Tempeh "Crabcakes"

Tempeh “crabcakes,” vegan of course, are a perfect snack for any time of the day or night. What’s more, they are beautiful to look at and taste much better than any crabcake ever did, at least to my tastebuds.

Tempeh, which has a chewy texure, is a perfect substitute for crabmeat. It is also protein-rich and really good for you.

One of the ways in which I add a seafood flavor to my vegan “crabcakes” is by using Old Bay seasoning which is completely vegan and which gives the recipe just that bit of a kick that lifts it above the ordinary. You can leave it out if you prefer. I sometimes snip any seaweed I have on hand into the “crabcake” batter, which further adds an authentic seafood flavor, but I didn’t have any this time so I went without. They still turned out delicious.

I also used vegan “mayonnaise” which is made with canola oil and makes a great and healthier substitute for regular mayo. Like Tempeh, it is pretty easy to find in natural food stores. I get mine from Whole Foods.

So here they are, my vegan “crabcakes”: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and totally delicious.

Tempeh “Crabcakes”


1 package tempeh (8 oz), grated fine or crumbled into small bits

2-4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (use more if needed to ensure the batter holds together when formed into cakes)

1/2 medium onion, minced

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1 heaping tbsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp chili powder, like cayenne or paprika

1-2 tbsp oil for shallow-frying the “crabcakes”

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. The mixture should hold together when formed into a cake. If it doesn’t, add some more breadcrumbs and mayonnaise. (Update: a couple of people who tried these said they had trouble getting the crabcakes to hold together. I’d advise pulsing a few times in a food processor. Also these are delicate so don’t make them too big. Mine were just over an inch in diameter. Be gentle when you flip them over.)

In a non-stick or cast-iron skillet, heat the oil

Take about a 1-inch ball of the batter and flatten it slightly.

Place as many cakes as possible into the skillet without overcrowding them. If you put too many in, they will steam and turn soggy instead of getting that beautiful golden-brown crust.

Turn after 1-2 minutes, once the underside is thoroughly browned. Cook the other side.

Serve hot, either by themselves or in a chapati or tortilla wrap smeared with some more mayonnaise. You can also add tomatoes or other veggies like cucumber or lettuce.


This recipe goes to Mansi’s Healthy Cooking event.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

25 thoughts on “Tempeh "Crabcakes"

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 21, 2008 at 4:18pm

    Hi Vaishali, thanks to your blog, I am being introduced to a lot of new variety in cooking.I have heard of tempeh before.This is such a wonderful recipe, and from your lovely pictures, they sure look delicious. I shall try this if I can get all the ingredients (veg mayonnaise, old bay seasoning) Btw, I do love crab meat too, my mother makes crab curry and stir fry with coconut.

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    July 21, 2008 at 5:55pm

    This is new for me, never heard abt tempeh. Looks goood, will try soon!!!

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    July 21, 2008 at 6:01pm

    hefgcqnLove ur vegan crab cake, never tasted tempeh may be it is the right time to make this cake :) Thanks for such a lovely recipe

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Mansi Desai

    July 21, 2008 at 6:11pm

    that looks like a wonderful vegan recipe Vaishali! I’m so glad you could make it in for the healthy cooking event! thanks!:)

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    July 21, 2008 at 6:14pm

    never heard of tempeh .. quite new to me .. loos very tempting N that Pic looks wonderful

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    July 21, 2008 at 7:00pm

    these look wonderful – and something i must try! i would have never thought to use tempeh, and what a great idea on adding in a little seaweed for a little more “sea” flavor. i might try this with some crumbled nori sheet – and make a fun sauce, too! thanks for the rock’n recipe!

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    July 21, 2008 at 9:22pm

    made your potato-peas curry, and loved it. will post about it soon.

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    July 21, 2008 at 11:02pm

    I must try these! I just made some crabcakes, using tofu, but they turned out kind of “meh.” Thanks for the recipe.

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    July 22, 2008 at 2:59am

    How utterly delicious these look!
    Though I have never had crab cakes, I can bet that these are tastier!

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 1:26pm

    I love crab cakes..ur vegan version looks awesome…a perfect crust..yumm..

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 4:10pm

    Lovely recipe…the pic is so tempting …

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 5:02pm

    should I crumble the tempeh straight out of the package? or should I boil it/ cook it in anyway before I mix it in with all the other ingrediants?

    Also, do you know how far ahead of time I could prepare them before actually frying them?

    Thanks! these look delicious and I’m definitely going to give them a try.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 5:06pm

    I do like tempeh but don’t cook with it as much as I should. I can understand how it’s dense, firm texture would be valuable in a recipe like this. Some recipes even suggest grating temeh on a box grater and incorporating in into a recipe in place of ground beef or similar.

    Great idea to add seaweed and Old Bay seasoning!

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 7:05pm

    Shreya, Thanks, and glad you’ve enjoyed learning about new foods. You can leave out the Old Bay seasoning if you cannot find it: I’d just adjust the chili powder and the salt.

    Madhavi, Cham: Thanks. Tempeh is a slab of fermented soybeans and although it sounds quite awful, it’s actually quite delicious. Hope you try it.

    Mansi, Glad I could make it. Thanks.

    Vegetable Platter: Thanks very much. You might enjoy Tempeh- hope you try it.

    Jessy, Thanks. Hope you try it. I love the seaweed in it.

    Bee, that’s wonderful! I’m glad you liked it- will look forward to your post.

    Destinyskitchen, Hope you do try them. Tempeh holds together far better than tofu and has a texture more suited to crabcakes.

    Delhibell, thanks. I think they are :)

    Andhraflavors, I hope you do. Thanks.

    Jimmy- You are so right. Tempeh is extremely nutritious.

    Ranji, Notyet100, Richa, Erin, Priti: Thanks ladies!

    Caitie: Just use the tempeh as is from the package. Crumble it really fine, though. You can prepare the “batter” right before you make them. I hope you try them!

    LisaRene: Thanks. I like the idea of grating tempeh on a grater: I might try it with the crabcakes next time!

    Kalai: Thanks!

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 22, 2008 at 9:36pm

    I somehow don’t like tempeh. But, seeing these delicious tempeh crabcakes , I’m inspired me to try tempeh againv.

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts)

    July 25, 2008 at 2:10am

    I gosh, this sounds SO GOOD! I have a zucchini “crabcake” recipe that I love but have always thought it was a bit …lacking in texture.

    I MUST MUST try this!!

    Love the blog, I’ll be back!!

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    August 25, 2008 at 10:03pm

    Oh yum! This looks really delicious. I’m always looking for good ways to prepare tempeh, especially since my hubby isn’t too crazy about it. I think this may be the perfect solution!


  18. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Malaysian Delicacies

    August 27, 2009 at 4:58am

    Hi Vaishali,
    Browsing ur recipes, came across the word ‘tempe’ and cudnt help checking out.Really surprised that you are familiar with it.Tempe is famous among malay community here in Malaysia.The use of soybeans gives Tempe a higher content of protein (19.5%),dietary fibre and nutrients compared to beancurd.Compare to beef fat, Tempe has no cholesterol and unsaturated fats.This recipe really look mouth watering.

  19. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 20, 2010 at 10:38pm

    So good! I just made these!!! I had no trouble with them (I made them small), cannot wait to try your other recipes! Thanks for posting!

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