Best Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce (video)

a plate on a table with crab cakes and homemade tartar sauce

One of my favorite seafood appetizers! The best crab cakes recipe, served with homemade tartar sauce! These crab cakes are flaky, juicy and delicious, seasoned with fresh dill and lemon zest. The tartar sauce is super easy to make and is the perfect complement to the cakes. There’s nothing like a good homemade sauce! I love this crab appetizer for special occasions and holidays, especially for New Year’s Eve!

My Crab Cakes Video Tutorial

Make sure to watch my crab cakes video tutorial on YouTube for step-by-step instructions. I’ll also show you how to make the sauce! Want to stay up to date on new recipes? Subscribe to my website emailing list on the homepage and to my YouTube channel and turn on notifications!

Ingredients for This Seafood Appetizer

You’ll need just one special ingredient for this seafood appetizer – the crab! All the other ingredients are staple pantries you’re sure to have. I believe the best crab cakes are made with very little fillings, just seasonings and crab! For the full list of ingredients, head down to the recipe card.

  • Fresh Crab: for this recipe, I like to purchase cooked and shelled crab sold in pressurized containers from Costco or Safeway. You can also steam and shell your own crab. This recipe would be fantastic with king crab, too!
  • Fresh Dill & Parsley: fresh herbs are a must for this recipe! The aroma and flavor are a great addition.
  • Sweet Red Bell Pepper: I love to add a little bit of pepper to the crab cakes to add more flavor and texture. Make sure to dice the pepper finely.
  • Eggs: the eggs are added to the crab cakes to help bind the crab together.
  • Lemons: freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest make the crab cakes really pop in flavor!
  • Dijon Mustard: I add this spicy mustard into the crab cakes and into the tartar sauce for tons of flavor.
  • Mayonnaise: you’ll need a little bit for the cakes and for the homemade tartar sauce. I love to use a creamy, avocado oil mayonnaise.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs: these light and fluffy crumbs are great for this recipe because they add lots of great texture to the outside of the cakes.
a close up of a seafood appetizer on a plate; crab cakes

How to Make the Best Crab Cakes

These amazing crab cakes are super easy to make! Don’t let the long ingredient list fool you! Here’s how to make this seafood appetizer.

  1. Start by preparing the fresh ingredients: dice the pepper and chop the fresh herbs. Combine all the crab cake ingredients in one large bowl: the crab, pepper, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, mustard, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and all the seasonings.
  2. Using a spoon, gently mix everything together until you have a uniform mixture.
  3. Line a large cutting board with paper towels; these will absorb the extra liquids from the cakes. Using a ¼-cup scoop, measure out the mixture for each crab cakes and place onto the paper towels.
  4. Place the panko bread crumbs into a large bowl. Using your hands, gently shape the crab mixture into a loose cake; don’t compress it too much. Sprinkle the panko crumbs all over, then place the shaped cakes onto a large tray.
  5. Refrigerate the cakes for at least 1 hour. This will make it easier to cook the crab cakes and they’ll fall apart less.

Cooking the Seafood Cakes

Once the crab cakes have chilled for an hour or two, it’s time to cook them!

  1. Preheat a large frying pan with about ¼ cup of avocado or canola oil over medium heat. Wait until the oil is hot before adding the crab cakes, otherwise they will absorb too much oil.
  2. Add the crab cakes to the pan, spacing them out. I recommend doing two separate batches. Fry the cakes for 2 to 4 minutes, per side. Use a small spatula to turn the crab cakes when they become golden brown.
  3. Once cooked, remove the cakes onto a tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
a tray on a table filled with crab cakes, with tartar sauce in a ramekin

Make Ahead Instructions

Need to make these ahead of time? My crab cakes are great for preparing early. Simply shape and refrigerate the crab cakes until you’re ready to cook them. You don’t need to cover them with plastic unless you need to keep them for overnight, for 24 hours. You can also make the tartar sauce ahead of time and keep it stored in the refrigerator, too.

Easy, Homemade Tartar Sauce

Nothing beats a delicious homemade tartar sauce! It’s so easy to make, too!

