Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe Made Vegan With Chickpeas and Hearts of Palm
These vegan Maryland crab cakes are made with chickpeas and hearts of palm. | Lauren Paige for LIVEKINDLY

Maryland Crab Cakes Recipe Made Vegan With Chickpeas and Hearts of Palm

The flavor and creativity of these vegan crab cakes shines through even without the crab.

Chesapeake Bay’s famous blue crabs have come a long way from being considered a poor man’s protein to the delicacy they are today. Abundant on Maryland’s shores, blue crabs were a vital part of Indigenous Americans’ daily life and diet. In the 1600s, when European colonizers arrived on Maryland’s Eastern Shore peninsula, they were appalled by the fishy food, in turn using it for fertilizer and to feed prisoners and enslaved peoples.

However, many enslaved peoples, especially from the Caribbean, were accustomed to crab meat and weaved it into their typically carb-heavy diet. They would cook them whole over fires or mince the meat to make it last longer, forming it into fritters—this was a method often used in Barbadian, also called Bajan, cuisine.

In the early 1880s, crustaceans began to rise in popularity with colonizers in the Northern states. By World War II, they had become a sought out menu item for the wealthy. In 1930, Crosby Gaige released New York World’s Fair Cookbook featuring Baltimore crab cakes—the name they’re still known as today. 

At the core of these croquettes is flavor and creativity, which shines through even without the actual crab. Filling these fritters with fresh vegetables like chickpeas and heart of palm creates the flakiness of the fish, while seasoning it with traditional seafood spices and herbs ties in the savoriness of the crispy crust. For the seafood lover on a vegan adventure, these protein-filled patties take the cake. 

Serve these vegan Maryland crab cakes with extra tartar sauce. | Lauren Paige for LIVEKINDLY
Serve this vegan Maryland crab cake recipe with extra tartar sauce. | Lauren Paige for LIVEKINDLY

Vegan Maryland Crab Cakes

By Gowri Chandra

1 hour 30 mins to prep
15 mins to cook


Vegan tartar sauce

  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle, minced (or sweet relish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon capers, drained (optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Vegan crab cakes

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can hearts of palm hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, divided in half
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

Garnish for crab cakes

  • Vegan tartar sauce
  • Lemon wedges


  1. 1
    For the tartar sauce: In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, pickles (or sweet relish, if using), tarragon, dill, lemon juice, sugar, and capers (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  2. 2
    For the crab cakes: In a blender or food processor, add chickpeas and hearts of palm. Pulse slowly until the mixture is chopped but still slightly whole. Be careful not to over-process, as the mixture should remain flaky.
  3. 3
    Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add in onions, celery, garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, dill, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning. Mix until everything is combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer mixture to the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
  4. 4
    Remove mixture from the fridge and use your hands to form patties about 1 inch thick.
  5. 5
    Add the flour to a shallow dish and season with the remaining 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning. Dip each patty in the flour on both sides until evenly coated.
  6. 6
    Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. 7
    Once oil is hot, fry patties one at a time, 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
  8. 8
    Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
  9. 9
    Serve crab cakes warm, with tartar sauce and fresh lemon wedges.

Check out more Black American recipes made vegan here.

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