Flavor packed and texture rich, these Vegetarian and Vegan Crab Cakes are easy to make! Let the food processor do the chopping, then shape and pan fry these crabless cakes! They’re make ahead ready and freezer friendly too! Share with Texas Potato Salad, and a chunky salad like this Cucumber and Tomato Salad to round out the meal. [ see VIDEO on recipe card ]
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Vegan Crab Cakes, What?
Who knew a vegan and vegetarian crab cake could be created to taste just as delicious and texture rich as the crab cakes of my East Coast memories. Then, moving to Western Washington and enjoying PNW crab cakes, well, I knew I had to come up with a crabless cake that’s vegetarian and vegan friendly.
When I first started testing for what would become this Artichoke Chickpea Vegan Crab Cake recipe, I took notes from an old Whidbey Island seafood cookbook and also, from a recipe in Cooking Up The West Coast. Both were crab-filled cakes. My solution for a crab substitute at the time for a vegetarian crab cake recipe was chickpeas. While the flavor profile made my tastebuds happy, the texture was still missing something.
Then I heard a story on NPR’s Food for Thought about using artichokes in lieu of crab. I was sold!
Ingredients for Vegetarian Crab Cakes
Old Bay seasoning, an essential ingredient in crab cakes, offers authentic flavor. If a seasoning substitute is needed, Cajun seasoning, although different, is a nice sub. Here’s what you’ll need to make these crabless cakes:
- Artichokes Hearts – canned, not marinated
- Cooked Chickpeas – use canned or home-cooked
- Red and Green Bell Pepper – offers texture and flavor
- Celery – just a touch for crunch and flavor
- Green Onion
- Fresh Parsley
- Dijon Mustard
- Vegan Mayonaise – I like Vegenaise
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Old Bay Seasoning – offers signature flavor. But, you can easily sub cajun spice mix or a creole spice blend for an added kick!
- Cayenne Pepper – adds just a hint of spice.
- Chickpea Flour or Whole Wheat Flour – although chickpea flour holds the cakes together more effectively
- Lemon Juice
- Oil for Pan Frying the Cakes
Quick Guide: How to Make Chickpea Artichoke Vegan Crab Cakes
With the food processor doing most of the work, these easy crabless crab cakes come together quickly. They can be made ahead for meal prep and are freezer friendly! In summary, here’s how to make em’ (see recipe card for details):
- First, in a food processor, add the artichokes and chickpeas. Pulse until chunky, then transfer into a large bowl.
- Second, in the food processor, add 1/2 a green and red bell pepper. Add celery, green onion, and parsley. Process until minced. Transfer into the large bowl with the chickpea mixture.
- Third, to the chickpea mixture, add the dijon, mayo, panko, salt, Old Bay, cayenne, chickpea flour, and lemon. Fold the ingredients together until evenly distributed.
- Next, shape into patties and roll in panko bread crumbs to coat.
- Last, in a pan with a shallow layer of oil, pan fry in batches until crispy. About 3-4 minutes on each side.
Once the patties are shaped, they can be frozen for up to a month or hang out in the fridge for up to a day before pan frying. Talk about easy-peasy meal prep!
What to Serve with Vegetarian & Vegan Crab Cakes
- Slow Cooked Black Eyed Peas
- Crispy Oven Fries
- Baked or Roasted Potatoes
- Pan Fried Asparagus
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Texas Potato Salad or Olive Potato Salad
- Summer Tortellini Salad
- Broccoli Slaw
- Fresh Corn on the Cob
- Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad
- Black Eyed Pea Salad
- A Big Green Salad with Dairy Free Ranch or Yogurt Ranch
- Lemon-Dijon Asparagus and Pea Pasta Salad
- Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Depending on what sauce you choose, share with lemon or lime wedges.
- Vegan Remoulade Sauce (recipe below) – lemon wedges
- Mango Salsa, chopped in a food processor without avocado – lime wedges
- Vegan Tartar Sauce – lemon wedges
- Avocado Cream Sauce – lime wedges
- Jalapeno Aioli – lemon wedges
- Freezer Friendly? Yes please! These crabless crab cakes hold up beautifully in the freezer. Simply shape the patties and freeze on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer to a lidded storage container and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature; then they’re ready to cook.
- Fried vs Baked: These cakes can be baked or fried. If baking, omit the panko coating and brush both sides lightly with oil. Bake on a parchment-lined sheet pan at 400F (204C), 10 minutes each side. They’re not as crispy, but still taste fabulous!
