this makes for great fall apart crab cakes.
  • When mixing the crab meat into the binding mixture (see below) try your best to stir/fold the meat in gently.  Again, you want to keep the lumps of crab whole.

crab cakes, crab

Now you have the tips… here’s my family recipe.  Now, no matter where you live, you can enjoy the wonders of an authentic Maryland crab cake!

Maryland/Grandma’s Crab Cakes:


  • 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat 
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp dried mustard or 1/4 Dijon
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning


  1. Mix the mayonnaise, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, egg, mustard and Old Bay together in a large mixing bowl.  Ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.  Set aside.
  2. Pick through each individual lump of crab meat.  DO NOT break up each lump.
  3. Add crab meat to mayonnaise and egg mixture.  Lightly fold crab meat into the mixture.
  4. Form into 4 balls pressing slightly to hold their shape.
  5. Either broil the crab cakes for about 7 minutes or pan fry on each side until golden brown.
  6. Serve with an extra sprinkling of Old Bay, lemon wedges, tartar sauce or cocktail sauce.

Are you a crab cake fan?  What’s your favorite way to eat them – fried or broiled?  Do you have any family recipes to share?  Love to hear them!


  1. Sara @ Nourish and Flourish

    February 14, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Thanks for sharing this special family recipe with us, Maria! Like you, I’m a HUGE crab cake fan, however my love is relatively new; I think the first time I tried one was shortly after I moved to the east coast for college. A few girls and I took a day trip to Baltimore, and ate at one of the famous restaurants by the water. My first few bites of crab cake were life changing. 😉

    I have no doubt that your grandmother’s recipe is even BETTER than those found in restaurants! <3

    • mewinebrenner

      February 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

      I’m glad you’re a crab cake convert! They are so good and Baltimore definitely has some great ones!

  2. dario

    February 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Few words can describe accurately how i feel about these crab cakes!

    • mewinebrenner

      February 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

      I’m sure tonight when you have them for dinner you’ll come up with something good to say!

  3. carrian

    February 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve never had a crab cake! I must try it!

    • mewinebrenner

      February 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Really? Well if you like crab, then you’ll definitely like these!

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