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!
How to make vegan crab cakes
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 started with fresh red bell pepper and jalapeño for color, spice and crunch. Scallions and garlic add allium goodness, while parsley brings the freshness. And everything is bound together with panko bread crumbs. If you’re looking for gluten free vegan bread crumbs, we recommend this brand.
Forming your crab cakes should be very easy. The dough 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 crabless 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! Or, if you’re really thinking ahead about some vegan crab cakes, you can always rely on good ole’ Amazon. And while you’re there, if you’ve become a true Old Bay convert, why not up your wardrobe game too? 😉
Despite it’s 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:
- Veggie & Tofu Old Bay Breakfast Stir-Fry from Foodie Loves Fitness
- 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
How to make simple 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!
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.
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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!
If you try these Vegan Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce, we’d love for you to share and tag us on Instagram! We love seeing your Crowded Kitchen creations.Print
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
Keywords: vegan crab cakes