What to Serve with Crab Cakes for that Perfect Match
Crab cakes evoke fond memories of summers along the Chesapeake Bay. A summer breeze with a splash of lemon, Old Bay seasoning and your favorite sauce combine to make a little slice of heaven.
Even people from outside the Maryland and Virginia area know and love their crab cakes.
These tender, breaded cakes, so light and flaky that they’re barely holding together are what we long for in the cold nights of winter. (And we suppose lobster cakes as well while we’re at it!)
But they really come together – and are what we indulge in – on warm summer evenings with the ocean breeze wafting in.
Delicate chunks full of the sweetness of crab, with a gentle background spice. Light and flaky, but still decadent and satisfying.
Preparations can vary depending on taste, with some preferring the crispy outside of a fried or sautéed cake, while others enjoy the gentle smokiness that grilling lends to them.
Whichever preparation you prefer, there’s no question that you’ll want to find the perfect accompaniments for your crabby feast.
So, of course we all love these delicate packets of flavor, but now, what to serve with crab cakes?
Whether you prefer a classic side of tartar sauce, mustard, or cocktail sauce, there are many flavor combinations to please the crab cake-loving palate.
What Goes with Crab Cakes: One Tasty List
When it comes to what to eat with crab cakes, there are many classic combinations.
Restaurants will often offer up French fries or potato salad.
These can be nice and comforting in their own way, but there are so many other delectable side dishes for crab cakes that we like to stretch out and explore some less well-tread territory.
1. CONFETTI SLAW
Lightly steamed cabbage makes the perfect base for this colorful salad. It’s about to make your crab cakes stand up and take notice.
Hello, confetti slaw! You’re what we dream about when we think of what goes good with crab cakes.
Chickpeas roll around thinly sliced apples and luxuriate in a tart red wine vinegar dressing. Which creates a delectable combination of flavors.
Who doesn’t want this on a plate?
Check out the recipe from Trish here: dishbytrish.com
2. GRILLED SUMMER SALAD
We’re thinking about herby oil-brushed corn and eggplant thrown on the grill with onions, asparagus, and summer squash.
What a perfect side dish for grilled crab cakes! Is there a salad that can fit that bill?
Why, yes. Yes, there is.
Let’s get our grilling on, so that crab cakes can have some deliciously charred company on a plate. It’s sweet and savory, and fresh – in other words, it’s the perfect pairing for crab.
Check out Jack and Martha’s recipe over at A Family Feast for some summertime inspiration: afamilyfeast.com
3. HERBACEOUS MEDITERRANEAN CHICKPEA SALAD
Chickpeas and celery share the bowl nearly co-equally with parsley in this Mediterranean-inspired salad that basks in lemony and herby deliciousness.
Isn’t that what every plate wants? It’s definitely what we’re looking for in side dish ideas.
Hello, sparkly veggie and citrus goodness!
When crab cakes get paired with this salad they’ll gaze adoringly at the cornucopia of colors and relax knowing they’re in excellent company. Hey, herbs, hey!
Grab the recipe from Heidi at Foodie Crush here: foodiecrush.com
4. CORN SALAD WITH SCALLIONS AND BASIL
Nothing screams “sitting on the seashore” more than fresh corn salad nestled beside an airy crab cake.
And when you throw in scallions and basil, well – that’s more fun than boogie-boarding a huge wave on to the beach off the coast of Maine.
Crab cakes and corn. Corn and crab cakes. They both love some fresh salty air.
And with the pucker power of white vinegar and salt, this salad also brings a little tang.
What would pair better with crunchy crab cakes?
Grab the recipe from Jenn at Once Upon a Chef right here: onceuponachef.com
5. GAZPACHO WITH MANGO
We love, love, love gazpacho with crab cakes. The summery sweetness of the tomatoes, and the tartness of the red wine vinegar just pairs astoundingly well with the subtlety of crispy and creamy crab cakes.
Speaking of sweetness, did we mention that mangos pair perfectly with crab too?
