Crab Cake Appetizers With Creamy Lemon-Orange Sauce

Many crab cake recipes call for lump crabmeat only, but you can make tasty, eye-catching cakes with claw meat, or a mixture, as well-and it’s typically nearly half the cost of lump meat alone. Shred any pieces of whole claw meat with your fingers. It’s easy to do, and the meat will bind well to form the cakes.

The citrusy cream sauce in this recipe is also simple to prepare, and it provides a fresh, cool lemony-orange flavor to complement the spicy richness of the crab cakes.

Makes 10 crab cake appetizers


For the Sauce

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Crab Cakes

  • 1 lb crab meat (claw, lump, or a mixture), picked over
  • 1 cayenne chile (or other thin, hot chile), stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1/2 cup panko or other fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


For the Sauce

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through mustard) in a small bowl.
  2. Place the garlic clove on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. Finely chop the garlic and salt together (or mash thoroughly with a fork) and stir into the mayo mixture. Season with black pepper.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (May be made 1 day ahead.)

For the Crab Cakes

  1. Combine the first 7 ingredients (through chile powder) in a medium bowl and season with salt.
  2. Divide the mixture into 10 equal portions, about 2 inches in diameter, and place on a platter or plate. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (Refrigeration helps the cakes hold together during cooking.)
  3. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the crab cakes and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.

Plate the crab cakes and spoon a small dollop of lemon-orange sauce on top of each, or serve the sauce in small bowls alongside.

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