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.
I know the title “Vegan Crab Cakes” could be a little confusing, or 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 online. 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 tuna, 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!
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.
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 375 degrees F. 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
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).
*Note: in the video, it shows the hearts of palm sliced before going into the food processor. I prefer to just cut them in half to keep larger pieces in the mixture (for a flakier texture).
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.
- 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed. Save liquid
- 2 14 oz cans hearts of palm, drained, rinsed and cut in half
- 4 tablespoons reserved garbanzo bean liquid
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vegan worcestershire sauce (*see note)
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1/2 cup green onion, diced
- 1/2 tablespoon dulse flakes or granules, or kelp flakes/granules Or break up a 1/2 sheet of nori
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (or any seafood seasoning)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs (panko or regular) + more for breaded coating
- 1/4 cup of preferred oil, for pan-frying (divided)
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.
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.
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 20 minutes. This helps the mixture stay together a bit better.
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.
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.
Serve hot with vegan tartar sauce, a lemon wedge and top with chopped green onions. Enjoy!
*This recipes yields 10-12 cakes, using about 1/4 cup of mixture for each one.
* If the mixture is too wet for your taste, AFTER it comes out of the freezer, you can add a 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into it. Combine well.
*The prep time doesn't include the 15 minute freezing time.
* If you want to make a healthier version of this dish, you can definitely bake these. Just set your oven to 400 degrees F. and bake about 8-10 minutes on each side. Make sure to lightly grease your baking sheet too.
*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.
*Note: in the video above, it shows the hearts of palm sliced before going into the food processor. I prefer to just cut them in half to keep larger pieces in the mixture (for a flakier texture).