Oh, yes. Yes, they do.
The cooling cucumber base of the gazpacho builds a base for this incredible soup that absolutely everyone will love.
Including the crab.
Grab the recipe from Jeanine and Jack here: loveandlemons.com
6. GREEN GODDESS GRILLED AVOCADO SALAD
Grilled avocado? Yes, please!
The creaminess of avocado is heightened when it gets a little charred, making it even more delicious.
Is that possible? Believe it or not, it is!
And in this recipe, the avocado plays two roles. One is the main star of the feature, and the other is a supporting role in the salad dressing. It’s pure limey, chive-ey, delectable-ness.
This salad is an amazing companion for crab cakes.
So, fire up the grill and get ready to bring your avocado game up a notch.
Check out the recipe in this video:
Related Meals, More Great Sides
Check out these side dishes for your other favorite, similar meals.
- Coconut Shrimp sides: Anyone who loves crab cakes probably loves fried shrimp right?
- Grilled Shrimp side: More grilled seafood yuminess.
- Clam Chowder sides: Another Eastern Seaboard classic.
7. CORN CHOWDER
Sunny corn chowder loaded with potatoes and onions is a sweet and creamy accompaniment to crab cakes.
Picture them sitting next to each other on the table. Just picture it.
It’s a happy place isn’t it? Steaming chowder in a bowl and piles of crab cakes standing proudly on a plate.
They pair beautifully. Flaky crab, creamy soup, a touch of smokiness from the ham.
Oh, yes. It’s a happy place indeed.
Serene has a super-inviting recipe over at House of Yumm. Find it right here: houseofyumm.com
8. MUSTARD GREENS SALAD
Spicy mustard greens are a pretty wonderful thing.
They have a fresh, natural kick, and they love other veggies, starch, and crab.
So, we went looking for a salad that embodied all of that, and voila!
Here it is.
Kicky mustard greens are tossed with roasted potatoes and veggies in a tangy red wine vinaigrette.
What crab cake wouldn’t want to be paired off with that?
Grab Brittany’s recipe at Eating Bird Food for all the mustard green goodness: eatingbirdfood.com
9. SUCCOTASH SALAD
Holy not-sufferin’ succotash! Let’s talk about this amazing veggie salad.
Lima beans are the fashionable legume of the moment, and there’s a reason for that.
They’re tasty, bright, and let’s face it – pretty cool looking.
And they’re the star of this flavorful and stunning salad.
Crab cakes will love being piled high next to this sweet, savory, and salty mixture.
Click on the link for Sheila’s recipe over at Life Love and Good Food. You’ll be happy you did: lifeloveandgoodfood.com
(Note: the link is an archived link as the original recipe appears to have been removed from Sheila’s site)
10. ROASTED SUMMER VEGETABLES
Rustic. Elegant. Simple. Delicious. Lightly caramelized for utter deliciousness. Veggie-forward delectability.
In other words, “All of the things!”
Those are some words and phrases that will pop into your head when you pull these roasted vegetables out of the oven.
They’re sweet and succulent, they’re kissed with basil, and they’re absolutely ensconced in fresh parsley.
How can crab cakes not fall in love with them? Oh, and once they’re in the oven, they’re hands off.
Which makes them a side dish with a lot of payoff for very little work. How great is that?
Check out the recipe from Beth at Budget Bytes right here: budgetbytes.com
11. MANGO SALSA
Sweet. Spicy. Filled with cilantro and lime.
Yes, a mango salsa is perfect with chips, crudité, and – of course – crab cakes.
The sweet luxuriousness of mango is unparalleled, and it lends its tropical flavor to the crispy and tender texture of the crab cakes.
Do you like your salsa to err on the side of sweet rather than spicy? That’s totally fine.
Do you like your salsa to metaphorically come barreling into a room like a Broadway singer on a drunken audition?
Then add a jalapeno or habanero. That will grab everyone’s attention.
Either way, crab and mango are a perfect combination.
