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Crab cakes used to be my go-to at restaurants, but it wasn’t until I tried Maryland-style crab cakes — golden and crispy on the outside, soft and flavorful inside, with generous lumps of crab dispersed throughout — that I truly came to appreciate them. So, when it came time to make my own recipe for low carb keto crab cakes, I made sure that it ticks all those boxes… and might even rival the ones I’ve tried at nice seafood restaurants. Don’t be intimidated by low carb crab recipes like this one, though. I promise these gluten free crab cakes are very easy to make — and will feel like a restaurant right at home!
Why You’ll Love These Keto Crab Cakes
- Plenty of lump crab meat throughout, with very little binder or filler (think Maryland crab cakes!)
- Perfectly golden on the outside
- Common, simple ingredients
- Ready in only 30 minutes
- Just 1.6g net carbs each
- Supportive of all kinds of food restrictions — they are keto, gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, whole30, and have a nut-free alternative – all without sacrificing flavor or texture!
- These gluten free crab cakes taste like restaurant-quality
Are Crab Cakes Keto Friendly?
No, regular crab cakes are not keto friendly, as they use wheat flour breadcrumbs as a binder. Typical packaged crab cakes have 8-10 grams of carbs in just one crab cake, which often isn’t enough for a whole meal, so you’re eating 2-3 times that if you have several as a main dish.
As for restaurants? Breadcrumbs are almost always used as a binder and filler, but the amount used will vary based on recipe and quality; higher quality crab cakes will have more crab and less filler.
The good news is, this gluten free crab cakes recipe is definitely keto friendly! With just 2 grams total carbs (and 1.6 grams net carbs) per crab cake, it fits well into a keto diet as an appetizer, salad topper, or low carb main course.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for this keto crab cake recipe, what each one does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Crab Meat – Obviously, this is the single most important ingredient in this keto crab cakes recipe. The quality and type of crab you use will have the biggest impact on the end result. Here are the different types and my recommendations:
- Jumbo Lump Crab Meat – The best kind, use this if you want the best keto crab cakes!
- Leftover Fresh Crab Meat – If you have leftover crab from making crab legs, this is just as good as (if not better than!) jumbo lump crab meat from a can.
- Backfin Crab Meat – A combination of small pieces of lump crab meat and flakes of white body meat. This a cheaper alternative is okay, but the texture of your crab cakes is noticeable worse.
- Claw Meat – The cheapest kind and you won’t get any chunks, but it does have a hearty crab flavor. I don’t recommend it for crab cakes, but it could be okay for hot crab dip.
- Imitation Crab Meat – I don’t recommend this for crab cakes, as the taste and texture is totally different. Also, this typically contains sugar (not keto-friendly) and is not gluten-free, either.
- Onion – Use either white or yellow onion. I sauteed it until browned, but caramelized onions are also delicious here for a different vibe.
- Wholesome Yum Almond Flour – The gluten free, keto binder we are using instead of flour or breadcrumbs. I highly recommend using this brand because it’s ground super fine and works better for binding than coarser brands. For a nut-free option, substitute crushed pork rinds. (Do not use coconut flour, as it’s too drying.)
- Egg White – Acts as another binder. I have not tried substitutes, such as flax egg, but if you do, the equivalent would be 2-3 tablespoons.
- Mayonnaise – Adds flavor and richness. You can use store-bought or make homemade mayo.
- Worcestershire Sauce – Be sure to look for a gluten-free brand, like this one.
- Mustard – Either yellow or Dijon mustard.
- Dried Parsley – I used dried for convenience, but you could substitute 3 tablespoons fresh parsley if you like.
- Old Bay Seasoning – A classic choice for so many seafood recipes! And because crab cake seasoning tends to be a complex combination of many spices, using this seasoning (which is a blend of 18 herbs and spices) saves time. It already has some heat, but if you like more spice, feel free to add some extra black pepper or even cayenne. (Don’t add salt, as the Old Bay is already salty enough.)
- Olive Oil – For frying. Avocado oil works as well.
How To Make Keto Crab Cakes
This section shows how to make gluten free crab cakes, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Saute aromatics. Cook the diced onion in olive oil, until translucent and lightly browned.
- Mix the gluten free crab cake base. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together almond flour, egg white, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, dried parsley, old bay seasoning, and olive oil. Stir in the sauteed onions.
- Add crab meat. Gently fold in the lump crab meat.
TIP: Do not over-mix.
We want to incorporate the crab without smashing it in and breaking up the lumps of crab.
- Form. With your hands, form the crab cake mixture into patties and place onto a lined baking sheet.
TIP: If possible, refrigrate formed crab cakes for 30 minutes before cooking.
This optional step will help the keto crab cakes stay together when you cook them.
- Fry. In a large non-stick skillet, fry gluten free crab cakes in olive oil over medium heat, flipping once they are golden on the bottom. Cook in batches as needed.
- Store: Keep cooked keto crab cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Reheat: Gently reheat in a hot skillet, just until warm.
- Freeze: Whenever I make these gluten free crab cakes, I almost always make a double batch to freeze! After you form them into patties, place them onto a parchment paper lined baking dish (do not cook) and freeze until solid. Once frozen, wrap individually with plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. Thaw the gluten free crab cakes overnight in the refrigerator and then pan fry according to instructions.
What To Serve With Keto Crab Cakes
These keto crab cakes can be served as an appetizer or a main dish. Try the pairings below, but no matter what, don’t forget a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!
- Dipping Sauce – Try keto tartar sauce, Asian spicy mayo, or remoulade sauce.
- Veggies – Such as air fryer asparagus or roasted eggplant. You can also add cauliflower rice as a rice swap or baked rutabaga as a potato swip if you miss starches.
- Salads – Serve keto crab cakes as your protein over a green goddess salad, cobb salad, or spring mix salad.
More Low Carb Crab Recipes
If these low carb gluten free crab cakes are your thing, you’ll also love these other keto crab recipes:
Keto Crab Cakes (Gluten Free, 30 Minutes!)
Make the best easy gluten free keto crab cakes, with a golden crust and simple ingredients (no breadcrumbs), in just 30 minutes!
Like this video? Subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel for healthy recipes!
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute chopped onion for about 10 minutes, until translucent and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix all other ingredients except the crab meat and remaining olive oil. When everything is well combined, add the sauteed onions.
Fold in crab meat very gently. Try to avoid breaking up the lumps of crab meat.
Form 8 patties and place on a lined baking sheet or cutting board. If possible, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this will help the crab cakes stay together when frying).
Fry crab cakes on a skillet over medium heat, in two batches of four. Use about two teaspoons of oil for each batch, and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side, until browned.
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Serving size: 1 crab cake
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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