Duke’s Chowder House Crab Cakes Recipe

by Nancy Zaffaro
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crab cakes recipe Duke's

This isn’t just any crab cakes recipe; this is a recipe for Duke’s Chowder House’s Dungeness Crab “Un” Cakes. Crab cakes made the way they were meant to be, in my humble opinion. In their cookbook, As Wild As It Gets: Duke’s Secret Sustainable Seafood Recipes, authors Duke Moscrip and Chef “Wild” Bill Ranniger tell us how they came up with the recipe. They already had a good recipe for crab cakes, but they say, it wasn’t quite “great.” In the end, Duke said to Bill, “You know what’s great about crab cakes? Crab! You know what’s terrible? Cake!”

I can relate. In the recipes I’ve tried and in my own experimentation, the bread crumbs seemed to overpower the delicate crab. This recipe includes no bread crumbs in the crab cakes themselves; panko breadcrumbs cover the outside of the cake. Crab cakes are a treat because of the expense (as well as only seasonal availability.) So if you’re going to do it, do it right. Food for thought from Duke, “Don’t go over-complicating something that’s already delicious.”

Here, we share Moscrip and Ranniger’s “un” crab cakes recipe. We’ve also included their recipes for Duke’s Superb Herb Blend, Hold Me Tight Chipotle Aioli, and Zesty Lusty Lime Aioli. These recipes are part of the crab cakes recipe, but can also be used for a host of other dishes. They may just become refrigerator staples. Enjoy!

Thanks for sharing, gentlemen!

Crab Cakes Recipe from Duke’s Chowder House

Makes ten 3-ounce crab “un” cakes.


  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh Dungeness crabmeat
  • ½ bunch green onions, green parts only, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon Duke’s Superb Herb Blend (recipe below)
  • ½ cup Hold Me Tight Chipotle Aioli (recipe below)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons Zesty Lusty Lime Aioli (recipe below)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh organic basil leaves, stems removed, diced small
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh organic parsley leaves, stems removed, diced small
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Let’s Be Clarified Butter (or store-bought.)


  1. Squeeze excess liquid from crab and place in a bowl. Add green onions, Duke’s Superb Herb Blend, Hold Me Tight Chipotle Aioli, 1 cup of Zesty Lusty Lime Aioli, herbs, and eggs. Mix well.
  2. Ball into 3-ounce portions (like making a snowball.) Lightly press into panko breadcrumbs and flatten into 2-inch-thick discs.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cooking. (This helps them hold together.)
  4. On a flat griddle or sauté pan, heat Let’s Be Clarified Butter to medium-high. Grill Dungeness Crab “Un” Cake until golden brown for approximately 3-4 minutes per side (be careful, they are delicate to work with.)
  5. Serve with remaining Zesty Lusty Lime Aioli.
Duke's Chowder House

Duke’s Chowder House in Tacoma (Photo by to Ingrid Pape-Sheldon)

Duke’s Superb Herb Blend

Makes approximately 1 cup.


  • ½ cup fresh organic rosemary, stems removed, diced small
  • ½ cup fresh organic thyme, stems removed, diced small
  • ½ cup fresh organic oregano, stems removed, diced small


  1. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Hold Me Tight Chipotle Aioli

Makes approximately 2 ¾ cups.


  • 2 cups Make it Yourself Mayo or buy one made with olive oil
  • ¼ cup honey (local, sustainable and organic)
  • ¼ cup stone-ground mustard
  • 3 ½ Tablespoons chipotle purée (purée a small can of chipotle peppers and keep in an air-tight container in your refrigerator)


  1. Purée ingredients and store in the refrigerator.

Zesty Lusty Lime Aioli

This punches up the flavor or more subtle seafood like Rockfish or Cod. It’s also excellent with sautéed or poaches prawns.

Makes approximately 3 cups.


  • 3 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 cup Hold Me Tight Chipotle Aioli
  • 1 cup Make It Yourself Mayo or buy one made with olive oil
  • ½ cup Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Juice from two fresh limes
  • 1 Tablespoon Duke’s Superb Herb Blend
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh organic parsley
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Pinch Duke’s Ready Anytime Seasoning


  1. Process garlic in food processor; then add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. Cover and refrigerate.

As Wild As It Gets

Duke Moscrip has been involved in the restaurant business since 1972; first as an investor, and since 1976, as a restaurant owner and chef. He and Executive Chef “Wild” Bill Renniger have worked together side-by-side for more than 20 years. Duke’s has seven restaurants in the Greater Seattle/northwestern Washington area. You won’t regret the trip to any of these locations.(I visited the Tacoma Ruston Way restaurant.)

With their cookbook, As Good As It Gets, you can make their dishes at home. The instructions are clear, and I really liked all the “fun facts’ about seafood. The cookbook is well-written and the recipes easy to follow. And while usable, it’s also a coffee table quality testament that includes a lot of family and restaurant lore, and stories that spin a portrait of the fishing industry and the importance of sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. The photos by Ingrid Pape-Sheldon are plentiful and gorgeous.

This is a great book for any cook who loves seafood–and a great gift for that someone you’d like to cook seafood for you!

For More:

-Cover photo by to Ingrid Pape-Sheldon.

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