Check out Joanne’s recipe in her video below:
12. ARUGULA RADISH SALAD
Peppery arugula meets equally peppery radishes. And then they decide to add another member to the group, inviting spring-lovin’ asparagus to join them in a bowl.
They thought they made some great music together but decided they needed a little more freshness, so they called up their old pal mint for a jam session.
And that was good. It was bangin’. But it still wasn’t perfect.
So, the ingredients put their heads together and invited bright, crunchy pistachios to come over and hang.
And that was how the perfect arugula radish salad was born.
Throw this together while your crab cakes are cooking and consider it the perfect crescendo to a fantastic meal.
Check out Kaleigh’s fresh and vibrant recipe over at Lively Table here: livelytable.com
13. SALSA VERDE
Tomatillos are the perfect base for a salsa. Raw, they taste like a lime-tomato hybrid. And, when you add some heat to them, that just intensifies their delicious citrusy flavor.
And then when they’re combined with cilantro, onion, garlic, and jalapenos?
Oh. My. God.
Now gently spoon some of the salsa over crab cakes. Then stand back and watch people smile. This is a sauce for crab cakes that you might not have thought about before.
You made this.
You’ve got this.
Grab Charbel’s recipe at My Latina Table here: mylatinatable.com
What to Serve with Crab Cakes: Extra Tips
Before we move on, it goes without saying that these are all sides you can serve with lobster cakes too…just in case you’re wondering.
Now, check out these extra nuggets of knowledge to make your entire meal taste even more wonderful.
MAKE AHEAD – AND MAKE ENOUGH FOR LEFTOVERS
Remember you can always make your recipe the night before. You can definitely reheat crab cakes so they are as good as new. So, if you’re planning a big dinner and want to simplify your day-of prep, you’ll never need to be scrambling as guests are arriving again.
And it will leave you that much more time to prep and plan all your perfect crab cake side dishes.
Also, don’t deny yourself the joy of crab cakes as part of a decadent breakfast or lunch the next day. By which we mean to say, “Don’t be afraid to make an extra-large batch.”
Two things: you won’t be afraid you’ll run out at dinner; and, more importantly, you’ll have some amazing leftovers.
Just imagine that leftover crab cake with toast and a light green or fruit salad the next morning.
Andrew Zimmern recommends a breakfast of cold crab cakes on toast with tomato and Russian dressing.
What a way to start any day! Yes, please!
Another tip for making delicate fried crab cakes with a minimum of binder – so they are extra flaky and tender – is to freeze them briefly before cooking.
You don’t want them frozen through, just set up enough that they don’t disintegrate when they hit the hot oil.
WHAT TO DRINK WITH CRAB CAKES
The question of what goes well with crab cakes doesn’t stop at side dishes and breakfast options, though.
This is a gregarious food. Crab cakes like to have a good time and they get along really well with a range of drink pairings.
Leaning towards lighter flavors is safe in general, but don’t be afraid to experiment depending on your crab cake’s flavor profile.
Champagne is a fun pairing with crab cakes, because the effervescent bubbles playfully complement the delicately crunchy texture.
A nice medium to full-body white wine is always lovely with a dinner of crab cakes, too. Chardonnay is the classic combination, and for good reason, but a good Pinot Blanc is a nice twist too.
If you and your guests are more likely to enjoy cocktails over wines, try making a batch of light, herby mojitos or a citrusy gin drink, such as a gimlet.
Of course, there’s also something so great about just cracking open a cold, crisp bottle of beer and sipping it between bites of a warm, delicate crab cake.
It’s quintessentially summer, so try something light and summery. A pilsner or a summer wheat are both great choices.
If you like to season your crab cakes with a little extra spice, an IPA is a great beer to turn to.
Crab cakes are such a classic and pleasant dish with some many happy associations, which means there are many happy combinations that can make up an amazing dinner menu.
What are your favorite ideas for what to serve with crab cakes? We hope the above will get you rolling!