Crab Cakes with Rémoulade Sauce

Let’s talk a little Christmas in June, shall we? Most families have special holiday traditions, and like many typical Italian families, our traditions have always centered primarily around Christmas Eve. It’s a bigger deal than Christmas Day in our family. Growing up, we would gather with our cousins at my grandma’s house, anxiously awaiting nightfall and Santa’s arrival. Countless years were spent in front of the TV waiting for the local weather man to give a “Santa tracker” update, alerting us to his last known location. We passed the time playing and running around while my grandma, mom and aunt prepared the traditional Christmas Eve feast.

Perhaps you’ve heard the lore of the “Feast of the Seven Fishes”? It is an Italian Christmas Eve tradition, where seven different seafood dishes are prepared for the meal. My grandma did it up to the nines. When I was young, the dishes were totally old-school – baccalà, calamari, orange roughy, baked cod, smelts, eel and usually some type of pasta with seafood in it. We showed up at midnight mass reeking of fish! Over the years, with the passing of my grandparents and changing tastes, our menu has undergone some modifications. My mom still makes calamari and either baked cod or orange roughy, but we’ve dabbled in different recipes over the last 5 to 10 years to round out the menu. Two recipes have become mainstays over the last two or three years: crab cakes and coconut shrimp. We’ve modernized the traditional meal a little bit 😉  Even though we make them for Christmas Eve, I usually associate crab cakes with summer meals sitting outside near water, beach getaways and warm evenings. So, I thought it would be fitting if I shared the recipe with you now, during the summer!

We have been making the same Cook’s Illustrated crab cake recipe for a few years now and have always loved it. Which is why I was kind of surprised when I got my May issue of the magazine only to see “Best Crab Cakes” on the cover. I was pretty sure they nailed it the first time, but when they update a recipe, it’s usually only for the better. This time was no exception. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it to see how it compared to the recipe my mom and I had been making. The three major differences between the recipes:

  • The original recipe uses mayonnaise, bread crumbs and egg as a binder. The new recipe uses a shrimp mousse (fresh shrimp ground with heavy cream) as the binder.
  • The original recipe used only scallions as the vegetable flavoring. The new recipe uses finely minced celery, onion and garlic that has been sauteed in butter.
  • The original recipe calls for dredging the crab cakes in flour and then pan-frying. The new recipes uses a coating of toasted panko bread crumbs.

The new recipe is more involved and takes a little longer to prepare, but the final product is worth every single solitary second you spend in the kitchen. These crab cakes are absolutely phenomenal. My mom and Chief Culinary Consultant taste-tested them with me and we couldn’t get over what a tremendous punch of flavor there is. Shrimp and crab are a natural seafood combination, so using the ground shrimp as a binder is totally logical. It provides a meatier texture and a more pronounced seafood flavor, without the least bit of a “fishy” undertone. The rémoulade sauce served alongside is the perfect accompaniment – it’s creamy and has just enough kick.

My mom declared that this recipe has officially replaced the old one in the cherished Christmas Eve menu file. I think that says it all, right?!

One year ago: Veggie Bean Burgers
Three years ago: Old-Fashioned Spice Cake

Crab Cakes with Rémoulade Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes


For the Crab Cakes:
1½ cups panko bread crumbs, divided
Salt & pepper
2 stalks of celery, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
¼ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Rémoulade Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley leaves
½ teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper


1. Make the Rémoulade Sauce: Pulse all ingredients except salt and pepper in food processor until well combined but not smooth, about ten 1-second pulses. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve (the rémoulade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days).

2. Make the Crab Cakes: Place ¾ cup panko in small zipper-lock bag and finely crush with rolling pin. Transfer crushed panko to 10-inch skillet and add remaining ¾ cup panko. Toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer panko to shallow dish and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out skillet.

3. Pulse celery, onion, and garlic in food processor until finely chopped, 5 to 8 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Melt butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add chopped vegetables, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and all moisture has evaporated, 4 to 6 minutes. Return vegetables to large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Rinse out pan and wipe clean.

4. Pulse shrimp in now-empty food processor until finely ground, 12 to 15 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Add cream and pulse to combine, 2 to 4 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer shrimp puree to bowl with cooled vegetables. Add mustard, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning; stir until well combined. Add crabmeat and fold gently with a rubber spatula, being careful not to overmix and break up lumps of crabmeat. Divide the mixture into 8 balls and firmly press into 1/2-inch-thick patties. Place cakes on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Coat each cake in panko, firmly pressing to adhere crumbs to exterior. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place 4 cakes in skillet and cook without moving them until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully flip cakes, add 1 tablespoon oil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer cakes to platter. Wipe out skillet and repeat with remaining 4 cakes and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Serve immediately with the rémoulade sauce and lemon wedges.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)


52 Responses to “Crab Cakes with Rémoulade Sauce”

  1. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on June 12, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Wow. these do sound like they are worth the extra time!! I have a friend who loves crab cakes…I’ll have to send this to him!


