These Lemon Basil Crab Cakes with Homemade Aioli are creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and jam packed with chunks of crab. They’re also gluten free and dairy free, so no breadcrumbs needed!
Making crab cakes has always seemed intimidating to me. I’m always nervous they’ll be dense from too much breading or so loose that they’ll fall apart. Also, crab tends to be expensive so it’s a real bummer when it doesn’t turn out as planned…
This gluten free crab cake recipe will alleviate your crab cake making woes!
You don’t have to worry about overusing breading because there isn’t any. Normally breadcrumbs or bread pieces give standard crab cakes their structure, but I have a trick for keeping these gluten free crab cakes in tact (↓keep reading↓) that doesn’t require any extra breading.
Tip: You can use canned or frozen crab to save money. Another cost saving option is skipping crab altogether and using canned salmon or tuna instead.
What type of crab should you use?
I spotted frozen crab at Trader Joe’s and swiftly snuck it in the cart to which Tim said at checkout “Wait, where did that $10 crab come from?”. While frozen crab is still pricier than chicken, it’s significantly cheaper than fresh crab.
If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can check the frozen aisle of your local grocery store for frozen crab; most stores carry it.
If you’re feeling fancy you can always splurge for the fresh jumbo lump crab at the seafood counter!
Tip: If you choose to use frozen crab, let it defrost in a glass bowl according to the package instructions. Place the thawed crab in a clean dish cloth or 2 paper towel sheets and wring out the excess liquid. Wringing out the excess liquid keeps these gluten free crab cakes from being too loose since there’s no breadcrumbs.
What is a good sauce for crab cakes?
One of the things that sets the these gluten free crab cakes apart is the lemon basil aioli!
It does double duty in this recipe as a crab meat binder and as a creamy, dunk-tastic sauce. Don’t you love getting multi-uses out of things?
If you’re trying to go dairy free and don’t know where to start, read How to live your best dairy free life for easy tips!
Why should you make aioli (aka MAYO) from scratch?
You’re probably wondering why you’d even want to make mayo when you can just buy it, right? Well, turns out aioli or mayo is really easy to make at home. If you have a blender and 2 minutes, you’ll have a delicious spread seasoned to your liking.
Benefits of DIY-ing your mayo:
- Avoid added sugar
- Swap in healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil
- Control the flavor and have the freedom to mix it up depending on what’s in the fridge
This was actually my first time making aioli from scratch so I can understand if you’re still a bit skeptical. It honestly was really simple. Plus it was a like a fun science experiment watching the egg yolk and olive oil morph into mayo.
On Modern Family, there was an episode where Mitch is in deep thought about mayo’s existence and says “How does egg become that?”. Makes you think, huh? Well, now you’ve got to try it…in the name of science.
↓Check out the creaminess inside those crab cakes!↓
What side dishes go well with these gluten free crab cakes?
It’s sort of hard to choose but because the crab is pretty rich from the homemade aioli, you want to temper it with a simpler side dish. I recommend:
- Super Quick Microwave Mashed Potatoes
- Purple Cabbage, Apple and Mint Slaw
- Quick and Easy Garlic Green Beans
Now, for the fun part….have you ever tried making gluten free crab cakes? Did it go well? If it didn’t are you ready to give it another try?
- 8 oz crabmeat fresh, frozen or canned
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup and 2 tbs lemon basil aioli (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup raw almonds I used slivered/blanched almonds
- 2 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Basil Aioli
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- 5-8 leaves fresh basil
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add almonds to a blender or food processor. Pulse or grate for about a minute until the almonds form a flour like powder. Pour onto a plate and set aside.
- Add egg yolk, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and basil to a blender. Turn the blender on and drizzle olive oil in slowly (through the top hole) until it becomes a mayo texture in about 30 seconds. And salt and pepper to taste. Set aioli aside.
- In a large bowl, add crabmeat, red bell pepper, scallions, cayenne, paprika, 1/4 cup + 2 tbs lemon basil aioli, salt and pepper. Gently stir together with a rubber spatula; try not to break up the crab too much.
- Form 4 crab cakes. Coat all sides of each crab cake with the crushed almonds. Use your hands to press the almonds into onto the crab cakes. Tip: Let the crab cakes sit for 10-15 minutes; this will help them set up and bind, without falling apart.
- Heat a skillet to medium high and add 2 tbs of olive oil to it. Cook each crab cake 3- 4 minutes on each side. Be sure to use a spatula to gently flip each crab cake. They should be golden brown on each side. Enjoy!
Tip: If you choose to use frozen crab, let it defrost in a glass bowl according to the package instructions. Place the thawed crab in a clean dish cloth or 2 paper towels and wring out the excess liquid. Wringing out the liquid keeps the crab cakes from being too loose.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see how it turned out! Snap a picture and tag @brightrootskitchen or use #brightrootskitchen on Insta.