Cape Breton Snow Crab Cakes in 20 Minutes

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These Cape Breton snow crab cakes make for a delicious light dinner and are so quick to put together.

It wasn’t easy to say to my aunt that I couldn’t come over to her house to eat snow crab from Cape Breton because she wasn’t in my double bubble. 

Nova Scotia recently announced we could extend visiting to another family household and we chose my sister’s family as she has two young sons my mother was eager to see. 

But it was also a reason not to be reckless with our time outside, to keep them safe.

Yet it was so sweet for my aunt to drop off the cooked snow crab the next day so that we wouldn’t miss out on this delicacy.

Cape Breton snow crab cooked on a cooking sheet

Cape Breton Snow Crab

We are ridiculously fortunate that Nova Scotia has such a wealth of fish seafood.

Our lobster season rotates around different areas of the province so we’re almost always in season.

And we have the best scallops in the world in Digby and so many other incredible fish and other seafood. It is the best part of being home. 

Snow crab season in Cape Breton is a big deal because it’s actually quite short.

It usually runs late Spring to the end of June but isn’t common in Nova Scotia restaurants so you have to make it at home while it’s still possible. 

This year has been a completely different operation as previously seasonal workers from countries like Mexico come in to help, and fishermen needed to take extra safety precautions to work safely.


Snow Crab vs King Crab 

Snow crab doesn’t make reference to its geography in snowy Canada, but instead the snowy white colour of its meat when cooked.

Snow crab shells are easy breakable.

Some say you can do it with your hands but we have lobster crackers so why make it harder than it has to be.

99 ESSENTIAL EATS:  Nova Scotia Food

The texture is fibrous and is fantastic for shredding. In fact the first thing I made was a snow crab pasta based on spaghetti aglio olio and it worked really well with bow tie pasta.  

The flavour is delicate, sweet and also briny like the sea. It pairs beautifully with Nova Scotia wine.

But king crab isn’t the same. And it’s more expensive.

Also from the north, because cold water seafood is the best, Alaskan king crab is also sweet but also a richer flavour. 

You absolutely need lobster crackers for king crab as the shell is thicker and has the little spikes that you’ll also find on lobster. 

Nor surprisingly, it has the same chunky texture of lobster meat. 

Snow crab cakes on a blue plate with trees in the background

Fresh vs Frozen Snow Crab

If you can’t buy straight from a fisherman, you can buy snow crab pre-cooked and frozen.

As you don’t want to overcook snow crab (which is easy to do) I think this is a great option. 

I know many people look down upon frozen fish but unless you’re getting it that day I think frozen is best as it’s usually frozen on the boat. 


And in the case of snow crab it is almost always cooked on the boat or once it lands, then frozen to ensure it has optimal flavour and freshness.

But if you’re buying them fresh consider steaming them for 5 minutes. If they are uncooked and frozen steam snow crab legs for 10 minutes.

Snow crab cakes recipe ingredients mixed in a metal bowl with a spoon, on a rustic background.

Cape Breton Snow Crab Cakes Recipe

Although I make Nova Scotia fish cakes with potato, these snow crab cakes don’t use it.

That’s because the snow crab flesh is so delicate that I think it would get lost in the potato.

So instead I used a panko crumb mixture, which makes them a bit more delicate to eat – but also to cook. 

So when you’re making the base it will feel a bit wet and that’s ok.

Just be careful to gently bread them in more panko afterwards. And when pan frying, let them fully cook on one side before carefully flipping over.

This recipe also uses Old Bay seasoning, because when it doubt seafood always is fantastic with Old Bay.

I also use it in my Nova Scotia seafood chowder, which gives my grandmother’s recipe a slight lift although I don’t think she’d approve!

It is a custom spice blend but in a pinch if you don’t have it, here’s a recipe to make your own

As it uses celery salt I did not add more salt to the mix. Remember snow crab has a briny flavour as it is.

Sriracha Tartar Sauce

My mother loves heat so I created a faux tartare sauce that only takes 1 minute to make:

Simply mix 1 tablespoon of sriracha with 1 tablespoon of sweet green relish and 1/4 cup mayonnaise

Although I know it’s not really tartar sauce, but it is a great crab cakes dipping sauce. 

Top view of a plate of Cape Breton crab cakes garnished with dill

Freezing snow crab cakes. 

Snow crab has quite a bit of moisture, which is a great thing for making light crab cakes.

