Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

Pamela and I met in Boston and we spent many of our summertime weekends in Maine, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, where we acquired a good grasp at preparing New England clam bakes at state parks, beaches or anywhere I could get away with starting a campfire.

The old Saab we used to drive always had a metal grate, a large pot, old bay seasoning and firewood in the back along with a couple of sleeping bags. We would cook up a clam bake with lobster, mussels, crabs, sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots and corn on the cob. Fun times, great food and fantastic wines.

Over the years, I have experimented with many recipes using traditional New England ingredients. Crab cakes, which  happen to be one of Pamela’s favorite dishes, is served frequently at our dinner table.


Maine, circa 1989

Now that we live in Oregon, I decided to create a special Pacific Northwest style crab cake using local Dungeness crab. This recipe has evolved from many years of experimenting and using a number of techniques honed from restaurants I have worked in across the country.

Chef Marc

Chef Marc, circa 1989

When I cook, rarely am I happy with my results except for my sauces.  Nevertheless, I was pretty damn proud of these crab cakes, and from the looks of Pamela’s empty plate, I can safely say she thoroughly enjoyed them too. My recipe requires a labor of love but great crab cakes involve some work to make them spectacular. Enjoy!

[box]Crab Cakes[/box]

Marc's recipe


8 appetizer portions (16) 2 oz. cakes or

4 dinner portions (8) 4 oz cakes

Basic ingredients

Ingredients for the crab cakes

  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 green, orange or yellow pepper diced
  • ½ cup Italian parsley chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound cleaned Dungeness crab meat
  • Tabasco to taste, one shake is good. For me two or three is better
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups Panko breadcrumbs. ½ cup for the mixture 1 cup to coat finished cakes before cooking
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions for crab cakes

1. Dice the onions, celery and peppers.

Chopped ingredients

2. In a medium sized hot sauté pan, cook the vegetables until translucent. Deglaze with white wine. In another saucepan, scald heavy cream, then add the cream to the vegetables. Cook down until almost sec (dry). Place the vegetables and cream mixture in a bowl to cool the mixture.

Cream and mixture for crab cakes

3. Pick through the crab to remove any shells. Squeeze all the liquid from the crab. When working with crab, always work in a bowl that is set in a bowl of ice. Five minutes of prep without refrigeration will dramatically reduce the shelf life of the finished product, especially if you freeze and cook them later.

4. Combine the vegetable cream mixture with egg, crab, lemon juice, parsley, Tabasco and breadcrumbs. Form into 4 oz balls (or 2 oz for appetizer size). Place on a sheet with additional breadcrumbs to coat the balls. Chill for ½ hour before cooking.

Crab cake mixture

5. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat sauté pan to medium high. Add peanut or canola oil to the sauté pan. Sauté crab cakes on both sides until golden brown. Finish in the oven for 5-7 minutes, then flip. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until cooked through with an internal temperature of 180 degrees.

Crab cakes in pan

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 1 red bell pepper (roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 cup mayo or fresh aioli
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions for sauce

1. Roast the pepper over a gas flame.

Roasting red peppers

2. Once completely roasted, place it in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure it is sealed tight. The steam from the trapped hot pepper will loosen the skins.

Cover the peppers with plastic wrap

3. Once the pepper is cool (about 10 minutes), gently peel the skin off the pepper.  Do not rinse with water. Cut open the top to remove the seed pod.

4. Place the red pepper, mayo (or aioli), paprika, lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper into a small food processor and blend until smooth. If you want to be adventuresome, create two sauces. Roast a yellow pepper and combine it with Dijon, sweet onion, vinaigrette, capers and mayonnaise.

Roasting yellow peppers

5. Serve the crab cakes as an appetizer or make a meal of it by serving it with a salad, roasted potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. Serve the sauce on the side or drizzle directly on the crab cakes.

Crab cakes

On a side note, don’t forget about the wine! We pulled two bottles from the cellar and chilled them—a 2011 Ponzi Willamette Valley Pinto Gris and a 2011 Russian River Pinot Grigio from D&L Carinalli Vineyards.

Ponzi Pinot Gris

Although the wines were quite different in style, they both paired nicely with the crab cakes. Enjoy!



