This is the perfect, healthy crab cake recipe that you can make at home in your air fryer!
Homemade crab cakes anyone!? I’m know stranger to some delicious crab (like this smoked crab dip and my even better 30 minute smoked crab legs), but something just hits different with a classic crispy crab cake recipe. Am I right?
If you have a craving for a Maryland style crab cake, this recipe is my go-to. It’s simple to make, contains little added filler (yay for lots of jumbo lump crab meat), is gluten free and also keto friendly.
While it fits these dietary lifestyles, this is a crab cake everyone is going to love. I’ll walk you through the ingredients list below, cooking tips and techniques, and options for making a gluten free crab cake that binds together and is packed with flavor.
Get all the details below or jump to the recipe and let’s dive in!
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups/ Spoons
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Cookie Scoop
- Baking Sheet
Need to know more about this recipe? Use my culinary notes below to help guide you through. Enjoy!
What type of crab meat should I use when making crab cakes?
There are many ways in which you can buy crab meat at the grocery store. Most commonly you will see it come packed in an 8 oz. sealed container in the refrigerator section near the deli area or meat counter.
Most stores will carry a few styles of crab meat. If you like a Maryland style crab cake, you want large lump or whole pieces of crab meat to make up our crab cakes. For this, it’s best to use the jumbo lump crab meat. You can use claw meat, but I find it’s a little too large to pack into a crab cake.
Something to note however is the difference between lump and jumbo lump. Regular lump crab meat is much smaller shredded pieces. This is what I like typically if I am stuffing something or make my smoked crab dip recipe.
Prices will vary depending on what you buy, if it’s wild caught, where you live, and if crab is in season. You will need a total of one pound of crab for this. You can also mix and match the meat (I used half regular lump and half jumbo lump to get a nice variety within the cake).
How do I prevent my crab cakes from falling apart?
There are a few tricks to making a crab cake so that it doesn’t fall apart but still has larger pieces of crab meat throughout.
Here are some tips:
- Wet Binding Agents- I like to use a mixture of egg and mayo to help act as a wet “glue” to coat the meat and create the ability to cook and hold the crab meat and seasonings together. I like to use a similar technique when I make these easy salmon cakes too!
- Dry Binding Agents- For this to be a gluten free crab cake, I actually use pork rind crumbs instead of crackers. I find that as the pork rinds soak, they take on a similar consistency as a cracker crumb wood and creates a solid solution to bind the crab cake together in a non-traditional way. I also use a little xanthan gum (acts similar to cornstarch) to help too.
- Refrigeration- In order for the flavors to meld, the wet binders to mix with the dry binders to create the right consistency, you need to allow the mixture to sit in the fridge for 30-45 minutes minimum so that it can form the perfect cake.
Maryland inspired crab cake ingredients:
- Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
- Worcestershire Sauce (Use a gluten free brand or sub with coconut aminos)
- Cajun BBQ Dry Rub (or sub with old bay seasoning)
- Green Onion, minced
- Pork Rind Crumbs
- Lemon Juice
How to prepare your crab cakes in the air fryer:
Drain your crab meat on paper towels to start and pat the meat dry. Check for any crab shells that could have been missed in packaging (that won’t be fun for anyone to eat). Set it aside.
Then take a large mixing bowl and whisking your Worcestershire sauce, Cajun dry rub, mayo, egg, and lemon juice together. It should become one mixture.
Carefully pour in the crab meat, green onion, and pork rinds and gently fold it into the wet ingredients. Avoid using anything other that a fork or rubber spatula (do not use a food processor) to help protect the integrity of the large pieces of crab meat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30-45 minutes. Once the crab mixture is chilled and the wet and dry binders have adhered better to the crab meat you can scoop out your cakes.
I like to use a large cookie scoop to make the cakes. Use the scoop and pack it against the side of the bowl so it helps get the pieces to stick together. If you don’t have a cookie scoop use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and slightly over fill to get a similar size.
Layer your cakes out on the cookie sheet until they are all formed. I was able to make 9 cakes. I find these work best when you leave them in a large mound and not flatten them as well.
Preheat your air fryer to 400 F. For reference, I use this Ninja Countertop Convection Oven and LOVE it because it is easier to manage a lot of food at one compared to a standard air fryer basket. If you do have a regular basket, just be sure to either cook in two batches if needed so it’s not crowded.
These crab cakes cook relatively fast. You can air fry for about 7-8 minutes or until they are golden brown on the top and fully set. Carefully remove them with a spatula and allow them to cool slightly before serving.
Easy Air Fryer Crab Cakes
- 1. Start by laying your crab meat out across a few paper towels. Pat it dry and check for any pieces of shell.
- 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, mayo, Cajun spice blend, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Whisk until it’s fully combined.
- 3. Fold in (gently) the crab meat, green onion, xanthan gum and pork rind crumbs until the mixture is fully combined.
- 4. Place covered in the fridge for 30-45 minutes so the pork rinds and wet ingredients can fully combine to create a crab cake that will stick together.
- 5. Preheat your air fryer to 400 F. Scoop your crab cakes into large mounts using a large cookie scoop pressed against the side of the bowl to help compact the meat. If you don’t have a scoop use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and scoop and oversized amount. You should get about 9 cakes.
- 6. Air fry for 7-8 minutes. Make sure they are spaced out enough across the air fryer basket as needed or cook in batches if desired.
- 7. Serve with cocktail sauce, garlic aioli, and with your favorite sides.