This versatile recipe for jackfruit crab cakes makes for an irresistible appetizer, lunch or dinner. However you serve them, you’ll be amazed at how easy crabless cakes are to make and how much flavor they offer.
Jackfruit has a mild flavor and stringy consistency that easily replicates a fishy or seafood-like meal. When mixed with other tasty vegan ingredients, it results in a soft-yet-firm crab cake that’s filling and ultra satisfying.
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Are Crab Cakes Vegan?
Since crab is an animal, crab cakes are not typically a vegan food. Traditionally, other non-vegan ingredients like egg or mayonnaise hold the crab cake together too.
Luckily, vegans can use ingredients like jackfruit to replace crab meat in this classic recipe. It’s also quite easy to find vegan mayonnaise at grocery stores, so that substitution is simple.
There are other tasty ways to make crabless cakes, but I love the texture and mild flavor of jackfruit. It’s easy to flavor the recipe with a mild base ingredient and the texture of jackfruit is a great replacement for crab.
Ingredients to Make Jackfruit Crab Cakes
This recipe is full of tasty ingredients that work together creating a flavorful crabless cake with jackfruit!
- Canned jackfruit in brine: The main ingredient, providing much of the bulk, is canned jackfruit. It’s essential to use jackfruit canned in brine, not syrup. You’ll also use some brine for added salty flavor.
- Celery: A common ingredient in crab cakes, celery adds a mild flavor and slightly crunchy texture.
- Onion: For lots of flavor, onion is essential in tasty crabless cakes.
- Chickpea flour: Chickpea flour helps hold everything together. It creates a tasty patty that you can pick up and eat it with your hands.
- Parsley: Fresh herbs are always a great way to boost flavor. I’ve selected parsley, but dill is also a great “seafood” recipe choice.
- Vegan mayo: For some fat content and a tangy profile, vegan mayo really helps elevate this recipe. Fat adds flavor and increases the satisfaction factor of any meal.
- Dijon mustard: A slight spicy kick adds a great layer of flavor to the recipe.
- Apple cider vinegar: Some tangy vinegar goes a long way to balance flavors in this recipe.
- Old Bay seasoning: This spice blend is the easiest way to make vegan food taste more like seafood. Other types of seasoning salt work, but there’s something special about the Old Bay blend that works wonders in vegan seafood alternatives.
- Garlic powder: I can’t cook without garlic, even if it’s in powder form!
- Salt and pepper: Seafood is usually salty, so it’s important to replicate that in a vegan recipe. Pepper also helps boost flavor in any recipe.
- Panko breadcrumbs: While any breadcrumb will do, I like the texture and larger pieces that panko breadcrumbs offer. They crisp beautifully when baked.
- Oil spray: To turn the cakes a beautiful golden-brown color while adding flavor, I spray both sides of the crab cakes with some oil. You could also lightly brush oil onto either side if you don’t have a spray.
How to Make Vegan Crabless Cakes with Jackfruit
With a few simple steps, you’ll easily enjoy this tasty vegan appetizer! Just read through these detailed directions so your jackfruit cakes come out beautifully.
Step 1: Prepare Jackfruit and Other Vegetables
To prep the jackfruit, remove 2 tablespoons of brine from your can and add to a large mixing bowl. Drain the rest of the liquid away.
Canned jackfruit comes in triangle-shaped pieces with a stringy, fleshy part at the top and harder core at the bottom. Cut the fleshy part from the core. Lightly separate the stringy flesh with your hands and add to the mixing bowl.
I can’t stand wasting core pieces of jackfruit, so I use them! Simply chop them into small pieces and toss into the mixing bowl. If there are any large seeds, you can chop those with the core pieces too.
You’ll also need to finely chop some celery, onion and parsley. Add all these to the mixing bowl along with the jackfruit.
Step 2: Mix Crabless Cakes
Measure the remaining ingredients, except for the breadcrumbs and oil spray, and add them to your mixing bowl. You’ll need chickpea flour, vegan mayo, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Mix everything until well combined, then let this sit for 10 minutes before shaping the crab cakes. It’s helpful to let the mixture sit since the chickpea flour absorbs some liquid. This makes forming the crabless cakes much easier and the mixture will hold together better.
Step 3: Shape Jackfruit Cakes and Coat in Breadcrumbs
Once the mixture has set, form the patties. You’ll need a baking tray covered with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
You’ll also need to measure the panko breadcrumbs onto a plate or shallow, flat-bottomed bowl.
