Smoked Salmon and Dungeness Crab Cakes Recipe

4.60 from 5 votes
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Smoked Salmon and Dungeness Crab Cakes are what happens when the dynamic duo of Dungeness crab and smoked salmon join forces with a killer wine pairing. This Salmon Cakes recipe is perfect for when you want to stretch your dollar with traditional crab cakes. The combo is absolutely delicious!

Smoked Salmon and Dungeness Crab Cakes on a serving platter
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Recipe Highlights

  • Mixing salmon with crab meat makes these cakes more affordable than Dungeness crab alone (which can be very expensive).
  • Great use for leftover smoked salmon which elevates the flavor.
  • Lessen the use of mayo by adding Dijon mustard as the binding agent.
  • See us feature this recipe on our ABC morning show AM Northwest.

Ingredients + Substitutions

  • Salmon – We start with cooked smoked salmon. You can also buy pre-smoked salmon at most grocery stores. Steelhead and trout also work well too. We do not recommend using lox style salmon for this recipe.
  • Dungeness Crab – We recommend this specific crab meat for the sweeter and richer flavor. You can use any fresh crab meat. It’s usually pre-cooked as well.
  • Filling – You can use almost any combination of filling but we love red bell pepper, finely diced, and green onion. It adds a fresh flavor without taking away from the main star of the salmon and crab.
  • Binder – The binder helps hold the crab cakes structure. Start with good mayonnaise (we love Duke’s), Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and panko breadcrumbs.
  • Seasoning – For making salmon and crab cakes we use a mix of kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and smoked paprika.
  • Frying Oil – When frying the cakes we use olive oil or avocado oil for the higher smoke point.

Because we want the flavor of the salmon and crab to shine, we keep the flavors simple with some green onions, red bell pepper, and panko bread crumbs for texture and crunch.

To brighten the flavor we use lemon juice for freshness, and a pinch of smoked paprika for color and flavor. Though I wouldn’t object to you adding some dry red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce for a little kick.

Smoked Salmon

This recipe was inspired by an old Food.com article in which their version of a salmon and crab cake was crab cakes served over a salmon filet. We thought, why not actually shred some salmon into the crab which makes the meat last and adds a little more flavor. And to add even more flavor we decided to smoke the salmon.

Salmon Cooked on the Smoker

We flavor the salmon simply, with some Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and smoked it for 60 minutes. We then shredded the meat, combined the salmon with the crab and remaining ingredients, and then form into salmon cakes.

For the full details on how to smoke salmon you can review our smoked salmon recipe.

Preparation

  • Start by straining the crab meat. It’s typically packed in liquid (water). If you don’t strain the water your cakes will be over wet and won’t form.
  • Shred the salmon into smaller pieces and be sure any pin bones are removed.
  • Combine the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix with your hands.
  • Salmon is rich and moist with a natural oily texture. Because of this you don’t need to go overboard with extra binding.
  • We use extra virgin olive oil for frying the cakes. An ice cream scooper is a great tool for making even sized cakes. Just scoop the filling into a ball and flatten on the pan.

Prep Tip

Use an ice cream scooper to make even size crab cakes. Firmly pack it in the scooper, release into your hand and form the patty.

If your salmon and crab cakes are overly wet you can add more panko and reform, or you can place the formed patty’s into a refrigerator and let them firm up prior to cooking.

Instructions

  1. Prepare Cast Iron Pan or Grill Plancha – Set your grill for direct grilling targeting 400 degrees in the cooking chamber. Use a plancha or cast iron pan over direct heat for the best results. Place the plancha or cast iron pan on the grill grates over the direct heat and warm up with the grill so it’s pre-heated.
  2. Combine the smoked salmon and crab meat together. Add the red bell pepper, green onion, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Taste and adjust any seasonings to your preference. Since there’s no raw egg in the mix you can taste and adjust the flavors until you’re happy with the mix.
  3. Heat oil: Add the oil into your cast iron pan or plancha. When it just starts to smoke you can add the crab cakes and you’ll hear a sizzle.
  4. Form the salmon/crab mixture into cakes and fry: form the mixture into a 2” diameter cake and flatten slightly. In batches of 3-4 patties, cook on each side for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
Grilled Salmon and Crab cakes on a plancha on a Big Green Egg.

The result. Pure awesomeness.

The freshness of the Dungeness crab and the smokiness of the salmon take center stage, and aren’t overshadowed by too many fillers that can come from a mayo overdose. There’s great moisture in the cakes, but it’s all coming naturally from the meat (not mayo). You still can feel the texture of the meat along with the crunchiness of the bell peppers and onions.

The size of the cakes is perfect as an appetizer, or served over some greens for a light dinner.

What To Serve With Salmon and Crab Cakes

We love to make this as an appetizer for any main dinner recipe. If making these for a main meal keep them the same size and serve more of them per plate. If you make them too large then it takes too long to cook and warm the center.

