These crab cakes, which I affectionately nicknamed “Paleo Krabby Patties,” are crispy on the outside and packed with tender crab on the inside! Because there’s no breadcrumb filler, the crab shines through. Trust me: no one will miss the gluten!

Two golden brown paleo crab cakes are on a beige plate, next to purple cabbage slaw and lemon wedges.

I originally posted this recipe way back in 2011, but I’ve finally gotten around to fixing the pics and fine-tuning the steps!

This Whole30- and keto-friendly crab cake recipe is an adaptation of a fantastic crab cake recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook. The original recipe uses both breadcrumbs and flour (which aren’t exactly paleo-friendly), so I subbed in some coconut flour instead. Don’t worry—the coconut flour doesn’t make the crab cakes taste coconut-y, it just gives the crust a golden brown color and crunch.

What kind of crab should you use?

In this crab cake, it’s important to source the highest quality crab available. Obviously, the best choice is to use fresh cooked crab meat that you make yourself or buy from a trusted fishmonger. The second best choice is the canned crab jumbo lump meat that is found in the refrigerated section in the seafood department. Don’t use shelf-stable canned crab meat because the texture is dry and mealy and the flavor is off.

If you can’t find high-quality crab, use cooked salmon instead!

Can you replace the coconut flour?

Yes! You can replace the coconut flour with cassava flour for the filling and the coating. I have used Otto’s cassava flour in this recipe with great success. For the crab cake filling, substitute 3 tablespoons of cassava flour in place of 1½ tablespoons coconut flour.  If you have success with another gluten-free flour, please leave your suggestions in the comments!

How can you cook these in the air fryer?

Yes—but the crab cakes are crispier and more golden brown when you fry them in a pan. If you’re gonna cook these crab cakes in an air fryer, spray them with  avocado oil and air fry at 400 F for 10-12 minutes  or until cooked through.

Ready to make a batch of paleo crab cakes?

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 1½ tablespoons coconut flour, plus more for coating the crab cakes 
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free seafood spice blend (I like using Penzeys Sunny Paris seasoning)
  • ¼ cup Paleo mayonnaise 
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup ghee, avocado oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)

Equipment:

  • All of my recommended kitchen tools are listed here.

Method:

Toss the crab meat in a large bowl with 1½ tablespoons coconut flour, scallions, seafood seasoning, and paleo mayonnaise.

A large glass bowl filled with crab, scallions, coconut flour, seafood seasoning, and mayonnaise.

Gently combine everything with a silicone spatula. You don’t want to break up the crab meat too much!

Mixing the paleo crab cake mixture with a red silicone spatula.

Taste the crab mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cracking fresh black pepper on the paleo crab cake mixture.

Gently fold in the whisked egg.

Pouring a whisked egg into the crab cake mixture.

Form the crab mixture into 8 crab cakes, about ~¾ inch thick, and place them on a parchment-lined plate. Cover the plate and chill the cakes in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a day to firm them up.

Forming gluten-free and keto crab cakes on a parchment paper lined plate.

When you’re ready to fry the crab cakes, take the crab cakes out of the fridge and fill a shallow plate with coconut flour. Lightly coat the crab cakes with coconut flour…

A paleo crab cake is in a shallow plate filled with coconut flour.

and gently pat off the excess coconut flour.

Someone coating a paleo crab cake with coconut flour.

Place the coated crab cakes on a parchment paper lined platter.

A parchment paper lined plate is filled with paleo crab cakes that are waiting to be fried.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add your cooking fat of choice when the pan is hot.

Ghee is melting in a cast iron skillet to fry paleo and keto crab cakes.

Fry the cakes in a single layer for about 3 minutes on each side…

Adding paleo crab cakes to a cast iron frying pan.

or until golden brown and crunchy on the outside.

Flipping golden brown paleo crab cakes in a cast iron skillet with a metal fish spatula.

Transfer the crab cakes to a paper towel lined platter or a wire rack to drain the fat.

A closeup shot of a golden brown paleo and keto crab cake on a fish spatula.

Repeat steps until all the crab cakes are finished cooking.

Four golden brown gluten-free crab cakes frying in a cast iron skillet.

Serve the patties with lemon wedges and Red Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing!

A plate filled with paleo crab cakes, red cabbage slaw, and lemon wedges.

[Originally posted on March 31, 2011. Updated on March 8, 2020.]


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Paleo Crab Cakes (Whole30, Keto)

4.79 from 19 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Chilling time30 minutes
Servings 4
These crab cakes, which I affectionately nicknamed “Paleo Krabby Patties,” are crispy on the outside and packed with tender crab on the inside! Because there’s no breadcrumb filler, the crab shines through. Trust me: no one will miss the gluten!

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • tablespoon coconut flour plus more for coating the crab cakes 
  • 2 scallions minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free seafood spice blend (I like using Penzeys Sunny Paris seasoning)
  • ¼ cup paleo mayonnaise
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup ghee avocado oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges

Instructions 

  • Toss the drained crab meat in a large bowl with the coconut flour, scallions, seafood seasoning, and Paleo mayonnaise.
  • Gently combine everything with a rubber spatula. Add salt and pepper to taste, and gently fold in the egg.
  • Form the crab mixture into 8 crab cakes, about ~¾ inch thick, and place them on a parchment-lined plate. Cover the plate and chill the cakes in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a day to firm them up.
  • When you’re ready to fry the crab cakes, take the crab cakes out of the fridge and fill a shallow plate with coconut flour.
  • Lightly coat the crab cakes with coconut flour and gently pat off the excess coconut flour. Place the coated crab cakes on a parchment paper lined platter.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add your cooking fat of choice when the pan is hot.
  • Fry the cakes in a single layer for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crunchy on the outside.
  • Transfer the crab cakes to a paper towel lined platter or a wire rack to drain the fat. Repeat steps until all the crab cakes are finished cooking.
  • Serve the patties with lemon wedges and Red Cabbage Slaw with Tangy Carrot Ginger Dressing!

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 26g | Fiber: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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18 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was so easy to make, the cooking timing was spot on & the patties were delicious. I will definitely make these again. You will need a 12” skillet if you want to cook them all at the same time. I did use a mix of coconut oil & some ghee to sauté the patties. So good! Thanks Michelle for such a great easy recipe!