  1. Start by preparing the ingredients first: chop the shallot, the capers, and the fresh herbs. If desired, finely diced dill pickles to use in place of the relish.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in one large bowl: mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, dill, relish, shallots, capers, and seasonings. Stir until a uniform sauce forms. Keep the sauce refrigerated.
a close up of crab cakes stacked on a plate, with fresh herbs

Serving the Crab Cakes

This seafood appetizer is best enjoyed right away, while the cakes are still hot! I like to garnish the cakes with a bit of fresh parsley and dill and serve them with wedges of lemon. Spoon the tartar sauce into a small ramekin on the side. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the cakes, then enjoy them with the sauce!

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this delicious seafood appetizer? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!

  • Smoked Salmon Profiteroles – savory cream puffs stuffed with a creamy smoked salmon filling with cream cheese and dill!
  • King Crab Rolls – the absolute best crab rolls with garlic herbed butter and soft brioche buns! My favorite food!
  • Cheesy Smoked Salmon Dip – one of my favorites! Made with 3 types of cheese, smoked salmon, and fresh herbs. Perfect on crackers!
  • Prosciutto Wrapped Dates – sweet dates stuffed with creamy cheese, wrapped with prosciutto, baked and served with honey!
  • Blini with Caviar – a classic Russian appetizer! Mini pancakes topped with sour cream and caviar!

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a close up of crab cakes, with text overlay - 'Crab Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce: Tatyana's Everyday Food'

Best Crab Cakes with Homemade Tartar Sauce (video)

20 mins prep + 5 mins cook + 1 hr Chill Time:
12 crab cakes
The best crab cakes recipe with easy homemade tartar sauce! This easy seafood appetizer is great for special occasions!

Ingredients 

For Crab Cakes:

  • 1 pound cooked, shelled crab
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • dash hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs, for coating
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil, for cooking

For Homemade Tartar Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill relish, or finely diced dill pickles
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced; about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • black pepper & salt, to taste

For Serving:

  • sliced fresh lemon

Instructions

Making the Crab Cakes:

  • Start by preparing the fresh ingredients: dice the pepper and chop the fresh herbs. Combine all the crab cake ingredients, except for the oil and bread crumbs, in one large bowl: the crab, pepper, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, mustard, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and all the seasonings.
  • Using a spoon, gently mix everything together until you have a uniform mixture.
  • Line a large cutting board with paper towels; these will absorb the extra liquids from the cakes. Using a ¼-cup scoop, measure out the mixture for each crab cakes and place onto the paper towels.
  • Place the panko bread crumbs into a large bowl. Using your hands, gently shape the crab mixture into a loose cake; don’t compress it too much. Sprinkle the panko crumbs all over, then place the shaped cakes onto a large tray.
  • Refrigerate the cakes for at least 1 hour. This will make it easier to cook the crab cakes and they’ll fall apart less.

Cooking the Crab Cakes:

  • Preheat a large frying pan with about ¼ cup of avocado or canola oil over medium heat. Wait until the oil is hot before adding the crab cakes, otherwise they will absorb too much oil.
  • Add the crab cakes to the pan, spacing them out. I recommend doing two separate batches. Fry the cakes for 2 to 4 minutes, per side. Use a small spatula to turn the crab cakes when they become golden brown.
  • Once cooked, remove the cakes onto a tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serving the Cakes:

  • This seafood appetizer is best enjoyed right away, while the cakes are still hot! I like to garnish the cakes with a bit of fresh parsley and dill and serve them with wedges of lemon. Spoon the tartar sauce into a small ramekin on the side. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the cakes, then enjoy them with the sauce!

Making the Tartar Sauce:

  • Start by preparing the ingredients first: chop the shallot, the capers, and the fresh herbs. If desired, finely diced dill pickles to use in place of the relish.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in one large bowl: mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, dill, relish, shallots, capers, and seasonings. Stir until a uniform sauce forms. Keep the sauce refrigerated.

Make-Ahead Instructions:

  • Need to make these ahead of time? My crab cakes are great for preparing early. Simply shape and refrigerate the crab cakes until you’re ready to cook them. You don’t need to cover them with plastic unless you need to keep them for overnight, for 24 hours. You can also make the tartar sauce ahead of time and keep it stored in the refrigerator, too.
  • NOTE: Nutritional facts calculated with tartar sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cake with sauce | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 770mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 247IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg