Crispy Quinoa Crab Cakes

October  4, 2022
0 Ratings
Photo by Melina Hammer
  • Prep time 35 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

In this rendition of crab cakes, quinoa substitutes for breadcrumbs, making a delicious, gluten-free variation to add to your repertoire. Bonus: using two types of crab meat eases the burden on the wallet, while still allowing you and your guests to be treated to incredible flavor (P.S. the claw meat is even more richly “crabby” in flavor). The crab mixture can be made two days in advance, and the cakes can be formed one day in advance. When cooking, resist the urge to move the cakes as they cook: that undisturbed time in the pan is crucial to activate the binding elements and build that golden, delicious crust. For entertaining, you can even freeze cooked crab cakes—just thaw them in the fridge and reheat them in a toaster oven.

If you have any remaining crab meat, fold it into scrambled eggs, serve it layered with thick slices of heirloom tomatoes and melted cheese on toast, or toss it into an herb-showered summery salad. —Melina Hammer

What You'll Need
  • Lemon-Caper Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped and drained capers
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crab Cakes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup cooked quinoa, packed
  • 16 ounces jumbo lump crab meat, drained and picked over
  • 8 ounces claw meat, drained and picked over
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
  • Finely snipped chives, to garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Lemon-Caper Sauce
  2. Combine the capers, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a wide-mouth jar and stir until uniform. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days).
  1. Crab Cakes
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to combine.
  3. Add lemon zest, parsley, mustard, and mayonnaise and whisk together to incorporate.
  4. Fold in quinoa, then add the crab meat and gently fold until just combined, keeping the meaty chunks intact.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors, or up to 2 days.
  6. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and swirl to coat.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure to form the crab cakes, gently pressing the top and sides to hold the mixture together. Add 3 to 4 to the pan at a time and sear undisturbed for about 5 minutes, until the bottoms form a golden crust. Rotate cakes after the 4 minute mark for even browning, then carefully turn each over. As you turn each, gently press on crab cakes with the backside of the spatula, then sear for another 2 or 3 minutes, until golden brown (lower temperature to medium if browning too quickly or pan is smoking).
  8. Transfer crab cakes to a serving platter and sear the remainder in batches as you did the first, adding more oil as needed. Serve warm with lemony caper sauce, an extra squeeze of lemon juice, and finely snipped chives to garnish.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Wendy France
    Wendy France
  • Melina Hammer
    Melina Hammer
  • Paula Gores
    Paula Gores
Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.

4 Reviews

Paula G. April 21, 2023
Any idea if the recipe will work substituting canned salmon for the crab meat, drained and picked over?
Melina H. April 21, 2023
I think you could use canned salmon. My only reservation is that it may feel drier. If so, add another tablespoon of mayo, should you find that to be the case. Please let me know how it turns out!
Wendy F. April 21, 2023
Love this gluten free recipe…..the only thing is I am on a low fermentation diet so avoid mayo….I also avoid yogurt, any suggestions with what to replace the mayo with in these crab cakes?
Melina H. April 21, 2023
Would Veganaise honor your dietary confines? If not, I’m tempted to say add another egg, but also think that may make it too eggy… I’ll look around and see if anything reveals itself as a good solve. Good luck in the meantime!