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  • Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

    Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

    Even though I grew up on a farm in Vermont, my parents—who both grew up near the Chesapeake Bay outside of Baltimore—passed on a love of all things related to the blue crab. So the Sparks family loves crab boils, soft shells in season, and, most of all, these crab cakes, based on a recipe my grandmother passed along to my mother and then to me.

    Crabs are a celebratory food for us: I know it's not inexpensive to get jumbo lump blue crab. So crab cakes are one of those things that we have only a couple of times a year, but they’re just delicious and perfect. Make the cakes with the best crabmeat you can find and don't try and stretch the crab with a lot of binder. My mother was always adamant that authentic crab cakes never have things like onion or bell peppers in them. These are not restaurant crab cakes; these are for people who just want a lot of crabmeat.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 16 appetizer or 6 main-dish
    • Prep 20 minutes, plus chilling
    • Cook 10 minutes


    • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over gently for any stray shells or cartilage
    • 3 slices fresh white bread, crusts removed and diced very small
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, plus a few sprigs for garnish
    • 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard (preferably Colman’s)
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s (or Best Foods) or homemade
    • ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 small, about 4½ tablespoons, eggs, beaten
    • Butter, for cooking
    • Lemon wedges


    In a large bowl, gently combine the crabmeat, diced bread, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and eggs with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

    Try not to break up the big lumps of crabmeat; big chunks are so much more satisfying to eat.

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest for several hours in the refrigerator; this allows the bread to soak up the moisture from the crab so the cakes won’t fall apart in the pan.

    Shape the mixture into whichever size cakes you’d like—large ones, as shown here, for a main course, or small ones for hors d’oeuvre.

    Cover and refrigerate the cakes for at least 1/2 hour to set; this also helps them hold together in the pan.

    Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt a generous amount of butter.

    Once the butter has melted, add the cakes, in batches if necessary (don’t crowd the pan).

    Cook the cakes, gently turning once, with a slotted turner, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side for large cakes, 1 1/2 minutes per side for smaller ones.

    For extra richness, baste the cakes with butter from the pan while cooking. Garnish with parsley and serve with wedges of lemon.

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