Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Aug

Crab Cakes

Note from Mark: You’re on board with the challenge, but what should you eat? No worries. The Worker Bees and I have you covered. Every Saturday and Sunday during the 30-day challenge we’ll be bringing you some delicious Primal recipes. (Sorry, no Weekend Link Love for the next few weeks!) Enjoy!


There are certain foods that people have very strong opinions about. Often, these opinions are regionally based. If you’ve ever been stuck in the middle of an argument about New York vs Chicago pizza, you know how heated the debate can get. Crab cakes also elicit a strong emotional response. Some cooks swear by Old Bay Seasoning, others use paprika. Some cooks add red pepper, others think it’s sacrilegious to use anything more than diced celery. But across the board, one ingredient seems to remains the same: breadcrumbs. You have to add breadcrumbs to crab cakes to bind them together. Or do you? Questioning these sort of food fallacies is a common practice for modern day Groks. Yes, breadcrumbs hold crab cakes together, but the main reason they’re in crab cakes is to act as filler, so restaurants don’t have to put as much crab in your cake. Making a perfectly delicious crab cake bound together solely by egg yolks is easy to do.

First, let’s talk about fresh crab. You can buy whole crabs, but already picked meat is both easier and usually not much more expensive. Some stores also sell packaged wild-caught crab meat that is pasteurized and refrigerated and slightly less expensive. (this is much different than imitation crab, which should be avoided at all costs). For crab cakes, Dungeness Crab is the most sustainable choice and Blue Crab is a good alternative. Lump meat is the bigger chunks from the body of the crab, often lighter in color with a richer texture. It’s considered the premium part of the crab and you’ll pay premium prices for it. Claw meat has more of a shredded texture – it’s less pretty, but can also be more flavorful (and it often sells for half the price of lump meat.) This recipe uses a combination of the two, for texture and flavor.


1 pound crab meat, combination of lump and claw
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot or onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated off the outside of a lemon)
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup olive oil


Bundle the crab in a thin dishtowel and give it a few hard squeezes to release moisture. You’ll probably be able to get a couple tablespoons of liquid to drip out.

Whisk the egg yolks. Add the shallot, celery, dill, lemon zest, hot sauce and paprika. Gently mix this into the crab. The mixture is not going to look like it will hold together, but don’t worry.

To form the crab cakes all you need is a round cookie cutter about 2 inches wide. Using a tablespoon measurement, scoop 2 generous tablespoons of crab into the cookie cutter.

Press the crab down very firmly with your fingers. Gently lift the cookie cutter.

Using this method, you should be able to make at least a dozen crab cakes. Cover the cakes and refrigerate for one hour or more. This helps the ingredients bind together.

Preheat your oven to 375. On the stovetop, heat the olive oil in a pan. When the oil starts to sizzle, use a spatula to slide the crab cakes into the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side until they are browned and crispy. Don’t put too many in the pan at once.

Use a spatula to scoop the cakes out the pan and onto a cookie sheet. Put in the oven for another six minutes to make sure they are warmed through the middle. Garnish with dill.

The most important steps in this recipe are using the cookie cutter to shape the crab cakes and refrigerating them for at least an hour before cooking. Other than that, let your regional tastes take over. Add red pepper if you like or mustard. Play around with the seasonings. But forget all about the breadcrumbs. You won’t even miss them.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I will be very crabby if I don’t win that shirt.

    jpippenger wrote on August 8th, 2009
  2. YUM!

    suzbuff wrote on August 8th, 2009
  3. I’ve wanted a shirt for a while now…

    Matt wrote on August 8th, 2009
  4. Hmm if only I could eat crab!! Might give this a go with tuna.

    Roger: if you want to get the yolk on its own just pass it between the two “cups” of shell to drain the white off.

    James B wrote on August 8th, 2009
  5. Not a big fan of Crab cakes, but I will definitely have to try these at some point.

    Dangeruss wrote on August 8th, 2009
  6. Mark, I love crab cakes but have stayed away since Feb…tonight we will be reacquainted.



    stevecooksey wrote on August 8th, 2009
  7. OMG, these look fantastic. I will definitely be giving this recipe a try. Thanks, Mark and Worker Bees, for giving us new recipes to keep us happy and PRIMAL.

    Linda wrote on August 8th, 2009
  8. I REALLY want a “Grok On!” T-Shirt. Also, the crab cakes look great. The wife and I are going to try them out.

    Ben Owen wrote on August 8th, 2009
  9. This looks great. I’d suggest pairing this with Primal remoulade sauce. 1/2 cup of olive oil mayonnaise, 1/2 tsp of dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of old bay, and a teaspoon of fresh garlic. Grok on!

    Getsome wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • thanks, that sounds awesome!

      Stacee wrote on August 8th, 2009
  10. i like crab cakes.

    sax wrote on August 8th, 2009
  11. Those crab cakes look soo good, i want to try immediately!

