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Vegan Crab Cakes

Crispy vegan crab cakes offer the same succulent taste as traditional crab cakes, no seafood needed! Serve them with creamy tartar sauce as an appetizer, or make them into a meal.

Vegan crab cake on white plate with fork

Vegan crab cakes made with garbanzo beans and hearts of palm? Who knew?!

Yes, believe it or not, you can make an amazing substitute for crab meat with these two simple ingredients. Add nori for that seafood flavour and Old Bay seasoning, which always has a way of making you feel like you’re eating fish, and you’ll never miss the crab meat.

The hearts of palm have a flaky texture that closely mimics the feel of traditional crab meat (or flaky fish), making it one of my favourite substitutes for seafood. Combine it with the chickpeas and other ingredients, then shape into small patties and lightly fry until golden brown and crispy. Delicious!

Stack of 3 vegan crab cakes topped with tartar sauce and dill

Why You’ll Love This Vegan Crab Cakes Recipe

  • Authentic flavour. These crab cakes bring together the perfect blend of seasonings to create an authentic seafood flavour without any animal products.
  • A substitute you can’t buy at the store. While it’s easy to find vegan burgers and plant-based cheeses at the grocery store these days, seafood isn’t as widely available. Now you can make it at home!
  • Versatile. Vegan crab cakes can be enjoyed in so many ways, just like their traditional counterparts. They can be served as an appetizer, a main course with a side, or even in sandwiches for a delicious handheld meal.
Overhead view of ingredients for vegan crab cakes with labels

Notes on Ingredients

Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.

Crab Cakes:

  • Garbanzo beans – Also known as chickpeas! 
  • Hearts of palm
  • Nori – Nori is a type of seaweed that contributes a fishy flavour to these vegan crab cakes.
  • Vegan mayonnaise – You can use homemade vegan mayonnaise or a store-bought variety.
  • Lemon juice – Fresh is best! It has a brighter flavour than bottled.
  • Old Bay seasoning – Because Old Bay seasoning is traditionally used for seafood, when you taste it, you automatically have that association. In other words, it makes these vegan crab cakes taste like crab cakes!
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce – Or soy sauce if you prefer. 
  • Dijon mustard
  • Onion powder
  • Salt and black pepper – Freshly cracked black pepper is best.
  • Panko bread crumbs – You can substitute gluten-free panko to make this recipe gluten-free.
  • Olive oil 

Tartar Sauce:

  • Vegan mayonnaise
  • Dill pickles – Or use pickle relish and you won’t have to chop the pickles.
  • Fresh dill – Don’t substitute dried dill unless you have no other option! Fresh dill delivers much more flavour.
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar – Just a bit, for balance.
  • Salt and pepper

What Are Hearts of Palm?

Hearts of palm are the tender inner portion of certain types of palm trees. They have a mild yet slightly tangy flavor reminiscent of artichokes and they can be eaten raw or cooked. In vegan cooking, hearts of palm are often used as a substitute for seafood due to their flaky texture and ability to mimic the taste and appearance of shredded crab or lobster meat. 

How to Make Vegan Crab Cakes

  • Make the “meat.” Pulse the garbanzo beans, hearts of palm, and nori in a food processor until you have large chunks, similar to crab meat. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings in a small bowl. 
  • Finish the vegan crab cake mixture. Fold the wet ingredients and panko into the crab “meat” mixture.
  • Form into patties. Use your hands to shape the mixture into patties about 3 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Cook. Add the olive oil to a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook the patties in batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Make the tartar sauce. Stir together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Serve. Serve the vegan crab cakes warm with vegan tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Tips for Success

  • Squeeze the patties together so they stick. A little bit of gentle pressure will help the patties hold together better.
  • Chill before frying. Refrigerating the patties for 30 minutes helps them firm up and prevents them from falling apart while frying.
  • Gently flip once. The vegan crab cakes are delicate, so flipping them more than once may cause them to break apart. If they do fall apart, use a spatula to press them back together in the pan.
Overhead view of vegan crab cakes stacked on plate with tartar sauce

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve as a starter with a side of vegan tartar sauce and lemon wedges.
  • Pair vegan crab cakes with Hoppin’ John or Corn Maque Choux for a satisfying meal.
  • Make them the star of your next sandwich by adding lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Don’t forget to slather on that tartar sauce!

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerate leftover vegan crab cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, place in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until warmed through. Alternatively, wrap each patty in foil and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. 

Pile of crispy vegan crab cakes on plate

Can I Freeze This Recipe?

Yes, you can freeze these vegan crab cakes for up to 3 months. Place the patties between layers of parchment paper in a freezer bag or airtight container and thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. 

More Vegan Recipes

Vegan crab cake on plate with fork cutting into it
Stack of 2 vegan crab cakes on plate topped with tartar sauce
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5 from 1 vote

Vegan Crab Cakes

Crispy vegan crab cakes offer the same succulent taste as traditional crab cakes, but they're made with hearts of palm and garbanzo beans!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 53 minutes
Servings 7 patties
Calories 362kcal

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce can garbanzo beans drained 454 grams
  • 14 ounce can hearts of palm drained 400 grams
  • 1 sheet nori cut into small pieces 2.5 grams
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise 56 grams
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs 83 grams
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 45 ml

Vegan tartar sauce (optional):

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise 112 grams
  • 3 tablespoons dill pickles or pickle relish, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine the garbanzo beans, the hearts of palm and nori pieces in a food processor. Pulse until it forms large chunks. You still want a lot of texture, to resemble crab meat pieces.
  • Transfer the chopped vegetables to a large bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise, mustard, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, mustard, onion powder, salt, and black pepper into a small bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients and panko bread crumbs to the large bowl with the vegetables. Fold together gently.
  • Form into patties about 1⁄2 inch- 3⁄4 inch thick. The patties should be about 3 inches in diameter. Place on a large plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Add the olive oil to a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the patties, leaving space between (you may need to work in batches). Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. The patties are delicate, so don’t flip them more than once.
  • Remove cooked patties to a paper towel lined plate.
  • Serve warm with vegan tartar sauce and lemon wedges

To make the tartar sauce:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • To store: Refrigerate leftover vegan crab cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, place in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until warmed through. Alternatively, wrap each patty in foil and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.
  • To freeze: You can freeze these vegan crab cakes for up to 3 months. Place the patties between layers of parchment paper in a freezer bag or airtight container and thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 786mg | Potassium: 1162mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 98IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
Recipe Rating