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


  • 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
4.89 stars (26 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 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


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


  • 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.


  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.


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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  1. I just made these! They are so delicious. I didn’t change anything about the recipe, at the end I added flakey salt on top. 10/10! I would maybe add a little more hearts of palm to the mix next time just for more of that crabmeat texture. But otherwise, came out perfect, can’t wait to share with family.

  2. I actually love these”crab” cakes and have made them several times. The only reason I gave them 4 stars is because they fall apart. Nora yours look so firm even before you fried them.

    Any suggestions to keep them from falling apart while cooking and when done?

    1. I’m thrilled you are loving the crab cakes! Sorry to hear they fall apart! The crab cakes are delicate, so be very gentle. Otherwise, pack them very tightly in your hands when forming the patties and feel free to add more breadcrumbs if they’re too moist. I hope this helps!

    2. Mine didn’t fall apart which was what I was worried about. I used Pope brand “simply better” bread crumbs instead of actual panko and mine stayed together well!

  3. Every noracooks recipe we’ve tried has been a winner – my goto for vegan recipes. This one is delicious. Entire family loved it.

    1. How fabulous you are loving my recipes! Thank you for using them, and for sharing your terrific feedback and review!

  4. Out of this world! Thought I was eating a crab cake without the “fishy” taste. The only problem I had was the patties weren’t staying together very well. Should I have pulsed them more in the food processor?

  5. Thank you- these are absolutely excellent; I’ve made them several times now and they always work and everyone always loves them. We generally eat them with sweet chilli dipping sauce,
    I’ve never eaten real crabs, thank goodness, and my kids are life vegans (I wish I was!) so I don’t really have anything with which to compare these, so I really can’t say how similar these are to ‘meaty’ crab cakes, but it’s how they taste that is the most important thing and they are absolutely lovely.
    Hearts of palm aren’t cheap so last time I subbed one can of H o P with banana blossom as they are half the price and it worked just as well but I wouldn’t sub both the cans as the palm hearts really add something special in taste and texture.
    Thanks for a great recipe which is now a family favourite.

    1. Hi Sarah. I love that this recipe is a family favorite! I appreciate you taking time to share your ideas and terrific feedback! Thank you! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  6. Hi Nora! What is the best sub for the vegan mayo? I don’t like mayo and was thinking maybe cashew cream but wasn’t sure and figured I would ask you for best subs! Thanks!

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