  2. Kristen on June 12, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Mmm I love crab cakes. Yours look beautiful!


  3. Heidi @foodiecrush on June 12, 2012 at 3:26 am

    I’m all for Christmas in June if you’re going to be serving up these babies. I love the addition of panko, it makes them so much crunchier while keeping them moist on the inside. What is your favorite crab meat to use in them?


    • Michelle on June 12th, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Hi Heidi, We usually buy the canned crab (lump) from the refrigerated case in the seafood department. The brand is Great Blue.


  4. cakes Nottingham on June 12, 2012 at 4:09 am

    Your crab cakes look amazing!!


  5. IdaBaker on June 12, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Being from MD, crabcakes are in my blood. This recipe looks great!!

    I love the photos, too.


  6. Lori on June 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

    I love crabcakes and always get the appetizer at the Cheesecake Factory. I am going to have to try this scrumptious recipe. Thanks for posting.


  7. Sprigs of Rosemary on June 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Cook’s Illustrated perfects things, all right — the addition of the shrimp “binder” and the other veggies sounds delightful. And it sounds like a delightful addition to the Feast of the Seven Fishes!


  8. Catalina @ Cake with Love on June 12, 2012 at 8:54 am

    These crab cakes are the best I have ever seen, they look delicious!


  9. Basil Boboli on June 12, 2012 at 9:13 am

    sounds Great! What about the coconut shrimp recipie? Please! Love your Blog and Site.


    • Michelle on June 12th, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      The coconut shrimp will be making an appearance soon! 🙂


  10. Ali @ Gimme Some Oven on June 12, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Holy MOLY these look good. Love crab cakes! And love that they use Panko now too!! 🙂


  11. angela on June 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I’m from the east coast originally and blue crab was a staple. They discovered my husband loved my aunt’s crab cakes and they were waiting for him with every visit so there is special meaning there. The shrimp mousse binder sounds very interesting.


  12. Jenny on June 12, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I *love* crabcakes and these look amazing. We don’t live in an area where we have a lot of access to fresh seafood but I’ll have to see what I can do in order to give these a try.


    • Michelle on June 12th, 2012 at 10:21 pm

      Hi Jenny, I used canned crab – the type in the refrigerated section near the seafood department of the grocery store. The brand was Great Blue, and I bought the lump variety.


  13. Tamara on June 12, 2012 at 10:05 am

    My husband told me this morning that he wants crab cakes! I can’t wait to try this recipe!


  14. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on June 12, 2012 at 10:32 am

    yum. these crab cakes look delicious. and the sauce sounds so perfect on the top of them.


  15. Kate on June 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

    This does sound like a great combination. I hadn’t thought of combining shrimp and crab together. Great idea!


  16. Riley on June 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    My grandma always makes Mexican food on Christmas Eve but I wish it was a year-round thing! I love these crab cakes!


  17. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on June 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    My mom’s family is Italian also, so Christmas Eve has always been big in our family.. but my mom absolutely abhors seafood! No Feast of the Seven fishes for us! These crabcakes sound deliciously decadent though 🙂


  18. DB-The Foodie Stuntman on June 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    The combination of celery onion and carrots are components of a classic mirepoix which, when browned (try next time), will add another dimension of flavor. I also like the addition of the panko.


  19. Deb Jamison on June 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I think I see Crab Cake Sliders in my immediate future!! I think I will add this to the menu with my beef sliders this weekend and make it Surf and Turf Sliders! One of each (or two)…no one should have to choose.


  20. caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy on June 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    wow! your photos are making me hungry! haha they look so delicious! thanks for sharing!


  21. Jen @ Savory SImple on June 12, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    To this day I still think my mom makes the best crab cakes, but these sound really yummy.


  22. judy on June 12, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    These are wonderful crab cakes, — they are pretty much the crab cakes from Chef Georges Perrier’s restaurant Le Bec Fin. You can indeed Google the recipe, which is at least 30 years old. I hope Cook’s Illustrated credits him in the article. I’ve made them at least a dozen time over the years 10 and this post has reminded me to make them again, soon. Yum!


  23. love cooking on June 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Woo…I really love this, it looks so delicious. I like to add some chopped coriander if making meat cakes or meat balls like this, it is not bad. I guess mango base sauce will be good on this too. 🙂


  24. Lisle Chiropractor on June 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Crab cakes and some asparagus and a nice glass of pinot grigio would make a perfect at-home date night with my hubby! Can’t wait to try this one… problem is that I hate getting the crab meat out of the legs… any suggestions?


    • stylinJacksonJoBob on April 5th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      buy it in a can…lump crab meat doesnt come from legs 😉


  25. Debra Kapellakis on June 16, 2012 at 10:01 am



  26. Transportation Services New Jersey on June 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    YUMMM!!!!! I love crab cakes… I have always been afraid to make them myself though… maybe some day I will conquer my fear and treat my husband to some crab cakes!!!!


