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.

  • Yield about 24 mini crab cakes


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.