Dinner Copycat Recipes

Ina Garten Crab Cakes

Get cooking with these bite sized appetizers that are packed full of flavor

Elen Rustick By Updated August 4, 2022

Cook like a pro with this copycat version of the Ina Garten Crab Cakes recipe.

Ina Garten Crab Cakes recipe

They’re a great option for an appetizer (or a main meal if you’d prefer) that everyone will enjoy, due to their crispy outer coat and soft, tasty inside.

The mixture is straightforward to prepare and uses lump crab meat, vegetables, and simple spices. Bread crumbs and eggs help to bind the crab cakes together, and mayonnaise and Dijon mustard keep them moist.

You can cook your crab cakes how you like. They can be sauteed, grilled, fried, baked, or broiled.

Ina Garten adds extra crunch and savory flavors by using bell peppers, capers, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. And her serving suggestion involves a rémoulade sauce, which packs more flavor than a more traditional tartar sauce.

Plus her recipe is great if you like to make your dishes ahead. You can keep them chilled in your refrigerator until you’re ready to saute or fry them – and then serve hot.

All About Ina Garten’s Crab Cakes Ingredients

Olive Oil and Butter

It’s down to your personal preference which one of these ingredients you use. If using butter, use an unsalted variety.

For olive oil, you can use whatever type you like. Whichever you decide on, remember that they’re used for frying – the vegetable and seasoning mixture first, and the crab cakes second.


Opt for red onion. It’s a bit spicier than other varieties, so only one small onion is needed.

Bell Peppers

In the Barefoot Contessa cookbook, you’ll see that Ina uses both red and yellow bell peppers. This adds a lot of color!

The peppers also give your crab cakes a nice crunchy texture and help to bring out the naturally sweet taste of the lump crabmeat. You only need 1 small pepper of each color.


Celery and flat leaf parsley add extra crunch, plus a fresh element to your crab cakes. They also add more color along with the peppers, giving you a dish that’s more aesthetically pleasing.


Capers have a deeply salty taste and are often used in Mediterranean dishes. This is because they’re the tiny flower buds of a plant that grows in that area called the Capparis shrub.

You might find that they’re one of the more pricey ingredients on the list, which is largely due to the fact that they’re picked by hand. But, you should find that they come in handy for lots of different dishes as they add a distinct salty and sour taste to your savory recipes.

Hot Pepper Sauce

You can use any type of hot pepper sauce that you have in your store cupboard, although our recommendation is Tabasco. You only need a very small amount – unless you’re a fan of very spicy foods!

Worcestershire Sauce

This versatile condiment is made of vinegar, molasses, sugar, spices, and fermented anchovies. It’s dark brown in color and a little goes a long way in adding flavor to your cooking.

Worcestershire sauce also has a distinctive umami flavor. So you don’t need much in your crab cakes, half a teaspoon is enough.


For more flavor, add a crab boil seasoning, freshly ground black pepper, and some kosher salt.

Old Bay is a good option for the crab boil seasoning. Or another brand is fine, depending on what you can find at the grocery store.


Try to find really fresh crabmeat to give your crab cakes a vibrant and sweet taste. If it’s not fresh enough, your dish might taste too fishy – and smell that way too!

Look for lump crabmeat, which is the perfect kind for making crab cakes. This variety is a mixture of large flakes of the body meat and small pieces of the jumbo meat, and it has a pleasingly delicate taste.

Bread Crumbs

This ingredient doesn’t add any flavor, but its sole purpose is to hold all of the other ingredients in your crab cakes together.

So if you can’t source or don’t want to use bread crumbs, you can try other options. For example, try crushed, buttery crackers or panko crumbs.

Mayonnaise and Mustard

To keep your crab cakes moist and full of flavor, this is where the mayonnaise and mustard come in. We’d suggest buying a top-quality mayonnaise to ensure a better flavor.

For the mustard, Dijon has a better taste. Plus, it’s creamier and not as vinegary as other varieties and so works well in this dish.


Look for extra-large eggs so that there’s enough sticky mixture to help combine and hold all of the ingredients together.

Easy Tips To Make The Best Crab Cakes

  • Pick the freshest and best quality crabmeat you can find. Ina Garten uses fresh lump crabmeat in her recipe. Imitation crab or canned varieties can be used. But you won’t get the same depth of flavor as you will with fresh.
  • Check the seasoning as you make your crab cakes. You don’t want to over-season or over-salt, as this can easily overpower the delicate taste and texture of crabmeat.

    As you add each ingredient, such as the crab boil seasoning, try a little of the mixture each time. Do this before the egg is added so that you can judge how much more seasoning (or not) you need.

