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An overhead shot of crabcakes on a rectangular white plate with creamy pesto on the side.

Easy Crab Cakes with Creamy Pesto

Lump crab cakes pan fried until crispy and served with a creamy and fresh basil pesto. These crab cakes are the perfect summer appetizer, or make them into a meal by serving overtop a salad or on slider buns. Serves 6 people as an appetizer (2 crab cakes each).
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword Easy Crab Cakes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6


For the crab cakes

  • 1 16 ounce can lump crab meat picked over for shell fragments
  • 1/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup seasoned panko crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives (or use fresh, if you have on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive or avocado oil

For the creamy pesto

  • 1 2 1/2 ounce clamshell of basil leaves stems removed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For serving

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


For the crab cakes

  • Combine crab, yogurt, panko, beaten egg, parmesan, chives, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well with your hands.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat until glistening. Form crab mixture into cakes/patties with your hands (about a small handful of mixture per cake). Place patties into skillet (do not crowd them, you'll likely have to make 2 batches - or you could use 2 skillets). Flip onto the other side after a golden crust forms on the bottom. Pan fry until both sides are golden brown and cakes are "set" and cooked through. [You should have enough crab mixture to make +/- 12 cakes.]
  • Place crab cakes on serving plate. Serve with creamy pesto and lemon wedges.

For the creamy pesto

  • Add all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor.
  • Process until smooth then pour into a small dip bowl. Serve with crab cakes.


Time saving tip: use a prepared pesto for dipping instead of making your own. Or, if you prefer tartar sauce, use a prepared tartar sauce instead of the pesto.