A delicious Maryland crab cake recipe with Old Bay mayo made with sweet backfin making it perfect for any seafood lover’s budget.
I’m Baltimore born and bred Y’all and I can tell you that the almighty crab is king in these parts! Baltimoreans don’t play when it comes to their Ravens, O’s, or crabs. While I’m not a sports fan (sorry, not sorry) I am a crab fanatic. I absolutely love steamed crabs covered with Old Bay and dipped in salty melted butter—insert drool emoji. It is all kinds of yum.
Every now an then, however, I get a taste for a hot crispy crab cake on a soft bun with plain yellow mustard or a special concoction I call Old Bay mayo. It’s made with butter, mayo, mustard, and some spices and Old Bay of course. It goes perfectly with fries too!
I use backfin instead of lump crab meat because to be totally honest, it’s just less expensive. And it’s what I grew up eating. Lump crab cakes are what you’ll find mostly in restaurants and pubs. This recipe will accommodate any type of crab meat you choose as long as you use a pound or so.
To get started you will need to properly “pick” or “clean” the crab meat. Basically, you will need to pick through the crab meat for shell fragments missed during packing. This is a crucial step to avoid the unpleasantness of biting into something like an eggshell while enjoying your crab cake.
The picking process isn’t difficult at all. I usually take a fingertip-full of meat into the palm of my hand and sift through it with my fingers feeling for shells. Toss them aside and continue through the container.
How you bind the cakes is crucial. NO ONE likes a bready crab cake. I’ve seen recipes with soaked bread and stale bread cubes that pretty much remain whole in the recipe. It’s not appetizing. I like to use milled saltine crackers and egg yolks to hold mine together. It’s practically dissolved by the mayo and egg yolk so all you taste is crab meat and spices.
Which brings me to my next point. Old Bay is a must. There are many seafood spice blends on the market and I appreciate that they exist. However, if you are going to make a Maryland crab cake it demands Old Bay! I’m moving on now, lol.
Blending the ingredients can be done in different ways. My grandmother uses her hands. Other’s use a large spoon. Some people premix the wet and add in like a dressing. Personally, I just take a rubber spatula and fold everything together. It keeps the lumps of meat intact while mixing. I really just started doing this, but using an ice cream scoop to shape the cakes is a life saver. Everyone gets the same sized cake every time. I then place a piece of parchment or wax paper over them and flatten them with a spatula. You can definitely leave them rounded.
The only thing left to do is fry these babies up and serve them with some luscious Old Bay mayo!
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- 1 lb Maryland blue crab meat backfin
- 20 saltine crackers milled
- 1/2 c mayo
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp pimentos
- 2 tsp Old Bay
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- oil for frying
Old Bay Mayo
- 1/4 c mayo
- 4 tbsp butter softened
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp Old Bay
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- pinch cayenne pepper optional
- In a mixing bowl add picked/cleaned (see post) crab meat, cracker mill, pimento, yolks, mayo, and spices. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
- Use a standard ice cream scoop to make uniformed patties and place on a baking sheet. Either flatten or round scoops before covering with a piece of wax or parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- To fry, add oil to a pan or deep fryer and heat to 375. Remove crab cakes from the fridge and add 3-4 to the hot oil being sure that they don't touch. Deep fry for 3 minutes or 2-3 minutes per side if pan frying.
- Remove patties from the oil and drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining crab cakes. Serve on a toasted bun with Old Bay mayo.
Old Bay Mayo
- Whisk together mayo and soften butter until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Serve immediately or refrigerate. It will solidify if refrigerated. Allow it to come to room temp for easy spreading.