AppetizersDinnerRecipesSide Dishes

Vegan Crab Cakes

posted by Melissa Huggins August 7, 2016 35 Comments
These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist & flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.Crab cakes without the crab, how could there be such a thing? Yes, I know the title, “Vegan Crab Cakes” could be a little confusing, or maybe even annoying to some people (that’s not my intention). However, since it’s a mock recipe of the real thing, the title helps people find it easier through Google.

Also, I always hope it will grab a non-vegan’s attention, while searching for the real thing and maybe tempt them into trying it. No harm done, right? I also have an Un-Tuna Salad Sandwich on the blog. It’s very similar to the real thing, but much healthier and kinder.

Why do vegans try to recreate recipes that replicate animal based foods?

Many of us grew us enjoying a lot of the textures, flavors and seasonings of certain dishes, and that’s what we are familiar with. So, if we can recreate that experience without harming non-human friends, why wouldn’t we?

Also, recipes like this, make it easier for some people to transition from meat-eating to vegan. They surely helped me. So basically, you can still have an enjoyable dish from your past and leave your friends in the ocean, where they belong. Sounds like a good deal to me.

I’m from Long Island and I grew up eating many seafood dishes. My favorite thing to order were the crab cakes. They are very popular on the East coast. Especially in Maryland where they are known for the best crab cakes. It was a bit of a drive to get there from Long Island, so I settled for the crab cakes near home.

However, I did make it out to Maryland a few times and ordered these famous cakes each time. Yes, they really were THAT good.

Being vegan now, I don’t see any reason to miss out on those wonderful flavors, textures and seasonings since I can enjoy it in a cruelty-free way. The solution…Vegan Crab Cakes!

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

I’m not going to claim that these taste exactly like a traditional Maryland Crab Cake

Those chefs have a way of making the recipe with as little breading as possible, but still manage to get it to your plate in one piece. I did try to make them this way, but the method was frustrating and took much longer.

So, I wanted to make these taste as traditional as possible, but also make them easy to prepare. Keeping it simple is good.

What’s in these vegan crab cakes that make them similar to the real deal?

Well, I use Hearts of Palm which have a very similar texture to fish when it’s broken up. It doesn’t taste like crab, but that’s where the seasonings come in.

I also used garbanzo beans which have a flaky-like texture when broken up. They also add a nice dose of protein to the recipe. So, basically these two ingredients will be replacing the crab meat and creates that flaky and stringy texture.

Now for the seasonings, I kept them as traditional as possible, and they are very basic ingredients.

I used Old Bay Seasoning, vegan Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

*Worcestershire sauce isn’t typically vegan, but there are many vegan versions to choose from, and some are accidentally vegan. Just make sure to read the labeling before purchase. If you can’t find vegan Worcestershire sauce, you can use low-sodium tamari or soy sauce.

If you can’t find Old Bay seasoning, you can use any basic seafood seasoning (just make sure it’s vegan). Also, there have been times that I left it out all together and they were just as delicious (you might need to add a little more salt though).

I use kelp or dulce flakes to give these cakes a subtle hint of the ocean. It’s not needed, but adds a nice flavor and natural source of iodine to the dish.

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

For the rest of the recipe

I used vegan mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, breadcrumbs and some fresh green onion. You can also add some celery, corn or bell pepper to change it up a bit.

I did use some oil to pan-fry them which doesn’t make them über healthy. However, I use minimal oil and only use a high smoke point variety…like coconut, avocado, grape seed, safflower and sunflower oil. The oil won’t turn rancid under the heating process.

If you want to make a healthier version of this dish, you can definitely bake these. Just set your oven to 450 and bake about 8-10 minutes on each side. Make sure to lightly grease your baking sheet, too.

These delicious Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist & flaky on the inside and…

They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish. They go great with almost anything, too. I’ve enjoyed them as a breakfast side, in a sandwich and with a big salad. Also, they freeze well, so they are perfect for make-ahead meals. Kids love them too and they make a great finger food.

Let’s not forget about the beer! These babies go great with a tall glass of cold pale ale (vegan of course).

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.So, why not get that beer glass chilling and the pan fired up? Let’s do this!

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.I’d love to hear from you

If you make this recipe, I’d love to get your feedback. You can leave a comment below and let me know what you think. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.

Serves 6-8

Vegan Crab Cakes

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

10 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

30 minTotal Time

Save Recipe


1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed. Save liquid
2 14 oz cans hearts of palm, drained & rinsed
6 tablespoons reserved garbanzo bean liquid
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vegan worcestershire sauce (*see note)
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 cup green onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon dulse flakes/granules or kelp flakes/granules Or break up a 1/2 sheet of nori. (*see note)
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or any seafood seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup of breadcrumbs (panko or regular)
1/4 cup of preferred oil, for pan-frying (divided)