About the Author:

Marc has held almost every position in the food & wine industry and is committed to Celebrating Hospitality with Pride. In addition to being the co-founder and editor-at-large for Enobytes, Marc is a wine blogger contributor to (Wine Bytes) and writes the Wine Knowledge column in the print magazine About Face. The Contra Costa County Times, San Jose Mercury News, Tacoma Times Tribune and Washington Post have either interviewed or quoted Marc on his viniferous and culinary opinions. Marc has also appeared on Portland's "Vine Time" on News Radio 750 KXL and on California's Central Coast "From the Growing of the Grape to the Glass" on KUHL-AM 1410. He is also the author of A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy. While continuing to tenaciously search for what he may finally proclaim as his favorite wine Marc is relentless in his quest for the ultimate food and wine experience.


  1. tori September 9, 2012 at 5:53 PM - Reply

    I tried your recipe for the first time this weekend. My husband and I loved them! Delicious. This was the first time I tried a crab cake recipe that called for cream. I’m hooked. The sauces were equally great too!

  2. George McCeney September 10, 2012 at 8:52 AM - Reply

    Looks like a really creative recipe that appears will compensate to some degree for the use of Dungeness crab.

    Here in Baltimore our recipes need not be so elaborate since we are afforded the luxury of using blue crab meat which needs almost no enhancement.


    and forget the tartar sauce for which there is no need.

    • MacDaddy Marc Hinton September 10, 2012 at 6:06 PM - Reply

      George, thanks for the comment. Had you wandered into the Galway House on Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA in the mid 80′s the Faidley’s recipe was almost exactly what we made. The loyalty to Blue crab is commendable, but being able to throw out crab pots and haul up fresh Dungeness Crab just a few miles from where I live is a Crab lover’s dream. Please drink more Oregon wine if you can. ENJOY!

  3. gold price September 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM - Reply

    Wherever you go along the eastern coast there is always one or two restaurants that claim to make the ULTIMATE CRAB CAKE. They might be good but nothing has yet to beat my recipe that is easy to make at home. Full of lump crab meat, moist on the inside, crispy on the out with a rich flavor. The finale is the Spicy Tarter Sauce that goes on top! THE ULTIMATE CRAB CAKE is the first food my daughter Lindsey ate as a toddler. Lindsey spit out her baby food refusing everything except her bottle. The pediatrician told me to take away her bottle and let her sit her in her high chair at dinner to eat or go hungry. As usual, she refused the baby food then waved her hand at our dinner. You guessed it! We were dining on crab cakes. This recipe is adapted from one of the T&C Maryland style crab cake recipes. As always, when cooking it is important to use the freshest ingredients. Investing in jumbo lump crab meat is important to give THE ULTIMATE CRAB CAKE the flavor and texture it needs to be so good. Handle the ingredients with care to keep the crab lumps whole and prevent them from breaking up.

  4. MacDaddy Marc Hinton September 11, 2012 at 11:24 AM - Reply


    Thanks for the comment and it is encouraging to hear other culinairians who honor the integrity of ingredients. Your daughter was very lucky I was in my teens before I tasted my first crab cake. I have since made up for lost time and enjoy them regularly. Hopefully you get to drink Oregon wines with your Crab cakes, if you have not yet the Ponzi mentioned in this article is a good place to start and pretty easy to find. Montinore also makes some great Oregon white wines that go well with Crab and are also very easy to find. ENJOY!

  5. Karen K. September 13, 2012 at 1:30 PM - Reply

    Love the story and recipe! I plan on making these at my dinner party this weekend. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

    • enobytes September 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM - Reply

      Curious to know how they turn out for you…don’t forget the wine pairing :)

      • Karen K. September 16, 2012 at 5:46 PM - Reply

        Success! I’ve tried many recipes and this is hands down my favorite. The steps are easy to follow and if I can make them, anyone can. I printed the recipe for safe keeping so I have it readily available the next time I make them – which will probably be next weekend.

        • enobytes September 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM - Reply

          Awesome! What time is dinner? ;)

  6. Brenda September 16, 2012 at 8:04 PM - Reply

    Good recipe. Crab cakes rock!

