plate of grilled crab cakes with garnish

Grilled Crab Cakes Recipe – A Delicious Seafood Dish

Whether Chesapeake Bay blue crab, Alaskan king, Florida stone, or Pacific Northwest Dungeness crab, America’s crustacean deliciousness spreads from sea to shining sea. There’s also a never-ending supply of tips and tricks for boiling, steaming, or baking fresh crabs, regardless of where they originate. That’s probably why one of the best ways to eat crab can get lost in the culinary shuffle. We’re talking crab cakes here, but not just any ole version. 

For a different twist on typical crab-cake appetizers, you’ll need to fire up that spunky stalwart of summer: your gleaming gas or charcoal grill. That’s right, it’s easy to create smoky grilled crab cakes with no more effort than stovetop-sizzling or oven-baking them indoors. The ingredient composition may be different, but only slightly so, and you can adapt an existing favorite crab cake recipe with a couple of simple tweaks. 

Crab cakes are essentially seafood patties, similar to Southern-style salmon croquettes or crispy fried tuna cakes. The idea is to enjoy a casual form of fresh or canned seafood, often as a starter dish or shared appetizer. But grilled crab cakes often get bumped up to dinner-plate status. The key is forming the patties in a way that withstands high grill heat without falling apart. Like any grilled food, you’ll need to keep an eye on them as they cook, but crab-cake success starts long before they hit the heat. Binder ingredients matter, a lot, as do prepping the crab and the grill. 

Forming grill-ready crab cakes

close up of grilled crab cakes with lemon and dill

Preparing crab cakes for a sizzling-hot grill begins with the crab itself. Some chefs insist that fresh-caught crab is the way to go, especially lump crab meat or the jumbo-slash-colossal version of it. The texture is sturdy enough to keep it from disintegrating on the grill. It has a slightly sweet flavor. If opting for the easier canned crab, be sure it’s well-drained and patted dry, since excess liquid could make the cakes soggy or send them tumbling through the grill slats. 

RECOMMENDED:  Unexpected Dry Rub Pork Chops with a Coffee Twist

Next up is what gets blended with the crab. Some traditional ingredients include diced onions, garlic, parsley, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, mustard, and either mayonnaise or sour cream. Feel free to adapt any existing recipe, including this Look one for classic Maryland crab cakes, keeping in mind that less liquid is better for grilled patties. Also crucial for grilling are the binding components for form retention, preferably raw eggs and either breadcrumbs or crumbled crackers. Chill the formed crab cakes for up to two hours, which gives them firm textural integrity when encountering grill heat. 

Before firing up the grill, lightly coat the grate with cooking oil to prevent sticking. It’s possible to place crab cakes directly on the slats, but you’d be taking a risk. You’ll get the same smoky flavor and crispy exterior when sizzling in a high-heat cast-iron skillet or grill pan. They’ll generally be ready at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Our Experts
Our Experts

Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

Our goal is to publish informative and engaging articles, offering readers the content they seek, from daily news to cooking tips, tricks, trends, and reviews. To maintain the highest standards of comprehensiveness, currency, and accuracy, our team continually reviews and updates our articles as needed.