Phillips Crab Cake Recipe Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab

As a culinary enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the iconic status of real Maryland crab cakes, known for their lump crab meat and a blend of savory seasonings that typify the Chesapeake Bay area flavor. Among the various recipes out there, one that stands out is the Phillips crab cake recipe. This renowned recipe, a well-guarded secret of the Phillips family for years, provides a taste of authentic Maryland crab cakes, cherished by both locals and visitors alike.

Making the best crab cakes involves paying close attention to the quality of the crab meat and the balance of the ingredients. I am meticulous about this balance, carefully selecting premium lump crab meat and blending it with the right amount of seasoning, mayonnaise, and breadcrumbs. The result is a crab cake that holds together perfectly, with a tender, flaky texture and a rich flavor that can only be described as the true taste of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The allure of Phillips crab cakes lies in their simplicity and homage to tradition. As a Maryland native, I respect the original method which insists on minimal filler, ensuring the crab meat remains the star. Cooking these crab cakes to golden perfection brings forward the sweet, succulent flavor of the crab meat complemented by a hint of zest and spice. It’s a culinary tradition that, when executed correctly, leaves a lasting impression on any palate.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

When creating Maryland-style crab cakes, particularly when striving for that authentic Chesapeake Bay flavor, selecting high-quality ingredients is paramount. The crab meat and seasonings are the heart of the recipe; their quality can make or break the dish.

Crab Meat Selection For Your Phillips Crab Cake Recipe

In my opinion, the star of the show for the best crab cake recipe is undoubtedly jumbo lump crab meat. When available, I go for fresh crab meat from the blue crab, native to the Chesapeake Bay area, to ensure that authentic Maryland crab cakes taste. However, if fresh isn’t an option, good-quality cans of Phillips crab meat are the next best thing. It’s crucial to ensure you’re using real crab meat for the recipe, as this is what gives the crab cakes their signature succulent texture and flavor.

Seasoning and Flavoring

As for seasonings, the right blend can elevate the delicate flavor of your Phillips crab cake recipe without overpowering it. I always use Old Bay seasoning, a classic choice for providing that signature Maryland zest. Lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce are staples, adding a subtle tanginess that enhances the crab meat’s flavor. I mix in a touch of dry mustard and Dijon mustard for a slight zesty spice, complemented by parsley flakes for a fresh element. Lastly, the secret ingredient to binding these flavors together is Phillips Seafood Seasoning, which rounds out the dish, ensuring that every bite is seasoned to perfection.

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Creating perfect crab cakes involves a blend of proper forming technique and exact cooking methods to achieve that desirable golden brown exterior and tender interior. I’ll guide you through the essentials of handling the crab cake mixture and ways to cook them to perfection.

Forming and Cooking Crab Cakes

When I prepare homemade crab cakes, I begin with a large mixing bowl, combining the crab mixture gently, to avoid breaking the delicate lumps of crab meat. Care is crucial to prevent the meat from becoming too dense or mushy. After mixing, I shape the mixture into individual cakes, typically aiming for a consistent size for even cooking. For best results, I often cover the shaped cakes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the ingredients to bind together.

Cooking Methods

Pan Fry: For a traditional approach to the Phillips crab cake recipe, I pan fry the crab cakes over medium heat until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Starting with a hot, lightly greased pan is key—I wait until the oil shimmers to ensure the cakes don’t stick or absorb too much oil.

Baking: I sometimes prefer baking for a less hands-on method. I place crab cakes on a lightly greased or lined baking sheet in a preheated oven. They should bake until reaching an internal temperature of 165°F, which usually takes 12-15 minutes, flipping once to ensure they’re evenly cooked.

Whether I choose to pan fry or bake, watching the heat is essential; too high, and the cakes can burn on the outside while remaining undercooked inside. Medium heat allows the crab cakes to develop that sought-after crisp exterior while cooking through.

Serving and Presentation

When I serve my crab cakes, I focus on both taste and visual appeal. The right accompaniments and sauces, along with thoughtful garnishing, can elevate the dish from a mere dinner item to a culinary experience. Each component complements the delicate, savory flavors of the crab.

Accompaniments and Sauces

For a well-rounded meal, I pair the delicious crab cakes with a variety of sauces that enhance their flavor without overwhelming the palate. Here are my go-to choices:

  • Tartar Sauce: A classic that balances the richness of the crab.
  • Cocktail Sauce: Gives a zesty kick, perfect for those who enjoy a touch of heat.
  • Crab Cake Sauce: A special blend often including mayonnaise, lemon juice, and a hint of mustard for a creamy dip.

I make sure to provide lemon wedges on the side; a squeeze of fresh lemon juice can brighten up the crab cakes significantly.


To finish, I believe a simple garnish can speak volumes. Here’s what I typically use:

  • Parsley Flakes: A light sprinkle adds color and a fresh herbal hint.
  • Lemon Zest: Grated over the top for an extra punch of citrus aroma.

With this approach, the crab cake presentation mirrors the quality of the Phillips crab cake recipe card itself, ensuring that those great recipes don’t just taste fantastic but also look the part on the plate.

Crab Cake Variations

In my experience with crab cakes, variations are all about honoring tradition while embracing personalization. Whether you’re sticking with Maryland classics or adapting the recipe to meet dietary restrictions, there’s a way for everyone to enjoy a good crab cake.

