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The Best Crab Cakes Recipe

Everyone has a favorite recipe. It’s the recipe that whenever you make it, everyone goes crazy. For me, that is definitely my Crab Cakes Recipe with Lemon Dill Sauce. Trust me, it is that good.

Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

Every Christmas we host a party for about two hundred friends. I personally prepare about seventeen appetizers and eight desserts.  By far the most popular appetizer served are my Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce. I make almost 500 of them for our party!

Today I am sharing my Best crab cakes recipe.

If you have been looking for a recipe for a “go-to appetizer” then you must make these crab cakes.

What Makes This Recipe the Best?

There are a lot of reasons why this recipe is so popular. The crab cakes are mild which I think a lot of people prefer. The fresh basil and other herbs add a lot. But the biggest reason these crab cakes are so popular is the Lemon Dill Sauce.

It is simply amazing.

As you can see, these crab cakes are loaded with basil, parsley, sauteed red peppers, and more.

I always double the Lemon Dill Sauce recipe as everyone always wants seconds. I finally learned to serve the crab cakes with more sauce.

Dinner with Friends Appetizer Crab Cakes

I love how these crab cakes look on these adorable Rae Dunn “love” plates.

Best Crab Cakes Recipe

It’s only August so I’m not going to bore you with details of our Christmas party. But the quick story is that thirty-ish years ago when my husband and I were first married we threw a holiday party for our friends (all 40 of them) and I cooked all of the food. Over the years, our list of friends has grown and now our children (and a lot of their friends) come to the party. In fact, it’s probably the biggest party of the year for our 30, 28, and 27-year-old sons. Go figure.  

As the crowd has grown to about 230, the menu has expanded to about 17 heavy appetizers and eight desserts. Somehow after all of these years, I still cook the food. But I do have help! My amazing girlfriends come over and help on Thursday and Friday. We also hire bartenders and staff that actually cook all of the food I have prepared. This allows yours truly to enjoy the party. Well, kind of.

My menu has evolved over the years. Yet there are a few recipes that have and will always be a part of our party. (Because if I took them off I think some of our friends would turn around and go home.) The most popular recipe of all is My Best Crab Cakes Recipe. It’s fairly simple and the Lemon Dill Sauce is the best (and is also really good on grilled salmon).

The Best Crab Cakes Ever

I honestly have friends that stand in the kitchen waiting for these crab cakes to come out of the pan … for the entire party!

Crab cakes are not hard to make. The cakes don’t take long to pull together and then you just cook them in a frying pan with oil. )You can also make the crab cakes the day before and store them in the refrigerator. Then fry them just before serving.)

If you want to learn more about our Christmas party, you can read about it here.

And … if you want a copy of all of my recipes, you can find them all here.

how to make crab cakes

The Lemon Dill Sauce is so good. I also serve it with salmon and you will often find a jar in our refrigerator.

I should probably add that I make these crab cakes year-round. They are fabulous in the summer, especially when served with a salad.

Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

I hope you will make these. As I said earlier, they really are that good.

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Yield: 25 one inch crab cakes

The Best Crab Cakes Recipe with Lemon Dill Sauce

Best Crab Cakes Recipe

These crab cakes with lemon dill sauce are to die for. They aren't "fishy" and are by far the most popular appetizer anytime I make them.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes


  • Crab Cakes
  • 3 TBL butter
  • 1 scallion, chopped fine
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBL red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • Ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste
  • 3 TBL heavy cream
  • 1 TBL dijon mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBL vegetable oil
  • Lemon Dill Sauce
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 TBL fresh dill chopped
  • 1 TBL minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBL grated lemon peel
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


Crab Cakes

  1. Lightly chop the crab meat in the food processor and set aside.
  2. Melt one TBL of the butter in a large skillet and saute the scallion, garlic and red bell pepper until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground red pepper, cream and mustard.
  4. Cool slightly. Add the egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, and the crabmeat.
  5. Mix lightly. Mold into 25 one-inch wide patties.
  6. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese in a shallow dish.
  7. Roll the patties in the crumb and cheese mixture.
  8. Chill for at least one hour. (The crab cakes can be made one day prior and refrigerated, covered, up to this point.)
  9. Combine the oil and the remaining 2 TBL of butter over moderate heat in a large skillet.
  10. Saute the crab cakes 3 minutes on each side.

