Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!

How to improve the world-famous Maryland crab cake recipe? It might not be possible, but I decided to give it a go by adding a slight Parisian twist to the dish. The whole idea started after Len and I returned from a recent trip to Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland, cities located on the Chesapeake Bay – which is about 200 miles long and filled with crabs, oysters and rockfish.

Because the Chesapeake Bay is teeming with seafood, Marylanders have developed their own trademark crab cake recipe, typically made from blue crabs and seasoned with mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning mix.

Old Bay is made of celery salt, ground dried bay leaves, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and other spices. It gives a nice spicy, smoky flavour and is ideal for sea food and chicken recipes. Old Bay was purchased by McCormick & Co in 1990, but you can make your own mixture if you cannot find it in your local supermarket.*


Old Bay

Maryland Crab Cakes are usually formed into large round cakes and are either fried or broiled. We recently ate crab cakes and onion rings at ‘Chick and Ruth’s Delly’ in Annapolis, Maryland and their crab cakes were absolutely HUMONGOUS:

Crab Cakes at ‘Chick and Ruth’s Delly’ (Annapolis)

Chick and Ruth's photo (3)

For my own style of crab cakes though, I decided to steer away from the HUMONGOUS, instead going for a more ‘delicate’ presentation – one you might perhaps find in Paris (or maybe that’s in my imagination), while still retaining some of the traditional flavors of the Maryland crab cake. Plus I added a few more herbs such as chives and basil.

So, here is my own recipe for Crab Cakes. You can use any kind of crab meat – I decided to use fresh Dungeness crabs since they are found on the west coast of the USA, where I am now based. But you could also use canned crab although I find that fresh crab is best.

Rather than using store-bought mayonnaise, it’s best to make your own mayonnaise from scratch – very easy to do if you have your own food processor (I used a mini-processor). You will use the mayonnaise as a binding agent for your crab cakes, but set aside a little to use later as garnish for your crab cakes. AND go easy on the Old Bay or else your cakes will taste too salty.

 Crab Cakes


  • 750 g (3/4 lb) crab meat
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. chopped shallots
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 egg yolks whisked with 1 tbsp. water
  • 2 cups dried bread crumbs, finely chopped

For the Mayonnaise

  •  1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) peanut or canola oil


  1. To remove the meat from the crab, first lift the back from the crab. You will see some entrails and ‘lungs’ – remove these from the crab.
  2. Turn the crab so that the legs are placed on either side of you; grasp the body and pull the crab in half, then remove the meat.
  3. Use pliers or a ‘nut cracker’ to crack the legs open and pick out the meat.

IMG_5790 IMG_5791 IMG_5794

4. Place the crab meat into a bowl; add the garlic, shallots, basil, chives and black pepper and mix well; set aside.

5. To make the mayonnaise, place the following ingredients into a food processor: egg yolk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and zest, Old Bay and shallots . Pulse on ‘high’ until all ingredients and processed until smooth.

6. With the motor running, gradually add the oil a little at a time until the mixture emulsifies into a mayonnaise.



7. Using a spatula, fold the mayonnaise into the crab mixture, but reserve a small amount to serve later as extra sauce for the crab cakes.

8. Firmly pack the crab meat into each pastry ring. Prepare the egg wash by mixing the 2 egg yolks with 1 tbsp. water in a small bowl; brush the egg wash onto the top of each pastry ring, packed with the crab meat (this is to help the bread crumbs stick to the crab meat).

9. Place the dried bread crumbs onto a large plate. Transfer each pastry ring to the plate and sprinkle bread crumbs on top of the crab meat mixture. Using a spatula, turn over the ring, brush the other side with the egg wash and sprinkle it generously with bread crumbs.


10. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a fry pan over medium high heat. Place one crab meat/pastry ring at a time over the heat and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom becomes golden brown. Using a spatula, turn the ring over and brown the other side.

11. Transfer the crab cake to a serving plate and then gently remove the ring- your crab cake should have a nice round shape. To garnish, sprinkle each cake with finely died chives and red bell pepper. Serve a dollop of the reserved mayonnaise on the side for extra sauce.

