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. Yum! Never made these before-Ill try with salmon today since I have those on hand…

    Iceskater wrote on August 8th, 2009
  2. I love crab and now I have a completly Primal way to make crab cakes!

    Chandler W wrote on August 8th, 2009
  3. Crab is some of the most wonderfully flavored meat on the planet (especially the tiny slivers down in each leg).

    I’m going to try the recipe, but I’ll substitute lard (the king of cooking fats) for the olive oil. Lard is much better than olive oil at taking cooking heat without oxidizing (I do like olive oil on salads, however).

    Ross Bagley wrote on August 8th, 2009
  4. Who needs bread in crab cakes anyway?

    This looks exquisite.

    I’m off to Trader Joe’s to get some lamb and, I hope, some real crab meat. My husband and I hope to make the dish tomorrow.

    Agnieszka wrote on August 8th, 2009
  5. Hmm… never been much for seafood, and never tried crab, but things can change. Those look good!

    Zyzzyx wrote on August 8th, 2009
  6. I only recently started liking crab as an adult. Apparently I used to eat it all the time as a small child. This recipe looks lovely. I’ll keep an eye out for some good quality crab.

    Shelley wrote on August 8th, 2009
  7. Tasty. Looks delicious.

    Great Primal Recipe.

    wayland wrote on August 8th, 2009
  8. My wife is from Louisiana, so she KNOWS crab cakes. We’ll have to give these a try and let you know what she thinks.

    (t-shirt, t-shirt, t-shirt… just trying to get some good mojo goin’… t-shirt, t-shirt, t-shirt…)

    Adam Kayce wrote on August 8th, 2009
  9. I’m an XL working myself down to a L after these 30 days.

    Triangle230 wrote on August 8th, 2009
  10. just tried it! great taste! thanks for the idea!

    pieter d wrote on August 8th, 2009
  11. OMG, I have been DYING for salmon cakes. I’ve totally gotta tweak this recipe for salmon, maybe with a horseradish aioli!

    I’m so proud of my mom for picking up a few of my Primal habits- at least on days when I eat at her house. I can’t wait to make these for the family, and totally WOW them on how yummy Primal can be. 😀

    I’ll win them over yet!

    Diana Renata wrote on August 8th, 2009
  12. I was JUST at the market drooling over crab. Ultimately decided to not get it, due to price. Now I see this. Going back now…


    Tara tootie wrote on August 8th, 2009
  13. I love buying Crown Prince Fancy White Crab Meat to make my cakes!

    Great Recipe!

    clayberg wrote on August 8th, 2009
  14. Is Canned Crab Meat ok? I think i remember seeing in a store cans of wild caught canned crab meat, and it wasn’t cheap. I just don’t want to buy something that’s not the real thing.

    David Brzostowicki wrote on August 8th, 2009
    • I would say it is. It isn’t cheap you’re right. It is the real stuff though.

      grok-star wrote on August 8th, 2009
  15. FIrst of all, those look delicious! Second of all, I’ll take a small black and red t-shirt please :)

    hannahc wrote on August 8th, 2009
  16. I’m trying this as soon as I lay my hands on some good crab meat. Thanks for the awesome recipe! I would suggest some cream-based sauce flavored with dill to go with this.

    maba wrote on August 8th, 2009
  17. I meant cream-based dip.

    maba wrote on August 8th, 2009
  18. duuuuude

    Wyatt wrote on August 8th, 2009
  19. Awesome recipe! I’ll have to try it out soon. Garnishing will fresh dill is definitely the way to go.

    Ryan Price wrote on August 8th, 2009
  20. Looks so good, I’ve never cooked crab before, now might be the time to try!

    Nycaise wrote on August 8th, 2009
  21. I now know what I’m making for dinner tonight.

    Min wrote on August 8th, 2009
  22. yum yum!

    Tracy wrote on August 8th, 2009
  23. Great! I figured fish/crab cakes were out!

    Nick wrote on August 8th, 2009
  24. Those look delicious.

    Duane Stevens wrote on August 8th, 2009
  25. I will try this but possibly add a little almond flour in the mix. Looks fabulous though!

    grok-star wrote on August 8th, 2009
  26. Great! More crab and none of that bread filling mixed in like some restaurants make theirs with.

    pjnoir wrote on August 8th, 2009
  27. I grew up on crab cakes, and these look pretty good! That’s pretty crabby!

    Mike Robards wrote on August 8th, 2009
  28. love crab, but never really cared for crab cakes because after a few bites you get overwhelmed by breadcrumbs… but THIS recipe looks terrific! …now I know how I’m going to use the crab legs I’ve got chillin’ in my freezer

    Marti wrote on August 8th, 2009
  29. I love crab cakes, but I have always eaten the kind with breading. I’ll have to try this!

    Matt wrote on August 8th, 2009
  30. Adding stuff to grocery list … now!

    Andy wrote on August 8th, 2009
  31. Looks good.

    Arthur wrote on August 8th, 2009
  32. Ooooh la la! That’s what I adore about digesting Mark’s Daily Apple! Could sustained movement, leaving the breadcrumbs out of the crabcakes, hoisting a few sandbags, and sprinting down the beach really be the key to looking like a Greek Goddess? I’m convinced that you’ve found the secret. Thanks for sharing it!

    Dana wrote on August 8th, 2009
  33. The crab I see when I’m hiking are pretty small. Barely appetizers. Thanks for the chance to win a shirt.

    Gregg wrote on August 8th, 2009
  34. These are the best looking crab cakes I’ve ever seen.

    Greg wrote on August 8th, 2009
  35. Dang, I am on a IF today and those look fantastic!

    Abner wrote on August 8th, 2009
  36. Crabcakes, look great!

    Jeff wrote on August 8th, 2009
  37. Looks delicious!

    I like that dishtowel/cheese cloth “meat strainer”

    Andrew Bueno wrote on August 8th, 2009
  38. Now that’s a crabby patty! Looks good. I may make some tonight.

    Brandon wrote on August 8th, 2009
  39. Great recipe. Thanks!

    Matt Mizwicki wrote on August 8th, 2009
  40. I love crab cakes but have never tried to make them. These look easy and scrumptious – will give it a go soon!

    Ursula wrote on August 8th, 2009

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