Vegan Crab Cakes

These vegan crab cakes are made with chickpeas, hearts of palm, zucchini and old bay. They’re super flavorful, crisp on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside.

Do you even believe me when I say these crab cakes are vegan?! I mean the pictures make them look like the real deal! To be honest, I don’t eat crab cakes often (they’re usually a special treat when dining out) but after I created this version they’ll be on regular rotation in our home. They’re inexpensive, packed with vegetables and so delicious.

Plate with vegan crab cakes garnished with parsley and lemon slices.

I know it might seem a little odd to have a vegan meal based off of a fish-based recipe but I know there are plenty vegans that used to eat meat/fish and miss some foods! This recipe is actually inspired by Isaac’s mom who started making vegan crab cakes using this recipe from the Hallmark channel. She made them for us while we were at the beach and now we’re hooked! I added chickpeas to my recipe for a protein boost.

Stack of 4 vegan crab cakes topped with a sprig of fresh parsley.

Vegan Crab Cake Ingredients:

  • vegetables – zucchini, onion, celery hearts, fresh parsley
  • canned items – hearts of palm and chickpeas
  • panko bread crumbs – make sure they’re finely ground!
  • nori powder or kelp granules – these seaweed seasonings are optional, but highly recommended because they’ll give the cakes more of a seafood flavor and add a little salt. If you don’t want to buy a full container for this recipe, you can simply pulse nori sheets (or seaweed snacks) in a blender or food processor until they’re a fine powder and use that instead. This is what I did!
  • nutritional yeast
  • mayonnaise – use vegan mayo to make these 100% vegan.
  • Dijon mustard
  • lemon zest
  • spices and seasonings – Old Bay seasoning, sea salt and pepper. You can find Old Bay at most grocery stores but you can also make your own!
  • sauce for serving

What are Hearts of Palm?

Hearts of palm are considered a vegetable. It’s harvested from the inner core of certain palm trees! When shredded, they really do have the texture of shredded meat. I’ve used them as a sub for shredded pork in vegan bbq sandwiches and they work as a sub for shredded crab meat too. They are low in calories and fat but have a good amount of zinc, potassium and vitamin C. They are very mild in flavor so take on the flavor of the recipe… very similar to actual crab!

Close up photo of a vegan crab cake with a bite taken out of it on a plate. Cake is drizzled with a creamy dressing.

How to Make Vegan Crab Cakes

  1. Process chickpeas in a food processor and add to a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and put in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.
  2. Once the mixture is cool and firm, form patties with your hands.
  3. Warm a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil and heat until it shimmers in the pan. Cook the cakes one at a time until golden brown – about two minutes each side.
  4. Put in the oven to keep warm before serving and enjoy!

What to Serve With Crab Cakes

As a main dish: I’ve made this recipe several times and we’ve always eaten them as a main dish paired with roasted veggies (like roasted squash and zucchini), rice and/or a salad.

Crab cake sandwiches: We’ve also made crab cake sandwiches by adding the cakes to toasted buns with a vegan sauce (vegan tartar sauce, vegan aioli or vegan remoulade sauce).

On a salad: These crab cakes make a great topping for salad. Start with a bed of leafy greens, add any vegetables you like (fresh or roasted would work perfectly!), add 1-2 vegan crab cakes and top with a dressing of your choice. This lemon vinaigrette would be perfect!

As an appetizer: You can also serve the crab cakes as an appetizer. For this, I’d probably make the patties a bit smaller and top with a vegan sauce (see ideas above).

How to Store Vegan Crab Cakes

I will say these are best served immediately but we have stored these in the fridge for later and they’re just as delicious! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. I haven’t tried freezing them so not sure if the consistency would change. When you’re ready to enjoy, reheat them in a toaster oven or conventional oven until heated throughout and crispy on the edges.

Overhead photo of a plate with 6 vegan crab cakes garnished with lemon, parsley and a drizzle of creamy sauce.

More Mock Meat Recipes to Try:

If you try these vegan crab cakes please be sure to leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how they turned out. Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other readers.

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Plate with vegan crab cakes garnished with parsley and lemon slices.

Vegan Crab Cakes


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These vegan crab cakes are made with chickpeas, hearts of palm, zucchini and old bay. They’re super flavorful, crisp on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside.


Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 14 oz can whole hearts of palm, drained and shredded by hand to crab consistency
  • ½ cup grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • 2 Tablespoons old bay seasoning
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko (gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon nori powder or kelp granules (optional)*
  • 4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • avocado oil for pan-frying
  • vegan tartar sauce, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add chickpeas to a food processor and pulse 3-4 times or until chickpeas are mashed apart, but not turning into mush/hummus. Transfer chickpeas to a large bowl.
  2. Using your hands, shred hearts of palm until it’s the consistency of crab meat.
  3. Grate zucchini and squeeze out liquid, if it feels wet. I didn’t find squeezing necessary.
  4. Add chickpeas, shredded hearts of palm, zucchini, onion, celery, old bay, mayo, Dijon mustard, panko, nori powder, nutritional yeast, parsley, lemon zest, pepper and salt into the large bowl and mix until everything is combined. Place mixture in the fridge to chill for about 1 hour.
  5. Once mixture has chilled, use your hands to form patties. Make larger patties to serve as a main dish or smaller patties to serve as an appetizer.
  6. Heat a large sauté pan with 1 Tablespoon of avocado oil over medium high heat.
  7. Once oil is hot, place cakes in one at a time and cook until golden brown and warm throughout, about 2 minutes each side.
  8. Place in 300°F oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining patties. Serve crab cakes warm with sauce of choice. I used a vegan tartar sauce.
  9. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes

  • Make your own nori powder: If you can’t find nori powder or kelp granules, you make your own nori powder by blending seaweed snack sheets in your processor. This is what I ended up doing and it worked great.
  • Inspired by this recipe.
  • Category: Lunch/Dinner
  • Method: Pan-Fry
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 patty
  • Calories: 120
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 683mg
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 2mg

Keywords: vegan crab cake

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    16 comments
    1. Kara Jay
      November 19, 2020 AT 9:01 pm

      This is so yummy! I baked mine instead, mostly out of convenience. I would personally add less old bay seasoning, that’s just my personal taste though and maybe more celery! I did grind up a seaweed snack and add that and highly recommend it. Will make again!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 20, 2020 AT 12:51 pm

        Ahh yay!! So glad you enjoyed these crab cakes, Kara! I appreciate you making them and coming back to leave a review. It means the world to me. 🙂

    2. Jennifer
      September 19, 2020 AT 11:39 am

      I have a chickpea allergy (such a bummer because I love them). Can you sub with a different white bean without messing with the end result?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 23, 2020 AT 2:03 am

        I haven’t tested anything besides chickpeas, but feel free to experiment and keep me posted if you try these and what you end up using. 🙂

    3. Terry
      September 3, 2020 AT 10:20 am

      Question: I have fresh hearts of palm. Do I need to cook or boil them before shredding? I can’t wait to make these!!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 7, 2020 AT 5:57 pm

        Hey Terry, you shouldn’t need to cook or boil them before shredding! Let me know how these turn out for you if you end up making them!

    4. Lisa Bagley
      September 2, 2020 AT 10:54 am

      These are sooooo yummy! I made them two days ago and am going to whip up another batch today while I still have the ingredients around! Two little tweaks I made was omitting the nori as I didn’t want them to really taste fishy and instead of using a food processor for the chickpeas I just used a potato masher right in the bowl. Thanks EBF for this new vegan kitchen staple! ❤️❤️

      1. Brittany Mullins
        September 3, 2020 AT 11:28 pm

        Ahh yay!! I’m so pumped you loved this recipe, Lisa. Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. It means the world to me. <3

    5. Raquel
      August 30, 2020 AT 8:41 pm

      When I saw this recipe pop up in your email, I had to try it. The only crab cakes I ever eat are true Maryland Crab Cakes and since I live in Utah I don’t get to enjoy them often. This recipe was absolutely delicious and now my new favorite crab cakes! Thank you for such a wonderful treat!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 31, 2020 AT 8:15 pm

        Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Raquel! I’m so pumped you loved this recipe. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I appreciate it. 🙂

    6. Suzanne G Arden
      August 22, 2020 AT 8:46 pm

      Wow, these are great. I have made other vegan crab cakes and they were horrible. I told my husband that they were “Veggie Patties” and he said “These are great, they taste like crab cakes!”

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 23, 2020 AT 11:43 pm

        Ahh yay, I’m so pumped you guys loved this recipe!! Thanks for making them and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating, Suzanne. I so appreciate it. 🙂

    7. Jennifer B.
      August 22, 2020 AT 11:38 am

      TWENTY STARS!!! Vegan Crab Cakes are better than the real thing. The texture is SPOT ON & these are exquisite served over arugula w/homemade garlic aioli. These make a killer sandwich & I loved not having to pick out shells when preparing. These were really fun to make & even more fun to eat. (I froze 3, hoping they freeze well) Brittany, thank you SO much!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 22, 2020 AT 3:50 pm

        Aww, Jennifer you are too sweet!! So pumped you loved this recipe!! As always, thanks for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. <3

    8. dana
      August 14, 2020 AT 5:04 pm

      What?! Making these ASAP!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 14, 2020 AT 5:20 pm

        Yay! Can’t wait to hear what you think, Dana. 🙂

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