  27. Jonathan on July 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Hi, sounds divine! Where it calls for hot pepper sauce, are you talking about tabasco or like franks red hot sauce? Just want the flavor to be correct when I make these…thanks for the pix & recipe! Same question for the Rémoulade Sauce


    • Jonathan on July 15th, 2012 at 3:31 am

      Also when your food processing the shrimp those are raw, correct?


    • Michelle on July 27th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

      Hi Jonathan, I used Tabasco sauce.


  28. OrGreenic on August 14, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I wish my family had that tradition, it sounds delicious. I’ve been meaning to try making crab cakes and I think this recipe finally convinced me it’s time. Thanks for sharing.


  29. Debbie on November 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I LOVE crab cakes, and I thought I had mastered the recipe. I made these tonight, and although they take more time to prepare, these are the BEST crab cakes I have ever made or tasted!!! Thank you!! I did not have any hot sauce so I used an asian chili sauce that I had when I made bang bang shrimp!!! My husband who will eat crab cakes, but is not a huge fan like me, ate FOUR of them!!! This is a keeper, thank you!


  30. Jenna on December 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Yum! My husbands family does the feast of the seven fishes also and we wanted to try something new this year. So of course I got volunteered to find and make something. I was wondering if there is any other things you can make ahead then the sauce. I have to work christmas eve so i wanted to not have to rush home make these and run the risk of running late. Any advice would get great!!!


    • Michelle on December 10th, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Jenna, My mom and I usually assemble the crab cakes on Christmas Eve morning, place them on a baking sheet (make sure it has a rim in case any liquid is released), cover tightly in plastic wrap and then refrigerate until we’re ready to fry them in the evening. I think if you make them the night before that would work too, but I wouldn’t make them any further ahead than that.


  31. Lorelei on January 1, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I made these for our New Years Eve feast. I often order crabcakes when out.. these are the BEST I have ever had, even tho I had to make them myself! They’re all crab! no fillers or breadcrumbs! WONDERFUL!!! I will definately come back to these again! Thank you for a wonderful 2012 worth of recipes looking forward to 2013!


  32. kristen on May 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I love crab cakes, but am usually too lazy to make them. I usually buy them here:

    But you have inspired me to try making them…


  33. best toaster on August 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I
    get three e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Thank you!


    • Michelle on August 29th, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Hi there, Unfortunately, I can’t. You should see something that says “manage subscriptions” around the comment box where you can then deselect any posts you are subscribed to.


  34. sports highlights on October 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your info. I truly appreciate your efforts and
    I will be waiting for your further write ups thank you once again.


  35. Katia on November 24, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Do you think I can cook these in advance and then reheat in the oven when I am ready to serve? I am bringing them to someone for Thanksgiving and need to make in advance. Thanks!


    • Michelle on November 24th, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      Hi Katia, I’m not sure how far you need to travel, but I would recommend forming the crab cakes, placing them on a baking sheet wrapped in plastic wrap and chilling them. Then, cook them right you are ready to eat. They will not taste the same if they are cooked, cooled, chilled, then reheated.


      • Katia on November 25th, 2013 at 8:23 am

        Do you think I could form them on Tuesday and then bake on Thursday morning? (I am only traveling around the corner. :)) Or should I form and freeze and then cook on Thursday morning. I am gone all day Wednesday, so that is why I wanted to do everything on Tuesday. Thanks!


        • Michelle on November 25th, 2013 at 10:25 am

          Hi Katia, I would not refrigerate them for 2 days, so it looks like your only option is to freeze. It should work, but I have never frozen the crab cakes, so I can’t guarantee how they will thaw. Please let me know how it goes!


  36. Laura on July 11, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Made these with my boyfriend last night. All I can say is wOW!!! So much better than anything I’ve eaten in a restaurant. We couldn’t bring ourselves to pay $35 for a pound of lump crabmeat, so we used claw meat and it was absolutely delicious. Bravo! Will definitely make these again.


  37. maxine on July 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I love crab cakes as many others have attested to as well so immediately purchased the ingrediants to make them. I am a very good cook and followed the recipe exactly but was disappointed that there was not a “binder” to hold everything together which made the cakes impossible to
    turn over in the pan without them falling apart – did any one else experience this problem when they made them??


  38. melissa johnston on May 26, 2015 at 10:49 am

    hi there, I’ve made this about 3 times. what is the secret to getting them not to fall apart.


    • Michelle on May 29th, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Melissa, Make sure you pack them tight, and then don’t try to flip them until the first side is set.


  39. Jen Scott on July 2, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I made these crab cakes and your coconut shrimp for a family get-together. They were beyond amazing! The crab cakes were my personal favorite, and I could have eaten the remoulade sauce with a spoon. Thank you so much for doing this website. I love your recipes. To be honest, I consider myself a very skilled baker, and I have a pretty good understanding of flavor. I find your recipes to be truly spectacular. You do consistently great work, and I appreciate it. You have been the secret star of many of my family events.


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