I positively love crab cakes.  They can make a wonderful appetizer, or a great meal all on their own.  Of course, serving crab cakes at a party with 30+ guests is another matter entirely.  Sure, it is possible to stand at the stove, pan-frying each of them, but that would mean either hiring a chef (ha!) or missing out on time with my guests, and that is just not how I entertain.  When I throw parties I strive to plan a menu that can be prepped almost entirely in advance so that once people arrive, the time required in the kitchen with last minute tasks is minimal.

When I was planning out the menu for my recent holiday party, I came across these mini crab cakes in my spreadsheet of saved recipes and thought it sounded like a party-friendly option.  It truly is.  The crab mixture can be prepared up to a day in advance, the crab cakes can be assembled and baked two hours before the party and then rewarmed before serving.  As Ina would say, how easy is that?  (And by the way, yes, I have a detailed spreadsheet of magazine recipes to try.   We’ll talk about that some other time.)  Of course, being baked and mini sized means that these are not the world’s most perfect crab cakes because they require a bit more binder than normal.  But all things considered, I thought they were awesome, tasty little bites and a really nice addition to the party menu.  I’m really glad to have them in my entertaining repertoire and I can tell this is a recipe I’ll use over and over again.


8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 large egg
¼ cup sour cream
½ tsp. lemon zest
3 tbsp. minced fresh chives, divided
¼ tsp. kosher salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
8 oz. fresh lump crabmeat, patted dry and coarsely chopped
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Additional fresh chives, for garnish


  • 01

    In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, and the egg; beat with an electric mixer to blend.  Beat in the sour cream, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the chives, salt and cayenne pepper.  Gently fold in the crabmeat.  (This mixture can be made up to 1 day in advance.)

  • 02

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Spray a 24-well mini muffin pan with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the panko, remaining ½ cup of the Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the minced chives.  Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and toss with a fork until evenly blended and moistened.  Place 1 tablespoon of the panko mixture in each muffin well and press down to form a crust.  Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of the crab mixture over the crumb mixture in each well.  Sprinkle a rounded teaspoon of the panko mixture over the top of each.

  • 03

    Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently lift it out of the pan.  (These can be baked 2 hours in advance.  Rewarm at 350˚ F for 6-8 minutes just before serving.)  Garnish with additional fresh chives, if desired.


  • I love crab cakes! Good ones, of course. Sometimes, they’re all potatoes and no crab. These look delicious! Sour cream and cream cheese in them sound awesome!

  • i love crabcakes and this is such a great idea! i will definitely be trying this out in the near future!

  • Yum. These look delicious and I am thinking about making them for New Year’s Eve dinner!

  • Hi Annie – we do crabcakes for our open house – about 150 attend that – and I’ve found that I can fry them the day before then warm them gently in a crock pot a couple of hours before the party. That way we get the real Harry Caray’s crab cakes. They’re spectacular. Can’t believe a Chicago restaurant’s recipe is the best I’ve found but it is. The recipe’s on my blog a couple of places but most recently as part of the Crab Cakes Benedict. Happy New Year!!

  • Yum! These look so good! My mom would die for these! She loves anything with crab! I’ll have to share the recipe with her too!

  • Thank you for using fresh crabmeat. Using a muffin tin is also a great idea.

  • What a perfect appetizer for a crowd, Annie! A little dab of remoulade just before serving and I’m in hog heaven! Or crab heaven as it were.

  • I thought about making crab cakes before but like you mentioned a bit tedious with frying each of them, although I though about using other methods like baking in muffins tins. I am sure the result wouldn’t be the same, will see if I ever decide to make these nevertheless yours look superb :-)

  • I love that this recipe has no mayo in it! My personal preference is for crab cakes that have some binding in it, otherwise I might as well just eat the crab right out of the shell and save myself the trouble.

  • This is a fantastic idea…LOVE!

    Heather from WhipperBerry

  • Annie

    Oh, I only use fresh crab meat. I just can’t do it any other way!

  • Love this mini crab cakes I will definitely try making them!

  • Ooh how I love crab cakes.. and anything mini for that matter :) I like having everything ready to go when I host too so these would be perfect! And honestly, I’d love to see that spreadsheet because I need some way to organize all the magazine recipes I want to try!

  • I would love to hear more about your spreadsheet of recipes to try. I am always looking for new ways to organize the abundance of recipes on my “want to try” list from magazines/blogs/cookbooks/etc.

  • I love crab cakes. And your little ones look amazing. I’d be popping them in my mouth til they were just gone.
    Awesome recipe ideas for the new year!

  • Wendy Wicks

    For party planning purposes, do you think it would work to make these ahead, freeze, and then heat in the oven a la mass market frozen appetizers?

  • Annie

    I doubt it, as I think the magazine would have offered that prep option if it had good results. I think the bread crumb mixture would end up soggy and textureless.

  • Annie, these are so cute! Since you love crab cakes, you must try my MIL’s recipe. She’s perfected the Maryland crab cake with the Old Bay seasoning. It’s by far my favorite… with little filler and baked or broiled, not fried. We have them every Christmas and in fact just indulged yesterday! I posted the recipe a couple years ago but with a horrible pic (will try to update someday). You can find it here: http://penniesonaplatter.com/2009/02/20/mama-gs-maryland-crab-cakes/

    Have a happy new year, girl! :)

  • I could live off of crab cakes. I used to live close to the Chesapeake Bay area and I think I had them at least once a day. I may try some I ideas from your recipe, but I have mine down to a science. Hopefully, I will make some soon and post them on my blog!

  • These look great! My boyfriend and roommate LOVE crab cakes. I’m going to have to try these!

  • I love crab cakes and never would’ve thought about them for a party. I totally agree about wanting to spend time with guests. What fun is a party if you’re in the kitchen the entire time?

  • I’m a little late reading this post. Crab cakes are one of my all time faves! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Annie, these were so good! It was the first time I’ve ever made crabcakes and they turned out so well!

  • I have made these twice now. I love them! I took them to a baby shower the first time I made them and they got eaten so fast and lots of great comments. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • HeatherB

    I recently made these for an appetizer party and they were amazing! I baked them ahead and then reheated right before serving and they were still as good as they were when I first baked them. The only change I made was to add a bit more crabmeat. Kept all of the other ingredients the same. I will be making these often.

  • Crystal R

    For Superbowl, I made these for my friends. They absolutely loved and raved about these Crab Cakes. I added one extra ounce of crab and made them in a Good Cook nonstick dessert bar pan–makes 12 and cooked them 5 minuntes longer — They turned out perfect and were delicous. Thank you Annie for a recipe that will please many for the years to come.

  • I have made crab balls and frozen them before baking. I’m going to try this recipe and freeze then bake and see how they turn out. I’ll let you know! I need easy apps to make that have to travel 4 hours in coolers and then heat the night of the event.

  • Chez Smokey

    I recently made these for a party, and they were so fantastic, I had to blog about them —


    Baking them in muffin tins is both brilliant and adorable. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Sara

    I’ve made mini cakes for parties and use bottled Wasabi Honey Mustard dressing..they are always a huge hit! When making again, I will try making my own dressing, as I can’t find the bottled anymore and forgot the brand.

  • Pam Cope

    I made these at Christmas last year. They were definitely the hit of the party! Everyone wanted the recipe, and my family have requested them again this year. They are simple to make, serve and EAT! Yum. A definite 5 stars!