Love of Legal – Paleo Lump Crab Cakes {nut free}

Thick chunks of crab, the right level of moisture, and savory blend of seasoning and spices….yum yum!! I never fail to do a little happy dance when a beautiful lump crab cake is presented on my plate. Especially from Legal Seafoods.

I shared my first crab cake with one of my best girlfriends at Legal Seafoods Restaurant overlooking beautiful Boston. I instantly fell in love with the dish and it became one of my favorite foods. Since then, the cakes from Legal holds a special place with me.

I’ve tried several more cakes in different restaurants along the east coast, some very good, some terrible. I would anticipate a moist crab cake with huge chunks, but too often I’m disappointed to see the cake padded with way too much breading in hopes to stretch out the fine strands of crab. Who wants to eat meat strings as thin as hair? Is it even crab? Some cakes are so overwhelmed with cilantro, you can’t be sure if there’s any crab at all. Then there are those unfortunate patties that are indistinguishable from burnt egg foo young. I have also tried some from the Maryland area and Chesapeake Bay, but none lived up to the romance I felt with that first one in Boston. There was something special about that cake.



Boston is now my home and fortunately I’m not too far from a Legal Seafoods to enjoy my beloved crab cake. Yet, I long desired to make my own crab cakes. The thought of cracking several crabs for their meat didn’t completely put me off; I’m actually quite good at it. But it is rather time consuming.

While browsing the seafood fridge for something new to eat, I stumbled across a large can of lump crab meat. Chicken of the Sea. Not quite a fancy brand but surprisingly very good quality. Only contains meat and a phosphate salt. Sounds good to me!

I pop open the can and was pleasantly surprised. Pieces were huge! And very little fluid padding. Almost all meat!

I was inspired to recreate my first crab cake. Legal Seafoods, my first (crab cake) love. I did a quick search found most recipes called for simple ingredients of mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay, Worcestershire, egg, herbs, and crumb.

Now to Paleo-ize it! My crab cake buddy is doing a Paleo challenge, so this would be a great dish.

Fortunately, most of the ingredients are already Paleo and even Whole 30 compliant. Just the bread crumbs, which is easily substituted for almond flour or coconut flour. But I wanted to find something different and tastier. Plantain chips!

The simplest plantain chips I found are from Whole Foods, containing chips, salt, and palm oil and free of added sugars. I used a food chopper to get the crumb size I wanted. Wrapping the chips in parchment paper and rolling a pin over them would also work. Then about a tablespoon of Italian parsley is chopped and mixed in with the plantain breading.

In another bowl, egg, mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Old bay seasoning are whisked together to form a lovely smelling liquid mixture.

The liquid mixture is poured over the meat until combined, taking special care to keep the lumps intact. The plantain crumbs and parsley mixture are then sprinkled over the sauced meat and gently folded in batches. Sprinkling in batches reduces the need to fold and helps keep the lumps intact. No more than two “swoops” per folding stage is needed. The “cake batter” is covered and refrigerated for at least an hour, no more than three. Since we are baking, we can get away with less breading and keep its patty shape.

A tablespoon of melted butter is spread across the surface of a baking sheet. This helps “fry” the bottom of each cake to give it a crisp texture. I used an ice cream scooper to portion a generous ball onto the baking sheet, and slightly pressing the ball to shape. I portioned 6 cakes. The rest of the butter is brushed over each cake and are baked for 20-25 minutes at 400° F.

Out of the oven and oh so good! Pair with salad and a blend of mayo, Dijon mustard, horse radish, coconut aminos, and Tabasco!

Finally. A crab cake that reminds me of my very first crab cake shared with one of my closest friends in a wonderful city.


Love of Legal - Paleo Lump Crab Cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
For the Crab Cakes
  • 1 pound of Lump Crab Cakes, fresh or high quality can
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Horseradish
  • ¾ tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Parsley, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup Crushed Plantain Chips
  • 2 Tbs Butter, melted or Olive Oil
For the Mustard Sauce
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Horseradish
  • ½ tsp Coconut Aminos
  • Dash Tabasco
For the Crab Cakes
  1. Drain the crabmeat and pat dry with a paper towel, if necessary. Set aside.
  2. Crush plantain chips into crumbs. A good quality food processor works well. Mix in the parsley and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Old bay.
  4. Gently fold the liquid mixture over the crabmeat until well combined.
  5. Sprinkle about a third of the plantain mixture over the mixture, gently fold, and repeat. The folding should comprise no more than three “swoops.” The mixture should have a wet consistency and not be overpowered by the crumbs.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour and up to three hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease the surface of a baking sheet or pan with a portion of the butter or olive oil. This butter layer will help form a crisp layer on the bottom of the crab cake.
  8. Portion generous ¼ cup of the mixture and place onto the buttered baking sheet to make 6 cakes. An ice-cream scooper works well. Gently press down on the “ball” to reduce the height but not smush them flat.
  9. Brush the top layer with the remaining butter/oil.
  10. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes.
For the Mustard Sauce
  1. Whisk all ingredients together adjusting to taste.
  2. Drizzle over crab cakes and enjoy!
Adapted from Cooking Junkies


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