Made with hearts of palm and chickpeas, these flaky Vegan Crab Cakes take minutes to cook in a skillet, air fryer, or oven. Top them with lemon aioli for an explosion of flavor!

white plate with fried vegan crab cakes next to white dipping sauce and lemon wedges

Start your dinner party with these meaty Vegan Crab Cakes. Herbaceous and moist, these tender and flaky patties look and taste just like the real thing. The best part? The patties come together and cook in no time at all!

Vegan crab cakes with hearts of palm and chickpeas are almost scary similar to traditional crab cakes. Hearts of palm come from the center of the cabbage palm tree and shred easily, resembling the look and feel of white crab meat. They come in a can just like artichokes and are surprisingly easy to find at most grocery stores! Flavored with Old Bay seasoning, onions, peppers, mayonnaise, dill, and dijon, you won’t even realize this appetizer (or meal!) is vegan.

This special treat is easy to make, freezer friendly, and a perfect appetizer for special occasions. Serve them with a vegan “fishy” feast of Vegan Tuna Sandwiches and Vegan Fish Sticks next to Tartar Sauce for dipping. Who needs real seafood when we have these easy alternatives?

fork cutting into a sauce-covered vegan crab cake on a white plate

How to make fried vegan crab cakes

  1. Pulse the chickpeas and hearts of palm together in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Saute the onion and red bell pepper in a skillet on the stove until soft. Add them into the bowl with the chickpeas and hearts of palm.
  3. Mix the crab cake “meat” together with the rest of the ingredients. Use your hands to form 8 half-inch thick patties.
  4. Fry a few patties at a time in a large skillet with a thin layer of oil until golden brown on both sides. Serve with the homemade lemon aioli and enjoy!
4 images showing the steps to making vegan crab cakes

Air fryer instructions

Once the patties are formed, preheat your air fryer to 400ºF. Air fry in batches for about 20 to 25 minutes, flipping each one halfway through. It also helps to spray the air fryer basket with oil as well as the tops of the crab cakes. The air fryer version won’t be as crispy or golden brown, but they still taste darn good!

Baking instructions

Form the patties and brush each one with a little olive oil or spray with olive oil. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400ºF for about 20 minutes, flipping each one halfway through. Baked crab cakes aren’t as crispy but still taste moist and delicious.

round orange vegan crab cakes on parchment paper

Variations

  • Instead of hearts of palm – Substitute a can of artichoke hearts instead. I tried this and they were really yummy, but the artichoke flavor definitely came through.
  • Don’t have sweet pickle relish? Add some finely chopped dill pickles into the aioli instead.
  • Change the sauce – These crab cakes would be delicious served with my easy Vegan Tartar Sauce!
vegan crab cakes frying in a cast iron skillet

How to store

Fried crab cakes are best served fresh but the leftovers can be stored for later. Just keep the cooked patties in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the air fryer, stove top or oven to crisp them back up.

close up on a pile of fried crab cakes on a white plate

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can they be made gluten free? Yes! Just swap the panko breadcrumbs for gluten free breadcrumbs instead.
  2. Are they freezer friendly? Very much so! All you have to do is form the patties, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze. Once the patties are frozen solid, transfer them to a sealed container or freezer safe bag. Let them thaw in the fridge before cooking.
  3. How do you reheat vegan crab cakes? Maintain their crispiness by reheating the crab cakes in a skillet with a little oil or in an oven/toaster oven/air fryer until warmed through. 
2 crab cakes on top of each other topped with white sauce

Want more vegan appetizers?

white plate with fried vegan crab cakes next to white dipping sauce and lemon wedges
4.91 stars (20 ratings)

Vegan Crab Cakes

Made with hearts of palm and chickpeas, these flaky Vegan Crab Cakes take minutes to cook in a skillet, air fryer, or oven. Top them with lemon aioli for an explosion of flavor!
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients 
 

Vegan crab cakes

  • 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 15 ounce can hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayo I use Follow Your Heart brand
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs check ingredients to ensure vegan
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped dill or parsley
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Lemon aioli

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • salt + pepper, to taste

Instructions 

  • In a food processor, add the chickpeas and hearts of palm to a food processor. Pulse a few times until broken down a bit but not smooth. You want to leave a lot of texture.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a small pan, sauté the red bell pepper and onion over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil until translucent and softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the red bell pepper and onion to the bowl with the chickpeas/hearts of palm, along with the vegan mayo, dijon mustard, old bay seasoning, salt, black pepper, panko breadcrumbs and dill/parsley. Mix until well combined.
  • Form into about 8 patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Heat a large pan (non stick or cast iron preferred) with a thin layer of oil. Fry the patties for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Transfer cooked patties to a plate lined with paper towels or a clean dish towel to soak up the extra oil.
  • Lemon aioli: In a small bowl, whisk together the vegan mayo, lemon juice, sweet pickle relish and salt + pepper to taste.
  • Serve the vegan crab cakes with lemon aioli and enjoy! Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pan on the stove, the air fryer or oven to make them crispy again.

Notes

  1. Nutrition information is an estimate only and does not include the lemon aioli, since how much you use will vary greatly and depend on what kind of vegan mayo you use. The estimate is for 1 of 8 crab cakes.
  2. Air fry – You can air fry the cakes instead of frying. Spray the basket with oil and air fry at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, flipping over once halfway through.
  3. Bake – Place the formed patties on a parchment lined pan and bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
  4. Gluten free – To make them gluten free, substitute gluten free breadcrumbs.
  5. If you can’t find hearts of palm, canned artichoke hearts work quite well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 8 servings | Calories: 172kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 246mg | Potassium: 1067mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 376IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. I’ve made these a few times and they are absolutely delicious.
    Could the mixture be prepared and then refrigerated for a few days before frying?
    Thanks!

