Flaky vegan crab cakes are made with a mixture of artichoke hearts and chickpeas. Finished with a dollop of lemon dill aioli, they’re an elegant starter or an eye-catching main course. They’re ready in about 20 minutes.
Did you know that when some people make crab cakes they use crabmeat?
Why would you when you can use so many other things like jackfruit, hearts of palm, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, zucchini, tempeh, or tofu?
The only limit to vegan seafood is your creativity!
That’s one of the most fun parts of being vegan. You can reconfigure old familiar flavors in new compassionate ways.
It scratches that itch with similar textures, but without harming anyone in the process.
I’m so excited to share this recipe for vegan crab cakes.
It uses two different ingredients as the stars for its base – artichoke hearts and chickpeas.
The artichoke hearts get nice and flaky, which creates a beautifully light texture. And the chickpeas make it feel substantive and satiating.
The flavors of Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce, lemon zest, and lemon juice are bright and lively against the briny artichoke hearts.
Finish the artichoke chickpea cakes with a dollop of lemon dill aioli for a zingy finish with tang.
This dish feels fancy enough for a date night.
But it’s ready in just 20 minutes to about a half an hour, depending on how you choose to prepare them.
I recommend frying them. But I also give options for baking and air frying.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this recipe.
Oil: If you’re frying the vegan crab cakes, you’ll want a high heat oil like organic canola oil or avocado oil.
If you’re baking or air frying, use oil spray for easy coverage.
Artichoke hearts: Choose canned or jarred artichoke hearts that are packed in water, not oil.
Chickpeas: Use canned or fully cooked (not dried) chickpeas.
Bell pepper: I like red for color, but yellow or orange also works.
Green onion: Also known as a scallion, use the green & white parts. Just remove the root end.
Vegan mayonnaise: This adds moisture & binding to the vegan crab cakes. It’s also the base of the aioli.
Vegenaise is my favorite, but any eggless mayo will work here.
Lemon: You’ll need both lemon zest & lemon juice. For the sake of ease, I recommend zesting before juicing.
Also, organic lemons are preferred when eating the skin.
Old Bay seasoning: This seasoning mix really sells the crab cake flavor. It’s made with celery salt, spices, and paprika.
Look for it in the spice aisles of most grocery stores, Target, Walmart, or online.
It can be replaced with Cajun seasoning salt.
Stoneground mustard: A dab of mustard adds tang. Stoneground is my favorite, because it’s not overly strong but still flavorful.
It can be replaced with yellow mustard.
All-purpose flour: This general use flour helps the cake hold together.
Panko breadcrumbs: Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs are my favorite, because they get things really crispy.
However, they can be replaced with standard breadcrumbs. Just check the ingredient label to make sure they’re vegan.
Salt & pepper: A dash of salt and pepper brings it all together.
Capers: Tangy capers are unripened green flower buds from a caper bush, which have been pickled in brine. Look for them near the olives in the grocery store.
They’re used for tang in the aioli. If you don’t have access to them, they can be omitted.
Granulated onion: This adds bite to the aioli. It can be replaced with onion powder.
Dill: Fresh dill really brightens the aioli. It can be replaced with ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of dried dill.
Step by step instructions
Here’s how to make this recipe at a glance. For complete ingredient amounts & instructions, keep scrolling to the recipe card below.
Drain canned artichoke hearts & blot them on a towel. Squeeze them to remove liquid from inside.
(For the cakes to stick together right, you don’t want too much liquid.)
Add the artichoke hearts to a food processor with drained chickpeas, chopped bell pepper, and sliced green onion.
Pulse 6 to 8 times until everything is evenly broken up, about the texture of chunky salsa.
Move the artichoke mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Then add the following:
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Old Bay seasoning
- Stoneground mustard
- Hot sauce
- All-purpose flour
- Panko breadcrumbs
Use a spoon to fully combine the ingredients.
Put additional panko breadcrumbs on a separate plate along with salt and pepper.
Use a ¼ measuring cup to portion out the cakes. Form the cake in your hands.
Then coat it on each side with the panko breadcrumbs on the plate.
Now it’s time to cook them by frying, baking, or air frying.
TO FRY: Shallow fry the cakes in oil for about 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Then move them to a towel lined plate to drain.
TO BAKE: Put the cakes on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Spray with oil, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, stopping once to flip.
