Chain Restaurant Crab Cakes Ranked From Worst To Best

Crab cakes have been around for a while. Some experts believe that an early version of this shellfish creation was first made by Native Americans in the area of Chesapeake Bay, which is renowned for its seafood. Whatever their origins, today, crab cakes are a beloved snack that's commonly enjoyed both as a satisfying appetizer or main course.

Often made with lump crab — a combination of large and small crab pieces — crab cakes are held together by a binder, such as mayonnaise or eggs. They are also commonly flavored with a variety of ingredients like different herbs and spices, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Once mixed, the ingredients are formed into patties and covered with bread crumbs. The patties are then either pan-fried or baked until crispy and golden-brown on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside.

If the thought of making crab cakes from scratch doesn't entice you, or if you aren't in the mood for store-bought frozen options, there are countless restaurants out there that feature the shellfish snack on their menus. Not sure where to start your culinary journey? Check out our list of chain restaurant crab cakes ranked from worst to best!

Rockfish Seafood Grill: Maryland Crab Cakes

At just $14.95 for three crab cakes, Rockfish Seafood Grill's crab cakes may seem like a steal. Listed on the menu as Maryland Crab Cakes, the dish comes with lump crab patties (Maryland-style crab cakes are made with blue crab) covered in panko crumbs and fried. The dish is served with homemade remoulade. Patrons looking for a crab cake combo can also opt for the chain's surf and turf, which consists of a crab cake, an eight-ounce aged tenderloin, loaded red potatoes, and sautéed broccoli.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Rockfish Seafood Grill's Maryland Crab Cakes, the old saying, "You get what you pay for," rings true. While it may look like a good deal on paper, the crab cakes haven't passed the taste test with many seafood enthusiasts. One patron says the dish leaves plenty to be desired in the quality department, commenting, "Crab cakes seemed like they came out of a can and [were] put in the microwave." Perhaps the most damning review, however, comes from a GrubHub customer who comments: "The crab cake tasted swampy (fishy). [Like] it was going bad."

Bonefish Grill: Maryland-Style Crab Cakes

Bonefish Grill's Maryland-Style Crab Cakes come at the wallet-friendly price of $15.90. Consisting of two crab cakes, the dish is made with lump crab meat and served with a red remoulade sauce. For an additional $11, patrons can opt for the chain's Steak & Crab Cake, a dish with the abovementioned Maryland-style crab cake and a seven-ounce cut sirloin.

Fans of Bonefish Grill's crab cakes compliment them for their sizable crab chunks and minimal bread filling. Nevertheless, not everybody is impressed with the menu item. The main complaint is that the binder just doesn't hold the cakes together. Perhaps Mr.ChimeTime, who reviewed the dish for his YouTube channel, sums it up best, saying, "It is soft, it's filled with lump crab, it's very tasty, however, when it comes to the crab cakes staying together and being binded, nah, literally when I picked it up it just started crumbling. [...] I wasn't able to enjoy this [dish] because it all just kind of just all fell apart, and true Maryland-style crab cakes wouldn't fall apart."

Legal Sea Foods: Legal's Signature Crab Cake

Legal Sea Foods' Legal's Signature Crab Cake comes with lump crab meat, mustard sauce, greens, dried cranberry, apples, and apple Dijon vinaigrette. It can also be enjoyed as a crab cake slider with roasted red pepper sauce or as a part of the chain's surf and turf with a filet mignon. The executive chef of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant group, Rich Vellante, shared the recipe for the savory treat with The Providence Journal with the exception of the mustard sauce, which he said is proprietary to the company. Some of the many ingredients used to make Legal's crab cakes include blue crab, crackers, scallions, red peppers, celery, parsley, garlic, dry white wine, Old Bay Seasoning, eggs, and fresh lemon juice.

Legal's Signature Crab Cake has provoked both praise and criticism from patrons. One happy customer praises the dish, saying, "The crab cakes were very crabby and filled with crab meat, yummy!" Another reviewer agrees, commenting, "The crab cake is the best I've had anywhere. Often crab cakes have too much filler or too much breading. This was simply broiled crab meat held together somehow." On the downside, one patron says that the crab cake combo wasn't worth the price, adding that it tasted "super fishy."

Ocean Prime: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

Ocean Prime's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake has been refined over the years. However, the verdict on whether these changes have improved or detracted from the dish remains unclear, as it has garnered a mixed reception from patrons. In addition, at $33 a pop, the shellfish cake is positioned at the higher end of the price spectrum. According to Fox59, which offers a recipe for the dish, Ocean Prime's version of the appetizer is made with a huge range of ingredients, including slightly unusual additions such as lemon juice and Tabasco. The dish is served with sweet and sour slaw and horseradish mustard aioli.

Opinions about Ocean Prime's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake are divided. On the positive end of the spectrum, Jonathan Tolliver from The Knockturnal has called the dish "a revelation," elaborating, "[It was a] textural triumph that 'primed' me for a night of refined excellence. The horseradish mustard and aioli were devastatingly tasty, with a late-breaking kick that took the crab cake from delicious to unreal good." However, not everybody has been as excited about the menu item, with one reviewer saying, "Crab cake was not 'lump crab.' It was ground up crab similar to what you might find at Ralph's supermarket. Also had a fishy odor. Very disappointing."

