Vegan crab cakes, with hearts of palm and Old Bay seasoning served with vegan tartar sauce make an easy summer dinner. Despite the lack of crab, these otherwise taste exactly like the Maryland crab cakes you know and love! This might be one of our new favorite vegan recipes.
Even the non-vegans in our family were raving about how good they were, after being a bit skeptical to try them. If that doesn't convince you to give these a try, I'm not sure what will!
It's shocking how texture can really affect how food tastes. These vegan crab cakes have a very similar texture to the real thing.
Spiced with Old Bay seasoning, they even have the signature taste of a fresh Maryland crab cake, yet they're 100% vegan! These also happen to be gluten-free, but you can certainly use regular panko bread crumbs if that's not an issue for you.
To achieve the perfect texture for these crab-less cakes, start with your food processor. The machine breaks down chickpeas, bell pepper, scallions, jalapeño, and garlic into a flavorful purée in seconds.
Be sure not to over-process the chickpea mixture; you don't want to turn it into hummus. The mixture is done when it still has enough body to form into cakes.
After blending up your chickpea mixture, which serves as the base for these crispy vegan crab cakes, you'll fold in the "crab." Read: chopped hearts of palm.
These chopped bits offer that crab-like consistency. Since they have such a mild flavor, the hearts of palm don't really impact the overall taste of your crab cakes. That's why it's important to season that chickpea mixture well!
We also use hearts of palm in our vegan ceviche, these lobster rolls and vegan Niçoise salad!
Other ingredients include fresh red bell pepper and jalapeño for color, spice and crunch. Scallions and garlic add allium goodness, while parsley brings the freshness.
Everything is bound together with panko bread crumbs.
Forming your crab cakes should be very easy. The mixture comes together nicely, with chunks of hearts of palm scattered throughout.
If you want to make these into an appetizer, you could form smaller patties. They'd make a fun and festive summer app. Just stick a toothpick in each with a dollop of vegan tartar sauce!
Whichever size crab cake you choose to make, be sure to chill the formed cakes in the fridge. They only need 20 minutes, but this helps the flavors develop and ensures they'll stay together when you pan-fry them.
What is Old Bay Seasoning?
These cute little crab-less cakes are brought to their full flavor potential thanks to a generous amount of Old Bay Seasoning. This classic spice evokes the same flavors of real Maryland crab cakes.
If you don't happen to have any on hand, you can whip up a batch of Old Bay at home with this recipe. Of course, there are a lot of ingredients in the spice mixture, so it may be easier to pop out to the store!
Despite its rep as a seafood-only spice blend, Old Bay is actually quite versatile. The spice is a mixture of 18 different herbs. It includes celery salt, paprika, mustard, ginger, and even some surprising ones like allspice and nutmeg!
If you do end up buying Old Bay in bulk, or making your own big batch at home, here are some more recipes to try out:
- Add to homemade Bloody Mary Mix
- Crispy Old Bay Mushrooms from Savory Simple
- Old Bay Cauliflower Tacos from Cheap Recipe Blog
- Or spice up your super-crispy oven baked french fries with a healthy shake of Old Bay
Vegan Tartar Sauce
The other vital element to fooling your dinner guests that these golden brown vegan cakes are the real thing is homemade vegan tartar sauce. Tartar sauce is another thing that's a million times better homemade. Plus, it's very simple to whip up on a whim!
This recipe for vegan tartar sauce starts with good-quality vegan mayo. Then, you'll add all the classic, briney tartar sauce flavorings.
Pickles, scallions, capers, plus fresh herbs and lemon juice for some tang. When we were eating these vegan crab cakes for dinner, we had to pass the tartar sauce nearly constantly as everyone ate it all up.
As summer comes to an end, we'll be savoring these delicious crab-less cakes as much as possible! Not sure about you, but I definitely view crab cakes as a quintessential summer food. Especially having spent quite a bit of time on the East Coast growing up, they most definitely remind me of warm summer days spent by the water!
Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you can't enjoy classic American foods. We hope you love these as much as we did!