  1. In a food processor add the garbanzo beans and hearts of palm together. Pulse just a few times to break it up. Don't pulse too many times or it will turn to mush. It should have a crab-like consistency. You can also do this manually, just use a fork or your hands to shred everything up. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the reserved liquid (from the beans) well. Then add the vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, mustard and all the dry seasonings. Whisk to combine well.
  3. Now add the bread crumbs, green onion, and hearts of palm and garbanzo bean mixture. Gently fold to combine. Taste for salt or seasoning, add more if needed. Pop the mixture in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. This helps the mixture stay together a bit better.
  4. Place enough breadcrumbs onto a shallow plate that will coat patties evenly. Take mixture out of freezer. Place about 1/4 cup of mixture into your hands to form a ball. Then gently flatten to form it into a patty shape. Coat patty in the bread crumbs on each side. Place aside and continue until the mixture is gone.
  5. Heat a large skillet on medium heat (about 2-3 minutes). Add about 2 tablespoons of oil and wait until it gets hot and shimmery before adding the patties. If you place the patty on the pan and you hear it sizzle, it's ready. Place about 4-5 patties on your pan at one time, but make sure you don't overcrowd the pan because they won't cook properly. Pan-fry them about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until light golden brown. Try to only flip each patty once. When done, transfer the patties to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Wipe out pan before the uncooked patties are added. Add fresh oil and continue until all patties are complete.
  6. Serve hot with vegan tartar sauce, a lemon wedge and top with chopped green onions. Enjoy!
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Side Dish


*This recipes yields 10-12 cakes, using about 1/4 cup of mixture for each one.

* If you can't find kelp or dulce flakes/granules or nori, you can use any type of seaweed.

*The prep time doesn't include the 15 minute freezing time.

*When I purchase hearts of palm, I look for labels that say “sustainably harvested”. This way, I won’t be contributing to knocking down whole trees. Hearts of palm can be cultivated from a base plant… it has many branches & can be cut without killing the tree. This allows other branches to continue growing. I buy Native Forest , but there are other companies using the same practices.

*Worcestershire isn't typically vegan, but there are vegan versions to choose from. I purchase Annie's Organic Vegan Worcestershire Sauce or The Wizard's Organic Worcestershire Sauce and there are others on the market. Make sure to read the labeling before purchase. * If you can't find vegan Worcestershire sauce, you can use low-sodium tamari or soy sauce.




*Pin for later 🙂

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crunchy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish or a main dish.

Vegan Huggs is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase the item after clicking on the link. This helps cover the cost of keeping the site running. There will be no additional charge to you, if you purchase an item through an affiliate link. I will only link items that I use myself. 


