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Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes {vegan, GF}

Hearts of palm crab cakes are your new favorite vegan appetizer. Canned hearts of palm, when shredded, have a texture and taste that is remarkably like crabmeat. Making them into crunchy “crab” cakes is the natural next step!

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes

Oh, friends…I have a game changer recipe for you today.

Crisp, crunchy, succulent crab cakes. Made without crab.

Instead, these “crab” cakes are made with a single can of hearts of palm, which, when shredded, has the texture and taste of crab.

No joking. I like to call them HOP Cakes :). Check out the interior of these lovelies:

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes

That’s not all. These cakes are:

  • vegan
  • gluten-free
  • made with just FIVE ingredients (excluding salt & pepper)
  • baked, not fried
  • the perfect make-ahead appetizer (or entrée)
  • utterly irresistible

I’ve even provided a grain-free option. I don’t want anyone to miss out on these.

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes

Ready to make these? Let’s get started!

What are Hearts of Palm

First up, hearts of palm. The heart of palm is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of cabbage palm trees (they are more commonly known as Florida palm trees). They may have shown up on a hotel salad at some point in your life, to which you most likely thought “what is that?!” and pushed it aside. But they actually have a pleasant, firm texture.

You may not have purchased these, before now, but they are shelved with other canned vegetables at the grocery store. They are not cheap (typically $3 to $4 dollars per can) but (1) you only need one can, and (2) the remaining ingredients are inexpensive pantry items.

They are also fibrous, so simply cutting into shorter lengths and pressing apart, they resemble flake crab meat.

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes Ingredients

Adding to the resemblance, canned hearts of palm are packed in a light brine, giving them a taste of the sea.Shredded Hearts of Palm Vegan Crab

How to Make Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes

It is typically easy to flake the hearts of palm into shreds, but I have come across one or two cans where the hearts were quite firm and difficult to “shred” with my fingers. Several pieces of hearts of palm shot across the room as I tried to squish them apart! (I think I found all of them…).

So, I ended up cutting the hearts of palm lengthwise into very thin strips (I had already cut them crosswise into short pieces), and then used my fingertips to further shred.

The shredding is the only time-consuming part, and it only takes about 5 minutes. One 14 to 15-ounce can yields 1-1/2 cups of shredded “crab”–quite a yield!

Next, simply mix and form. The Old Bay seasoning is key to giving these a quintessential crab cake flavor, but if you do not have it, you can use your favorite seasonings (you can taste the mix “raw” to get the flavor just right before baking). Added, too, are mayonnaise (use the brand of your choice, vegan, Paleo, etc.), green onions and gluten-free panko crumbs. 

Can I Make these Without Mayonnaise?

Regarding the mayo: it is essential. I am not a mayonnaise fan, AT ALL, but it is important as an ingredient in many recipes, including this one. Don’t skip it here. These don’t taste like mayonnaise, it just becomes part of the dish. Trust me.Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes Before Baking



Shape, Bake and Broil the Cakes

I used my #40 size cookie scoop (it’s a medium size scoop, about 2 tablespoons) to portion these, which yields exactly 14 cakes. Press the cakes into some of the reserved panko to coat and give the cakes a spritz with cooking spray. Finally, slide the cakes into a preheated (400F/200C) oven for 18 to 22 minutes.

To get them perfectly golden-brown, I bake the cakes until  light golden brown, and then I turn the oven to broil. Don’t walk away! Depending on your broiler, it only takes 30 to 90 seconds for them to turn a deep golden brown.

Here’s the mouthwatering result:

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes on Cooling Rack

These are crispy-crunchy on top and bottom, despite being baked instead of fried!

Plate of Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cakes

Now, eat! 

Vegan Hearts of Palm Crab Cake

Can the Hearts of Palm Cakes be Prepared in Advance?

You can prepare the cakes up to 12 hours before baking them. Store them in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Alternatively, freeze the prepared cakes on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, store in an airtight container until ready to defrost and bake (hello, holiday parties and quick dinners!). Like I said at the start, these are game changers, on many fronts.

Let me know if you try these, ok? 

Happy Wednesday, all!

