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Lemon Basil Crab Cakes with Homemade Aioli

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 recipe will alleviate your crab cake making woes! You don’t have to worry about overusing breading because there isn’t any. I have a trick for keeping the crab cakes in tact (↓keep reading↓) that doesn’t require any extra breading.

Tip: You can also use canned or frozen crab to save money. Another cost saving option is skipping crab altogether and using canned salmon or tuna instead.

Lemon Basil Crab Cakes | brightrootskitchen.com

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 towels and wring out the excess liquid. Wringing out the liquid keeps the crab cakes from being too loose.

Lemon Basil Crabcakes | brightrootskitchen.com

One of the things that sets the these crab cakes apart is the lemon basil aioli! It does double duty in this recipe as a binder and a topping. Don’t you love getting multi-uses out of things?

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

Lemon Basil Aioli | brightrootskitchen.com

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. Not sure if you guys watch Modern Family, but there’s an episode where Mitch is in deep thought about mayo and says “How does egg become that?”. Now you’ve got to try it right, in the name of science?

↓Check out the creaminess inside those crab cakes!↓

Lemon Basil Crab Cakes | brightrootskitchen.com

Now, for the fun part….have you ever tried making crab cakes? Did it go well? If it didn’t are you ready to give it another try?

Let me know in the comments what you think about this recipe. And as always, if you have any questions, send them my way : )

Lemon Basil Crabcakes with Homemade Aioli

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!

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Keyword crab, crab cakes, crab dinner, fish cakes, homemade mayo, lemon basil aioli, lemon basil mayo, seafood
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 crab cakes

Ingredients

Crabcakes

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

Recipe Notes

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.

 

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