We’re dishing up a huge authentic crab cake sandwich recipe of tasty fresh lump crab meat, just like you’ll find in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s as simple as that. Fresh blue crabs, Old Bay, and minimal filler. If you’ve ever traveled to the eastern shore and enjoyed real Maryland crab cakes, you will know nothing else compares.

Two open face crab cake sandwiches with jumbo lump blue crab meat on buns, with lettuce tomato and chips.

When it comes to real crab cakes, jumbo lump blue crab meat is the only way to go. For the best crab cake recipe, that’s all it takes. But we’re not talking just any crab; we’re talking sweet blue crabs, right from the Eastern Shore.

Up and down the Chesapeake Bay, you’ll find shacks on the side of the road selling bushels of these native blue crabs. Start by steaming blue crabs and picking them, using their signature jumbo lump meat to make the perfect crab cake is about as authentic and delicious as you can get. The sweet meat is also perfect for succulent smoked crab imperial or deviled crab.

close up of a maryland crab cake showing flakey jumbo lump crab meat  nestled on a bun with lettuce and tomato.

What is a Crab Cake Sandwich?

Maryland crab cakes are an easy recipe to make with fresh great ingredients. They shouldn’t be heavily coated and fried to greasy balls of mush with stringy crab meat and lots of filler. Real Maryland crab cakes are light, delicious, and loaded with nothing but fresh crab meat!

Unlike their bigger cousins, the snow crab or grilled king crab legs with huge chunks of meat, Maryland blue crabs produce smaller chunks of meat from their bodies. They are sweet, savory, and perfect for cooking with.

An authentic crab cake flakes apart with thick chunks of meat from the swimmer fins, back fin meat, and body of the crab. It’s known as jumbo lump and lump crab meat and seasoned with Old Bay, a signature spice blend famous around Baltimore.

This recipe for a delicious crab cake sandwich is the real thing right from the East Coast. This a quick and simple great recipe!

Ingredients Needed for Crab Cake Sandwiches

  • Jumbo lump or lump crabmeat – Look for cans or jars in the cold meat and seafood area labeled jumbo lump crab meat. If you’re on the west coast, Dungeness crab also works.
  • Milk – regular whole milk or 2% work for this recipe
  • Saltine crackers – look for low sodium or light sodium versions to mitigate the saltiness for the perfect binder. If needed, panko makes an ok substitute.
  • Scallions – green onions work to add a slight oniony flavor and a pop of freshness to the mix
  • Unsalted butter
  • Egg yolk – use the egg yolk from a single large egg
  • Mayo – real mayo or avocado mayo work for this recipe
  • Dijon mustard – Dijon mustard packs a little heat with vinegar and is perfect for this recipe. Go for a smooth Dijon mustard and avoid overly grainy mustards, though, as it can make people think they are chewing on pieces of shell
  • Hot sauce – Franks Red Hot, Tobasco sauce, or your favorite hot sauce all work. Avoid any with additional flavorings like buffalo or chipotle, as it alters the flavor completely.
  • Old Bay seasoning – there is not a seafood blend that I have discovered as perfect for this recipe as authentic as this classic Baltimore blend.
  • Lemon wedges, tartar sauce, or cocktail sauce for serving. The lemon is perfect for fresh lemon juice, garnish, or lemon zest.
  • Fresh soft buns, lettuce, and tomato to make it a sandwich.
Side shot of a crab cake sandwich, a thick maryland crab cake atop lettuce and tomato.

How to make a crab cake sandwich:

Although this recipe is an Eastern Shore classic, it’s easy to make! But, read through the instructions to calculate the chill time so that you don’t find yourself in a pickle when dinner is ready to be served.