TO AIR FRY: Put the cakes into the air fryer basket. Spray with oil. Air fry at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, stopping once to flip.
Finish them with a dollop of lemon dill aioli and dill garnish.
To make the aioli, combine the following in a small bowl:
- Vegan mayonnaise
- Lemon juice
- Granulated onion
- Fresh chopped dill
Mixture too wet or dry?
If the mixture is too dry in the mixing bowl for it to hold together in a cake, add an additional ½ Tablespoon of mayonnaise.
If the mixture is too wet for it to hold together, add additional flour, or press more breadcrumbs into the cakes while you are doing the final breading step.
Make them your own
You can make these vegan crab cakes your own by varying the ingredients and/or toppings.
- Instead of Old Bay seasoning, use your favorite Cajun seasoning salt
- Replace the green onion with 2 Tablespoons of chopped yellow onion
- If you like fishy flavors, add dulse flakes or kelp granules to the artichoke chickpea mixture in the mixing bowl
- Instead of fresh dill, use ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon of dried dill in the sauce
- Instead of lemon dill aioli, top with cocktail sauce, sriracha mayo, vegan hollandaise sauce, or Thousand Island dressing (a.k.a. special sauce)
Can you freeze them?
Yes, vegan crab cakes freeze beautifully!
Put them in a freezer-safe container like Pyrex or a freezer bag. If you have stacks of them, put a sheet of parchment between layers.
To reheat, I like to use the air fryer. They can go into the air fryer straight from frozen. Air fry at 360 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
If you’d prefer to reheat in the oven or in a skillet, thaw the cakes in the refrigerator first. Then bake or toast in a dry or lightly oiled skillet.
Vegan crab cakes with lemon dill aioli
Chickpea artichoke cakes
- Canola oil or oil spray
- 14.5 ounce can artichoke hearts 8.5 ounce drained weight
- ½ cup chickpeas drained
- ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 green onion sliced
- 1 Tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
- Zest of one small lemon about ½ teaspoon
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon stoneground mustard
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs divided
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of pepper
To make the chickpea artichoke cakes
- TO FRY THE CAKES: Fill a non-stick skillet with about ½ inch of canola oil. Bring to a medium high heat. TO BAKE THE CAKES: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. TO AIR FRY THE CAKES: Skip this step.
- Blot the drained artichoke hearts on a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze them to remove any liquid from inside. You want them to be as dry as possible, so that your cakes aren't too wet to stick together.
- Put the drained artichoke hearts, chickpeas, bell pepper, and onions into a food processor. Pulse 6 to 8 times until they are evenly broken up. Scrape down the sides if necessary to make sure everything is evenly incorporated. (Be sure not to over blend. The texture should be like a chunky salsa, not hummus.)
- Move the artichoke mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the following to the mixing bowl: 1 Tablespoon vegan mayonnaise, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, stoneground mustard, hot sauce, all-purpose flour, ¼ cup breadcrumbs, and a pinch of salt. Use a spoon to fully combine all of the ingredients.
- Put the remaining ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs on a plate, along with a pinch of salt and dash of pepper.
- Use a ¼ measuring cup to portion out each crab cake. Form it into a cake in your hands. Then coat each side with the panko breadcrumbs on the plate.
- TO FRY: Test the oil to see if it's hot enough. Put a breadcrumb into the oil. If bubbles immediately form around it, it's ready for frying.Shallow fry the cakes in the skillet for 3 minutes on one side. Flip and fry for 2 to 3 minutes more. Be careful not to overcrowd the cakes in the skillet. A medium sized skillet can hold about 4 cakes. Work in batches if necessary.Once they are browned on both sides, move them to a towel-lined plate to drain.
- TO BAKE: Put the cakes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spritz with oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes, stopping once halfway through to flip. After you've flipped the cakes, spray them again with oil before returning them to the oven.
- TO AIR FRY: Put the cakes into the air fryer basket. Be careful not to overcrowd. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook them in batches. Spritz the cakes with oil spray. Air fry at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Flip halfway through, and spritz the other side with oil.
- Move the crab cakes to a serving plate. Top each crab cake with a dollop of lemon dill aioli. Finish with a sprinkling of fresh dill for garnish.
To make the lemon dill aioli
- In a small bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, ¼ teaspoon lemon juice, capers, granulated onion, fresh chopped dill, and a pinch of salt.