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  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 30 + 2 hours chilling time
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes + 2 hours chilling time
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


These Tavern On The Green Crab Cakes are exactly what you remember from the iconic NYC restaurant.  Full of crab meat and short on binders, these delicious crab patties are easier than you think and even more impressive than you remember.



For the crab cakes:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced green onion, white part only
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely minced, well-drained pimiento
  • 1 ¼ cups, plus 3 tablespoons fine, dry, plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 pound lump or backfin crabmeat, gently squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Avocado tartar sauce, for serving

For the Avocado Tartar Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 4 small cornichons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I used Helmann’s)
  • 1 large garlic clove, very finely minced
  • 1 small, ripe Hass avocado, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper


In a saute pan over low heat, melt the butter. 

Add the celery and onion.  Stir and sweat the vegetables until tender – about 10 minutes.  Don’t let the vegetables brown.  If they begin to brown, add a tablespoon of water to the pan.

Pour in the cream and increase the heat to medium.

Simmer, stirring often for 5 minutes or until the cream is reduced and very thick.  

Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cream mixture, mustard, pimento, 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs, lemon zest, salt, white pepper, and egg.

Add the crab meat and toss gently to evenly mix.  Don’t break up the chunks of crab.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts.

In a shallow dish, add the remaining 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs.  Spread into an even layer.

With your hands, make 2 equal patties from each quarter of the crab mixture.

The crab mixture will be moist and loose.

Place the crab patty into the breadcrumbs and scoop the bread crumbs around and on top of the crab patty.

Use a spatula to gently turn the patty over and pat breadcrumbs over the other side.

Carefully lift the breaded crab patty to a small baking sheet that has been lined with foil or parchment paper.

Repeat with the remaining crab mixture.  You should have 8 small patties.

Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour and preferably 2 hours.

Meanwhile make the tartar sauce.

In a food processor, combine the capers, cornichons, parsley, chives, and thyme.

Pulse to chop, but not puree the ingredients.

Add the mayonnaise and garlic and pulse until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into a small mixing bowl.

Fold in the avocado, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour before serving.

To cook the crab cakes:

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter and vegetable oil together.

Gently slide the crab cakes into the pan.

Cook for 10 minutes until the crab cake is golden on the bottom and feels a little more firm.

Carefully use a spatula to turn the crab cake and brown the other side for 8-10 minutes until golden.

Remove the crab cakes and place 2 on each dinner plate.

Top with 1 teaspoon of tartar sauce on each crab cake and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Serve hot.

  • Category: Main Dish - Seafood
  • Method: Pan fry
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Tavern On The Green Crab Cakes, crab cakes, copycat recipes, seafood, crab, dinner party, New York food