Little Crisp Crab Cakes

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

My literary agent, Chicagoan Nancy Crossman, raved about the little crab cakes her friend would make for girls night out parties. Since there is nothing better than a terrific crab cake recipe, Nancy begged Allyson Laackman for the recipe. The secrets are folding good lump crabmeat gently into the mix and using the Japanese bread crumbs known as panko, which both slightly bind the cakes and coat them before frying. Served warm, these are beautiful showered with parsley and/or capers and surrounded by lemon slices for squeezing. Set out small plates and forks or, if the crab cakes are being passed around at a larger gathering, place each on top of a toasted French bread round that is about the same size as the crab cake.

Panko, coarse Japanese bread crumbs, are similar to our dry bread crumbs but, because of their flakier texture, they’re a whole lot crunchier. You’ll find boxes of panko in the supermarket aisle with the Asian ingredients.

BIG BATCH: You can double this recipe easily. Allow additional time for dredging and frying the crab cakes.


If it is possible to fry the crab cakes at the party, do so—they’ll have the best flavor that way. Tote the unbaked crab cakes on a baking sheet.

If not, after frying and draining the crab cakes, place them on a baking sheet and cover it with plastic wrap. They can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours. At the party, preheat the oven to 350°F unwrap the baking sheet, and bake the crab cakes until heated through and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Bring along a platter and the lemon wedges and capers or chopped parsley for garnishing (you can tote them in small plastic bags).


You can make the crab cake mixture and form the crab cakes early in the day. Place them on a lined baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it’s time to cook or travel.

Serves8 (makes 24 small crab cakes, 1½ inches each)

Preparation Time20 min

Preparation Time - Text20 minutes; Chill 30 minutes

Cooking Time9 min

Cooking Methodfrying


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party

Recipe Coursehors d'oeuvre, hot appetizer

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealbrunch, dinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, crisp, herby, savory, spiced

Type of Dishcanape/crostini


  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon coarse grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked over for cartilage
  • 1 heaping cup plus 2 tablespoons panko (see Notes)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup capers, drained
  • or chopped fresh parsley


  1. Place the mayonnaise, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, Old Bay seasoning, and egg in a large mixing bowl and mix with a fork until the egg is well incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

  2. Gently fold in the crab and 2 tablespoons of the panko until the mixture just comes together and is still fairly loose. Form 24 small crab cakes, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter, and place them on a parchment paper- or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.

  3. When you are ready to fry the crab cakes, preheat the oven to 300°F.

  4. Dust the crab cakes on both sides with the remaining heaping cup of panko crumbs and set aside the baking sheet. Place the olive oil and vegetable oil in a large frying pan and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Working in batches, carefully slide the crab cakes into the hot oil and cook until lightly browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. As the crab cakes finish cooking, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Remove the parchment paper or waxed paper from the baking sheet and place the drained crab cakes on the sheet. When all of the crab cakes are cooked, place the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm, preferably for only 20 minutes but they can be kept warm for up to an hour.

  5. To serve, carefully transfer the hot crab cakes to a serving platter. Garnish the platter with the lemon wedges and sprinkle capers or chopped parsley over the crab cakes.



I have not made this yet so I cannot rate it.

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I also had to add extra panko to get them to stay together but they were FABULOUS! I made them for my in-laws and they said they were better than any they have ever had in any restaurant!

Outstanding! Had to add additional panko to get them dry enough to stay together. Made these for our holiday party and the plate was empty within 5 minutes. Will make again.


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