  • Soak the crab meat in milk.
  • Drain the crab meat from the milk using a fine mesh sieve and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Mix the other ingredients: Mix the minced scallions, butter, egg yolk, mayo, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, and Old Bay.
  • Make sure your crackers are crushed into fine bits and fold 3 tablespoons of them into the wet mixture along with all of the crab meat.
  • Working with your hands, gently form into two large patties or balls. Then press the bottoms flat, leaving the tops rounded.
  • Spread the remainder of the crushed saltine crackers onto a shallow plate and then press the bottom and roll the top in the crumbs to lightly coat.
  • Chill. Place the crab cakes onto a wire pan nestled over a small sheet pan or plate and put them in the fridge to chill. This helps the crabcake firm up and hold its shape while cooking under the broiler. These need to chill for at least 1 hour but can stay in the fridge for up to 8 hours before cooking and serving them.
  • To cook crab cakes, adjust your oven racks to the top slot, about 6 inches from the broiler, and place the crab cakes in a greased large skillet under the broiler. If you know your broiler is too close at the top level, or worry it’s cooking too fast, set it to the top-middle slot.
  • The crab cakes cook until they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees F and are golden brown on the outside. It’s important not to walk away while these are under the heat of a broiler as some are hotter than others. A watchful eye while broiling anything is best.
  • Finally, when heated through, serve the crab cakes with a garnish of lemon, tarter sauce, or cocktail sauce piled on a soft toasted brioche bun with lettuce and tomato for the best crab cake sandwich!
Authentic maryland crab cakes on a soft bun with lettuce and tomato slices, open faced.

Expert Recipe Tips

Serve with brioche buns

Brioche buns will give you light fluffiness that compliments the crab cakes more than any other bun. Hamburger buns, Hawaiian rolls, and homemade buns work as well, but the brioche roll will give you the perfect texture.

Lemon zest goes a long way

If you serve your crab cakes with lemon juice or zest, use them sparingly. A lot goes a long way and can mute your other flavors.

Storage and Reheating

Once cooked, Maryland crab cakes can last in the fridge for up to 3 days, wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container.

To reheat, microwave on low or reheat in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F until heated through about 15 minutes.

What to Serve with Crab Cake Sandwiches

Serve these with crispy golden french fries, salad, with fried mac and cheese, chips, hush puppies, fries, corn on the cob, or sliced avocado.

Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com

Recipe FAQs

What is lump crab meat?

Lump crab meat, or backfin crab meat, is the meat from the body of the crab. It’s thicker and holds together. Lump crab comes from the main body, and jumbo lump comes from the back area or the swimmer fins.

Is lump or claw meat better?

Both lump and claw meat are delicious. But for a crab cake, lump meat holds up and makes for flavorful bites of real cram meat, whereas the claw is perfect for when you’re picking crabs.

Is the crab meat already cooked?

What is lump crab meat?

Lump crab meat, or backfin crab meat, is the meat from the body of the crab. It’s thicker and holds together. Lump crab comes from the main body, and jumbo lump comes from the back area (or the swimmer fins).

Is lump or claw meat better?

Both lump and claw meat are delicious. But for a crab cake, lump meat holds up and makes for flavorful bites of real cram meat, whereas the claw is perfect for when you’re picking crabs.

Is the crab meat already cooked?

Yes, whether your picking your own crabs or opening a can, the crabs have already been steamed or boiled. It is already cooked and safe to eat.
As a rule of thumb, never eat raw crab meat.

Can you freeze crab cakes?

Absolutely! If you pick a bunch of crabs and want to whip up some crab cakes for later, do it!
Form the crab cakes up until the chill step, as the recipe states. Then, par-freeze them for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge before storing in a container with the air removed for up to 3 months in the freezer.
To cook from frozen, simply pop the frozen crab cakes under the broiler as the recipe states. They just may take a minute or two longer to heat through.
Looking to go all out and make this recipe with your own crabs? Start here to Steam Fresh Blue Crabs


This crab cake sandwich recipe makes seafood cooking easy. Place crab cakes on your choice of soft bun and enjoy with homemade tartar sauce and other condiments. It’s the perfect meal for summertime and warmer weather! If you’ve tried this recipe, be sure to rate the recipe card and drop a comment to help out the next guy!

Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich

5 from 41 votes
Prep: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 2
Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe | Kita Roberts GirlCarnivore.com
This simple crab cake recipe makes the most delicious Crab Cake Sandwich you have ever tasted!


For crab cakes

  • 8 oz lump crabmeat, Picked over for any stray shells
  • 1 cup milk
  • 7 or so saltine crackers crushed into fine crumbs
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 1 tbs unsalted butter melted, plus 1 tspn softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbs mayo
  • 2 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 1 tspn hot sauce
  • 1/2 tspn Old Bay seasoning

For Garnish

  • lemon wedges tartar or cocktail sauce for serving
  • tarter sauce

For the Crab Cake Sandwich

  • 1 tomato sliced
  • Lettuce
  • 2 buns toasted


Form the crab cakes

  • Combine the crabmeat and milk in a bowl and soak for 20 minutes in the fridge, making sure the crabmeat is submerged.
    8 oz lump crabmeat,, 1 cup milk
  • Drain and press out excess liquid. Lay crab on a paper towel lined plate and pat dry.
  • Combine the scallions, butter, egg yolk, mayo, mustard, hot sauce, and Old Bay.
    2 scallions, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 1 large egg yolk, 1 tbs mayo, 2 tspn Dijon mustard, 1 tspn hot sauce, 1/2 tspn Old Bay seasoning
  • Fold in 3 tbs of the crushed crackers and the crab meat.
    7 or so saltine crackers
  • Using your hands, form the mixture into 2 large portions in a ball shape.
  • Press gently to flatten the bottom and leave the topped domed.
  • Using a small plate, spread the rest of the cracker crumbs in an even layer.
  • Gently, press the crab cakes into the crumbs to coat the top and bottom.


  • Place the crab cakes on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  • Gently cover with plastic wrap or foil
  • Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 8.

Cook the crab cakes

  • When ready to cook, preheat the broiler with the rack positioned about 6" away from the element. This is usually the top postition.
  • Grease an oven safe skillet or baking dish with the remaining 1 teas butter and place the crab cakes in the pan.
  • Slide the oven onto the upper rack, under the broiler.
  • Broil until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes under a watchful eye as broilers can differ from oven to oven).
  • Carefully remove from the oven and check that the crab is heated through and reached an internal temperature of 140F with an instant read thermometer.
  • Allow the crab cakes to cool 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Serve the Crab Cake Sandwiches

  • Arrange crab cakes on over toasted buns with lettuce and tomatoes for a crab cake sandwich.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and tartar or cocktail sauce if desired.


It’s hard to imagine these Maryland crab cakes not being served with crisp fries and malt vinegar. Otherwise, they are perfect atop a light fricassee salad, as an appetizer, or as the main course if you don’t want a sandwich.
You can use fresh picked lump crab meat or canned crab meat as long as it’s jumbo or lump crab meat. Make sure the label reads lump and not claw meat. Also, check to see that it says blue crab if you’re going for authenticity. 
Altho I use canned crab meat from tin cans for some recipes, I find the crab for this in the seafood or meat department in plastic tubs. 
This recipe makes 2 generous crab cakes, however, you could use it to make 4 smaller crab cakes for an appetizer, if desired. 
From: Cooks Country Aug / Sept 2014 (and every single Eastern Shore native there ever was). 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 1169mg | Potassium: 480mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 662IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 230mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, seafood
Author: Kita Roberts

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Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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5 from 41 votes (40 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    These look great. I love good crab cakes, and am too often given soggy clumps of filler with way too little crab.

    For filler, instead of crackers I often use chips — I use the pieces from the bottom of the bag then add enough of the unbroken chips to make the desired quantity. Potato chips are excellent. Make sure you adjust salt accordingly.