    Or, you can check the seasoning right at the start of the cooking process. Put a little bit of the mixture into the pan and taste before adding the rest.

  • Take care when mixing all the ingredients together. Do this gently, otherwise, too harsh a technique can break the lump crabmeat up too much.

  • Chill your crab cakes for at least 30 minutes before you saute or fry them. This helps them to really bind together properly and prevents them from falling apart when you start cooking.

  • Use an ice cream scoop or measuring cup to shape the mixture. This way, the crab cakes will all be the same size and shape and so will cook evenly.

  • Ensure that your saute pan or skillet is nonstick. Also, don’t put too many crab cakes into the pan at once. If you have a small pan, fry your crab cakes in multiple batches. The first ones can be kept warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

Ina Garten Crab Cakes recipe _

Ina Garten Crab Cakes Recipe

  • Prep Time30 min
  • Cook Time20 min
  • Total Time1h20 min
  • Servings6 to 8 serving
  • Yield6 to 8 crab cakes

Level: Intermediate

Chilling: 30 minutes






  1. Saute the Vegetables

    Heat the butter and olive oil in your large saute pan or skillet. Use a medium low heat on your stove.

    Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, capers, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce crab boil seasoning, pepper, and salt.

    Then, allow the mixture to cook until all of the vegetables have gone soft – this should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

    Take the pan off the heat and allow the cooked mixture to cool until it reaches room temperature.

  2. Make the Crab Cakes

    Put your lump crabmeat in your large bowl. Using the fork, break the crabmeat into smaller pieces.

    Now, add the cooked mixture, bread crumbs, mustard, mayonnaise, and eggs into the large bowl with the crabmeat. Gently toss everything together until it’s well combined.

    It’s important now to chill the crab mixture in your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Fry the Crab Cakes

    Once chilled, take your ice cream scoop or measuring cup to turn the mixture into 6 or 8 portions of equal size. Roll these pieces into balls and then using your hands, shape them so that they resemble appetizer sized crab cakes.

    Using your large saute pan or skillet and a medium heat on your stove melt the remaining oilve oil and butter. Add your crab cakes to the pan.

    Fry until golden brown, which should be about 4 or 5 minutes on each crab cake’s side. Remember not to add too many to the pan at any one time.

  4. Serve

    Once the crab cakes are cooked, drain them on some paper towels. They can be kept warm in your oven set to about 250oF.

    Serve hot and enjoy!

Ina Garten Crab Cakes recipe serve

Ways To Enjoy Ina Garten Crab Cakes

  • You can make your mixture go further and shape it into mini crab cakes and serve them as an appetizer. They’ll go well with mayonnaise or a garlicky dip.

  • Create an appetizer skewer. Layer thin slices of tomato, cucumber, and avocado on top of the crab cakes and use a toothpick to serve.

  • Your bite sized crab cakes can also be used as a tasty sandwich filling. Use your favorite spread or dip and some crunchy iceberg lettuce.

  • During the summer, it’s great to pair your crab cakes with a fresh salad. This could be a green salad, corn salad, or chickpea salad – serve with your favorite kind.

  • Ina Garten suggests that you might want to serve your crab cakes with a rémoulade sauce, which is a bit like a tangier and crunchier version of mayonnaise. But, you can also use a cocktail or tartar sauce as a dip if you prefer.

  • To turn your bite sized crab cakes into a main meal, serve with something a bit more substantial. This could be rice, quinoa, herby potatoes, grilled veg, or mango salsa.

Read more : What to Serve with Crab Cakes: 21 Incredible Sides Dishes

How To Store And Freeze Ina Garten Crab Cakes

To get ahead and make your crab cakes in advance, you can store them in your refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

You can also put your crab cakes in the freezer, either cooked or uncooked. However, to give you the best results when cooking, we’d recommend that you freeze them uncooked.

This will allow you to store your raw crab cakes in the freezer for up to about 3 months. You’ll need to get them out of your freezer the night before serving, so that they can defrost fully in the refrigerator overnight.

Ina Garten Crab Cakes - Pinterest

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
  • 415Calories
  • 35.1 gramsFat
  • 15.4 gramsCarbs
  • 12 gramsProtein
Show Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Per Serving Size (based on 6 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 415
% Daily Value*
Total Fat35.1 grams45%
Saturated Fat11 grams 55%
Cholesterol135 milligrams 45%
Sodium739 milligrams 32%
Total Carbohydrate15.4 grams 6%
Dietary Fiber1.6 grams 6%
Total Sugars4 grams
Protein12 grams
Vitamin C14 micrograms 69%
Calcium92 milligrams 7%
Iron2 milligrams 9%
Potassium311 milligrams 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.