Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook

I was just asked by the chief blogger of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation if I had a great recipe using some form of blue crabs on the grill to celebrate Memorial Day. I thought that was a grand idea and decided to revv up my grill (although I had used it all winter to test recipes for my new cookbook). Anyway, it was a good challenge and I recalled grilling Dungeness crab in the Pacific Northwest so why not? I called MD Seafood and talked about recipes for crab on the grill. I didn't get any enthusiasm or a smidgen of a recipe. No matter, it's great fun to be creative in the food world and the test was on.

It’s a given...everyone loves the flavor and camaraderie of foods from the grill. AND everyone ADORES crab cakes. Why not combine grilling and crab to make the ultimate meal for a Maryland style Crab Grillfest?

My good buddy, John Shields, outlines three steps to prepare crab cakes for cooking in the Chesapeake Bay Crab Cookbook:

1.              Picking— Pick the crab meat over very carefully to remove pieces of  shells.

2.              Batter— Make the batter in a separate bowl, not in the same one that holds the crab meat.  Gently toss or fold the ingredients together taking great care not to break up any lumps of crab.

3.              Forming— Gently form the crab cake mixture into slightly flattened, rounded masses.  Do not compact the crab cakes too much.  They should be held together loosely.  Size depends on the chef.  For appetizers, small cakes are wonderful.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before cooking to allow the binding to absorb some moisture so that the cakes hold together better.

Grillfest Crab Cakes by Rita Calvert

Serves 6

The trick for crabcakes on the grill is to use a flat cast iron griddle on top of the flames to prevent the crabcakes from breaking apart and falling through the grate. If you are a seasoned griller, you may want to gently flavor your fire with a foil packet of fruitwood such as apple wood sprigs. I actually placed sprigs of lemon scented herbs on the fire.

  • 1 pound backfin lump crabmeat
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts trimmed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chesapeake Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


Pick the crab meat to remove any remaining pieces of shell and place on a plate.

In medium-size bowl, pick the bread into small pieces and place in the bowl Add egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Chesapeake seasoning. Mix ingredients. Add the crab meat and mix by hand to avoid overworking-you want to keep the lumps of crab as much as possible. Form into patties and for grilling, pat together more firmly than if you were frying; this should make 6 good-size cakes.

Place crabcakes on a sheet pan and refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours to firm. Remove the crabcakes from the refrigerator and brush with melted butter before grilling.

Preheat the grill to medium-high at least 15 minutes before grilling. Place the griddle over the fire to heat.

Grease the griddle by spraying with nonstick vegetable spray. Place each crabcake on the griddle and close the lid of the grill. Grill for about four minutes and check crabcake by lifting with a heat safe spatula.



If golden brown, flip, lower lid and grill another four minutes. At this time lift lid and move crabcakes to indirect side of heat but still on the griddle. Lower lid and grill another 2-4 minutes.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges.

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