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Trish August 16, 2016 at 10:47 am
I made this last night. My husband, a non-vegan, really loved it as did I! I made a vegan tartare sauce to go with it and a bunch of roasted veggies. Had one on a sandwich for lunch today - yum! And the best part is that we have leftovers tonight, which we'll have with a broccoli coleslaw. Shame they have to be fried, but once in awhile I crave fried foods anyway :) Thanks so much for an awesome keeper-of-a-recipe!!
mhuggs August 23, 2016 at 1:54 pm
Hi Trish, this is wonderful to hear! Thank you for trying out the recipe. I'm so happy that your non-vegan hubby approved. I love putting the leftovers in a sandwich, too. That broccoli slaw sounds delicious! They can be baked, but they aren't as crispy (still yummy though). Thank you for your feedback :)
Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich (Gluten-Free) Vegan Lunch Recipe August 31, 2016 at 1:37 pm
[…] not much into sandwiches, but would like to make a vegan seafood recipe, you should try these Vegan Crab Cakes I made a few weeks ago. The ingredients are similar and will offer similar textures and […]
Amy September 6, 2016 at 1:16 pm
This recipe sounds good except it is not vegan. Worcestershire sauce is NOT vegan! It is made with fermented anchovies. Anchovies are fish.
mhuggs September 9, 2016 at 12:44 pm
Hi Amy, thank you for reaching out. Traditionally worcestershire sauce is not vegan. However, there are so many vegan versions on the market today. Annie's makes a good one and also Edward & Sons. They are both labeled vegan. They both can be ordered on Amazon.
ELSA BEATRIZ HERRMANN December 17, 2016 at 6:26 pm
I used Annie' Vegan and really good.
Melissa Huggins December 17, 2016 at 11:38 pm
I love Annie's too. So nice to have vegan options for almost everything :)
Stevie September 27, 2016 at 9:25 pm
Try reading the article. She completely explained this.
Stacey January 22, 2017 at 1:36 pm
NOT TRUE!!!!!! Kroger's brand does not contain anchovies. There are lots of brands that don't.
Vanessa @ VeganFamilyRecipes September 21, 2016 at 1:17 pm
This looks like such a wonderful recipe! To be honest I don't think I've ever had real crab cakes but these vegan ones are getting me so excited! I can't wait to try them. Thanks for the recipe ;)
mhuggs September 21, 2016 at 10:06 pm
Thank you, Vanessa. They have all the flavors & textures of real crab cakes. I like the vegan version so much better :)
Vivian September 21, 2016 at 6:51 pm
Hi, these sound wonderful and I can't wait to make them. One question tho, what size can of hearts of palm did you use? Thanks
mhuggs September 21, 2016 at 10:11 pm
Hi Vivian, I'm so happy to hear that you're going to make them. I used 2 14 oz cans of hearts of palm. I will fix it in the recipe. Thank you for letting me know. :)
vegan facts September 28, 2016 at 7:22 pm
This looks just like a crab cake. I would be scared to eat it if i someone served it to me because of how much it looks like a real crab. This is one hell of a recipe.
mhuggs October 6, 2016 at 10:11 am
Thank you so much! Yeah, it does have a very similar look & texture. They could really trick a meat eater.;)
Tara October 11, 2016 at 5:48 pm
A suggestion if you can find it is to try Jackfruit in place of the heart of palm. It has a very mild flavor and the texture is super close to crab once you shred it up
mhuggs October 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm
Thank you for stopping by, Tara. I love jackfruit & I primarily use it in tacos or stir fry. I'll have to experiment with the crab cake idea. Thank you for the suggestion :)
Catherine April 13, 2017 at 8:05 pm
How long does jackfruit keep in the fridge? Something new just takes me "time" to tackle.
Melissa Huggins April 13, 2017 at 11:07 pm
Hi Catherine, once opened, about 4-6 days in the fridge :)
E November 7, 2016 at 4:02 pm
I don't often find a vegan recipe that I can replicate to a T......until now. Wow. I am impressed with the flavors and how well it held up. I baked mine and still turned out wonderful. This recipe is a keeper and one I will share often.
mhuggs November 7, 2016 at 10:01 pm
I'm so happy to hear that you loved them. It's one of my favorites and I love the baked version, too. Thank you so much for your feedback...I appreciate it so much :)
Beth fredette November 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm
I've made these a few times and they are amazing - I do add some celery bell peppers and capers and omit the kelp flakes. I also like to make a vegan horseradish aioli to go with it. Thanks for the recipe so versatile!
mhuggs November 10, 2016 at 7:29 pm
Hi Beth, I'm so glad to hear this. I love the addition of celery, bell peppers & capers. I must try it this way next time. Thank you for your feedback and for stopping by :)
Tiffany November 29, 2016 at 9:29 am
Do you think it would be ok to substitute artichoke for the hearts of palm?
mhuggs November 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm
Hi Tiffany, I haven't made them with artichokes myself, but I have seen crabless cake recipes made with them. I would buy the arichokes that aren't marinated. I'd love to hear how they turn out. Thank you for stopping by :)
ELSA BEATRIZ HERRMANN December 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm
Omg...I just made these vegan cakes and they areabsolutely amazing. I followed the recipe to the tee. I'm Peruvian and most of my,diet consisted mostly seafood, before I became a vegan. The flavor, texture and look are just like real crab-cakes. One thing I did was I used the electric mixer and wisk the aqua fava to a foam consistency almost like whipped cream. ..I was afraid all that water would be toon much..these crab cakes are a complete SUCCESS 😍
Melissa Huggins December 17, 2016 at 11:36 pm
Hi Elsa, this is so wonderful to hear! I'm so happy you liked them. I used to eat a lot of seafood, too. It's so nice to have a familiar alternative. I like your idea of putting the aquafaba in the mixer. I'm going to try it next time :)
Stacey February 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Hi Melissa! I'm not Vegan however am trying to incorporate more plant-based foods into my diet. I tried a version of these at a Vegan Mexican restaurant here in LA and they were wonderful. They included corn, and while I like corn I didn't like it in the crab cake so I'm excited to try your version. And I've now bookmarked your website as well!
Melissa Huggins February 19, 2017 at 10:56 pm
Hi Stacey, sorry for the late reply. This message slipped through the cracks, and went to the spam folder. Was the restaurant Gracias Madres? I used to love them place when I lived in LA. Thank you for giving my version a shot. I'd love to hear how they work out for you. Thank you for stopping by :)
Stacey April 5, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Hi and sorry for th delay. YES! The restaurant was Gracias Madre and it's amazing. Since I messaged you last, I've had an opportunity to make your crab cake recipe and it ROCKS. So delicious. My mom (who likes real, fried comfort foods -- and not the healthy kind) LOVED these. She couldn't believe how good they were, and she said they taste remarkably like the real thing. And for her to rave over a vegan replication, well -- that's huge. Thanks!
Melissa Huggins April 7, 2017 at 11:39 am
HI Stacey, no problem at all. I can't wait to visit LA again, so I can go there (and many other vegan spots). I'm so glad you made them, and that mom approved them. That makes me happy! Thank you for the feedback. Have a great weekend! :)
pamela April 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm
Can the remainder of whatever you dont use up be frozen in ziplock bags?If so how long??
Melissa Huggins April 3, 2017 at 10:31 pm
Hi Pamela, sure, you can freeze the mixture for 2-3 months. :)
Nicole April 7, 2017 at 9:35 am
These were INSANE! My husband ranted and raved about them for hours! He couldn't understand how these cakes weren't made of crab, and yet, they tasted just like the real thing. You are a genius! He ate 5 in one sitting! Thank you!
Melissa Huggins April 7, 2017 at 11:42 am
Hi Nicole, Yay! Thank you for making them! I'm so happy that your hubby loved them. The hearts of palm are pretty magical in the texture department. Thank you for the feedback. Have a great weekend! :)

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