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Vegan Crab Cakes on a bed of lettuce
Air Fryer, Appetizers, Gluten Free, Lunch, Main Dishes, Nut free, Oil free, Under 400 calories, Vegan Recipes

Vegan Crab Cakes w/ Caper Mayo (+ Air Fry Option)

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These crispy Vegan Crab Cakes mimic the taste of classic crab cakes, but are fish-free and much healthier! They’re filled with the flavors of hearts of palm, chickpeas and Old Bay seasoning, Try them in the air fryer for extra crispiness!

A plate of vegan crab cakes on a bed of lettuce topped with caper vegan mayo

If you are plant-based or vegan, discovering foods that taste just like your old favorites can be a really fun part of this new adventure of cooking! And if you used to love the taste of crab cakes, this recipe is a game changer.

These Vegan Crab Cakes are crispy, crunchy, nutritious and absolutely addicting! With a combination of hearts of palm, chickpeas, Old Bay seasoning, and topped with a lemony caper mayo sauce, you’ll be shocked at how much this special appetizer tastes like the real thing!

What is “hearts of palm”?

Hearts of palm is a vegetable cut from the core of different species of palm trees. It looks like white asparagus, and tastes similar to artichoke hearts.

This vegetable is commonly added to salads, but can also be used as a vegan meat/fish replacement, such as in this recipe, or when breaded, as a calamari substitute.

Hearts of palm are also very low in fat and provide minerals such as potassium, protein, fiber and more.

Please note that fresh hearts of palm is pretty rare to find in grocery stores (and expensive), but luckily, most stores have canned hearts of palm that can be stored and easily used.

A dish filled with whole hearts of palm.

Helpful Tips for making these vegan crab cakes:

  • In order for the crab cakes to stay together/not fall apart, it’s important to chop the ingredients VERY fine, making sure there are no noticeable pieces/chunks. You can also use a food processor to do this. 
  • It’s also very important to make sure the mixture is as dry as possible. This is why you should use paper towels to press out the moisture of the hearts of palm and chickpeas a few times. The drier you get these ingredients, the better.
  • To use an air fryer to cook these crab cakes (highly recommended!), scroll down to the “How to make these crab cakes in the air fryer” section or visit the NOTES section of the recipe card below.  
A bird's eye view of a plate of vegan crab cakes on a bed of lettuce.

How to make these Baked Vegan Crab Cakes:

To get started, first preheat your oven to 425 F. Then cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Next, make the flax egg. To do this, add 1 tablespoon whole flax seeds to a coffee grinder and grind into a fine powder. Add the ground flax to a small bowl with 3 tablespoons water. Stir and let sit for a few minutes to thicken (see steps below). 

3 photos showing the process of making flax egg in a coffee grinder.

Next, add the (rinsed and drained) can of hearts of palm to a cutting board. Chop into fine pieces.

2 photos showing hearts of palm whole, and chopped into small pieces

Then add a few layers of paper towel and press down to remove moisture. 

Transfer the hearts of palm to a medium bowl. Add chickpeas to the bowl. Press down again using a few more paper towels to remove additional moisture. Then using a potato masher, mash until no whole pieces of chickpeas remain and the mixture is mashed down thoroughly. 

A bowl of hearts of palm and chickpeas, mashed.

Next, add the minced shallots, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, Old Bay seasoning and flax egg.

A bowl of shallots and other ingredients before blending for vegan crab cakes

Using a spoon, mix thoroughly until all is blended. Mash again using the masher. 

Then, using your hands, form into small patties, about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick. 

Coat each patty with breadcrumbs and transfer to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat (as shown below). 

Vegan crab cake patty on a silicone baking mat

Then bake at 425 F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, flip cakes and bake for another 35 minutes, until golden brown.

Prepare the caper mayo:

To make the caper mayo, mix the Vegenaise or your favorite vegan mayo, lemon juice and capers together in a small bowl. That’s it!

Finally, serve the vegan crab cakes topped with the mayo. This recipe makes 10 crab cakes. 

To freeze, form into patties and bread, then add to a freezable container, putting a layer of parchment paper in between layers of crab cakes. Thaw before cooking.

How to make these crab cakes in the air fryer:

These crab cakes turn out extra crispy if you use your air fryer to cook them. To do this, it’s very simple.

Add a few crab cakes to the air fryer, on the wire rack or a silicone basket. The amount will depend on how big your air fryer is.

