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Air Fryer Crab Cakes – Maryland Style

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These air fryer crab cakes are delicious and easy to prepare! Everyone will love the light and crispy outside with a soft and tender inside, packed with flavorful lump crab meat. It doesn’t take much time or effort to enjoy these delicious crab cakes for your next seafood dinner.

When it comes to crab cakes, I am picky! I was born and raised in Maryland, so lump-style crab cake is my favorite. The key feature of Maryland crab cakes is that there isn’t much filler. This means there aren’t a bunch of extra veggies added, as in a Louisianna style, and the recipe doesn’t include a coating of four or cornmeal.

This means that every bit is full of the taste of flavorful crab! But it also means they can be hard to handle and prone to falling apart as they cook. This is especially true when frying them on the stove.

But in the air fryer, they get perfectly crisp outside without any flipping needed. The air fryer is ideal for making these just the way they should be – crispy outside, tender inside with lots and lots of crab flavor.

Maryland style crab cakes on a plate

What Kind of Crab Meat Should You Buy?

The best choice for traditional crab cake is lump crab meat. It is expensive, but the taste difference is worth it.

The texture of the air fryer crab cake isn’t the same when it is shredded. Visible chunks of lump crab in the finished cake are ideal!

You can usually find lump meat in a refrigerator section in the seafood section of the grocery store. While I use canned or imitation crab in some recipes, I don’t recommend either for this recipe. Buy frozen crab cakes instead if you can’t find fresh crab meat.

Crabbing

Or you can catch your own! It might not be the most practical way of obtaining crab meat, but it is a lot of fun.

crab cake ingredients with labels
Crab cake ingredients

Other Key Ingredients

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

Old Bay – You can’t make these without Old Bay seasoning! This spicy combination of paprika, celery seed, and cayenne pepper is synonymous with Maryland food.

Egg white – The egg binds them and helps keep them together. If you are doubling this recipe, use a whole egg instead of just the egg white.

Breadcrumbs – A small amount of breadcrumbs help hold it together. Panko is too coarse and doesn’t give these the right texture, so use fine bread crumbs instead. If you want to make these low-carb or keto-friendly, then ground pork rinds work well as a substitute.

Parsley – Fresh parsley adds bright green pops of color to the finished dish.

Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice – These remaining seasoning ingredients enhance the flavor.

Want more air fryer seafood recipes? Make air fryer tilapia, air fryer salmon, or air fryer fish & chips!

close up of Maryland crab cake on a plate

How to Make Crispy Crab Cakes in the Air Fryer

1. Mix

Be careful not to overmix these and don’t break the lump meat up very much. Don’t turn it into shreds if you paid extra for lump meat!

mixing the ingredients for crab cakes
Mixing the flavoring ingredients

So first, mix all the flavoring ingredients. Put the egg white, mayonnaise, fresh parsley, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, lemon juice, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to combine it all together.

adding the lumb crab
Add the crab and breadcrumbs

Then add the breadcrumbs and lump crab to the bowl. Gently stir it together, just enough to combine it.

2. Form

I make these right on the parchment paper that will go in the air fryer. Then I don’t have to add the extra step of transferring them into the air fryer. Instead, I just slide the parchment paper right into the basket.

You can buy parchment paper made to fit inside your air fryer or just use a standard piece that you roughly cut or fold to fit.

scooping out the crab mixture
Scoop out the crab mixture

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to form 4 medium-sized cakes. Or make three that are a little bit larger. Use your hands to gently push the crab meat mixture into a round shape.

crab cakes before air frying
Crab cakes before cooking

Don’t squeeze them too much or overhandle the mixture. Once they are formed, put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This helps them firm up so they stay together after cooking.

3. Air Fry the Crab Cakes

When ready to cook them, preheat the air fryer at 370 degrees F for 2 minutes. Then put them, still on the parchment paper, into the basket.

crab cakes in air fryer before air frying
Air frying the crab cakes

Air fry at 370 degrees F for 6-8 minutes. Do not flip them over; there is no need. They are done when they are golden brown on top.

crab cakes in air fryer basket
Crab cakes after air frying

If you used raw crab meat you will need to check that it has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. For cooked meat, they just need to be heated through until they are warm and golden brown.

Serving Ideas for Air Fryer Crab Cakes

Serve these with a squeeze of lemon juice. A sauce is also a good addition, such as tartar sauce, spicy mayonnaise, or hot sauce.

I like to make Old Bay seasoned potato wedges for an easy side dish I can cook while they are resting in the fridge! You can also serve these on a roll to make a crab cake burger topped off with mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

crab cake after air frying

How to Store

If you have leftover crab cakes, put them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. If you want to store them for longer, you can freeze them for up to 2 months.

They can be reheated in a preheated air fryer at 350 degrees F for 3-4 minutes.

Can I Make These Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can keep these in the refrigerator longer than 30 minutes. They will keep fine up to 24 hours. Just make sure you cover them in plastic wrap if they are refrigerated for longer than 30 minutes.

forkful of crab cake

FAQ

Can I air fry frozen crab cakes?

Yes, put them in a preheated 400-degree air fryer and cook them for 7-8 minutes. Check that the internal temperature has reached 140 degrees F before serving.

Can I use imitation crab meat?

I don’t recommend it. I’ve used it for dips, soups, and an appetizer like crab rangoon, but not in this recipe. The whole point of these is the taste of the real crab meat. So if you aren’t going to use fresh crab, then you might as well not bother.

Key Tips for This Recipe

Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

Keep the crab meat as lumpy as possible instead of breaking it up.

Add more Old Bay if you are a big fan of the seasoning. My son is obsessed with Old Bay, so I usually double it.

Don’t skip letting them rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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Yield: 2-3

Air Fryer Crab Cakes Recipe

Maryland style crab cakes on a plate

Everyone will love these light and crispy air fryer crab cakes with a soft and tender inside, packed with flavorful lump crab meat.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white (use whole egg if doubling recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or more)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the egg white, mayonnaise, parsley, dijon mustard, Worchestershire sauce, Old Bay, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to thoroughly mix.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs and lump crab meat to the bowl. Gently stir to combine, trying not to shred the lumps as you go. 
  3. Prepare a tray to hold these in the refrigerator. I like to make mine on the air fryer parchment paper, making putting them in the air fryer later easier.
  4. Form the mixture into 3 large or 4 medium-sized crab cakes and place them on parchment paper. Gently push the mixture into shape, don't squish it.
  5. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the air fryer at 370 degrees F for 2 minutes.
  7. Place them, still on the parchment paper, in the air fryer basket and air fry for 6-8 minutes. Don't flip them over.
  8. They are done when they start to brown on top and have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Notes

  • Serve with a lemon wedge and spicy mayonnaise or your favorite sauce.
  • Keep the crab meat as lumpy as possible instead of breaking it up.
  • Add more Old Bay if you are a big fan of the seasoning. I frequently double the amount in the recipe.
  • Don't skip letting them rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 169Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 1014mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 23g

Nutrition facts are estimates.

plate of lump style crab cakes on a cutting board
By on February 23rd, 2022

3 thoughts on “Air Fryer Crab Cakes – Maryland Style”

  1. In under 45 minutes, a created a delicious meal for my family during Lent. I struggle with finding great recipe that my family will eat during the “no meat” days through the Lent holiday. Your Air Fryer Crab Cakes were a huge hit with my family!!

    Reply

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