    • enobytes September 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Brenda, enjoy!

  7. Robert September 16, 2012 at 9:02 PM - Reply

    Marc, the recipe looks similar to the one I’ve used for many years excluding the cream. I’m interested to try your version. I think the cream would add a nice touch of creaminess to the crab. The final product looks absolutely delicious.

    • enobytes September 17, 2012 at 5:54 PM - Reply

      Thanks Robert, try them and let us know how they turn out.

  8. Janet September 28, 2012 at 3:33 PM - Reply

    Agree with Robert. The cream is a nice addition to this recipe. Tried it an d loved. it. The instructions are easy to follow and the end result was delicious.

    • enobytes September 28, 2012 at 7:21 PM - Reply

      Excited you found a new favorite recipe Janet, cheers.

  9. Randy W. October 1, 2012 at 7:28 PM - Reply

    Long time lurker, first time poster! I had to try this recipe as the results look so damn good. The recipe is solid, and I hope to make the crab cakes again for a family reunion. Rock on Mac Marc!

    • enobytes October 2, 2012 at 7:01 PM - Reply

      I love it when lurkers come out to play! Glad you enjoyed the recipe Randy.

  10. […] culinary applications for this wine it would be hard to go wrong. My picks would be fresh lobster, crab, sautéed halibut or roasted fowl of any kind. Aged cheddar cheeses and desserts like Crème […]

  11. […] with fresh baked bread and citrus zest aroma. It is the perfect pairing for expertly prepared Dungeness crab, Maine lobster or my favorite, a fried soft-shell crab sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise.[…]

  12. […] pairings were in order. Many of the Chilean dishes fancy squid, albacore, hake, salmon, tuna, crab, shrimp, eel and lobster so we constructed our menu to accompany the wines; with Chile’s long […]

  13. Love at First Sip January 26, 2013 at 7:42 PM - Reply

    […] caviar, smoked trout or salmon would go well. Lightly spiced Asian dishes would also work as would crab cakes or scallops with a citrus beurre blanc sauce. Classic flavors with a comeback for more finish, you […]

  14. […] A luxurious lengthy finish completes the package. Any kind of buttery seafood like lobster or crab will match well; this wine will also pair well with creamy vanilla […]

  15. […] that some consumers prefer to be made from this varietal. If you are working with Maine lobster or Dungeness crab this is what you want to serve if you want your guests to remember you as someone who delivers […]

  16. […] style with great balance, acidity and viscosity. This wine paired great with Tuna Tartare. Marc’s crab cake recipe would pair equally well. Bon Appétit! ~Pamela […]

  17. […] method retains a zippy acidity that is very refreshing especially when paired with delicate local Dungeness crab and most other mild seafood preparations and even better if accompanied with a citrusy sauce.  […]

  18. […] wine, and if you’re looking for a good food pairing, you can’t go wrong with shrimp scampi, crab cakes, or your favorite seafood […]

  19. […] of the 2011 Schoffit Riesling Alsace Lieu-Dit Harth Tradition (which retails for around $26) with Marc’s recipe for crab cakes. The Domaine Bott-Geyl Riesling Schoenenbourg, Alsace Grand Cru is really good too, retailing for […]

  20. […] and mineral. Medium acidity with a layered long finish. This wine would pair well with Marc’s Crab Cakes or Chef Greenwald’s Spice Seared Halibut with Warm French Lentil […]

  21. […] pairing with triple-crème cheeses, chicken dishes served with beurre blanc sauces, lobster, or crabcakes. Bon […]

  22. […] blanc pairs perfectly with New Zealand Chef Matt Lambert’s Chatham Cod, or Marc Hinton’s Crab Cakes. […]

  23. […] elegant, this Chenin blanc will pair exceptionally well with fish, cheese and crustacean dishes. Marc’s crab cake recipe comes to mind. A simple grilled pike (a noteworthy fish in Loire) drizzled with the regions’ most […]

  24. Wine Review: 2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris December 25, 2015 at 9:23 PM - Reply

    […] has a touch of residual sugar (5.7g/L) that offers a pretty little palate dance when paired with crab cakes. It makes for a great pairing! 14,300 case production. Drink […]

Leave A Comment

snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake