Crispy, flaky and sweet with just enough tanginess to keep them interesting, crab cakes are a dish best enjoyed fresh.
Unfortunately, getting hold of fresh crab meat isn’t always possible. Does using frozen crab cakes mean that you’re settling for second-best? Not necessarily!
Provided you use good quality frozen cakes and cook them properly, frozen crab cakes can still be a delicious meal.
In this article I’ll explain how long you should bake crab cakes for, as well as giving you the lowdown on other cooking methods for you to experiment with.
Read on to learn how to make frozen crab cakes crispy, soft and delicious.
How Long to Bake Frozen Crab Cakes – The Quick Answer
In a hurry? Here’s a quick overview of how long it takes to cook frozen crab cakes, depending on the method you use:
|Method||How Long it Takes|
|Baked in Oven - The Simple Way||25 minutes|
|Baked in Oven - The Chef's Way||15-20 minutes plus 3-4 hours to defrost|
|Sautéing - Defrosting First||5 minutes plus 3-4 hours to defrost|
|Sautéing - From Frozen||10 minutes|
|Deep Frying||6 minutes plus 3-4 hours to defrost|
|Air Frying||10 minutes|
To learn more about each method and how to get the most out of them, read on!
How to Bake Frozen Crab Cakes
As with anything frozen, there are two secrets every chef knows. The trick is in having the right temperature, and serving with the right sides.
A crab cake served with tartar sauce with homemade mayonnaise will be streets ahead of one served with your store-bought mayonnaise. The dip will take you as long as the crab cakes are in the oven.
I’ll take you through the best ways I’ve found to bake crab cakes. One’s a bit longer, and the other’s the simple, straightforward way. Let’s be honest, we don’t always have time to defrost and fix everything in the kitchen. Sometimes the food just needs to be there and be done.
Being a chef, I of course do think it’s all worth a bit of time and effort, but even I take the quicker way sometimes!
You can also find your own route, picking and choosing between the two methods.
The Simple Way
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the cakes on a tray with baking paper, and drizzle some olive oil on both sides of the cakes.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn over, and then bake for another 10 minutes.
Serve with tartar sauce (you can make this quickly by chopping up a charlotte onion, some pickles, capers and dill, mixed in with mayonnaise, Dijon, black pepper, and lemon juice) and some fresh dill.
This method of baking frozen crab cakes takes 25 minutes.
The Chef’s Way
The true chef way is of course to make everything from scratch. But, more often than not, something being frozen doesn’t actually matter as much as you think.
So, here’s the chef’s way to bake frozen crab cakes and make them taste as good as fresh.
Properly Defrosting Crab Cakes
If you have time to defrost the crab cakes beforehand your crab cakes will taste much fresher. Defrost them in the fridge overnight, in a closed zip bag in water of room temperature for 3-4 hours. Alternatively you can defrost for a few hours on a tray at room temperature.
Defrosting in water works best, so if you’ve got those crab cakes from the fishmongers, use this method. If they’re from the supermarket, either way is fine.
Baking Frozen Crab Cakes the Chef’s Way
When defrosted, preheat the oven to 390°F, and coat the crab cakes in olive oil on both sides.
Non-virgin olive oil works best, as they’re about to go into a hot oven.
Place the cakes on a tray with a baking paper, and cook for 5 minutes on one side. Turn the cakes over and lower the temperature to 350°F. Cook for another 10 minutes.
I’ve found that you often need to tweak the temperature depending on how quick your oven responds. Sometimes you’ll need to leave the crab cakes for another 5 minutes.
The idea is to get them crispy on the outside and softly medium-cooked on the inside, making sure that they’re fully done.
Whilst the crab cakes are in the oven, make your tartar sauce. Here, I’d suggest whisking up some homemade mayonnaise. In a bowl, combine an egg yolk, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Whisk it all together and slowly add sunflower (or vegetable) oil, until you get the creamy texture of a mayonnaise.
Make sure to whisk fast, or even use a blender, and to pour the oil slowly.
It may take you a try or two before the mayonnaise doesn’t split, but the effort is worth it.
Now to make it into a tartar sauce. Add chopped charlotte onions, capers, pickles and dill, as well as lemon juice and black pepper.
Serve as a side with your crab cakes together with a wedge of lemon and a sprig of dill.
Including defrosting, this method of baking frozen crab cakes takes around 4.5 hours.
Other Ways to Cook Frozen Crab Cakes
Baking in the oven is of course not the only way to cook frozen crab cakes! You can also sauté, deep fry or air fry your crab cakes.
The quickest method of all is sautéing crab cakes. This works best if you don’t have the time to get your crab cakes defrosted.
The healthiest method is, of course, to air fry them. Deep frying crab cakes give you that savory pub-taste I’m always looking for at least.
Ideally, you should first defrost your crab cakes. The best way is overnight in the fridge, in a zip bag in water or in room temperature for 3-4 hours.
Once they’re defrosted and ready, place a frying pan on medium heat.
When the pan is getting warm, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil (you’re going to need quite a bit). Fry the cakes quickly on both sides until golden before turning the heat down to medium-low.
A top tip here is to also move the crab cakes to the edges of the pan. This way, the temperature they’re cooking on can be lowered quicker.
Keep turning every minute or two to keep the temperature even until they’re fully done inside. How do you check if they’re done? I usually go by smell or just cut one open.
If you don’t want to defrost your crab cakes before sautéing, simply reverse the above process.
Make sure that the oil is hot before starting. Then, turn the heat down, cooking the crab cakes first on low heat and turning them over once in a while. Gradually turn up to medium heat, giving them a golden covering on both sides.
When deep frying frozen crab cakes, you’re best off defrosting them first.
If you have a deep fryer, put it on 350°F, otherwise fill a deep frying pan with vegetable oil (you want the oil to go high enough to easily cover the crab cakes) and turn the heat up to maximum. Drop the crab cakes gently into the oil and fry for at least 6 minutes.
A rule of thumb with deep frying fish is to cook it until it’s golden and you think it’s done, and then a couple of minutes more.
Air Fryer Crab Cakes
The healthiest way possible to make crab cakes is by air frying them. This is perhaps also the simplest way. Most air fryers also let you defrost your frozen food with a special setting, so go ahead and do that too, if you haven’t defrosted your crab cakes already.
You might want to spray the crab cakes with some olive oil before putting them in the air fryer, just to let it develop that crust.
Any oil works here, so if you’re into a healthier alternative like avocado or hazelnut oil, go for it!
Place in the air fryer and cook the cakes at 370°F for ten minutes.
That’s it, all done!
How Long Do Cooked Crab Cakes Last in the Fridge?
You shouldn’t keep any cooked food in the fridge for more than 3 days.
The same goes for crab cakes, but I’d be extra careful with what they smell like and make sure to seal the cakes, as seafood is not something to take risks with.
If you’re giving them to kids or anyone who might have some trouble with digestion, throw them out after a day in the fridge.
How to Make Crab Cakes From Scratch
Whatever recipe you use to make crab cakes, you’ll need fresh crab meat to achieve great results.
If you set out to make your crab cakes yourself, I recommend you approach it in a similar way to making meat balls.
- Chopped crab meat (blue crab works best) 150g
- 4 tbsp breadcrumbs
- An egg
- 1 tsp mayonnaise Dijon mustard
- A dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and herbs (parsley, coriander, garlic, maybe even some chili).
Combine all of your ingredients together in a bowl. Once you’ve done this, form them into cakes and either bake or fry using one of the methods above.