Wine Pairing

My two favorite pairings for any kind of crab cake is sparkling wine or Chardonnay. There’s nothing better for those delicate flavors and balance of the Dungeness crab and that smoked salmon than bubbles that cut through the richness and textures of the outside of the cakes.

Salmon Cakes with Dungeness Crab with an Aioli Sauce and Wine Pairing

Chardonnay provides an equal richness that can provide an excellent balance to both the flavors of the salmon, with the acidity to cut through the elegant cakes.

More Seafood Recipes


*This recipe was originally published in May of 2016. It was updated in July 2022 with updated details and photos.


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Grilled Salmon and Crab Cakes with dipping sauce on a platter.
4.60 from 5 votes

Smoked Salmon and Crab Cakes Recipe

A smoky twist to a traditional crab cake. Smoked salmon fillet is mixed with Dungeness crab to create incredible flavor and moisture for the ultimate salmon-crab cakes.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 10 Crab Cakes
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Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces fresh Dungeness crabmeat, flaked, (Be sure any excess liquid is drained)
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • ¼ cup green onion, the white and some of the green parts, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs, (Gluten free panko works great if GF)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Fresh ground pepper, to taste (about 2-3 twists)
  • ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika, less than ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, for frying, you want enough to coat the entire pan or plancha with a little depth but not to cover the crab cakes.

Instructions 

  • Combine: Combine the crabmeat and salmon together. Add the red bell pepper, green onion, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Taste and adjust any seasonings to your preference.
  • Heat Oil: Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet (the amount of oil used will be based on how large your pan is. You want to coat the pan with a little excess oil). Alternatively you can cook these on your grill if you have a flat top or plancha.
  • Fry: Using an ice cream scooper (or similar size spoon), to scoop out and form the mixture into a 2” diameter cake and flatten slightly. In batches of 3-4 patties, sauté on each side for approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

For the freshest flavor use fresh lump Dungeness crab meat, and freshly smoked salmon.
The size of the cakes is perfect as an appetizer, or serves over some greens for a light dinner.

Nutrition

Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 317mg | Potassium: 222mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 Crab Cakes
Calories: 87
Keyword: crab cakes, Dungeness Crab Cakes, salmon and crab cakes, salmon cakes
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!


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About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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19 Comments

  1. What a brilliant idea – salmon and crab cakes! Two of my favorite seafoods in one – love it! Our friends introduced us to Oregon wines during a visit to the west coast and I have to say I was very impressed. This one sounds like my kind of Chardonnay, a little oaky yet fresh & clean. Great post!

    1. Hooray for your friends introducing you to one of the greatest wine regions on the planet 🙂
      Oregon wines are incredible!

  2. 5 stars
    These sound absolutely amazing! I am usually not a fan of crab meat, but I adore salmon, and I truly think that these flavorful smoked salmon crab cakes could do just the trick to make me fall in love with crab. =) And this Chardonnay sound divine! I love your blog.

    1. Have you tried fresh Dungeness crab? The flavor is so fresh and slightly sweet. So so so different from other crab meats you usually see. But YES, mixed with the salmon is outstanding!

  3. I loooooove crab cakes so I’m sure these are mouth-watering! Great idea to mix the crab with the smoked salmon and combine flavors.

  4. I’m fairly certain I just drooled all over my keyboard. These look phenomenal!! And I completely agree on the crab cakes comment, I haven’t found one I’ve liked yet but I’m definitely saving your recipe to try. Pinning!

  5. Ooh dungeness crab AND smoked salmon in one seafood cake? Delicious! And I love the pairing with this Knudsen Chardonnay.

  6. That sounds really great. I love crab cakes, but agree they are spendy so this is a fun way to mix them up with salmon. Do you think you could just use pre-smoked salmon instead if you don’t have a smoker?

    1. Absolutely!! In fact I meant to mention that in the post! I’ll go update it. I would recommend to either cook on the stovetop or roast a salmon fillet, then let it cool enough to work with, then follow the instructions in the recipe. You won’t get that smoke flavor, but the texture and salmon flavor will still come through. And the salmon will still have that oiliness that will sub for some of the binding.

      IF you by a “pre-smoked” salmon just be weary of what you are buying. You don’t want “lox” or cured, or cold smoked. You want one that has been cooked (hot smoked). The pre-smoked (not-smoked) ones also come out pretty dry in my opinion. So just be aware of that when you are mixing everything together. You may need more binding. The best way to go would be to cook the salmon fillet yourself (either in the oven or stovetop, or on the grill if you have one).

  7. Oh my this looks amazing. You’re so good at pairing wines with food. I must try this one for sure

  8. I’m ok with crab cakes, though I would never order them off a menu I will eat them when presented – but the idea of mixing crab with smoked salmon, now that I would definitely get! I don’t have an aversion to mayo, but you’re right that often with crab cakes they depend on the may too much to not be dry so I appreciate that you found another solution for that!

  9. These look so delicious! And I always think of them as something too hard for me to make, but your directions make them seem easy 🙂

    1. They are super easy to make. It’s really as easy as mixing a few things together, rolling out a pattie, and lightly frying it! Boom 🙂