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. Nice! I am going to forward this to my Dad; he’s not primal but is wheat and gluten intolerant so any burger/patty-type recipe that doesn’t involve breadcrumbs as a filler is fantastic! Thanks for the recipe :)

    grainfreegirl wrote on August 8th, 2009
  2. I don’t eat crab… but I’d LOVE a t-shirt!

    Arielle wrote on August 8th, 2009
  3. I keep thinking that Crab would be a good addition to my diet – never found a good way to do it though. Thanks for the idea – I’ll give it a whirl…

    ChrisCFW wrote on August 8th, 2009
  4. This is so much better than the food at lollapalooza! And definitely way more Primal.

    Glenn McElfresh wrote on August 8th, 2009
  5. Grok love crab…Grok hate cake…Grok melts for crab cake!

    Zephyr wrote on August 8th, 2009
  6. First time poster long time lurker. Cooking this later…

    Kyle wrote on August 8th, 2009
  7. What great insight! Never thought to use a cookie cutter before. I kept trying to figure out how to keep them from becoming a big ball of mush. I knew the refrigeration helped everything adhere together but I still ended up with a soggy mashed-patty. I like to add some worcestershire sauce for some added kick. Not too much or the taste of the crab will suffer, but just enough to pack a punch.

    Michael wrote on August 8th, 2009
  8. I can’t wait to try these. I hate breadcrumbs in crab cakes. It always seems like I’m being cheated.

    milythael wrote on August 8th, 2009
  9. Thanks for another perfectly primal palette pleaser

    Liteman wrote on August 8th, 2009
  10. I don’t mind breadcrumbs in stuff like this as I considered them a necessary binder. Thanks for the binding techniques sans breadcrumbs- good advice for everything from meatloaf to salmon patties.

    Karell wrote on August 8th, 2009
  11. I’m not usually a big fan of crab, but these truly look too good to pass up!

    Heather wrote on August 8th, 2009
  12. That sounds great! That will be tonight’s dinner!

    Karen Z. wrote on August 8th, 2009
  13. Costco sells the pasteurized crab meet in a can – look for it in the refrigerated section near the deli meats. I’ve used it before in some recipes and can vouch that it’s pretty good stuff.

    iamcam wrote on August 8th, 2009
  14. Breadless crab cakes are awesome…let’s be honest you only eat crab cakes for the crab anyway, not the bread!!!

    Grok On!!!

    Derek wrote on August 8th, 2009
  15. This looks great! Why loose the egg whites though? I have used egg to hold ingredients together (often in place of breadcrumbs) but I’ve always used the whites…Is there a tip here, or just a preference? Thanks for the receipe in any case! I smell a PB cookbook Mark!

    lori wrote on August 8th, 2009
  16. since I can’t eat wheat, it’s always great to see recipes that don’t include it! it’s just one more reason to follow this great site.

    DThalman wrote on August 8th, 2009
  17. I am definitely going to be trying this one. Thanks Mark!!!

    Shaun wrote on August 8th, 2009
  18. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm crab cakes. Love em!

    Clint wrote on August 8th, 2009
  19. awesome .. but am wondering where to get the crab meat in chicago!

    RC wrote on August 8th, 2009
  20. I am tempted to eat those..

    Harsh wrote on August 8th, 2009
  21. Ocean City Maryland Crab cakes -Phillips … doesn’t get any better than this

    Christine Witt wrote on August 8th, 2009
  22. Yummm…. I’ll be all about eating some of those. Now, just have to get to the store again.

    That and I want one of those shirts :).

    UKSFighter wrote on August 8th, 2009
  23. I will have to try these. My fiance and I were talking about crab cakes last night…weird!

    lauren wrote on August 8th, 2009
  24. My New York born and raised wife uses Old Bay on her crab cakes. I’m going to make these and see what she thinks — sounds like a great recipe!

    Oh, and I’ll wear the shirt when I work out so the other gym rats ask me about it!! (Still waiting on my copy of Primal Blueprint so I can see how to change my workout.)

    Jim Elwell wrote on August 8th, 2009
  25. Ive never had crab before, but these cakes look good!

    Rob wrote on August 8th, 2009
  26. This is an awesome recipe.

    huey wrote on August 8th, 2009
  27. these look awesome!

    johnny wrote on August 8th, 2009
  28. appreciate the notes on crab processing and sustainability.

    goodfriendsam wrote on August 8th, 2009
  29. must have old bay! Going to try these with some mixed in.

    Joe wrote on August 8th, 2009
  30. The hubby hates crab, but I might have to make some of these for myself. :)

    kallyn wrote on August 8th, 2009
  31. Looks like I need to add a few items to my grocery list. Maybe I’ll go shopping in my NEW t-shirt!?

    Rodney wrote on August 8th, 2009
  32. Looks delicious! Maybe I’ll try those soon.

    Carleigh wrote on August 8th, 2009
  33. Irresistable!

    Ed Hausladen wrote on August 8th, 2009
  34. Crab cakes are one of my biggest weaknesses!

    It’s nice to see a Primal version. Going to make these this weekend!

    Clint wrote on August 8th, 2009
  35. If I remember right, Art Devany was into imitation “krab” for awhile.

    Jeremy Senn wrote on August 8th, 2009
  36. Hmm, never seen crab meat anywhere. Have to keep my eyes open. Sounds nice.

    madMUHHH wrote on August 8th, 2009
  37. It to hot to do that much work for crab, easier to just steam me some legs outside and break them open and enjoy. Having to pick out the meat make you eat slower.

    Holly wrote on August 8th, 2009
  38. mark, these look fantastic! i’d like dinner to be ready around 7ish? :)

    paulettegoesprimal wrote on August 8th, 2009
  39. WAHOO! Grok on with some crab cakes and t-shirts!

    Jon wrote on August 8th, 2009
  40. I don’t do crab. I’ll skip these.

    Charles Long wrote on August 8th, 2009

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