The Oceanaire Seafood Room: Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cake

Bordered by Maryland and Virginia, Chesapeake Bay is well-known for its blue crabs. This is precisely the shellfish The Oceanaire Seafood Room uses in its Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cake. In addition, the dish is served with a cocktail sauce and mustard mayonnaise. CBS News has shared a recipe for the dish, revealing that it's baked rather than pan-fried. Some of the many ingredients cited by the publication include jumbo lump crab meat, diced fresh bread, diced yellow onion, chopped parsley, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay Seasoning.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room's Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cake has generated a polarized response from the chain's patrons. One disappointed reviewer says that the "crab cakes can be skipped," adding, "The crab cake was a decent size but most of that was taken up by filler. It was bland and tasted more of breadcrumbs than of crabmeat." Conversely, another seafood enthusiast praises the menu item, saying, "Very tasty dish, soft, fluffy crab cakes were full of meat and the mayonnaise was a nice finish. Lemon wedge, check. Everything here to make a great crab cake dish."

Phillips Seafood: Hoopers Island Crab Cakes

Judging by their name, Phillips Seafood's Hoopers Island Crab Cakes are made with crabs sourced from that specific region in Maryland. The four-ounce shellfish cakes are made following an old family recipe and are accompanied by a side of vegetables and potatoes. Remarkably, the chain has been making its crab cakes in-house on a daily basis since way back in 1956. While we can't be sure of the exact recipe Phillips Seafood uses to make this tasty treat, we do know that it incorporates jumbo lump crab meat, mayonnaise, lemon, cracker crumbs, and seasoning.

Phillips Seafood's Hoopers Island Crab Cakes have received positive feedback from seafood aficionados. One patron, who clearly enjoyed the dish, comments, "Love those Phillips crab cakes — they remain the best in Baltimore." Another customer echoes this sentiment, saying that the crab cakes are the best he's tasted in Maryland. Yet another reviewer says, "The food was excellent, especially everything with crab including crab cakes (and I'm not a big crab cake person)."

Ruth's Chris Steak House: Sizzling Crab Cakes

Ruth's Chris Steak House's two jumbo lump crab cakes come with in-house made lemon butter. Made with highly-coveted blue crab meat that's known for its sweet and buttery flavor, the appetizer arrives at the table sizzling hot. For those wishing to replicate the dish at home, Ruth's Chris Steak House isn't secretive about its recipe, which the chain proudly shares on its website. More specifically, the recipe calls for fresh or canned jumbo lump crab meat and crushed crackers for the crab meat mixture. Meanwhile, the crab sauce is made with eggs, mayonnaise, blackening seasoning, Creole or Dijon mustard, chopped parsley, and salt.

Ruth's Chris Steak House's Sizzling Crab Cakes have received mostly positive feedback from patrons, with one satisfied customer saying: "They were the best crab cakes we have had in [a while]. Very little bread, and lots of crab meat." On the flip side, one reviewer wasn't as happy with their meal: "I wasn't in the mood for steak, so I ordered the crab cakes. I've never ordered anything but steak at your restaurant before, and I will never order anything but steak again. The crab cakes were small and didn't have much taste at all."

The Capital Grille: Lobster and Crab Cake With Lemon Basil Aioli

Unlike most other crab cakes that are only made with crab meat, Capital Grille's take on the dish also includes lobster meat. More specifically, the crab cakes are made with fresh Maine lobster and come beautifully presented on a bed of lemon and basil aioli. Pan-fried until crispy, the crab cakes offer a delectable contrast between their crunchy outside and delicate and flaky interior. Aside from chunks of crab and lobster, the appetizer also includes parsley, mustard, garlic, onion, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, and Old Bay Seasoning, as well as a binding made with eggs, mayonnaise, and panko bread crumbs.

While purists may not appreciate the addition of lobster in their crab cakes, most Capital Grille patrons rave about its Lobster and Crab Cake With Lemon Basil Aioli, noting its freshness and melt-in-the-mouth quality. "They had a nice bite, [were] served hot, and were a great starter," one reviewer says. Meanwhile, another diner lauds the appetizer as "superbly fresh and very well cooked."

Truluck's: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

When it comes to Truluck's crab cakes, the succulent chunks of crab meat are the star of the show. Simple yet delicious, Truluck's' Jumbo Lump Crab Cake comes alongside dilled tartar sauce. The chain has been serving sustainably caught Florida stone crab for the past three generations. During stone crab season, the chain's crabbers head out daily into the waters around the Florida Keys. They capture their catch using wooden traps. Once on board, the crabbers remove one of each crab's claws and set it free to regenerate in their natural habitat. In order to qualify for the harvest, the claws must be at least two and three-quarter inches in length.

Most crab cake enthusiasts speak highly of Truluck's' Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, citing its impressive crab-to-breadcrumb ratio. One satisfied reviewer says, "Flaky and sweet [and with] minimal breading on the outside. If you like your crab cakes with more breading and crisp, this is not the one for you. I didn't mind the lack of breading as the crab content was phenomenal." Another patron shares this sentiment, elaborating, "The crab cake was very light on the stuffing and very heavy on fresh crab meat...perfect!"

Eddie V's Prime Seafood: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake

Eddie V's Prime Seafood's' Jumbo Lump Crab Cake is sautéed Maryland-style and served over a spicy chive remoulade. Many moons ago, the chain's executive chef, Brian Feirstein, revealed the recipe for the dish to Phoenix New Times, saying that as well as lump crab, it contains eggs, mayonnaise, scallions, Creole mustard, Old Bay seasoning, and crushed crackers. Once ready, the crab cake patties are first sautéed and then baked. While we can't be sure that the restaurant's crab cake recipe hasn't been tweaked over time, we do know that the savory treat remains as delicious as ever.

The chain's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake has been praised by reviewers who appreciate that the dish contains a significant amount of crab meat and few unnecessary ingredients. One satisfied patron says that while a bit pricey, the crab cake was "all crab with no fillers — just lump crab meat — one of the best I ever tasted." Another crab enthusiast elaborates: "It was all held together loosely with a binder which was perfect. Sometimes this type of cake can become a mealy patty which this certainly was not so the crab flavor really came through."