Crab burger?

Yes, not a HAM-burger, not a CHEESE-burger, but a CRAB burger. Sound weird? Well, if you like seafood, or shellfish (like shrimp or lobster), you’d probably like this, if it’s made right. Even if it isn’t, it’s not too shabby.

Today, I had a crab burger for lunch at a restaurant. I’m not sure that it was made “right” — that is to say, made with lump crab meat (tasty whole chunks of crab) and not a lot of filler (such as bread crumbs, to bulk up the patty). Despite our waitress saying that there was fresh crab in it, if there was, there was not a lot of it.

And I didn’t really expect it. Crab is not really the thing here in New England. Here, it’s lobster. Crab belongs mostly to the Chesapeake Bay, at least on the East Coast. Nevertheless, an awesome, real, and “right” crab burger can be had – if not in a lot of restaurants around here, then at home.

This easy recipe comes from

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 3/4 cups fine dry bread crumbs, divided
  • 3/4 cup vegtable oil
  • 4 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • tartar sauce
  • iceberg lettuce

Stir together crabmeat, mayonnaise, scallions, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 cup bread crumbs in a bowl until just combined. Form into 4 (1-inch-thick) patties (3 1/2 inches in diameter; patties will be soft but will firm up when fried). Spread remaining cup bread crumbs on a plate, then dredge patties in crumbs, knocking off excess, and transfer to a platter.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then fry patties, turning over once, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Assemble burgers with buns and lettuce and sauce.

Patties can be formed, without bread-crumb coating, 12 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Dredge in bread crumbs just before frying.

As you can see, the recipe does call for bread crumbs. Bread crumbs in some quantity are necessary to hold the burger patty together (it’s called a “binder”). But in this recipe it’s not a problem, because there’s also plenty of crab. If, say, there was to be 1/4 lb. of crab meat, and 3 cups of bread crumbs, THAT would be a problem.

Now, should you go with fresh crab meat or canned? Fresh lump meat is best (found at your supermarket seafood counter), but a little more pricey. The canned will do, and if you can get canned lump meat, go for that. The last alternative would be canned flake crab meat, which, while not the prime meat of the crab, certainly is not bad. Soaking the meat in ice water for 10 minutes, then draining it and patting it dry will take out a lot of the “canned” taste. As you would with any crabmeat, you should pick over the pieces to remove all bits of shell or cartilage that slipped into the can (these crabby tips courtesy of

Finally, is there a difference between a crab burger and a crab cake? Yes, but only a minor one – a crab cake stands alone, while a crab burger is served on a bun.

Cheeseburgers are so yesterday!