Chipotle Panko-Crusted Pan-Fried Crab Cakes

One of the first real meals I recall making for my family was on Mother’s Day. I was in my very early 20s, with only a handful of successful dinners under my belt. And those dinners were of the basic variety: spaghetti and meatballs (made with store-bought sauce and meatballs, of course), salads, rice, and anything fried. But that day, I decided to stretch my skills and take it up a notch. After all, it was Mother’s Day. I made panko-crusted pan-fried crab cakes (still something fried, but a little fancier!), served with a chili-lime dressing. Several years later, this meal is still one of my go-to dinners for the family.

For this recipe, I used Chipotle panko to give it a bit of a kick, but feel free to use regular panko. And if you can’t find panko, regular bread crumbs are fine.

Kitchen Notes: Panko are Japanese bread crumbs. They have a coarser texture, and are lighter and flakier than regular bread crumbs. Panko can be found in the same aisle as regular bread crumbs in some American grocery stores. They’re also sold in Asian markets and specialty food stores.

Continue to recipe.


4 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped green onions (green parts only)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound jumbo lumb crab meat
4 tablespoons fine dried bread crumbs

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups Chipotle panko (or regular panko or bread crumbs)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Chili-lime dressing (recipe follows)
1 cup mesclun or assorted baby greens, for garnish
Lemon wedges or wheels, for garnish


1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Combine butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, green onions, chives, and parsley into a bowl. Stir vigorously until well blended and slighted thickened. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne, and mix until well blended.

3. Transfer to a medium bowl with crab meat and bread crumbs, and fold gently to mix, being careful not to break up the lumps.

4. Form crab meat mixture into 2 1/2 to 3-inch round cakes. In order to yield more crab cakes, I made mine a little smaller this time around, about 1 1/2 to 2-inch cakes. Pack them gently, but firmly. Place on prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 to 2 hours.

5. Place flour in a small, shallow dish. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to make an egg wash. Place the panko in a third shallow dish.

6. Dredge each crab cake in flour, then in the egg wash, and then in the panko crumbs, shaking to remove any excess breading. If the crab cakes become too loose while breading, they can be refrigerated again until firm. Place each crab cake aside on a tray when done.

7. Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry the crab cakes three or four at a time until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Add more oil as needed. Once done, place the crab cakes on a plate lined with paper towels.

8. To serve, arrange two crab cakes on each plate. Two teaspoons of the chili-lime dressing can be served on top of the cakes, or off to the side. Garnish with greens and lemon wedges or wheels. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 8 crab cakes.

Adapted from Emeril’s Delmonico’s Pan-Fried Crab Cakes

Chili-Lime Dressing

This recipe uses a chili garlic sauce that can be found in Asian markets and in the international aisle of some grocery stores. It’s a medium-hot sauce that’s used as a condiment for many Southeast Asian meals, and can also be added to marinades and dressings, and used for cooking.


6 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
3/4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil


1. Combine the chili garlic sauce, lime juice, sesame seeds, and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine.

2. Slowly add the olive oil, and whisk to combine. Set aside until read to serve.

Kitchen Notes: This chili-lime dressing will keep for up to three days in a covered container and refrigerated.

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