Craving a vegan option that has traditional crab cake seafood flavor? This recipe is perfect for a dinner party or special occasions as the main course.
Or serve a mini version of these vegetarian crab cakes as the perfect appetizer.
It’s easy to make vegan crab cakes. All you need to do is a few easy steps, like get out your food processor, and gather a few things from your pantry.
You’ll be surprised at how fast these flaky vegan crab cakes come together and you can bake or air fry them.
Where can I buy jackfruit?
It’s important that you only buy cans of unripe jackfruit that are packed in water or brine. The sweet kind will not work in any savory recipe. It can also come water-packed in plastic.
I get my canned jackfruit at the Asian market, but you can order it on Amazon here.
Why eat vegan food that looks like meat?
I get this question every time I bring out a Soy Curl recipe, and I bet you get asked if you are noshing on a vegan burger or plant-based hot dog.
People go vegan for various reasons: for the environment, for their health, and some because they love animals and don’t want to eat them.
None of that means that vegans hated all of the food they ate before going vegan or plant-based, or that you need to eat the real thing. In fact, we all get food cravings for memories of food that we had while growing up or celebrating certain holidays or occasions.
I have fond memories of eating crab cakes on vacations as a child, but since I no longer eat crab I can still feed those cravings with textures and seasoning that are all plant-based.
Vegan versions of those favorites make all the flavor possible without any animals being harmed. I also eat seitan ribs, hot dogs, and burgers – just all made with plants!
What makes vegan crab cakes taste fishy?
Don’t worry, there’re no hidden fish ingredients in this recipe. But there is a not-so-secret ingredient that brings the flavor of the sea into your favorite vegan recipes.
What else is in the ocean besides fish? Seawood, of course! It’s what adds the fishy flavor to your favorite veggie sushi and adds that flavor to these vegetarian crab cakes.
You can just crumble toasted sheets of nori, but I love Main Coast’s Kelp Granules.
1 can of jackfruit, 1 can of chickpeas, and 2 cups of soy curls make up the bulk of these crab-less crab cakes, that are held together with a ground flaxseed eggless slurry.
Then all you need is the seasonings and spices that make this into the craveable dinner that your whole family will love.
Simple items like Old Bay seasoning (regular or salt-free), minced parsley (fresh or dry), dulce, kelp, or other ground seaweed, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder.
Step-by-step guide to making handmade plant-based crab cakes
Making the perfect vegan crab cake is not as hard as it seems–in fact, with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to make them like a pro!
First, drain the chickpeas and mash them with a masher in a medium-sized bowl. This is going to help the cakes bind together along with the flax-seed egg.
Then pulse the drained jackfruit in your food processor a few times and it will look like strings of crab and this adds a great texture.
Once you reconstitute the soy curls and drain well, pulse them as well to create small morsels that add even more texture to the cakes.
Add the flax egg and seasonings and mix well. If the mixture holds together as is you are good to go, but if the mixture is too wet, then mix in enough flour
The most important thing to remember is that the cakes should be packed very firmly to prevent them from breaking apart during the boiling and frying process.
Another key point is that they fall apart easily in the pan, so pressing them back together with a spatula is recommended.
These vegan crab cakes reheat well and are delicious when made ahead of time or later on that day. In addition, the recipe calls for avocado instead of mayo.
This gives the cakes a light and fluffy texture, rather than making them dense and heavy.
The recipe also calls for fresh herbs which are then mixed with hot sauce and served over a bed of greens.
Finally, to make the perfect vegan crab cake, you’ll need green onions, curry paste, tamari, lime zest, lime juice, and ginger.
All of these ingredients can be processed together in a food processor until they have a slightly chunky consistency.
How to serve your vegan crab cakes
- Serve with extra toppings like tartar sauce, a lemon wedge, fresh relish of minced onion and bell pepper, and a sprig of fresh dill.
- Make them into a vegan crab cake salad by serving over your favorite greens and an oil-free creamy dressing. Be sure to pile on the fresh veggies!
- Put in a bun with a creamy sauce for a perfect picnic favorite.
- Turn the meal into a fish fry. Add French fries, coleslaw, and hush puppies to complete the mood.
- Make them into mini cakes and serve with a dollop of vegan mayonnaise with some lemon zest and minced green onion,
Vegan Crab Cakes Variations
There are many variations that can be made to the vegan crab cake recipe and can be served just like real crab cakes.
One variation is to substitute pickles for the sweet relish, and use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of regular wheat breadcrumbs if necessary.
Another variation is to add a little bit of Old Bay seasoning or Cajun seasoning for a kick.
The gummy texture of the vegan crab cakes may be slightly off-putting to some consumers, so you could try adding more binding ingredients like flaxseed meal or chickpea flour.
If you want your vegan crab cakes to have a crispy crunch, they should be coated in panko crumbs before being formed into their final shape and pushed into them so they stick into the mashed potato mixture. This will help them hold together better when cooked.
Dulse flakes or kelp granules are alternatives for those who don’t like nori in their recipes.
Can I make them ahead?
Yes, vegan crab cakes can be made ahead of time. And you have a few choices.
First, you can make them up to the step of forming them into patties and keep them in the fridge in an airtight container until you are ready to cook them. This will require you to keep them in a single layer.
The other way, and my fav, is to go ahead and cook the patties about three-quarters of the way through. Then you can stack them in the fridge or freezer to heat up later.
You can throw them frozen into your air fryer to reheat.
How do I store them?
