This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
These Vegan Crab Cakes are crispy on the outside, yet moist and flaky on the inside. They can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side, or main dish.
Vegan Crab Cakes without crab? Why not call them something else?
That's the burning question!
I know the title could be a little confusing or even annoying to some people (that's not my intention). However, since it's a mock version of the original recipe, the title helps people find it easier online.
I've had people suggest that I call them Hearts of Palm Cakes or Bean Cakes, but there's a reason that I don't. As a blogger, I have to title my recipes so they are easily searchable online. Otherwise, there will be crickets around here and nobody will see my recipes.
So, I have to do my own research first before selecting a title and it's not an easy task. Believe it or not, MANY people are searching for Vegan Crab Cakes and just a handful are searching for Hearts of Palm Cakes.
And NOBODY is searching for Bean cakes!! So, that's one of my reasons for my title choice for anyone who might be wondering.
I also have an Un-Tuna Salad Sandwich on the blog. It's just a tasty as the original version. You've gotta try it!
Why do vegans eat food that looks like meat?
Many of us grew up consuming meat in a variety of dishes. Lots of memories are attached to them and that's what we are familiar with. It's not the meat itself we are missing, It's the textures, flavors, and seasonings that our palate is used to.
We just don't want to hurt animals for our taste buds anymore. So, if we can recreate that experience without harming non-human friends, why wouldn't we do that?
Lots of people who say they love the taste of meat, have never tasted it plain, without seasoning. I used to say the same thing, but after going vegan, I realized my "cravings" were coming from the smells and flavors of the herbs and spices.
Also, recipes like this make it easier for some people to transition from meat-eating to vegan. It 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.
Some vegans don't want to eat anything that reminds them of meat and that's perfectly normal too. We are all different and have separate journeys, but the one thing we share in common is that we don't want to harm animals.
The original version
I'm from Long Island and I grew up eating many seafood dishes, but my favorite thing to order was crab cakes. They were very popular on the East Coast and 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 those 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 them in a cruelty-free way now.
The solution...VEGAN Crab Cakes!
I can't 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 them taste as traditional as possible, but also make them easy to prepare. Keeping it simple is good.
What's in a Vegan Crab Cake?
- I use hearts of palm and garbanzo beans which have a flaky-like texture when broken up.
- For the seasoning, I kept things as traditional as possible. I used Old Bay Seasoning, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. If you can’t find Old Bay Seasoning, you can use any basic seafood seasoning.
- For the ocean-like flavor, I use Kelp Granules or Dulse Flakes. If you can't find those, you can break up a sheet of Nori or use any type of seaweed. You can also skip it if you don't like it.
- For the rest of the ingredients, I used vegan mayonnaise, mustard, Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, 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 prefer to pan-fry these in a non-stick pan using minimal oil that has a high smoke point like avocado, sunflower, or grapeseed oil. 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 them on a large baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes on each side. I would lightly spray them with oil or use a silicone baking mat so they get crispy
More vegan seafood recipes to enjoy
- Vegan Fish Tacos
- Vegan Clam Chowder
- Crabless Stuffed Mushrooms
I love to hear from you
If you make these Vegan Crab Cakes, I’d love to hear what you think in the comment section below. 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.
Vegan Crab Cakes
- 15 oz canned garbanzo beans , rinsed. *Save liquid
- 2 - 14 oz cans hearts of palm , rinsed, drained and cut in half lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons reserved garbanzo bean liquid
- ¼ cup vegan mayo
- 1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce (*see note)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice , more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ cup sliced green onion
- 2 teaspoons kelp granules (*see note for sub)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning (or any seafood seasoning)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (panko or regular) + more for breaded coating
- ¼ cup 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 everything 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 to shred everything up. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the reserved bean liquid well until it's foamy. 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 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 ¼ 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 over 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 in 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 or they won't cook properly. Pan-fry them about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until 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 recipe yields 10-12 patties, using about ¼ cup of mixture for each one.
- If you can't find kelp granules, you can use dulse flakes, dulse granules, or break up a small piece of nori. If you don't want the ocean-like flavor, you can omit the seaweed altogether. It will still be delicious!
- If the mixture is too wet for your taste, AFTER it comes out of the freezer, you can add a ¼ cup of breadcrumbs into it. Combine well.
- The prep time doesn't include the 15-20 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 10-15 minutes on each side. Make sure to lightly grease your baking sheet too.
- If you can't find vegan Worcestershire sauce, you can use low-sodium tamari or soy sauce.
- This will work with store-bought vegan mayo or my oil-free vegan mayo recipe. You can also use vegan sour cream.
I’m a carnivore from the Caribbean who knows seafood and meat. This is better than most crab cakes I’ve had. Even shared some with a guest who hates vegetables and she asked for more. I made mine gluten free with almond flour but followed the recipe otherwise. Well done!
This is such a great feedback Adama!Thank you so much and I am happy yo all enjoyed this vegan version. 🙂
This is so good, it's one of our favorites, and love making it for company! With coleslaw!
It is amazing with coleslaw! Glad you love this recipe Lisa. 🙂
At the store I accidentally bought artichoke hearts but I carried on and made them using these instead of Heart of palms , delicious
Hey, glad it worked out for you! Thanks for trying this recipe. 🙂
Hi there! Wondering what the best replacement for the vegan mayo would be? I hate mayo. Was thinking maybe cashew cream? What would you suggest? Thanks !
Hi Carissa, I haven't tried it with anything else. Is it the oil, texture, or taste that you don't like with mayo? It's such a small amount that you can't taste it after cooking. However, I think a vegan sour cream could work, and maybe a cashew cream too. I hope this helps. I'd love to hear how they turn out if you try one of those and I can share it with everyone here. Thank you 🙂
Just to make sure I am not doing anything silly- 810g hearts of palm - is this after or before draining? The same with garbanzo.
Thank you for your help!
Hi Patricia, the amount is before draining for both of them. Thanks for trying them out. 🙂
Thank you x
My pleasure! 🙂
These look delicious. I'm wondering if they taste anything like crab cakes or if they're delicious, but different. I'm looking for items for my vegan daughter's graduation dinner, and most of the people that will be there (including her) are not vegan - so I'm hoping for substitutes that are as close as possible to the real thing.
Hi JeniLynn, I think you'll be quite surprised with these. Out of all my mock recipes, this one is the closest to the original. The texture and taste are similar to crab cakes. 🙂
One of our family’s favorite meals! Question Melissa - can the crab cake mixture be frozen before it’s breaded and used at a later date? And how long does it stay good refrigerated?
Hi Marilyn, I'm so happy your family loves them. Thank you! Yes, you can freeze the mixture on its own, or you can freeze the formed and breaded cakes as well. The mixture will stay good in the fridge for 3-5 days. I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out with any other questions 🙂
If they are frozen as breaded cakes - would you place them directly in air fryer to cook from frozen ?
I've air-fried them from frozen, but only ones that were previously pan-fried. I'm sure it will work, just not sure how crisp the surface will be. Maybe a bit of oil? I'll have to experiment with this.
This came out absolutely delicious! I will definitely keep this recipe.
Happy to hear it, Maryann. Thank you for trying them and sharing your feedback:)
I love this recipe. It is so yummy!! Sometimes, I do not even put breadcrumbs in it and make it like vegan crab meat instead of. vegan crab cakes. Both ways are delicious!! Very easy to make. Thank you for the recipe. I make it often.
That is a great idea Rachel. I am glad you enjoy it either way. You are welcome and have a great weekend. 🙂