If you haven't tried hearts palm as a substitute for flaky crab meat, you are missing out! These hearts of palm crab cakes are crispy on the outside and flaky and delicate on the inside with incredible flavor!
Although I love my vegan crab cake recipe made from tofu, hearts of palm crab cakes are my new favorite dish! Hearts of palm crab cakes are easy to make and make a great bite-sized appetizer, or as I served them as an entree with rice, broccolini, and vegan tartar sauce.
Recently, I've seen vegan seafood is all the rage at the grocery store. So, I tried the vegan crab cakes from the freezer section, and unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. They were greasy and tasteless, and I also found the crab cakes soggy.
Since I've used heart of palm for my vegan lobster roll, I decided to try it for a crab cake recipe full of veggies.
- Hearts of Palm: Hearts of palm is a white vegetable from the core of certain kinds of palm trees. They have a neutral, earthy, vegetal flavor, with a mild sweetness similar to white asparagus, water chestnut, or artichoke hearts.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas taste quite like beans, considering they're legumes themselves. Most people compare their flavor to cannellini and pinto beans because they're starchy. However, they also have an earthy taste with nutty undertones.
- Red Onion: Red onions are sweet in flavor and are mild when raw.
- Red Bell Pepper: Red bell peppers are sweet and subtle. They provide a lot of color and great taste.
- Fresh Parsley: Parsley has a bright, herbaceous, and slightly bitter taste that serves as a contrast to emphasize the other flavors in a dish, similar to lemon zest
- Bread Crumbs: I make my own bread crumbs with toasted bread and process it in a food processor.
- Old Bay Seasoning: According to McCormick, Old Bay is a blend of 18 herbs and spices, making it versatile for many recipes. The unique combination of spices includes (but is not limited to): celery seed, paprika, mustard, salt, red pepper, and black pepper.
- Dulse Flakes: Dulse is a seaweed—a large category of edible saltwater plants and algae that includes spices such as Nori and kelp. Dulse has a mildly salty, savory flavor with a subtle ocean taste. In addition, it is loaded with a smoky umami flavor.
- Cashew Mayo: I make my own cashew mayo with a nut-free option.
- Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard has a tangy, sharp, and intense flavor with a bit of spice.
- Lemon Juice: I prefer fresh lemon juice when available. Also, add some lemon zest if you want an extra lemon flavor.
- Artichoke hearts are often used to substitute the hearts of palm in recipes. However, artichokes hold more water and should be dried on paper towels if used as a substitute.
- Substitute white beans for chickpeas.
- White onion, shallots, or green onions replace red onions in recipes.
- Any color bell pepper works well. However, green pepper has a more robust distinct flavor when compared to other colored bell peppers.
- Purchase bread crumbs instead of making your own. Gluten-free bread crumbs are also available.
- Celery salt and paprika are two main ingredients in Old Bay seasoning. If you have these spices in your cupboard, you have a good substitute. When substituting, mix ¼ teaspoon of celery salt with ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Use this for every 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning.
- Kelp granules, or crumbles Nori, are a substitute for dulse flakes.
- Choose any store-bought vegan mayo for your dietary needs.
- Stoneground mustard is a close alternative to Dijon mustard.
How to Make the Crab Mixture
First, using a food processor, pulse the chickpeas and hearts of palm creating a crabmeat-like texture with flakes and chunks of hearts of palm and chickpeas.
The chickpeas act as a binder to hold the crab cakes together, while the hearts of palm provide the flaky texture of the vegan crab cake.
Then, transfer the mixture to a bowl, combine the other ingredients, and stir until combined.
Next, use a burger press to mold the heart of palm crab cakes. If making appetize-sized crab cakes, use the smaller slider size mold.
Or, make entree-sized crab cakes using the larger mold. Then, of course, if you don't have a burger press, you can form the carb cakes with your hands.
I like to air fry hearts of palm crab cakes because it requires less time than the oven. But, the oven is another great option.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees.