Maryland Style and Alternatives

Maryland style crab cakes are famous for their reliance on the sweetness of the blue crab and a minimal amount of filler to let the crab meat shine. Authentic Maryland crab cakes often use saltine or Ritz crackers as a binder. I’ve seen real Maryland crab cakes that include just a touch of mayonnaise, mustard, and sometimes Worcestershire sauce for added flavor. Panko bread crumbs are a modern alternative that give a little different texture, providing a light, crispy exterior without overpowering the crab. For those who prefer the traditional taste of the Eastern Shore, cracker crumbs are the way to go.

Adapting the Recipe for Dietary Needs

For those who have dietary restrictions but still yearn for a good crab cake, modifications are simple yet effective. For a gluten-free version, I substitute the traditional binders with gluten-free crackers or panko. When it comes to reducing fat, I’ve had success using egg whites instead of whole eggs. I’ve also seen recipes swap out mayonnaise for Greek yogurt to achieve the desired consistency. By making these small changes, anyone can enjoy Maryland crab cakes that are a little different from the classic but still delightfully savory and satisfying.

About Phillips

As a connoisseur of Maryland’s culinary traditions, I’ve seen Phillips Foods and Seafood Restaurants define the pinnacle of the region’s seafood offerings, particularly through their celebrated crab cakes.

History and Legacy

I understand that the story of Phillips began in 1956 when founders Shirley Phillips and her husband opened the Phillips Crab House in Ocean City, Maryland. Their business started as a small seafood market and quickly evolved into a dining destination synonymous with true Maryland crab cakes. These crab cakes, noted for having very little filler and a lot of flavor, reflect the heritage of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay area.

Philosophy and Commitment

Miss Shirley, as she was affectionately known, acted as the co-owner of Phillips Foods and was unwavering in her philosophy that high-quality, fresh seafood should always take center stage. This commitment is seen in the Phillips’ offering, where integrity in their seafood products—be it in their restaurants or your grocery store’s freezer—remains paramount. From their famous crab cakes to the Phillips Seafood Seasoning, they craft flavors geared towards authenticity with very little filler, ensuring that each bite is a taste of Maryland’s culinary essence.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, I tackle some of the most common inquiries about making and cooking crab cakes, drawing from traditional Maryland recipes and the renowned Phillips crab cake preparation methods.

What are the essential ingredients for a traditional Maryland crab cake recipe?

For a traditional Maryland crab cake, you’ll need high-quality lump crab meat, mayonnaise, eggs, breadcrumbs or cracker meal, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoning. Fresh parsley and Old Bay seasoning are often included to enhance flavor.

NutrientAmount per Serving (1 Crab Cake)
Calories160 kcal
Total Fat8 g
Saturated Fat2 g
Trans Fat0 g
Cholesterol80 mg
Sodium470 mg
Total Carbohydrates5 g
Dietary Fiber0 g
Total Sugars0 g
Protein16 g
Vitamin D0 µg
Calcium60 mg
Iron0.4 mg
Potassium220 mg

How can I make crab cakes that are similar to Phillips’ restaurant quality at home?

To replicate Phillips’ famous crab cakes at home, start with quality lump crab meat and minimally handle it to keep the lumps intact. Use a blend of seasonings, breadcrumbs, and mayonnaise to bind the cakes lightly without overwhelming the crab flavor.

What is the best way to prepare crab cakes using Ritz crackers?

When using Ritz crackers in your crab cakes, finely crush them and mix with crab meat, a binding agent like mayonnaise or egg, and seasonings. The buttery flavor of the crackers can add a delicious depth to the crab cakes.

Can you share a simple yet authentic crab cake sauce to complement the flavors?

A classic remoulade sauce, made with mayonnaise, capers, pickles, lemon juice, mustard, and herbs, pairs beautifully with crab cakes. Adjust the seasonings to your liking for the perfect complement.

What is the recommended cooking method for crab cakes to ensure they are crispy yet moist inside?

Pan-frying crab cakes in a bit of oil over medium heat typically yields a crispy exterior and a moist interior. Alternatively, baking crab cakes at 375°F until golden brown will also produce a delightful texture while being a little lighter.

How do I cook frozen crab cakes in an air fryer to achieve the best texture and flavor?

Cooking frozen crab cakes in an air fryer is efficient and yields great results. Preheat the air fryer and arrange the crab cakes in a single layer. Cook at a medium-high temperature until they are heated through, golden, and crispy, flipping halfway through.

Phillips jumbo lump Crab Cake Copycat

Recipe by kitcheneasylifeCourse: DinnerCuisine: MarylandDifficulty: Easy


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This recipe is a nod to the famous Phillips Crab Cake, but with our own twist. Get ready to impress your family and friends with these mouth-watering crab cakes!


  • 1 pound Maryland jumbo lump crab meat

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (preferably Panko for a crispier texture)

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Butter or oil for frying


  • Gentle Mix: In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, and beaten egg. Whisk them together until smooth.
  • Crab Time: Now, add the jumbo lump crab meat to the bowl. Here’s a pro tip: handle it gently to keep those beautiful lumps intact. You want your crab cakes to have nice, meaty chunks.
  • Breadcrumb Bond: Sprinkle in the bread crumbs and parsley. Gently fold them into the crab mixture. The breadcrumbs are not just fillers; they’re the secret agents that hold your crab cakes together. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Shape It Up: Shape the mixture into patties. If it’s too loose, add a tad more breadcrumbs.
  • Fry to Perfection: Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the crab cakes until they’re golden brown on both sides.
  • Serving Suggestion: Serve them hot with a side of lemon wedges and your favorite tartar sauce. A little zing of lemon just brings out the best in crab meat.

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