I use a ½ cup measuring cup to scoop out the jackfruit mixture. Form this amount into a round, flat patty, about ¾ inch (2 centimeters) thick. Gently place the patty into the breadcrumb mixture, scoop breadcrumbs onto the top and lightly pat them down.
Once the patty is covered in a light layer of panko, carefully place onto your lined baking tray.
Repeat until all the jackfruit mixture is formed into patties; this recipe makes 6 cakes if you make them about ½ cup in size.
Step 4: Bake and Serve
Preheat your oven to 375 °F. Before baking, spray some oil onto both sides of the jackfruit crabless cakes. If you don’t have oil in a spray bottle, lightly brush some onto either side.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, flipping halfway through to help both sides brown evenly.
Once out of the oven, let the cakes rest for 5-10 minutes; they’ll become firmer as they sit.
At this point, you’re ready to serve. I like to whip up a quick crab cake sauce, but you can serve however you like!
Vegan Variations of Jackfruit Crabless Cakes
There are a few tasty variations you can try with this recipe! In place of jackfruit, you could use canned hearts of palm or artichoke hearts. Both offer unique flavors and textures but create a delicious vegan crabless cake!
You can also use a different flour in this recipe; I’ve tested whole wheat flour and coconut flour. Whole wheat flour offers a slightly nutty flavor and creates a fairly firm patty, although it creates a softer vegan crab cake than chickpea flour does.
Coconut flour provides a delicious flavor but doesn’t create a very firm crabless cake. I love the flavor it provides but the resulting jackfruit cake needs to be eaten with a fork. This softer texture isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different!
There’s also lots of tasty options for serving this recipe, besides just pairing it with crab cake sauce. Why not try:
- Creating a lettuce wrap with a cut patty and sour cream sauce
- Serving patties like a burger on a bun
- Serving on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce, like “eggs” benedict
- Crumble into a salad, along with chickpea croutons
- Alongside some coleslaw; a slaw with lots of lemon flavor would be amazing!
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Palm Cakes
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to a week.
To reheat the crabless cakes, you could use a microwave, but the breadcrumb coating wouldn’t stay crisp. Instead, I recommend reheating in your oven at 350 °F until warmed through (5-8 minutes).
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Jackfruit Crab Cakes
- 2 ¼ cups jackfruit (in brine, 19 oz can)
- 2 tablespoons jackfruit brine liquid (from can)
- ⅓ cup celery , finely diced
- ⅓ cup onion , finely diced
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ¼ cup parsley , finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Old bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (gluten free if needed)
- Oil spray
Prepare Jackfruit and other Vegetables
- Open your can of jackfruit and measure some liquid into a large mixing bowl.2 tablespoons jackfruit brine liquid
- Discard the rest of the liquid then dump the jackfruit onto a cutting board. Cut the stringy part of the jackfruit away from the core pieces.2 ¼ cups jackfruit
- Break up the stringy part of the jackfruit with your hands and add to your mixing bowl.
- Finely chop the jackfruit’s core pieces and add to the large bowl.
- Finely chop celery, onion and parsley. Add to the large mixing bowl.⅓ cup celery, ⅓ cup onion, ¼ cup parsley
Mix Crab Cakes
- To the large bowl, add chickpea flour, vegan mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, Old bay seasoning, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.½ cup chickpea flour, 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon Old bay seasoning, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Mix until well combined.
- Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
Shape Crab Cakes and Coat with Breadcrumbs
- Prepare a baking tray by covering it with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Measure some panko breadcrumbs into a large, flat bottom bowl.½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Once the jackfruit crab cake mixture has rested, use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop the crab cake mixture. Take this mixture out of the measuring cup and shape into a flat disk, about ¾ inch (2 centimeters) thick.
- Set the crab cake into the breadcrumbs and lightly press down. Flip the crab cake over to lightly coat the other side with breadcrumbs.
- Place onto the baking tray then repeat to form all crab cakes and coat them with breadcrumbs.
- Spray the crab cakes with oil (if you don’t have oil spray, lightly brush oil onto each crab cake).Oil spray
- Flip your crab cakes over and spray (or brush) oil onto the other side.
Bake and Serve
- Put the crab cakes into your oven preheated to 375 °F. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until both sides are golden brown.
- You can serve the crabless cakes hot from the oven if you use a fork and knife. If you want to pick them up with your hands, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes so they have time to firm.
- Serve with a creamy dairy-free dip, like this vegan crab cake sauce!crab cake sauce
More Vegan Appetizer Recipes
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.