More summer appetizers to try:
If you make these vegan crab cakes, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
Vegan Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce
- Total Time: 46 minutes
- Yield: 6 crab cakes 1x
- Diet: Vegan
Who knew vegan crab cakes, made with hearts of palm and Old Bay seasoning for that signature flavor, could be so easy and tasty? Served with vegan tartar sauce, these crispy cakes are a festive summer dinner.
For the vegan crab cakes:
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup packed parsley, chopped
- ½ cup gluten free panko bread crumbs + more for coating
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 can of hearts of palm, roughly chopped
- Olive oil for cooking
For the vegan tartar sauce:
- ½ cup vegan mayonnaise, such as Sir Kensington's Fabanaise
- 2 dill pickle spears, finely diced
- 1 scallion, finely diced
- 1 tbsp capers
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup packed parsley, finely diced
- 1 tbsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp caper juice
- Add chickpeas, bell pepper, scallions, jalapeño, garlic, Old Bay, Dijon mustard, parsley, ½ cup panko bread crumbs, and salt to a food processor. Pulse a few times to break everything down into a cohesive mixture. Be careful not to overprocess and turn it into mush.
- Transfer the chickpea mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the chopped hearts of palm and mix with your hands to combine thoroughly. Form the dough into 6 cakes, 2 inches wide and about ½ inch thick.
- Place the cakes on a plate in the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the vegan tartar sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. Add a thin layer of panko to a clean plate and dredge your chilled crab cakes on both sides in the panko. Fry the cakes, adding more oil as necessary so you constantly hear sizzling, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
- When the cakes are done frying, transfer them to a baking sheet and place in the oven to heat through, 10-15 minutes.
For non-vegans, you can use Worcestershire sauce in place of the caper juice in the tartar sauce.
Artichoke hearts may work in place of hearts of palm.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 16 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Pan-Fried, Oven
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1 Cake
- Calories: 268
- Sugar: 3.3 g
- Sodium: 1118.3 mg
- Fat: 13.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.2 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 30.9 g
- Fiber: 6.8 g
- Protein: 7.6 g
- Cholesterol: 6.6 mg
Keywords: vegan crab cakes
I have an air fryer hack for these. They don’t turn out quite as pretty but are super flavorful. I make the crab cakes smaller than the recipe calls for- I end up with 10 to 12. I store them in the fridge and pull out 3 or 4 at a time and put in the air fryer at 350F for 13-15 minutes. I have been making a batch every week for months and eat these 3 or 4 times a week. My favorite food at the moment for sure!
Do you think I could substitute white beans for the garbanzo beans in this recipe? Or is there another bean that might work? Our family doesn't care for garbanzos. Thanks!
I think white beans should work well! I would just drain, rinse and let them dry before using. They tend to have more moisture than garbanzo beans, so if they're too wet, it might alter the texture a bit. Hope you enjoy!
These tasted delicious, but were very soft and fell apart when served. Likely that is my fault, as I did not bake them as long as I should have because other things were in the oven at a higher temperature. That said, the crispy crust was my favourite part, and I would make them smaller next time (and bake them longer). Thanks for a great recipe!
Thanks so much for your comment! Hope they stay together a bit better next time 🙂
My husband loves tartar sauce. He said how delicious it was and he didn’t know it was vegan.
Wow, love to hear that!! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
These "crab" cakes look delicious!! I love using Old Bay seasoning. Thanks for including a link to one of my recipes! 🙂
Patty at Spoonabilities
I never thought of using heart of palm as a substitute for crab! These look amazing!
Thank you! It works so well!
Love all the flavors in these cakes. Can't wait to taste these.
Thank you, Andrea! Hope you give them a try!
This looks amazing and I would love to try the recipe but I don't have access to hearts of palm. Is there any other ingredient I could use instead? Thank you!
Hi Claudia, unfortunately I am not aware of any great alternatives. However, hearts of palm (canned) are available at most stores or online!
Wow - I love this recipe! My daughter is allergic to shellfish, and I always felt bad eating crabcakes (which the rest of the family loves) in front of her knowing she couldn't have them. Now she can!
Yay, I hope you give them a try soon! They seriously taste so similar to the real deal!
I made this for my son's girlfriend when they came over, because she's vegan. I didn't tell anyone they were vegan and everyone raved about them!
Love to hear that!! Glad everyone enjoyed!