Tested and Perfected by Food and Wine
Crisp Cayenne-Spiced Crab Cakes
© Lucy Schaeffer

Crisp Cayenne-Spiced Crab Cakes

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR 15 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 15 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 12

Growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, cooking-club member DeeAnn Budney attended all-day Chesapeake blue crab feasts organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Now that she lives on the West Coast, she makes these fantastically spicy crab cakes with sweet Dungeness crab meat, but either kind works.

Bread crumb coating

  1. 3 slices of soft white sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  3. 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  4. 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder

Crab cakes

  1. 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  3. 1/4 cup finely diced shallots
  4. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
  6. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  8. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  9. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  10. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  11. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  12. 2 pounds lump crabmeat, drained and picked over
  13. 3 slices of soft white sandwich bread—crusts removed and bread cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  14. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  15. Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. In a food processor, pulse the bread with the parsley, cayenne, Old Bay and baking powder until fine crumbs form. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl.
  2. In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Add the red bell pepper and shallots and cook over moderately high heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large bowl. Add the eggs, parsley, Worcestershire, Old Bay, mustard, cayenne, baking powder and salt and stir well to blend. Add the crabmeat and the bread cubes to the bowl and toss gently until evenly combined.
  3. Form the crab mixture into 24 small patties, using 1/4 cup per patty. Squeeze to wring out any excess liquid. Roll the crab cakes in the bread crumb coating and arrange them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until thoroughly chilled.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the olive oil. Working in batches, cook the crab cakes over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes per batch. Serve the crab cakes with lemon wedges.

Suggested Pairing

Crab, like other rich shellfish including lobster and scallops, is a natural partner for ripe, full-bodied white wines. Chardonnay from California's Monterey AVA doesn't get as much attention as bottlings from Sonoma or Napa Valley, but the region's cool ocean winds and bright sunshine produce a lot of good wines.