Crab cake sandwiches are an East Coast tradition that’s easy to make at home! Start with your favorite store-bought crab cakes or use our air fryer version, then layer on spicy mayo and your choice of toppings.
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Crab cake sandwiches are a popular seafood sandwich, especially in Maryland and other areas on the East Coast. They take classic crab cakes and add them to tender brioche bread with all the fixings—a creamy mayo-based sauce, crisp romaine lettuce, and juicy fresh tomatoes. (Is your mouth watering yet?!)
The crab cakes are the main event here—basically, your crab cake sandwiches are only as good as your crab cakes. While you can buy them at your local grocery store, I like to make them myself with jumbo lump crab meat; to make them healthier, I use the air fryer! My air fryer crab cakes are a traditional crab cake recipe, but instead of pan frying, they get crispy and delicious in the air fryer.
Start with those and the rest of this crab cake sandwich recipe is a breeze!
Easy Crab Cake Sandwich Recipe
There are a few different options when it comes to the sauce for your crab cake sandwiches. There’s remoulade—a traditional pairing with crab cakes—or you can go with tartar sauce, a flavored aioli, or even just plain old mayo. I like to give these crab cake sandwiches a bit of a kick with a spicy mayo. (The good news is that since you’re making it yourself, you can make it as spicy or as not-spicy as you like!)
Soft brioche buns are the perfect pairing with the crab cakes, and once you toast them, they’ll stand up well to the sauce and do a solid job supporting the crispy crab cakes. Add the lettuce and tomato slices, then all that’s left to do is devour these crab cake sandwiches—and oh, will you enjoy them!
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See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Hot sauce – Any kind you like or have on hand. Use more for a spicier sauce, or omit it altogether for a sauce that’s mild.
- Dijon mustard
- Lemon juice – Lemon pairs well with seafood, so I like adding it to the mayo here.
- Air fryer crab cakes – Or your favorite store-bought crab cakes, cooked according to the package instructions.
- Brioche buns – You can substitute another type of bun, but my family really likes using fluffy brioche!
- Romaine lettuce
- Tomato – Try using a fresh heirloom tomato during the summer for a pop of color and unique flavor.
- Swap the spicy mayo for your favorite aioli (try one made with parsley, fresh chives, fresh dill, or other fresh herbs), remoulade sauce, or homemade tartar sauce. Or simply stir some lemon zest and juice into mayo!
- Make smaller crab cakes and use Hawaiian rolls instead of brioche buns to make crab cake sliders for a party.
- Add a smear of butter to both sides of the bun and toast them on a griddle for more flavor and crispiness.
How to Make Crab Cake Sandwiches
- Cook the crab cakes: Make air fryer crab cakes or cook your favorite frozen crab cakes according to the package instructions.
- Make the spicy mayo: In a small mixing bowl, whisk all of the ingredients for the spicy mayo until they’re well combined.
- Assemble: Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spicy mayo on both sides of the toasted brioche buns. Add the crab cakes to the bottom half of the bun, followed by the lettuce and tomato slices. Top with the other half of the bun, then serve.
Don’t skip toasting the buns! It helps keep them from getting soft and mushy once you add the spicy mayo and hot crab cakes.
How to Store Leftover Air Fryer Crab Cakes
It’s best to store the components of these sandwiches separately. That said, leftover crab cake sandwiches can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; just expect the buns to be softer and the crab cakes to be less crispy. Be sure to wrap them in foil or plastic wrap, or store them in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave before serving.
Crab cake sandwiches can be served as a light lunch or dinner. Serve the sandwiches with a side of air fryer French fries seasoned with Old Bay seasoning, potato salad, coleslaw, or cucumber salad.
A classic crab cake sandwich is usually served with remoulade, tartar sauce, or aioli. You can also make your own spicy mayo, which pairs very well with the crab cakes and adds an extra kick of flavor.
When you start with air fryer crab cakes, you’re already cutting a lot of the fat because you don’t have to use all that oil to get a crispy crab cake! Crab cakes are also a great source of protein.
Crab cake sandwiches are usually topped with lettuce and tomato, but feel free to add your own toppings. Try adding avocado slices, pickles, thinly sliced red onions, or slaw.
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Crab Cake Sandwich
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 4 air fryer crab cakes or your favorite store-bought crab cakes, cooked
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Brioche buns toasted
- 4 leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 slices tomato
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Old Bay, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, celery, chives, salt and pepper until well combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the crab meat and bread crumbs into the mayonnaise mixture. Mix until just combined so as not to break down the crab meat too much. Form into 4 equal sized patties and chill for 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for the spicy mayo until well combined. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, add the olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot and begins to shimmer, add the crab cakes to the pan. Saute until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spicy mayo on each side of the toasted brioche buns. Add the crab cakes, lettuce and tomato. Top with the other half of the bun, then serve.