- Chickpea Flour vs Whole Wheat Flour: For this recipe, I prefer chickpea flour because it’s so effective at holding things together. Whole wheat flour will work too, but the patties are a wee bit more tender.
- Another Take? Darn Good Veggies has a Hearts of Palm “Crab” Cake recipe that also offers a gluten-free option.
- Portioning: Portion these cakes using a 1/4C scoop or a large ice cream scoop. For appetizer size, go for 2 tablespoons each.
Artichoke-Chickpea Vegan “Crab” Cakes Recipe
For the Crabless Cakes:
- 1 (425g) Can of Chickpeas drained, then patted dry in a tea towel, about 2 C
- 1 (400g) Can of Artichokes Hearts about 2 C out of the can quartered or halved. Drain and squeeze to rid them of their liquid.
- 1/2 C (70g) Red Bell Pepper about 1/2 a large pepper, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 C (70g) Green Bell Pepper about 1/2 a large pepper, cut into large chunks
- 1 Green Onion cut into large chunks
- 1 (40g) Stick of Celery cut into large chunks
- Fresh Parsley a small handful
- 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- 3 Tbs Mayonnaise I like Vegenaise
- 1 1/2 C (145g) Panko Bread Crumbs divided
- 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning *see note for sub
- 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper or a dash or two or Tabasco hot sauce (omit if using Cajun seasoning instead of Old Bay)
- 3 Tbs Chickpea Flour aka Garbanzo Bean Flour or **Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 Lemon juiced
- Oil for Pan Frying I like coconut or olive
- Serve With: fresh chives or green onion (tops), sauce of choice, lemon or lime wedges.
For Homemade Remoulade (optional):
- 3/4 C (180g) Mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 2 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 1 1/2 Tbs Capers chopped fine
- 3 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce I like Wizards
- 1 tsp Fresh Parsley chopped fine
For the Crabless Cakes:
- Make sure the chickpeas are patted dry and the artichokes squeezed of their canned liquid. In the work bowl of a food processor, add the chickpeas and artichokes. Pulse 4-5 times. The mixture should be chunky. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- In the work bowl of the food processor, add the red and green bell peppers, onion, celery, and parsley. Process until minced, stopping to scrape down the bowl a few times. Transfer to the large mixing bowl with the chickpea mixture.
- To the chickpea mixture, add the dijon, mayo, 1 C (96g) of panko, salt, old bay, cayenne, chickpea flour and lemon. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. The mixture should hold together when squeezed.
- To portion the crabless cakes, use a 1/4 C (70g) scoop or large cookie scoop. Pack the mixture in the scoop, then tap it gently but firmly on the side of the bowl to release the cake. Set the cake on a parchment lined sheet pan. Note! If baking the crabless cakes, there's no need to coat the patties in remaining panko. Skip to "To Bake" below.Place the remaining 1/2 C (48) panko bread crumbs into a bowl or plate. Place each cake in the panko to coat on both sides and all around the edges. Transfer back to the sheet pan. Using the palm of your hand, press the crab cake gently into a 1/2" (12mm) patty. At this point the crab cakes can be held in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, frozen or pan fried.
- To Freeze: Once all the cakes are coated, they can be frozen on the sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer to a storage container for up to two months. Thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- To Pan Fry: Preheat oven to 200F (93C) if holding the cakes warm after pan frying. Otherwise, you won't need the oven on. Pour a shallow layer of oil in a frying pan. I like a cast iron skillet for the job. Heat the oil until it shimmers. Toss a crumb of panko in the pan. If it sizzles, the oil is ready. Using a spatula, gently slide the crab cakes into the pan, leaving room between the cakes for flipping. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Adjust the heat as necessary. Transfer to a double layer of paper towel to catch pan drippings and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the crabless cake. Then, if holding warm, transfer to the oven until ready to eat.
- To Bake: Omit the outer layer of panko. Preheat the oven to 400F (204C) and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush both sides of the crabless cake with oil. Bake each side for 10 minutes.
- Serve With (optional): chives, and sauce of choice
- To Store Leftovers: Store leftover cakes in a lidded container, in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in a 350F (176C) oven for about 10 minutes.
For Homemade Remoulade (optional):
- To a medium bowl, whisk the mayo, dijon, garlic, capers, lemon, Worcestershire and parsley. Store in the refrigerator in a lidded container for up to one week.