    Jess wrote on August 8th, 2009
  12. Perfect timing, as I am on my way to the farmers market this morning, and there is usually someone selling crab there. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

    crunchysue wrote on August 8th, 2009
  13. The crab looks amazing, especially after deadlifts in the AM!

    Any Primal recipe/substitute for malt vineger?

    Anders wrote on August 8th, 2009
  14. I’ve always been amazed that people will pay outrageous amounts of money for crab cakes that have way more breading than crab. A more honest name would be “crab flavored bread cakes”.

    The hardest part of this recipe will be finding a round cookie cutter in my kitchen. I have some shaped like witch hats, bats, and dog bones, but I don’t think I have a plain old circle.

    Make my shirt black, size small.

    dragonmamma wrote on August 8th, 2009
  15. Wow, this looks really great…can’t wait to try it!

    Stacee wrote on August 8th, 2009
  16. Never made crab cakes before.. i definatly have to try these!

    Alex wrote on August 8th, 2009
  17. Crab Cakes! Love em. Aren’t they the ocean’s Roomba?

    Great recipe!


    Daniel Merk wrote on August 8th, 2009
  18. I was a mother’s dream. Put it on the table and I would eat it. I like all food and will at least try it. Crab cakes look delish and I can almost taste them but I would look cuter in the shirt :)

    pfair143 wrote on August 8th, 2009
  19. mmmmmmm…. crab cakes. I could eat these every meal of every day and it would never get old.

    Jeremy wrote on August 8th, 2009
  20. I don’t like crab cakes but I love this shirt!!

    Scott wrote on August 8th, 2009
  21. Cool, I’m gunna try this with some of the canned salmon I got sitting in the pantry. I’ve also used flax meal as bread crumbs before. I’m sure coconut flour or almond meal would work decently as well.

    TaydaTot wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • Tried these with canned salmon and 1T of coconut flour and 1 egg as binder….along with some onion, hotsauce, cilantro and lime juice. It was really good over mixed greens. Not bad for a thrown together meal!

      toothdr wrote on August 8th, 2009
  22. These look awesome! Thanks Mark

    cowboy beau wrote on August 8th, 2009
  23. Looks really good. Surprised they would be good without the bread crumbs, but will give them a try.

    Jeff wrote on August 8th, 2009
  24. This is a recipe I could do. I can only figure out simple things like this… looks good too.

    Shazkar wrote on August 8th, 2009
  25. I really appreciate all the recipes and other food advice you offer on this site.

    Brian wrote on August 8th, 2009
  26. I’m not big into crab myself but my mom will definately appreciate this recipe

    bigdamhero wrote on August 8th, 2009
  27. Looks great, and something even the kitchen-challenged can handle.

    grokisme wrote on August 8th, 2009
  28. Crab cakes are downright comfort food for my non-primal spouse. Hmmm… a light bulb is flashing here!

    Hello Kitty wrote on August 8th, 2009
  29. I have never actually tried a crab cake. Maybe it’s time.

    IDRISCKY wrote on August 8th, 2009
  30. help, i’m naked, send me a shirt!!!

    gwen wrote on August 8th, 2009
  31. Now that’s my kind of “cake”!

    Danika wrote on August 8th, 2009
  32. I can’t wait to make this…perfect timing too since I need to make up my grocery list soon :)

    Thanks worker bees!

    Bryce wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • Thanks from a Baltimore native!

      Chris wrote on August 8th, 2009
  33. Ok, you forced my hand…I’m getting some crab and making these.

    umuhk wrote on August 8th, 2009
  34. That looks great! I haven’t eaten crab in so long. I’m going to try this recipe.

    John Park wrote on August 8th, 2009
  35. Those look great! Cant wait to try them.

    Michael wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • No seafood for me, perhaps growing up landlocked ruined my taste for it, but I sure would like a grok t-shirt! I promise to post pictures of it in the wild.

      urbanbluegrass wrote on August 8th, 2009
      • Oh sorry about that Michael, meant to comment on the post! :)

        urbanbluegrass wrote on August 8th, 2009
  36. Yum! At my house we *love* crab cakes & now we can eat ’em guilt free!!!

    Deb Fate-Mental wrote on August 8th, 2009
  37. Man, I love crabcakes, so a primal version will definately be put on my To Make list!!

    Blake wrote on August 8th, 2009
  38. These look so good! I love crabcakes and can never find any that aren’t mostly breadcrumbs. I also like the idea of making them with tuna or salmon.

    Welmoed wrote on August 8th, 2009
  39. Delicious! I’ll make these tomorrow night — thanks for the suggestion, Mark.

    joshroman wrote on August 8th, 2009
  40. As usual, I’ve flagged this recipe post in my RSS reader! So many good ones to try :) Of course, the first response I got when mentioning this was: “Oh yeah, *I* know how to make crab cakes.”

    jtkeith wrote on August 8th, 2009

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