This copycat Red Lobster crab cakes recipe is even better than the original. Lump crabmeat and shrimp are combined in a delicious, breaded crab cake that is perfectly golden on the outside and tender and delicious on the inside.
I’m a long time fan of Red Lobster, and I love their crab cakes. I set about making my own to match their delicious flavor. I finally perfected it and then made them taste even better!
Red Lobster Crab Cakes Recipe
There are several ingredients in this recipe, but they’re all very simple. You’ll easily find them at your local grocery store. You probably have most of them in your kitchen right now, in fact.
- lump crabmeat
- panko bread crumbs
- unsalted butter
- heavy cream
- Dijon mustard
- hot pepper sauce
- lemon juice
- Old Bay seasoning
- vegetable oil
See the recipe card at the end of the post for quantities.
There are several steps to this recipe, but don’t let that scare you away. When you break them down, it’s all very simple. Every step is very straightforward and easily done.
Step 1: Prep the Crab Meat
If using packaged crab, place the crab meat and milk in a bowl, being sure that the crab is totally submerged. Cover the crab and milk and refrigerate it for at least 20 minutes.
If you’re using fresh crab or if the package crab smells clean and fresh, you can skip this step.
Step 2: Toast the Panko
Place ¾ of a cup of panko in a small resealable food bag and finely crush it with a rolling pin. Place the crushed panko in a nonstick skillet and add the remaining panko bread crumbs. Toast over medium-high heat while constantly stirring until golden brown.
Transfer the toasted panko to a shallow dish and stir in alt and pepper to taste, then wipe out the skillet.
Step 3: Prep and Cook the Vegetables
Pulse the celery, onion, and garlic in a food processor until they’re finely chopped. Then, transfer them to a large bowl.
Melt butter in the skillet you used to toast the panko over medium heat. Then, add the chopped vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened and all the moisture has evaporated. Then, return the vegetables to a large bowl and let them cool to room temperature.
Step 4: Create the Crab Cake Base
Pulse the shrimp in a food processor until finely ground. Then, add cream and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer this shrimp puree to the bowl with the cooled vegetables and add mustard, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning, stirring until well combined.
Step 5: Add the Crab Meat
If you soaked your crab in milk, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer. Press firmly to remove the milk, being careful not to break up the crab meat as you do so. Then, add it to the shrimp and vegetable mixture, folding gently so as not to break up the crab meat.
Step 6: Divide and Refrigerate
Divide the crab cake mixture into eight balls and firmly press each one into a half-inch thick patty. Place the cakes on a rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet, and then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the cakes for about 30 minutes.
Step 7: Coat and Fry in Skillet or Air Fryer
If using a skillet, coat each crab cake in panko. heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Then, place the cakes in the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd it. Cook the crab cakes without moving them until golden brown.
Next, use two spatulas to gently flip the crab cakes. Add a bit more oil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue to cook the crab cakes until the second side is golden brown.
If using an air fryer, spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray before adding the crab cakes Cook, flip and cook again. Serve immediately.
Hint: When coating your crab cakes in panko, press firmly to ensure the breading sticks. Be careful not to press too hard so you don’t break up your crab cakes.
Don’t have the correct ingredients on hand or want to change something up? Here are some helpful tips for you to change this copycat Red Lobster crab cakes recipe.
- Immitation Crab – While it won’t be quite as good, you can use immitation crab if you don’t have real crab.
- Mild – If you don’t like heat, simply leave out the hot sauce.
Want to personalize this Red Lobster crab cakes recipe? Here are some of my tried and true tips for changing up this recipe.
- Chives – Chives make a great addition to these crab cakes, adding a bit more of that fresh, mild onion flavor.
- Extra Spicy – If you love heat, add diced jalapeno to the vegetable mix.
If you love recipes like this, you may also enjoy this spicy shrimp dip.
It really doesn’t take much to make these crab cakes. You’ll only need a few basic kitchen tools unless you want to air fry them.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Food processor
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
These crab cakes will keep for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator in a tightly-sealed container. For longer storage, freeze them for up to 3 months.
This is a straightforward recipe, but it has several moving parts. Here are some tips that will take your crab cakes from good to great.
- When finely chopping your vegetables, check for the right size after a couple of pulses and then continue on until you reach the desired size.
- When pulsing the shrimp, be sure to puree it, not turn it into a full-on liquid. Check the shrimp after about 10 pulses and stop pulsing when the shrimp mixture resembles wet sand.
- If air frying, make sure to leave room around each crab cake for air flow and to create the most ideal “frying” conditions
More Seafood Recipes
Do you like seafood? Here are some recipes you may also like to try.
Do you have questions about this Red Lobster crab cakes recipe? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about crab cakes.
Crab cakes are made from lump crab meat.
Partly. Canned crab meat is a combination of lump crab and body meat. It works very well for crab cakes.
They’ll last for 3 – 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Place the crab cakes on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours or until just firm. Then, wrap them in a layer of cling wrap and store them in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag.
Simply leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
Place the crab cakes on a foil-lined baking sheet and heat them for 10 – 15 minutes in a 325-degree oven.
Red Lobster Crab Cakes
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
Red Lobster Crab Cakes
- skillet or air fryer
- 1 pound lump crabmeat picked over for shells
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- ½ cup onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic peeled and crushed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 ounces shrimp peeled deveined and tails removed
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Get out and measure your ingredients.
- Fresh crabmeat will guarantee the best result, however, when using packaged crab if the meat is odorless when the package is first opened you only need to dry crab with paper towel to remove any excess liquid. You do not need to soak crab in milk so skip that step.
- Place your crabmeat in a bowl with milk, making sure crab is totally submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to remove odors.
- Meanwhile, place ¾ cup panko in a resealable bag and finely crush with a kitchen hammer or rolling pin. Transfer crushed panko into a skillet, over medium high heat, and toast crumbs, stirring continuously, until golden brown, between 4 and 5 miutes. Transfer toasted panko to shallow plate and stir in a pinch of salt and pepper. Wipe out your skillet, add butter and set your heat to medium.
- Pulse celery, onion, and garlic together in your food processor until diced, maybe 7 pulses, scraping down sides as needed. Transfer to skillet when butter is melted with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Stir skillet frequently until vegetables are tender and liquid evaporated, around 5 minutes. Place vegetables in large bowl to come to room temperature and cool off.
- Strain crabmeat through a fine strainer to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Press firmly to remove liquid but not so hard you destroy the lumps of crabmeat.
- Next, pulse shrimp in your food processor until finely minced, 15 pulses, scraping down sides as required. Add cream and pulse three more times. Dump mixture into bowl with cooling vegetables.
- Add mustard, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning to the bowl.
- Stir until well combined.
- Add crabmeat and fold gently with a rubber spatula,
- Be careful not to overmix and ruin lumps of crabmeat.
- Divide mixture into 8 balls and place on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper,
- Firmly press into patties that are about ½ inch thick, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Coat each crab cake in panko, firmly pressing so the crumbs stick to the outside of the crab cake.
- Repeat until all crab cakes are coated with crumbs.
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering or a drop of water flicked in it dances. Place 4 cakes in skillet at a time and cook without moving them as much as possible until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, carefully flip, add another tablespoon or two of oil, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, another 5 or 6 minutes. Transfer cakes to platter. Repeat with remaining 4 cakes and use more oil if needed. Serve immediately.
Air Fryer Method
- Spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray before adding the crab cakes (make sure to leave room around each crab cake for air flow). Cook at 370 degrees for 10 minutes before flipping each crab cake and cooking for another 10 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
- Enjoy every bite!