Magnolia’s Charleston Crabcakes

As this is the 4th crab cake recipe I have posted to The Right Recipe, I should offer a quick run-down.  If you need to make crab cakes for a crowd, try the Oven Baked Crab Cakes with Two Dipping Sauces.  For an Asian twist, you can’t beat Spicy Asian Crab Cakes.  For an elegant and impressive sandwich, turn to Daniel Bouloud’s Crab Cake Sandwich.

Now to the crab cakes at hand.  These are from Magnolia’s, a fixture on East Bay Street in Charleston, SC.  The recipe was published in Magnolia’s Authentic Southern Cuisine by Donald Barickman. They have a lovely balance of flavors and are simply chock-full of crab…the way all crab cakes should be.  I especially love the preparation technique (see photo below) because you can put them together hours in advance and you’ll  have slice-and-bake crab cakes at a moments notice.

Magnolia’s Charleston Crabcakes

Serves 4
By author Margaret @ The Right Recipe


  • 1/2 cup minced red onions
  • 1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 cup mayonaise
  • 1lb lump or jumbo lump crabmeat (picked over for shells and drained of any liquid)
  • 3/4 cups panko (You can cut this back to 1/2 cup, as I do, if you are willing to be very gentle turning the cakes as they will be fragile…I think that it is worth it.)
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


1. Place onions, bell pepper, tarragon and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl and combine. Gently fold in the crabmeat. Add the panko and season with salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. The panko will absorb some of the moisture and the mixture will stay together.
2. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean counter surface. Place half of the crab mixture on it and use a spatula or a spoon to form it into a tube about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Bring the wrap up over the crab and roll the crab mixture up. Twist the ends to close. Pierce any air pockets with a toothpick or skewer. Twist the ends even tighter to compress the crab mixture. Tuck under the ends of the wrap and place the tube on a plate. Repeat with the second half of the crab cake mixture. Place the tubes in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
When ready to cook:
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tubes of crabmeat into 1 1/4-inch-thick cakes. Gently remove the plastic wrap, leaving the cakes in nice cylinders.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (non-stick works well here) over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Gently place 4 of the crab cakes in the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Gently turn the cakes over and sear the other side until golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet and into the oven to keep warm. Wipe the pan, add the remaining olive oil and repeat this process for the other 4 crab cakes. (If you have a big enough pan, you can cook 6 or 8 of them at the same time and skip the warming oven, but the cakes need room to sear properly and be turned so be careful not to crowd the pan)

crabcake rolls




  • John Shillinglaw
    September 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Great recipe and even better restaurant. However I must echo the above comment. Please correct your article. Magnolia’s is on East Bay Street. There is no Bay, West Bay or Old Bay Streets. East Bay Street comes from the original colonists using the term “East of the Bay”

    • Margaret
      September 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Yes, thank you…I will.

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  • Spes
    December 5, 2013 at 4:00 am

    Magnolias is great save for the fact that it’s on East Bay Street. Not to be confused with the seasoning Old Bay which, coincidentally, is a staple in many area crab cakes.

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  • huntfortheverybest
    September 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    oh wow, it sounds amazing!

  • cookazido
    September 19, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I love the way you make it into a roll and slice it. I want to try this soon! You have such yummy recipes on your blog.

  • cookinginsens
    September 14, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Oh my God! They look so crabby! Spectacular!