Gluten Free Crab Cakes with Horseradish Sauce is an elegant meal, great for all - whether they're following a gluten-free diet or not!
Note: This recipe was first posted on my original blog, Celebration Generation, on February 6, 2015. It was transferred over to this blog - existing comments and all - on 9/20/2021. It was most recently updated on 1/26/2023.
These Gluten-Free Crab Cakes are everything you could want in a crab cake - flavourful, colourful, very quick and easy to make.
The ingredients come together quickly, and cooking takes almost no time at all!
The result is a meal that is suitable as a quick and relatively healthy weeknight meal... but also elegant and impressive for entertaining, or to serve on a special occasion.
To me, a good crab cake is basically good quality crab meat that’s only barely held together with filler/binder ingredients, with enough flavour to accent the crab, without overshadowing it.
I have a hard time finding any that fit that bill, AND are gluten free, so homemade crab cakes are the way to go, IMHO.
They’re even relatively low carb for a main dish. Serve em up with some asparagus or broccoli, and you can fit multiple dietary needs!
With Valentine's Day coming up, this is a great recipe to have in your arsenal, for your gluten-free sweetie!
This recipe uses relatively simple ingredients, that you should be able to find at pretty much any larger grocery store.
I have a few notes on some of them, though:
Real Crab Meat
As the main ingredient, the kind of crab meat you use will definitely impact the final product!
For best results, you’ll want to use the freshest crab meat possible, if fresh crab meat is an option.
Fresh lump crab meat is generally your best option, beyond shelling your own crabs.
Fresh sweet crab meat isn’t super necessary, though - you can make fantastic crab cakes with higher end packaged jumbo lump crab meat, frozen or not.
If you’re not using fresh crab, just aim for good quality crab meat - You can usually find it frozen or in premium cans at the seafood counter of your grocery store.
The cans sold at the seafood counter are the best option, when it comes to canned meat.
Lump meat is the best option, if it’s available and in the budget, but there are usually other more affordable options as well - claw crab meat is a good option as well, just chop it up a bit.
Note: This recipe was developed using good quality crab meat, and it really isn’t suitable for imitation crab meat... which isn’t always gluten free in the first place!
While almond flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs were considered, I decided to use a bit of White Rice Flour as the binder - no xanthan gum.
In general, I try to avoid using gluten-free bread crumbs as much as possible - they’re ridiculously expensive.
Their flavor and performance vary so wildly between brands, it’s hard to ensure a consistent result.
Rice flour is cheap, relatively easy to come by, and - when used properly - makes for an extra crispy crab cake with a nice texture inside.
.. Just don’t skip chilling the crab cake mixture, or you could end up with slightly grainy crab cakes! Give it the time for the liquid to soften the flour.
I recommend using vegetable oil or canola oil for frying your gluten-free crab cakes, as they’re neutral in flavour and have a high smoke point.
Olive oil does not have a high smoke point, so if you decide to use it (I’ll be honest, I do sometimes!), just keep an eye on it that it doesn’t get too hot.
You can use whatever mayonnaise or aioli you like - Try my Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe!
I originally developed this recipe using a Fresno Chili Pepper, both for colour and flavour. Since moving, they’ve been hard to come by.
So, if you’re unable to find them, try half of a jalapeno pepper (finely chopped) if you want heat.
Alternatively, using a very small piece of a red bell pepper is a great option to get that bit of red pepper flavour and colour in there.
Rounding out the recipe, you will need:
If you’re making my horseradish crab cake sauce, you’ll also need sour cream and horseradish.
I developed this gluten free crab cakes recipe to be relatively minimalist in terms of the added flavours - I wanted the fantastic natural flavor of the crab meat to take center stage.
That said, if you like more complex flavours involved, this recipe provides a great base for you seasoning it to your own preferences.
The following are all good options for customization, whether alone or mix-and-match.
Fresh lemon zest
Celery Salt (Skip regular salt, add to taste)
Ground Black Pepper
Hatch Chile Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Smoked Serrano Powder
Of course, Old Bay Seasoning is super traditional - especially with Maryland-style crab cakes - I’m just not a fan of the stuff.
If you use it, you may want to skip the added salt entirely.
How to Make Gluten Free Crab Cakes
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, here is a pictorial walk through of the basic steps.
Strain any visible liquid off crab meat, if applicable. Pick through meat to remove shells, discard any found. Set crab meat aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, eggs, and mustard until smooth.
Add Worchestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and rice flour, once again whisking until smooth and well incorporated.
Add green onions, chili, and crab meat, gently mix until well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
Note: I like to use a ⅓ or ¼ cup measuring cup to dole out consistent portions.
Use a metal spatula to gently transfer crab cakes to oil, being careful not to burn yourself – oil may spatter.
Pan fry crab cakes until browned – about 3-4 minutes on each side. (4-5 minutes for extra crispy!)
Serve warm, with lemon wedges and horseradish sauce (or tartar sauce), and a nice white wine, if desired.
Horseradish Sauce for Gluten-Free Crab Cakes
While these crab cakes are fantastic on their own - maybe with a little lemon squeezed over them! - the horseradish sauce really kicks it up a bit!
This is super easy to make and only has 3 ingredients.
You'll want to make it at least an hour ahead, though - it really benefits from letting the ingredients mingle for a while!
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 Tbsp+ prepared horseradish
Whisk together until well blended, chill for 1 hour. Taste, add more horseradish if you'd like more bite.
More Gluten-Free Fish & Seafood Recipes!
Looking for more gluten-free seafood recipes for the whole family? Here are some fantastic options!
Ahi Tuna Crudo
Almond Crusted Halibut
Baked Sesame Ginger Salmon
Cashew Crusted Halibut
Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Gluten-Free Coconut Shrimp
Cod Au Gratin
Gluten Free Fish & Chips
Gluten-Free Cod Cheeks & Dressing
Creamy Creole Pasta
Creamy Creole Soup
Crunchy Keto Coconut Shrimp
Gluten-Free Fish Fingers & Custard
Hot Smoked Sockeye Salmon
Low Country Boil
Mango Shrimp Spring Rolls
Pepper Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Cream
Pesto Shrimp Palmini
Seared Scallops with Dijon Wine Sauce
Spicy Salmon Poke Bowl
Spinach Feta Salmon Pinwheels
Thai Pesto Salmon Salad
Tuna Mango Poke
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Gluten Free Crab Cakes with Horseradish Sauce
- 1 lb Crab Meat
- ¼-1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
- 2 Large Eggs Beaten
- 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Garlic Clove Pressed
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ Cup White rice flour
- 3 Green Onions Finely Chopped
- 1 Fresno Chili Finely Chopped
- Vegetable Oil
- 1 Lemon Cut into wedges
- ½ Cup Sour Cream
- 2 tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp+ Prepared Horseradish
- Strain any visible liquid off crab meat, if applicable. Pick through meat to remove shells, discard any found. Set crab meat aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, eggs, and mustard until smooth. Add Worchestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and rice flour, once again whisking until smooth and well incorporated. Add green onions, chili, and crab meat, gently mix until well combined.
- Cover and chill for 1 hour.
- In a large fry pan, heat 1-2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. As oil is heating, shape crab mixture into patties
- Use a metal spatula to gently transfer crab cakes to oil, being careful not to burn yourself – oil may spatter. Pan fry crab cakes until browned – about 4 minutes on each side.
- Serve warm, with lemon wedges and horseradish sauce:
- Whisk all sauce ingredients together until well blended, chill for 1 hour. Taste, add more horseradish if you’d like more bite.