Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes

Ingredients (13)

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 pounds lump crabmeat, picked clean of all shell and cartilage
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 box Pretz pretzel sticks (preferred brand, can be purchased in Japanese gourmet stores)
  • 1 cup clarified butter
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Pretzel-Crusted Crab Cakes

This particularly elegant crab cake recipe comes from chef David Burke of New York City’s Tavern62. Softened onions and celery are folded into the sweet lump crabmeat along with butter, mayonnaise, and eggs for binding, and a judicious amount of Old Bay seasoning, plus a little fresh chives and lemon zest. Instead of being formed into mounds and breaded, the mixture is sandwiched between little rafts made of light, crispy pretzel sticks (the popular-in-Japan brand Pretz is what the chef prefers; you can find them in Asian markets, stores like World Market, and online). Once they’re well chilled so they hold together, the delicate cakes are pan-fried. They’re delicious on their own, but feel free to get a little fancier and garnish with restaurant-style touches like roe, supremed citrus segments, microgreens or herbs, and dots of aioli.

Craving more crab? Get our Crab Salad recipe, and our Crab Benedict on Lemon-Chive Biscuits recipe.

  • What to buy

    Pretz Original Flavor

    The preferred brand of pretzel sticks for this recipe, Pretz are much thinner and delicate than your standard preztel rods. They come in an astonishing range of seasonings, but Original works best since it doesn't overwhelm the flavors in the crab cake.

    Buy Now ›

Tips for Crab and Eggs


  1. 1Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium heat.
  2. 2Add onion and celery and saute vegetables for about four minutes, or until they are soft and translucent.
  3. 3Remove onion and celery and drain off and discard excess oil. Set aside.
  4. 4Combine butter (important: use very soft butter) and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl.
  5. 5Using a handheld electric mixer or a wooden spoon, beat until mixture is well blended and very smooth.
  6. 6Fold in crabmeat, chives, lemon zest, Old Bay, and cayenne along with reserved onions and celery.
  7. 7Cover and refrigerate crab cake mixture for 2 hours to chill.
  8. 8Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  9. 9Remove crab cake mixture from refrigerator.
  10. 10Line a row of pretzels (about 8) closely together and top with about 1/4 cup of crab mixture.
  11. 11Line top with same amount of pretzels (creating a “raft” appearance).
  12. 12Place pretzel-coated cakes on prepared baking sheet.
  13. 13Lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until cakes are firm.
  14. 14Heat clarified butter in a large saute pan over medium heat until it begins to smoke. In batches, using additional butter as needed, fry crab cakes for about 3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown.
  15. 15Place them on paper towels to drain, then transfer to a serving platter or individual plates.
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