Store leftover cakes in the fridge for about 5 days or you can freeze them for up to 6 months.
I recommend making a double or triple batch and then freezing them for nights you are just too tired to cook.
Pop them into your air fryer, in the oven, or even microwave them to heat them up. Serve on a salad, in a sandwich topped with a vegan aioli or dijon mustard, or with some veggies on the side.
Don’t have everything? Suggested substitutions:
You could sub hearts of palm or artichoke hearts for jackfruit if you don’t have any in your pantry. All three will give you a similar texture to crab meat. That flaky texture is important in this recipe and gives it the look of actual crab
Change out TVP or another vegan ground sub for Soy Curls.
You can use white beans in place of chickpeas or change out a chia egg for the flax one.
It is important to use celery seed and some kind of Old Bay seasoning. That’s what gives them their wonderful flavor.
If you hate seaweed-like Cheryl does, you can leave it out. You won’t get that fishy flavor, but if you are making this for people that hate that flavor it’s the best choice.
You can make half with seaweed and half without as another option too.
Want to make them crispier? Roll each cake in panko breadcrumbs or regular bread crumbs and then cook as per the instructions. Serve with some vegan tartar sauce.
Just mix some vegan mayonnaise with some ground celery seed, a little mustard, and some minded dill pickles. You can add a pinch of onion powder or fresh dill to fancy it up if you want.
You can even pan-fry them in a nonstick frying pan if you’d like to just warm up a few at a time.
More Vegan Seafood Recipes
There are many ways to create vegan fish dishes, and here are a few more recipes to give you some ideas.
- Hearts of Palm Vegan Fish Taco Bowl
- Chickpea Salad (Video)
- Cajun Pecan-Crusted Air Fryer Fishless Filets
- Jackfruit Vegan Crab Dip
- and a different recipe for Vegan Crabless Cakes
You May Also Like… More Soy Curl Recipes
I love the versatility of Soy curls. They can be used to make all sorts of dishes, and are a 1 ingredient non-GMO product that is a perfect meat substitute for your old favorite recipes.
And they’re not just for vegans my meat-eating friends gobble them up when I bring a dish to a party too.
Be sure to reconstitute with water or broth and then squeeze out any excess. There are some recipes where you reconstitute in the cooking liquid, so be sure to read the recipe first.
Here are a few recipes of my favorite soy curl recipes:
• Southern Fried Vegan Air Fryer Soy Curls
• Air Fryer Soy Curls Vegan Clam Strips
Soy Curl and Jackfruit Vegan Crab Cakes Recipe
- 1 15 oz. can jackfruit drained and pulsed in a food processor
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas drained with liquid reserved, use the reserved chickpea liquid for another recipe (aquafaba)
- 2 cups dry soy curl reconstituted and strained (about ½ a package) – then pulsed in a food processor
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with ¼ cup warm water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning ,there is a salt-free version
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley fresh or dry
- 2 teaspoons dulce kelp, or other ground seaweed flakes, or crumbled toasted nori sheets
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
Optional – only if needed!
- Gluten-free baking mix oat flour, or whole wheat flour, as needed if the mix is too wet to make patties
- Salt ,to taste if not using Old Bay with salt
- Add the shredded jackfruit, chickpeas, and soy curl pieces to a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until the chickpeas are well smushed.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients – but not the optional flour – you may not need it!
- Portion out to ¼ – ⅓ cup vegetarian crab cake patties – it makes about 15 patties.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Add some parchment paper to your air fryer. Place the crab cakes into your air fryer and cook at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are firm enough to flip.
- Flip them with a spatula and cook for 10 more minutes or until they are golden brown. You can freeze the leftovers for later!
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook the patties for 15 to 20 minutes, or until you can flip one without it breaking.
- Flip and cook 10 to 15 more minutes.
- Serve hot with tartar sauce or mix some lemon juice in plain unsweetened yogurt and add in some dill or tarragon.
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Krista Bowers says
If I’m substituting a dried pea protein (similar to tvp, but soy-free) instead of the soy curls, how much would I use?
I assume that when you process down the soy curls they end up as less than the 2 cups you started with.
Kathy Hester says
The 2 loose cups are pre-soaking, so they end up doubling in size, then get broken up. I’d say maybe 3 cups of your minced after it’s reconstituted?
Kathy I’m confused. In the article above you mention using avocado green onions, curry paste, tamari, lime zest, lime juice, and ginger. But the recipe doesn’t include any of these things. Did I miss something?
I like jackfruits in a curry or over tacos, but adding them in crab cakes is ah-ma-zing!
This is such an amazing recipe. Never used jackfruit like this before. Loved it!
Mandy Applegate says
I took a chance and made this recipe for a dinner party I was hosting and it blew my guests away – they were AMAZING!
This recipe is great! I used gluten free oat flour as suggested and these vegan crab cakes turned out amazing!
These were terrific! SO moist and flavorful and not hard to make! Yum!
Your vegan crab cakes were a big hit at family get-together today! I cooked them on my Blackstone griddle which made for quick cooking.
Lynn Polito says
This recipe was so good! I will make this again and again!
Can’t wait to make these next time I see my sister-in-law! I know she will love them.
Eileen Kelly says
I’ve had a can of jackfruit in the pantry for a few weeks and I finally found the best recipe for them. We just loved these vegan crab cakes. My oldest daughter is hard to please and she is still raving over these cakes. Super delicious!
Alex Bala says
So glad that I found this recipe, my husband is vegan and he loved this. Thanks!