Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Everyone has those recipes that they like to whip out for special occasions.  For me, these Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayonnaise have become the go-to recipe for a special dinner (Food and Wine, 2012).   I originally got the recipe from the 2012 Food and Wine Annual Cookbook (you can see the original recipe here), and honestly these are some of the most flavorful crab cakes I’ve even had, including one’s I’ve gotten in restaurants.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now, so when Matt’s birthday rolled around this past week, I knew I could make these as a special birthday treat that he’d be happy with.

It’s difficult to make crab cakes too often because if you want to make good quality crab cakes, it’ll be somewhat pricey.  you’ve got to buy lump crab meat, which can be around $30 for a pound.  Do NOT used that canned crab crap, please 🙂  Also, in New York, most typical grocery stores don’t carry real lump crab meat, so I usually have to take a trip to Fairway or Whole Foods which always makes me feel poor and deprived.  To see middle-aged New York mommies with carts piled high with flax seeds and homemade peanut butter and gourmet olives for their dinner parties makes me seriously question my life.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to have an entire pantry filled with delicious and healthy Whole Foods products, but not today.  Not… today… *sigh*.

But honestly for Matt’s birthday I wanted to go all out.  He deserves it, he really does.  Mainly because I make him buy me food almost every day because I’m poor and am still getting used to this whole “adulthood” thing.  So I decided to get crab legs too and make a seafood smorgasbord for him.  The crab legs were “mehh”; I haven’t really been pleased with the quality of the crab legs at Fairway yet.  But the crab cakes were good as always.  The only thing I don’t like about this recipe is that every time I’ve made them the crab cakes don’t hold together well and it’s extremely frustrating to try and keep them to hold their shape while you flip them and serve them.  The cakes are supposed to be held together with fish instead of breadcrumbs, which is the reason why they’re so flavorful; however I’ve been disappointed with the results of this and next time I make them I’ll add some plain breadcrumbs to the mixture to help them stick.  But I’ll say it again, the flavor of these crab cakes are really out of this world, so if you’ve got the patience to try and keep them molded then do it.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you!  But FYI, they do hold together better if you let them cool in the pan after they cook.

As a bonus, I love the chipotle mayonnaise sauce on top!  I would recommend serving it on the side though because you don’t want to add too much and overpower the flavor of the crab cakes.  I remember when I first made these crab cakes for Matt, before we were living together, I was nervous he wouldn’t like the sauce because he’s got this weird aversion to “white sauces”.  Like wtf right? He doesn’t like ranch, mayonnaise, sour cream, or anything white.  I hate plain mayonnaise too so I get that, but he won’t touch anything that’s been contaminated with what he’s lumped in his “white sauce” category.  So I remember I called him and asked “would a pink sauce be okay??”  And he was even still hesitant about that!  But I made it anyways and he loved it so there.  Anyways, here’s the recipe!


Crab Cakes with Chipotle Mayonnaise (serves 4)

Ingredients for the crab cakes:

  • 1/4 lbs skinless cod or flounder fillet, cut into small pieces
  • 5 scallions, sliced
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lb lump crabmeat
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: plain breadcrumbs if you decide you want to add some to the mixture to help keep their shape

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper


Make the crab cakes first.  In a food processor, puree the fish.  Add the fish puree to a bowl and add all the crab cake ingredients, except the crabmeat and panko bread crumbs, and mix well.  Once mixed, fold in the crab meat.  Form this mixture into 8 cakes and coat with panko bread crumbs.  Then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While the cakes are refrigerating, make the chipotle mayonnaise.  Simply add all ingredients for the sauce together and mix well.  Refrigerate.

In a large skillet, heat enough oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan on high heat.  When the oil is hot add the crab cakes.    Let the crab cakes cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side.  The bottom should be brown and crisp before you flip.  You will have to be careful flipping!  While the cakes are cooking you will most likely have to use the spatula to re-form the cakes, as they loose their shape easily.  Don’t be discouraged if they appear to be falling apart.  Re-forming them will work.  Also, once the cakes are finished cooking you can mold them on the plate, and as they cool they will hold their shape better.

Serve with a side of the chipotle mayonnaise, and devour 🙂


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