Unfortunately it doesn’t freeze as well as heavier potato based crab cake recipes. 

These Cape Breton snow crab cakes are a bit more delicate and would fall apart when thawing. I don’t recommend freezing them.

But they do last in the fridge for lunch the next day.

Seven snow crab cakes on a blue plate on a rustic background.

Snow Crab Cakes

Yield: 12 crab cakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Cape Breton snow crab makes for fantastic light crab cakes ready in 20 minutes.


  • 1.5 cups cooked snow crab meat
  • 1/2 cup red pepper minced.
  • 1/4 cup green onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup panko, half for mix and half for breading cakes
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients well, remember to keep 1/4 cup panko crumbs aside.
  2. Form into 12 cakes and roll in panko crumbs.
  3. Heat skillet over medium heat with a bit of vegetable oil. Add snow crab cakes, but do not crowd skillet as you'll need to gently flip after 1-2 minutes or when golden on each side.
  4. Garnish with chopped dill and serve with sriracha dipping sauce.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 132Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 341mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 11g

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Join the Conversation

  1. Bernice Hill says:

    Holy smokes! You certainly are lucky to live in such a magical place. It’s been my dream to visit the East coast for YEARS so that I can just stuff myself silly with seafood. I heard it’s pretty too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I really took it for granted growing up, but then I moved to Toronto and couldn’t believe the prices and how mediocre seafood was. I definitely appreciate it now.

  2. We visited Nova Scotia in the fall so we missed the snow crab season. I’ve always loved crab cakes so I will give this a try!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Let me know how it goes!

  3. Kelly Neil says:

    Oh my goodness, would you believe I travel to Cape Breton almost monthly, and I know snow crab fishers, yet have never had snow crab?! Time to change this asap. Also that sriracha tartar sauce sounds legit amazing!

    1. Leslie Brook Barnes says:

      My daughter loves crab legs and made 8lbs of snow crab for Christmas Eve. I shelled all the leftovers and am making crab cakes tonight. I expect them to be excellent. Will update after we eat.

  4. One of the things I miss most about home (apart from my family…lol), is all the beautiful fresh seafood. My husband and I were just talking about snow crab yesterday. Here it would cost and arm and a leg if you could ever get your hands on it. These looks amazing and bet they were so delicious. Yes, you are fortunate for sure to be living where it’s so abundant.

  5. Nancy @instanomss says:

    these reminds me of the salmon cakes I’ve made ! But what a great idea with Snow Crabs!!! Another great recipe.

    1. I am replying to your comment on the recipe site “” . I don’t know where you live, but I live in Brandon Manitoba and recently found a seafood truck that comes here once in awhile with east coast seafood. It is called “the LobsterMobsters” – they are out of Nisku Alberta (2 guys who’ve grown up in the east coast and now live in Alberta). If you are in Alberta Saskatchewan or Manitoba you might be in luck. Just thought I would let you know.

  6. This recipe rocks! Made these pretty much as written. The whole family loved them – quite the achievement. The crab was snow crab from the Pacific northwest. I mixed everything but the crab together first to check and adjust the flavor. the only thing I changed was adding crushed Ritz crackers to the panko, and “double dipping”: I got them ready to fry, let them sit for 10 minutes while I did other things, then re-dipped into the panko/Ritz mixture just before putting them in the pan. Yum! Fried in a very light olive oil. For a “dip” i used a 1:1 mixture of sour cream and Blue Plate mayo, with horseradish and a splash of Tabasco’s Scorpion sauce (hotter and more floral than regular Tabasco). Thank you!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m so thrilled it worked for you, thank you for taking the time to comment!

  7. Hi. Where can I get hold of snow crab? I’m living in Bridgewater right now, but willing to drive to Halifax if needed. I was also wondering if you knew where I could get some Nova Scotian shrimp.
    Thank you.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would call Hooked in Halifax and also Clearwater. I have actually never seen Nova Scotia shrimp. I know we have wild coldwater shrimp but I think maybe it’s mostly exported?

  8. Leslie Brook Barnes says:

    My daughter loves crab legs and made 8lbs of snow crab for Christmas Eve. I shelled all the leftovers and am making crab cakes tonight. I expect them to be excellent. Will update after we eat.

  9. Debbie Long says:

    I have lived in Nova Scotia my whole life. I travel but my home province is the best. I see from travelling we are the friendliness bunch going.

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