Crab Cakes with Chipotle Aioli
  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for dressing
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for dressing
  • 1⁄4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or cilantro
  • Oil, for pan-frying
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Chipotle Aioli (recipe follows)
Time Estimates

Prep time: 15 min  

Cook time: 50 min  

Total time: 1 hr 5 min  


  1. Look over the crabmeat and remove any bits of shell.
  2. Combine with the egg, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, mustard, salt, paprika, pepper, bread crumbs and parsley and mix gently with a fork until everything is evenly moistened but some good-sized chunks of crab remain. (A two-tined cook’s fork makes a good tool for combining the ingredients without breaking up the crab too much.)
  3. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  4. Generously coat a 12-inch skillet with oil and set it over medium heat.
  5. For each cake, scoop up about 1⁄3 cup of the crab mixture and gently form it into a thick patty.
  6. Cook until nicely browned on both sides and heated through, 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness.
  7. While the cakes cook, combine the vinegar in a salad bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, stir to dissolve the salt, then stir in the olive oil.
  8. Taste on a lettuce leaf and adjust the seasonings.
  9. Toss the salad in this dressing and arrange on plates.
  10. Top each salad with 1 or 2 crab cakes, and either add a generous spoonful of Chipotle Aioli to each plate or drizzle it over all with a squeeze bottle.

Chipotle Aioli 

A little bit of chipotle chile, the ripened and smoke-dried form of the jalapeño, gives a lot of chile zing to the garlic mayonnaise of Provence. Include a little of the adobo, the vinegar-based paste found in the can with the chiles.


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 canned chipotle chile, minced
  • 1 teaspoon adobo from the chile can
  • About 1⁄2 cup mild olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mild vinegar, or to taste
  1. Pound the garlic and salt together to a smooth paste in a mortar (or mash repeatedly with the broad side of a knife on an impervious surface).
  2. Scrape into a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, chile and adobo and beat with a whisk to a paler shade of yellow.
  3. Add a spoonful of the oil and beat until it is absorbed.
  4. Continue adding oil in small quantities, beating constantly, until the sauce forms a smooth emulsion.
  5. After about 1⁄4 cup oil has been added, alternate oil and a few drops of vinegar, until the sauce is nice and thick.
  6. Taste and correct the seasoning.
  7. Strain through a fine sieve before serving.

Makes 2⁄3 cup


For plain aioli, leave out the chipotle. For a brightly colored saffron aioli, crush a large pinch of saffron threads with the garlic.

Good to know

Whether you use our local Dungeness crab or crab imported from elsewhere, crab cakes should be mostly about crabmeat, with just enough other stuff to hold them together and provide a complimentary flavor. If serving them with a spicy sauce like the one here, you can keep the crab cake seasonings simple. One cake makes a nice addition to a salad course, two a light entrée.

Which beer should I drink with this?
Pale ale hefeweizen, Pilsner.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

Find the book at Amazon

From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.


Photo: Tuaussi/Flickr

Crab Cakes with Chipotle Aioli
East Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast, or anywhere in between, one of the favorite things to do with crabmeat is make it into crisp crab cakes.