Dr. McPhee’s Crab Cakes

Crab cakes

This recipe was created by Dr. Joseph McPhee, author of a cookbook specifically designed for bariatric surgery patients.

A self-proclaimed foodie, I enjoy tasting menu items when eating out to compare to how I make them. This is especially true for soups and seafood dishes. Probably the one I am most critical with is crab cakes. Such a simple concept that can go terribly wrong. From dry, bland cakes to squishy mixtures that leave you guessing where the crab is, I’ve sampled many.

When it came down to creating my own recipe, I wanted the crab taste to be present but not the only flavor. I thought it important to get in different tastes with herbs and spices to accentuate the main ingredient but not overwhelming it. Some lump crab meat can be really expensive. I use the basic canned variety in this recipe, but you can substitute with some of the fancier choices if you want.

For the nutritional breakdown, the crab will be the main protein source (about 13 grams per cake), but also a bit from the egg. A variety of fats come from the olive oil and mayonnaise. The mixed vegetables add some nice fiber and healthy carbohydrates. There are about 20 grams of processed carbohydrates in the bread crumbs, but it is such an important binder I’m okay with using it.

The key in cooking these is not to make them too big. A small burger size is perfect (should make about 8 patties). It’s also important to get a good fast crisp on the outside when frying, but not too much, avoiding cooking them all the way through. This will seal in the flavor and the baking will take care of the rest.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup low fat mayo
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 cup wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 four-ounce cans white crab meat
  • 2 four-ounce cans lump crab meat


  1. Using a large frying pan, add one tablespoon of olive oil to cook the scallion, garlic, celery, and red pepper for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Add the basil and parsley and cook another 5 minutes. Add this mixture to a food processor and pulse 4-5 times. Set aside and let cool.
  2. In the meantime drain the crab meat and place in a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Once cool add the veggie mixture. Using your hands, knead the mixture together then make roughly 3/4 inch thick crab cakes. Place the patties on a plate and put in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile heat the oven to 375°. Put the second tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and, when the oil is hot, quickly brown the cakes on both sides -- no longer than 15-20 seconds a side. Transfer the crab cakes to a flat oven pan or baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon.
author name

Joseph R. McPhee, MD

Joseph R. McPhee, MD, is a physician specializing in bariatric surgery with Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery.

Education: A graduate of New York University and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. McPhee completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School and his residency at North Shore University Hospital.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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