* To make your own Old Bay seasoning, refer to:



You Might Also Like

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    September 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

    That’s really lovely, Fran and I’ll bet it tastes fantastic!
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted…Success in My GardenMy Profile

    • Fran
      September 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Thanks Maureen. Yes, they tasted so good I felt like going back for seconds (but there weren’t any left!)
      Fran recently posted…Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!My Profile

  • Dan
    September 14, 2013 at 1:55 am

    I LOVE crabcakes and these look amazing! Great work!

  • Christina @ The Hungry Australian
    September 15, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Your crab cakes look incredible, Fran. Beautiful presentation.
    Christina @ The Hungry Australian recently posted…My Mother’s Chicken Liver PâtéMy Profile

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    September 16, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Crab cakes made from fresh crab-what a delicious indulgence Fran! 😀
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella recently posted…Spinach & Cheese GozlemeMy Profile

    • Fran
      September 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Thanks Lorraine. I tried making crab cakes once using canned crab and it just wasn’t the same- fresh is best!
      Fran recently posted…Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!My Profile

  • [email protected]
    September 16, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I love crab cakes! And haven’t made any for ages – I need to again. Old Bay is wonderful stuff, isn’t it? I’ve never thought to put it in my mayo, though – I gotta try that!
    [email protected] recently posted…Zucchini PancakesMy Profile

  • Sandra | Sandra's Easy Cooking
    September 18, 2013 at 1:41 am

    I think yours look much more delicious, and of course your presentation is stunning! I have no doubt that this is very tasty recipe, Fran! Have a wonderful week and thank you for sharing!
    Sandra | Sandra’s Easy Cooking recently posted…Japanese sweet potato baked friesMy Profile

  • Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
    September 18, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Even though I love crab cakes, humongous can be really off-putting. I like that you’ve gone for a more manageable portion and love that crust!
    Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen recently posted…Basmati Salad – from leftover, to lively !My Profile

    • Fran
      September 19, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Thanks for your comment. I just looked up the word ‘humongous’ to make sure I spelled it correctly. Yep, got it right this time!
      Fran recently posted…Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!My Profile

  • GourmetGetaways
    September 18, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    What an amazing recipe, and so gorgeously presented! SO much nicer looking than usual!!
    You are so clever to think of this!
    GourmetGetaways recently posted…Paradise Resort – Gold CoastMy Profile

  • Juliana
    September 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I love crab cake and here you sure excelled…look so elegant…I love it!
    I love old bay too…and use often with seafood.
    Thanks for this awesome recipe and hope you are having a wonderful week 😀
    Juliana recently posted…Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Cilantro DressingMy Profile

  • [email protected]
    September 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I have never made crab cakes at home. I want to rectify that right now 😀 Delicious!
    [email protected] recently posted…Eggless Vanilla ice-cream (no machine)My Profile

  • Anneli (Delicieux)
    September 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I adore crab cakes and as usual, yours are stunning! Great tutorial for sorting out a fresh crab too. I love the simplicity of your recipe – that you don’t need to cook it for long, just enough to make the top and bottom crispy and golden. Just lovely.
    Anneli (Delicieux) recently posted…A Fond Farewell to the Glut – Salmon & Courgette LasagneMy Profile

    • Fran
      September 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Anneli, I agree that the cooking time is not long. The main time-consuming thing is getting the fresh crab meat out of the crab- unless you can buy it already-prepared.
      Fran recently posted…Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!My Profile

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook
    September 28, 2013 at 3:43 am

    My husband bought that seasoning for his cooking (maybe it was bbq dish?) but I had no idea how to use it so thanks for this recipe! The crab cakes look beautiful! I became allergic to crab a few years ago, but I still enjoy here and there (can’t resist!). I wish I can have this dish tonight…. 🙂
    Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted…Green Tea Donuts 抹茶ドーナツMy Profile

    • Fran
      September 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Thanks for your comment, Nami. If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, you should be tempted with lots of seafood!
      Fran recently posted…Maryland Crab Cakes – Paris Style!My Profile

  • Adrian (food rehab)
    September 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Woah…this belongs in a fine dining restaurant! You gotz skills. Lovely presentation indeed
    Adrian (food rehab) recently posted…The Brunch, Brunch, Brunch Bootcamp! 10 Cafes, 4 daysMy Profile

  • Simply Sweet Justice
    November 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I made these and loved them! THANK YOU!
    Simply Sweet Justice recently posted…PastramiMy Profile