Zucchini Crab Cakes Recipe

Every part of the country (of the world, we dare say) has its own particular specialty. Hawaii has its spam musubi, Philadelphia its cheesesteaks, and Chicago its deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. But if you're ever in Maryland, the one thing you don't want to miss is the crab cakes. The problem, however, comes if you are a vegetarian. While CNBC does say that fake fish is in the development stage for Impossible Foods, if you want to try a plant-based "crab" cake, your best bet at this point is to use actual plants (aka vegetables) as a crab substitute.

Recipe developer and wellness coach Miriam Hahn says that her recipe for zucchini "crab" cakes "actually started with hearts of palm, which I use in my vegan ceviche because it really resembles crab." She goes on to say, "I added zucchini because of the moisture and [the] texture was a perfect complement! Zucchini is often used in fritters so this is a really good combo!" As for the flavor, she tells us, "These taste very similar to real crab cakes and have a very similar texture."

Gather the ingredients

As with many plant-based recipes, there's a long list of ingredients that go into these "crab" cakes, and some of the ingredients are the kind of thing you might need to look for in a specialty store or online if your local supermarket doesn't have an extensive inventory. First of all, you'll need a zucchini (actually, only about half of one), and you're also going to be using canned hearts of palm — the whole kind that come in little cylinder shapes. You'll also need a can of garbanzo beans, an onion, and some celery. For the binder in these veggie patties, you'll be using Vegenaise (unless you're not vegan, in which case you could use regular mayo), and you'll bulk them out with the addition of panko breadcrumbs.

The patties are flavored with Dijon mustard, Atlantic dulse granules, nutritional yeast, Italian parsley, lemon zest, and Maryland's favorite seasoning, Old Bay. If a few ingredients are unfamiliar to you, Hahn explains that "dulse is an Atlantic sea vegetable seaweed and it has a salty and slight fishy taste." She further explains "that is where we get [these veggie patties] tasting like [they come] from the sea." Wondering about the nutritional yeast? Hahn says, "The nutritional yeast adds the cheesy flavor and acts as additional breading." There is one more thing you'll need to make these patties: a little oil for frying. Hahn likes to use avocado oil, although any cooking oil will work.

Prepare the vegetables

Start off by grating enough zucchini until you have ½ cup. You can use a box grater or you can use your food processor if you prefer. No need to peel the zucchini first, though. You will, of course, need to peel the onion before you dice it. Go ahead and dice the celery, too, and also zest the lemon. You can also chop the parsley.

After dealing with the fresh veggies, you'll need to prepare the canned ones, as well. Drain and mash the garbanzos, which can be done with either a fork (it's ok to leave them a little chunky) or a food processor. The hearts of palm are something you'll need to shred by hand. Hahn says you can cut the cylinders in half or leave them long, but says they should come apart like string cheese as you shred.

Form the veggie mix into "crab" cakes

Mix the grated zucchini with the hearts of palm and the garbanzos, then stir in the rest of the veggies and the Old Bay seasoning along with the panko breadcrumbs, mustard, dulse, Vegenaise, zest, nutritional yeast, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Basically, you're going to be mixing up all of the ingredients except for the cooking oil. Put the mixture in the refrigerator and let it sit and chill for at least an hour before you proceed with the cooking.

Cook the "crab" cakes by frying, then baking

Once the it is chilled, preheat the oven to 300 F and form the veggie mix into 10 to 12 patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, then fill the pan with as many patties as will fit. Fry them over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side. Repeat the frying with another tablespoon of oil and a second batch of "crab" cakes if needed. Once they are all cooked, transfer them to a baking sheet. The oven should be hot enough by now, so go ahead and bake them for 20 minutes.

These plant patties are super healthy

Hahn points out that these veggie cakes have all kinds of health benefits. For starters, she says "The zucchini and hearts of palm both add vitamins, minerals and fiber, while being very low calorie." What's more, she adds that "The dulse is very high in iodine which can be hard to get ... [and] the nutritional yeast has tons of B12 and other vitamins and a sizable amount of protein." But wait, that's not all! Even the parsley she calls "another superstar," saying it "is helpful in pulling metals out of the body."

Hahn likes to serve her veggie cakes on a bed of greens or accompanied with a bowl of soup. She says they also make great leftovers. She enjoys eating her leftover veggie patties cold for breakfast, and says these "crab" cakes can be packed in lunches, as well.

Zucchini Crab Cakes Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
If you're allergic to shellfish or are vegan, these plant-based zucchini "crab" cakes are the perfect dish to try.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Vegan "crab" cakes with sauce
Total time: 38 minutes
  • ½ a zucchini
  • 1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup Vegenaise
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Atlantic dulse granules
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
Optional Ingredients
  • Tartar sauce
  1. Grate enough zucchini to make ½ cup.
  2. Hand-shred the hearts of palm.
  3. Mash the garbanzo beans until they are chunky.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, hearts of palm, and garbanzo beans, stirring to mix.
  5. Add the onion, celery, Vegenaise, breadcrumbs, mustard, dulse, nutritional yeast, parsley, lemon zest, and Old Bay seasoning along with salt and pepper.
  6. Mix all ingredients well, then refrigerate for at least an hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
  8. Form the mixture into 10 to 12 patties.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a frying pan on medium-high heat.
  10. Fill the pan with as many patties that can fit and cook them for 4 minutes on each side.
  11. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil until all patties are done.
  12. Place the fried patties on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  13. If desired, serve the "crab" cakes with tartar sauce.
Calories per Serving 281
Total Fat 12.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 33.3 g
Dietary Fiber 10.1 g
Total Sugars 4.9 g
Sodium 552.4 mg
Protein 14.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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