- Place the crab cakes into the basket.
- I like to place parchment paper under the basket to reduce clean-up.
- Cook for 16 minutes until deep golden brown and crisp.
- Flip after 8 minutes and cook an additional 8 minutes.
- If you are cooking in batches, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep the cooked crab cakes in a 325-degree oven while cooking the remaining crab cakes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place the crab cakes on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking.
- Serve hearts of palm crab cakes as an appetizer with vegan tartar sauce or mustard dipping sauce.
- Or, make a crab cake sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.
- Try serving as an entree, like I did, with rice, broccoli, and lemon and topped with vegan tartar sauce.
- Another way to enjoy these vegan crab cakes is to place them inside lettuce wraps.
- If you are a brunch-lover, use the crab cake for the base of vegan Benedict with cashew hollandaise.
Hearts of palm have a very mild flavor, similar to white asparagus or artichoke hearts. Their texture is solid, crunchy, but delicate and easy to bite through.
Hearts of palm is a highly nutritious vegetable with plenty of fiber for a few calories. In addition, the hearts of palm is an excellent source of iron, zinc, and magnesium and contains good amounts of B vitamins and potassium.
In the grocery store, fresh hearts of palm are available in jars or cans, sliced or in whole cylinders, packed in water, or marinated in brine. You can incorporate the cores into a salad, pasta, roast, grill them for a side dish or appetizer, or marinate them and serve them raw on a vegetable platter.
- If meal prepping, make the hearts of palm crab mixture, cover, and refrigerate until ready to form patties.
- Or form the patties in advance and cover and refrigerate until ready to cook in the oven or air fryer.
- Hearts of palm crab cakes can be frozen but should be completely thawed before cooking in the oven or air fryer.
- Flash freeze patties on a baking sheet and then transfer them into a freezer-safe container.
- You do not need to use oil when cooking in the oven or air fryer.
- Smaller crab cakes take less cooking time; the cooking instructions are for entree cakes.
Try hearts of palm crab cakes for a unique vegan crab cake! You will love the flavors and texture without any tofu!
Other Great Air Fryer Recipes
If you love hearts of palm crab cakes, give us a 5-star review and comment below. We would love to hear from you!
Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes
- 1 14.4 ounce jar of hearts of palm drained
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Dulse flakes
- ½ cup cashew mayonaise
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Rinse and drain chickpeas.
- Drain hearts of palm.
- Add chickpeas and hearts of palm to a food processor, and pulse until chopped and flaky. Do not over pulse.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
- Add onions, red bell pepper, bread crumbs, parsley, dulse and Od Bay Seasoning.
- In a bowl, add cashew mayo, dijon mustard, and lemon.
- Whisk to combine.
- Pour contents into the hearts of palm mixture. Stir to combine.
- Cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator, and form the patties later, or form crab cakes using a mold or form with hands and cook immediately.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees.
- Place formed patties in the air fryer basket not touching each other.
- If batch cooking, prepare a baking sheet and preheat an oven to 325 to keep crab cakes warm while cooking other batches.
- Cook for 16 minutes, flipping halfway through (8 minutes on each side)
- Smaller cakes require less time.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place crab cakes on the pan, not touching each other.
- Cook for 30 minutes (15 minutes each side), making sure to flip them halfway through cooking.
- Smaller cakes take less time.
- Hearts of palm is found in the canned/jarred vegetable section of the grocery store. It is generally jarred or canned in water or brine.
- If you don't have a food processor, use a fork to mash chickpeas and chop hearts of palm roughly.
- For a nut-free option, choose the silken tofu or white bean option in the cashew mayo recipe.
- Prepare hearts of crab mixture or form patties up to 1 day in advance of baking or air frying.
- If servings as an appetizer and making smaller crab cakes, reduce the cooking time in half.
- Hearts of palm crab cakes are done when brown and crips on eh outside.
- Consider servings with vegan tartar sauce or mustard dipping sauce.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