Lemon Dill Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Chill until the mixture thickens.


The Lemon Dill Sauce in this recipe is also really great with salmon (baked or smoked).

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Best Crab Cakes Recipe

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27 Responses

  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing the recipe!!!!! You made these for us at one of your workshops and they are divine!

  2. ????❤️❣️thank you, I had never had a crab cake until I had yours, I’ve never had a better on sunce

  3. Thank you so much for generously sharing these incredible recipes! Crab cakes are my fave and your Lemon Dill Sauce is on the menu for Christmas Eve. MERRY CHRISTMAS and enjoy every minute of preparing for, and celebrating your annual event.

  4. Hi Leslie!!

    I love your crab cakes gluten-free, of course!! It is always fun to see what you are up to!!!

  5. Made this tonight with a side salad, and they were really good! I added some chopped jalapeno because my husband and I love spicy food. My cakes came out pretty crumbly, so I guess I should have added more heavy cream, perhaps? Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed them. Thank you so much for a great recipe. Perfect with a glass of wine, too!

  6. I like to throw a nice party and I even have an Excel spreadsheet where I prep all dishes by day, but how on earth can you prep 17 appetizers???? I would love the list. I’m envisioning bar nuts, chicken liver mouse, cheese and charcuterie. I think crab cakes would be wonderful any time of year, so I’m trying these this month.

  7. Thank you for sharing all these recipes Leslie! Here’s a super simple app that is a big crowd pleaser and your boys would love:
    -whole water chestnuts
    -bbq sauce

    cut bacon in thirds, and wrap the chestnuts in the cut pieces and secure with a toothpick. bake and serve with bbq sauce, so yummy!

  8. I finally got around to make these for dinner, so the recipe made six large crab cakes to serve 3 or 4 people. I’m sure the appetizer size would yield 15/20. They were wonderful, easy to make and more important, easy to make ahead as I love to entertain as well. Although, the rave is about the lemon dill sauce, the cream sauce in the crab cake base itself was the kicker for me. I couldn’t come to terms to put my $25 crab meat in the food processor, but I can see why you do it for the appetizer size as it probably holds its shape better when cooking. These would be great for a holiday starter, a bbq by the pool or a wine & cheese party. Thanks Leslie and keep up the good work. I would still love to see the list of 17 appetizers : )

  9. I made these crab cakes last night and they definitely deserve a 5 star rating. They were the BEST crab cakes I have ever eaten. Oh so good!!!

    1. Oh my gosh Deborah, thank you so much for reaching out to let me know! They really are pretty amazing! I am so happy you now have a back pocket recipe to pull out and use whenever you need a tried and true, makes everyone happy recipe! Happy Friday to you!

  10. So I’m guessing that if you’re making these for hundreds of people you are not frying them at the last minute, even with help. Can you fry them, cool them, then freeze them ahead and reheat them in the oven? Or spray with olive oil spray and cook them on sheet pans? I love make ahead party food and I’m guessing so do you! They look delish. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Hello, I live in Maryland and you destroyed the recipe, chunks of crab meat are so important you didn’t mention old bay seasoning, mayonnaise and about 10 saltine crackers. It’s a fail for me.

    1. Actually, I have to disagree. There are a lot of recipes out there for crab cakes and this is my favorite. It’s not the only one and yours is probably great too. I love that there are so many recipes out there. While you may not like it, it is a home run for me.

    2. Drama in the food blog world, got to love it. I love food, so I appreciate your passionate post. I’ve tried to two crab recipes (Leslie’s and Mosquito Supper Club, a Louisiana style) and liked aspects of both, but overall liked Leslie’s better. If you have chucks, it’s harder to bind. The old bay seasoning, mayonnaise and saltine crackers you mention sound awesome, so I’ll have to try a Maryland version soon. I also want to try Leslie’s version with Wolfgang’s Sweet Red Pepper Sauce https://www.pinterest.com/pin/89368373827063156/

  12. Can’t wait to make these ! For the breadcrumbs—do you use plain unseasoned? Thanks Leslie. I enjoy all your posts.

  13. Just made these last night and they were amazing. What a great easy recipe! I chose to just cut the crab meat with a large knife and that worked very well. Love the sauce! Thank you for sharing this. What is your secret to serving these to a large crowd? I would love to serve these on Christmas Eve but don’t want to be at the stove all evening.

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I'm Leslie,
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