Set the air fryer to the “Air Fry” function and cook at 390 F for 12 minutes. The crab cakes will be nice and crispy and ready to serve.

Closeup of a vegan crab cake on a bed of lettuce, with caper mayo on top.

And if you love super crispy/crunchy veggies in your air fryer, you might also enjoy this recipe for Air Fryer Eggplant!

Helpful Tools:

  • Masher– you’ll need a masher to mash the chickpeas and hearts of palm. A simple one will do.
  • Air Fryer– If you opt for the air fryer method, this one comes highly recommended. The air fryer provides a crispiness that you just can’t get from the oven.
  • Zester– This tool is great to use for mincing the garlic.
  • Coffee Grinder– If you have whole flax seeds, you’ll need to grind them for this recipe. You don’t need a fancy coffee grinder; a simple one like this will work just fine.

If you make this recipe for Vegan Crab Cakes, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your photo with #veggie__chick on Instagram. I just love to see my recipes being made in YOUR kitchen!

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Vegan Crab Cakes w/ Caper Mayo (+ Air Fry Option)

Baked Crab Cakes on a bed of lettuce

These crispy Vegan Crab Cakes mimic the taste of classic crab cakes, but are fish-free and much healthier! They’re filled with the flavors of hearts of palm, chickpeas and Old Bay seasoning, Try them in the air fryer for extra crispiness!

  • Author: Christin McKamey
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 55
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Bake/Air Fry
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 can hearts of palm, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium shallots (or onion), chopped very fine (roughly 1/3 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, optional
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (regular or panko breadcrumbs, can use gluten-free)

Caper Mayo:

  • 1/3 cup Vegenaise or favorite vegan mayonnaise 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Next, make the flax egg. To do this, add 1 tablespoon whole flax seeds to a coffee grinder and grind into a powder. Add the ground flax to a small bowl with 3 tablespoons water. Stir and let sit to thicken, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Next add the (rinsed and drained) hearts of palm to a cutting board. Chop into fine pieces, then add a few layers of paper towel and press down to remove moisture.
  4. Transfer the hearts of palm to a medium bowl. Add the chickpeas. Press down again using a few paper towels to remove additional moisture. Using a potato masher, mash until no whole pieces of chickpeas remain and the mixture is mashed down thoroughly.
  5. To the bowl, add the minced shallots, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, nutritional yeast, Old Bay seasoning and flax egg. Using a spoon, mix thoroughly until all is blended. Mash again using the masher.
  6. Form the mixture into small patties, about 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick.
  7. Coat each patty with the breadcrumbs until coated, and transfer to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.
  8. Bake the patties at 425 F for 15 minutes, then remove from oven. Flip cakes and bake for another 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Or, instead of baking, you can also air fry (highly recommended)- see instructions in the notes section below.
  9. To make the caper mayo, mix the Vegenaise or vegan mayo, lemon juice and capers together in a small bowl. Serve the vegan crab cakes topped with the mayo. Makes 10 crab cakes total.
  10. To freeze, form into patties and bread, then add to a freezable container, putting a layer of parchment paper in between layers of crab cakes. Thaw before cooking.

Notes

  • These crab cakes are extra-crispy if you use your air fryer to bake them. To do this, it’s very simple! Add a few crab cakes to the air fryer, on the wire rack or a silicone basket. The amount will depend on how big your air fryer is. Set the air fryer to “Air Fry” and cook at 390 F for 12 minutes.

  • In order for the crab cakes to stay together and not fall apart, it’s important to chop everything SUPER fine, making sure there are no noticeable pieces/chunks of ingredients. You can also use a food processor to do this. 

  • It’s also very important to make sure the mixture is as dry as possible. This is why you should use paper towels to press out the moisture of the hearts of palm and chickpeas a few times. The drier you get these ingredients, the better. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 crab cakes
  • Calories: 251
  • Sugar: 1.2
  • Sodium: 628.4
  • Fat: 14.3
  • Carbohydrates: 24.2
  • Protein: 7.9
  • Cholesterol: 6.1

Keywords: vegan crab cakes, vegan crab cake recipe, how to make vegan crab cakes, baked vegan crab cakes

Hi, I'm Christin- thanks for stopping by my happy place! Here you will find healthy, original meat-free recipes. No matter where you are in your health journey, I hope I can help and inspire you. Read more...

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