    1. I’m so happy you love the crab cakes, Julie! Yes, you can make the mixture 1-2 days before cooking. Enjoy!

  2. I made these today for dinner and they fell apart as they were cooking. What can I do different next time?

    1. Sorry to hear that, Kelley! The crab cakes are delicate, so I would be very gentle the next time you give them a try. Otherwise, pack them very tightly in your hands when forming the patties and feel free to add more breadcrumbs if they’re too moist.

  3. Very new to vegan living. Tried these and was so excited! They were great. I made some in the air fryer and some pan fried. All your recipes are fantastic! Thank you!

    1. Hi Lisa. Thank you for sharing your feedback! I’m so glad that you loved the crab cakes, and are enjoying my recipes! Enjoy your journey! Happy cooking!

  4. Added a diced celery stalk, did the stove top pan frying method, and it was totally delicious. Me and hubs both loved this recipe!

    I think next time will try adding alfalfa sprouts for an even “crabbier” texture.

    1. I’m glad you guys loved the crab cakes! Let me know how the alfalfa sprouts go when you try it! Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review!

  5. These came out great! I made them in the air fryer to make them lower points on WW. Due to people mentioning the mixture being “too wet”, I dried out the hearts of palm ahead of time similar to what you do to tofu, in a towel with weight on top for 20-30 minutes before adding to the food processor. The cakes held up great for me. 

  6. I made this tonight and they were a hit! My wife and son both loved it. I have a question about the crab cakes – they seemed quite moist even after pan frying. Should I have done something different? 

    1. I would say the crab cakes are pretty moist, yes. Did you use panko breadcrumbs and drain the chickpeas and hearts of palm well?

  7. These are wonderful. I made them for the second time and this time made the lemon aioli sauce, too. Lovely flavors. Thank you, Nora!

  8. This is ‘date-night’ worthy & great for company, so I’ve made this recipe quite a lot. I like uniform patties & to easily achieve this, I use one of my plastic BALL mason jar cover lined with plastic wrap as the mold – press firmly & this makes 8 perfectly uniform sized & shaped patties. 

    I use my BALL mason jar cover when I make your grillable burgers also. 

    Thank you for sharing all your perfectly delicious recipes. 

    1. I love your mason jar cover mold idea! Thank you! I appreciate you taking time to share your fantastic review and comments. I’m thrilled you are loving the crab cakes! Thank you for using my recipes, and happy cooking!

  9. These are amazing! Full of flavor and the texture is spot on. Thank you for sharing, everything I’ve tried on your site has been so delicious! 

    1. Thanks for sharing your comments! I’m glad you loved the crab cakes! Thanks for using my recipes, and I’m glad you are loving them!

  10. Absolutely loved these, the flavors were wonderful!!
    I am considering adding a binder next time to help them from crumbling. Would you recommend flax meal and h2o or do you think “JUST Egg” would work better? Thank you!!

    1. I haven’t tried either because I didn’t find it necessary, but you could try Just Egg or flax eggs I suppose. It will make them more wet, so I’m not sure.

  11. These were a hit with me and my 2.5 yr old. I never had old bag spice before and the patties came out spicier than expected, but she still liked them with ketchup. I cooked the onion and red pepper much longer so they would become nice and soft (my 2 yr old doesn’t like crunchy veggies) I first tried to cook them on the stove but they completely fell apart when I tried to flip them. Perhaps I didn’t process the chickpeas and palm hearts quite enough? Luckily I only formed 2 patties in advance so I added a flax egg to the remaining mixture (using 2.5 tbsp water, microwave mixture for 30 sec and stir to let a lot of water evaporate) then I baked the patties in the oven and they turned out superb! I also subbed yogurt for mayo in the aioli sauce since the patties were already kinda greasy, and I added extra sweet relish.

  12. We have made these 3 times since you posted them.  Out of this world!  Have shared w/ many friends already. 
    Thank you!

    1. That’s so great! I’m glad you are loving them! Thanks for sharing your terrific review and comments!

  13. These were packed full of flavor! Is it ok to freeze un-cooked leftover mix? I doubled the recipe so we could indulge in big fat crab cakes but have 6 patties left over that I didn’t cook yet. They’re in press and seal, refrigerated but I would prefer to freeze if it should keep! 

    1. I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze the leftover uncooked mix. It should be fine! So glad you enjoyed them, thanks!

  14. Nora,

    I just made these and they are delicious! The texture is awesome. My husband and I just love them and will make them again and again.

    Thank you!

    Jeannie

    1. I’m thrilled that you guys love the crab cakes, and plan on making them often! Thank you so much for taking time too share your review! Happy cooking!

  15. Absolutely delicious. Just made these and they were fantastic. Didnt have all the ingredients for lemon aoile sauce so went without. Pan fries them they were so good. Thank you

  16. Nora these are amazing! Thank you so much. I love all your recipes so far!

    Much Love,
    From a Newbie Vegan!

    1. Welcome to Nora Cooks, Adrieanna, and thank you for using my recipes! I’m glad you love the crab cakes! Thank you for sharing your review, and happy cooking!

  17. Would it work to use a vegan yogurt, such as Kite Hill unsweetened almond in place of the vegan mayo? I am excited to try this!

  18. These were amazingly delicious!! I didn’t have relish so I used some green chili salsa. Excellent!! Thank you once again!

    1. You are welcome! I’m glad you found them delicious! Thanks for sharing your review on my new crab cake recipe!

    1. Thanks Kait! I’m so glad you made them so quickly and enjoyed them! I know my family devoured them in about 5 minutes haha.

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