How to Make Great Gluten-free Crab Cakes

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

Start With Great Crab

Crab cakes are one of my absolute favorite foods, but one that I can never order in a restaurant or buy pre-made in the grocery store: they use all-purpose flour or breadcrumbs as a binder. It’s quite unnecessary, and this recipe demonstrates it by using egg as the binder.

You can use any type of crab meat for your crab cakes, but my preference is dungeness crab. Dungeness crabs, native to the west coast of North America, are prized for having the highest meat to shell ratio in the crab family.


  • 3 1/2 ounces sea scallops
  • 1 egg
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 pound dungeness crab meat (1 large dungeness crab should produce plenty)
  • 2 tablespoons seeded, diced tomato
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 drops tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


The crab cakes on their way to the refrigerator to let the egg and cream set. Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

The crab cakes on their way to the refrigerator to let the egg and cream set.
Source: Micki Seibel, May 2012

  1. Place the scallops, egg, and salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until blended.
  2. Add cream slowly in a stream until incorporated.
  3. Place the blended scallops in a large non-reactive bowl and add crab, tomato, mustard, cilantro, and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Mix gently.
  4. Shape the crab blend into paddies that are about 1/4″ thick and 2 1/2″ in diameter. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the crab cakes for 2 1/2 minutes per side.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve.

How to Not Screw It Up

  1. It is possible that you, like me, own a blender or food processor that splashes when opened to add cream. It’s ok to stop the blender, add some of the cream, blend, then repeat. This ensures that it is evenly incorporated.
  2. Be patient at let those crab cakes refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Longer is better. You need time for the egg to set and bind. Otherwise, your cakes will crumble.
  3. Medium-high heat is the perfect setting. Lower than that, and you will never crisp the outside of the crab cake. Higher than that, and you will have crispy outside with cold inside. Neither way is desirable for eating. If you err on the wrong side, I think higher is better. Just keep those cakes moving around the pan.
  4. Be patient with the oil. Let the pan get hot, than add the oil, and let the oil get hot before you start cooking. Otherwise, your crab cakes will soak up the olive oil instead of cooking in it, and they come out too oily.