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This delicious canned crab recipe is for easy mini crab cakes! Serve them with a spicy yogurt sauce as tapas or hors d’oeuvres.
I have a favorite party appetizer.
When the party is at my apartment, or if it’s somewhere I can use the oven, I love to make mini sardine fish cakes.
And– almost without fail– when I bring the fish cakes into the room, someone asks excitedly, “Are those crab cakes?!”
And over and over again, I explain, “No, they’re sardine fish cakes that taste a lot like crab cakes!”
My fish cakes are always happily devoured.
Recently, however, I decided to give the crab cake lovers what they wanted.
After all, I love crab cakes too!
These mini crab cakes are made with canned crab meat, breadcrumbs, and yogurt.
They’re broiled in the oven, not fried.
And they are DELICIOUS.
What Kind of Canned Crab Should I Use?
I usually start by looking for a brand of canned crab meat that I’ve tried and know is delicious.
There are a lot of very expensive cans of crab meat available. The brands below are my favorite ones that cost less than $10 a can.
I recommend Miller’s crab meat (about $7 – $9 a can), Crown Prince crab meat (about $6 – $9 a can), or Trader Joe’s crab meat (about $2 a can).
If you can’t find those brands, look for brands that give you information about the type of crab used.
Some cans will tell you the species of crab, and some tell you the grade of crab meat or what part of the crab the meat is from.
If all else fails, look for cans marked lump crab meat. The average price for canned lump crab meat (near me) is about $5 a can.
Keep in mind that lump, special, and backfin crab meat tend to be better quality crab with larger pieces of crab meat inside the can.
Claw meat tends to be smaller pieces of meat with stronger flavors.
If possible, avoid canned crab that’s incredibly inexpensive (with the exception of Trader Joe’s cans!), and also avoid cans that are simply labeled “crab meat” without any extra information.
With crab meat you tend to get what you pay for.
Can I Make These Larger Crab Cakes Instead of Mini Cakes?
You sure can!
Instead of scooping the crab cake batter into mini crab cakes, divide it into four even batches.
Roll each batch into a ball with your hand, and then flatten into a patty.
Follow the broiling directions in the recipe, but know that the larger patties might take an extra minute or two to become golden.
What Kind of Sauce Should I Serve with these Mini Crab Cakes?
I serve them with a spicy yogurt sauce, a healthier twist on New Orleans-style rémoulade.
New Orleans-style rémoulade is a mayonnaise-based spicy sauce, and pairs perfectly with crab cakes.
This recipe swaps the mayonnaise for yogurt and is so good that I keep any leftovers and put it on all the things. Things like veggies, potatoes, and bean burgers.
However, if you’d rather use a store-bought sauce, I recommend serving these crab cakes with the Ginger People’s sweet ginger chili sauce.
Want to make a more traditional New Orleans rémoulade instead? Try this rémoulade from Serious Eats!
How to Make Mini Crab Cakes with Canned Crab Meat
Start by adding the crab meat, some breadcrumbs, plain yogurt, an egg, olive oil, Old Bay seasoning, and fresh thyme to a mixing bowl.
Stir everything together with a fork.
Use a melon baller, cookie dough scoop, or other small scoop to roll the batter into small balls.
Place the balls onto a baking sheet.
Refrigerate the dough.
Next, broil the crab cakes, flipping once.
Keep an eye on them while they cook– the broiler cooks fast and burns faster.
Serve the mini crab cakes with the spicy yogurt sauce, and happily tell your guests, “Yes, these are crab cakes!”
Want more canned crab ideas? You can swap Dungeness crab for canned crab in this crab fries recipe!
Mini Crab Cakes (Canned Crab Recipe)
- 4 ounce can crab meat, drained
- ½ cup plain yogurt (whole milk)
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 twigs fresh thyme
- 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 egg
Spicy Yogurt Sauce:
- ½ cup plain yogurt (whole milk)
- 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon capers brine (from capers jar)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder, to taste
- Remove drained crab from tin, and place in a mixing bowl. Add remaining crab cake ingredients to the bowl.
- Gently mix all the ingredients together with a fork. Mix until incorporated, and then stop. (Do not use a blender or food processor for this step, because you don’t want to purée the fish.)
- Use a 1 TB measuring spoon (or another small scoop) and scoop the fish cake mix into small balls.
- One by one, roll the balls in your hands, and then flatten into small patties 2" across, and about ½" thick. You should end up with 12 – 14 patties, depending on the size of your scoop.
- Set patties on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Refrigerate patties for about 30 minutes.
- While the crab cakes chill, mix together all the ingredients for the yogurt sauce. Make sure to taste as you add the cayenne and salt– use more or less as desired. Put sauce in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.
- Move oven rack to the top 3rd of the oven (or about 6" from the broiler). Broil 5 minutes, flip, and broil 3-5 minutes more, until crab cakes are dark and golden.
- Remove cakes from pan immediately. Serve while still hot with the yogurt sauce.
- Leftovers:Store leftover patties in the fridge, and use within 1-2 days. Use the sauce within a week.Make Ahead + Freeze: Let crab cakes cool, and then wrap individually and tightly with wax paper, plastic wrap, or foil. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer, and use within three months. To reheat, simply unwrap and broil again. Cook until golden, about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the cakes are hot.Sauce should not be frozen.
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