Crab cakes from the grocery store can be a quick and easy meal, but heating them up properly is important to maintain their delicious flavor and texture. There are a few different methods you can use to reheat store-bought crab cakes at home. The best reheating technique will depend on factors like how crispy you want the exterior, how quickly you need them ready, and if you want to reheat them in the oven or microwave.
Can you reheat crab cakes?
Yes, you can absolutely reheat previously cooked crab cakes purchased from the grocery store. Reheating crab cakes allows you to enjoy their signature taste and flaky texture without having to bread and fry them from scratch. However, there are some things to keep in mind when reheating crab cakes to ensure they come out with a crispy golden exterior while maintaining a moist, delicate interior.
Challenges of reheating crab cakes
The main challenges when reheating crab cakes are:
- Getting the exterior crispy again – Crab cakes can lose their crispy breaded exterior when refrigerated.
- Preventing dryness – The delicate crab meat can become dry and crumbly if overcooked.
- Maintaining texture – Reheating can make the binders break down, causing crab cakes to fall apart.
Using the right technique will help overcome these potential issues.
What is the best way to reheat crab cakes?
The best way to reheat crab cakes is in the oven. Oven heating allows you to crisp up the exterior while gently warming the interior without overcooking the crabmeat. Here are some helpful oven reheating tips for crab cakes:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Place crab cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
- Brush both sides lightly with butter or oil to prevent drying out.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Check for doneness and continue baking 1-2 minutes more if needed.
Baking is ideal for larger batches of crab cakes. For individual servings, you may prefer to reheat in the skillet.
How to reheat crab cakes in a skillet
Reheating crab cakes in a skillet on the stovetop is a quick and easy weeknight dinner option. Here’s how to do it:
- Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp butter or oil.
- When hot, add crab cakes and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown again.
- Reduce heat if crab cakes are browning too quickly.
- Cook until heated through, about 4-6 minutes total.
- Optional – Add squeezed lemon juice before serving.
The direct heat of the skillet gives the exterior a nice crisp texture. Be careful not to overcook the delicate interior.
How to reheat crab cakes in the microwave
The microwave can also be used to quickly reheat crab cakes at home. Here are some tips for reheating crab cakes in the microwave:
- Place crab cakes on a microwave-safe plate lined with a paper towel.
- Microwave in 30 second intervals until heated through, about 1-2 minutes total.
- Let rest 1 minute before eating.
- The paper towel absorbs excess moisture for a crisper exterior.
- Brush with butter or oil before serving if needed.
The microwave can cause crab cakes to dry out, so use care not to overcook them. Microwaving is best for reheating a single serving.
Tips for reheating crab cakes
Follow these tips for the best results when reheating crab cakes:
- Use a lower heat and reheat slowly to prevent dryness.
- Check for doneness early to avoid overcooking.
- Add a dash of water or lemon juice to help restore moisture if needed.
- Brush with oil or butter before and after heating to maximize crispiness.
- Allow to rest 1-2 minutes after reheating so the heat distributes evenly.
Can you reheat crab cakes in an air fryer?
Yes, an air fryer can be used to reheat crab cakes. The hot circulated air will help recreate the crisp exterior of a freshly fried crab cake. To reheat crab cakes in an air fryer:
- Preheat air fryer to 350°F.
- Place crab cakes in air fryer basket in a single layer, avoiding overlap.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes, flip halfway through.
- Check frequently to avoid overcooking.
- Brush with oil or butter when done if needed.
The air fryer’s compact space and intense heat make it important not to overcook the crab cakes. But it can deliver delicious results in less time than the oven.
Can you reheat frozen crab cakes?
Frozen pre-cooked crab cakes can also be reheated with good results. To reheat frozen crab cakes:
- Thaw crab cakes overnight in the fridge or for 1-2 hours at room temperature.
- Choose oven, skillet, or air fryer reheating method.
- Add a minute or two to the reheating time.
- Check frequently for doneness.
Make sure crab cakes are fully thawed before reheating to ensure even heating. The reheating time may need to be slightly extended since the crab cakes will be cold in the center when starting.
What is the best reheating method for a crispy exterior?
If your priority is getting a crispy, crunchy exterior on reheated crab cakes, the best options are:
- Air fryer – The hot air circulating around the crab cakes will recrisp the exterior breading nicely.
- Oven – The dry, ambient heat of the oven will crisp up the outside of crab cakes.
- Skillet – Quick stovetop heating and a small amount of oil will also crisp up the breaded coating.
Avoid the microwave if you want a crispy exterior, as it will lead to a soft, spongy texture.
What is the best reheating method to prevent dry crab cakes?
To prevent reheated crab cakes from becoming dry and crumbly on the inside, it’s best to use gentler reheating methods like:
- Oven – The indirect ambient heat of the oven will lightly rewarm the crab cakes without drying them out.
- Skillet – Quick stovetop heating minimizes time for the delicate crab to overcook.
- Microwave – Use care not to overcook and stir in a bit of lemon juice to restore moisture if needed.
Avoid intense direct heat from the air fryer or broiler. Monitor crab cakes closely during reheating and pull them as soon as they are heated through.
Troubleshooting reheated crab cakes
If your reheated crab cakes turn out poorly, here are some common issues and fixes:
- Dry or crumbly – Brush with oil or butter and add lemon juice before reheating. Don’t overcook.
- Soft exterior – Use broiler, skillet, or air fryer to recrisp the coating.
- Falls apart – Be gentle when flipping. Allow to rest before serving.
- Unevenly heated – Microwave in short intervals to gradually heat. Check temperature in thickest part.
- Rubbery texture – Avoid overcooking. Reheat just until warmed through.
Storing and freezing leftover crab cakes
To maximize the shelf life of cooked crab cakes:
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Let cool completely before refrigerating to prevent condensation.
- Wrap tightly for freezing and use within 2-3 months.
- Freeze unbreaded crab cakes longer than breaded.
- Reheat frozen crab cakes directly from frozen state.
Proper storage keeps leftover crab cakes fresh and prevents the need to discard uneaten crab cakes.
Serving suggestions for reheated crab cakes
To complement reheated crab cakes, consider serving:
- Lemon wedges
- Remoulade sauce
- Tartar sauce
- Cocktail sauce
- Melted butter
- Fresh parsley, dill, or chives
- Coleslaw or potato salad
- Sauteed vegetables like green beans or asparagus
- Rice or pasta salad
The rich flavors of crab cakes pair well with bright, acidic ingredients. Starch side dishes complement the protein nicely.
Ingredients to have on hand for crab cakes
Having these ingredients readily available allows you to quickly prepare fresh crab cakes or dress up store-bought ones:
- Dijon mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Old Bay or Cajun seasoning
- Breadcrumbs or crushed crackers
- Chopped onion
- Chopped celery
- Chopped bell pepper
- Chopped parsley
- Lemon juice
- Crab meat or canned lump crab
- Oil for pan-frying
Having crab cake binders, seasonings, vegetables, and crab on hand makes whipping up fresh crab cakes easy.
Are homemade crab cakes better than store-bought?
Homemade crab cakes made from scratch are usually considered superior in quality to store-bought pre-made crab cakes. Here are some benefits of homemade crab cakes:
- You control the ingredients like the type of crab meat.
- Can adjust seasonings to your taste preferences.
- Less preservatives than store-bought.
- Flavorful fresh breadcrumbs vs dried.
- More natural texture without fillers.
- You can include veggies you like.
- Fun, rewarding cooking experience.
However, quality pre-made crab cakes can still be an enjoyable option for their convenience. Follow good reheating methods for optimal flavor and texture.
Crab cake recipe
This basic recipe will yield 4 large delicious crab cakes:
- 1 lb jumbo lump crab meat, picked over
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Lemon wedges for serving
- In a bowl, gently combine the crab meat, egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, breadcrumbs and parsley, being careful not to break up the crab too much.
- Form into four equal cakes, about 1 1/2 inches thick.
- Coat the tops and bottoms lightly with flour.
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Cook the crab cakes 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
For best flavor, use fresh jumbo lump crab rather than canned. Handle the crab gently to keep large pieces intact. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat gently.
Reheating crab cakes brings out their delicious taste without the work of making them from scratch. Whether baked in the oven, pan-fried in a skillet, or crisped up in an air fryer, properly reheated crab cakes are a treat. Maintain their moisture and bind while recrisping the exterior coating. Served with fun condiments and sides, reheated crab cakes make for a quick and easy meal that feels like eating out. With proper storage and reheating, you can enjoy store-bought crab cakes guilt-free.