More Easy, Plant-Based Meat Recipes to Try:

Vegan Oat Mushroom Ground Beef

3-Ingredient Almond Flour Vegetable Nuggets

Mushroom Almond Flour Ground Beef (2 ingredients)

Vegan Lentil Taco Meat

Lentil & Mushroom Meatballs

Lentil & Vegetable Kefta

Grain-Free Lentil Loaf

Yield: 14 patties/cakes

Hearts of Palm "Crab" Cakes {vegan, gluten-free, grain-free option}

Your new "wow" recipe: "crab" cakes made with shredded hearts of palm! Light, crispy, tender, and utterly delicious, these will dazzle you, as well as family and friends.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes


  • 1 can (14 to 15 ounces) hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup gluten-free panko (Japanese bread crumbs), divided
  • Optional Accompaniments

Optional Accompaniments

  • Lemon wedges
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Cocktail sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Thinly slice hearts of palm lengthwise; cut slices crosswise into 3/4-inch lengths. Transfer to a medium bowl and, using fingers, gently press and break apart into shreds.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in hearts of palm and green onions until well combined (I like to get my hands in, to further break up hearts of palm).
  4. Sprinkle half the panko over hearts of palm mixture and mix in thoroughly (do not mash). Form into fourteen 1.2-inch thick patties (I used a #40 cookie scoop to portion).
  5. Spread the remaining panko in a small dish. Dredge patties in panko, pressing gently to adhere. As they are dredged, place patties on prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Spray with cooking spray. Discard any excess panko.
  6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until light golden brown.
  7. Turn on broiler to HIGH. Broil for 30 to 90 seconds (keep checking, it happens fast!) until deep golden brown. Serve immediately with suggested accompaniments, as desired.


Grain-Free Option: Replace the panko with the following: 1/3 cup almond flour + 1-1/2 tablespoons coconut flour + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder + 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir ingredients in a small bowl. Add half to the hearts of palm mixture (same as panko) and use the other half for dredging.

Options: If you are not following a vegan or gluten-free diet, feel free to use the mayonnaise of your choice and regular panko.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 cake

Amount Per Serving Calories 47Total Fat 2.6gSaturated Fat 0.3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 71mgCarbohydrates 4.7gFiber 0.62gSugar 0.29gProtein 0.86g

Did you make this recipe?

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Wednesday 25th of May 2022

I made these for some friends visiting California and Italy.. I followed the recipe to a tee and accompanied it with a homemade remoulade sauce half a cup of vegan mayonnaise, half a lemon, quarter cup of sriracha and a teaspoon of horseradish sauce! Absolutely delicious My friends were so impressed with the flavor and texture! Adding this as a staple, go to appetizer!Thank you so much!


Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Oh Tarah, thank you for taking the time to let me know! It really means a lot. I am so happy that everyone enjoyed it (as a native Californian, j am especially chuffed that the California visitors were pleased ;))


Monday 23rd of May 2022

This is the message my husband sent to me after I made this great recipe:

"Your a culinary genius. The children have no idea that it's not real crab. You HAVE to make this for the cookout."

Thank you for this winner!


Monday 23rd of May 2022

This is the sweetest and best comment ever, Fatima 😍😍😍 I am so happy these were such a big success!!!


Saturday 29th of January 2022

Quick question here, could the chickpea bread crumbs be used in place of the panko?



Saturday 29th of January 2022

Ooh, great idea! I think that would work deliciously!!!


Thursday 14th of October 2021

My family absolutely loved this recipe. Will definitely make them again but next time I will double the recipe. We could not tell these were not real crab cakes.


Thursday 11th of November 2021

Yay!!! I am so happy to hear it, Lucy!!!


Tuesday 10th of August 2021

This was interesting. I’ve never had crab cakes. Or old spice. So I made my own spice blend following a recipe for old spice mix that I found online. It is certainly an interesting mix. And an acquired taste to say the least. So I used half of what the recipe called for. The cakes themselves came about pretty quickly. I used a fork to shred the hearts of palm. Definitely wait when you take them out. They’re suuuper soft. But as they cool they’ll firm up. Honestly I thought they were OK, but nothing else, but then I added lemon and wow. Very good! I also have never had cocktail sauce (I don’t even know what it is. I asked my hubby and he said “it’s a red sauce”… very descriptive). We were getting hungry so we only tried them with lemon. Very tasty. Wil make again and maybe tweak spices a bit more. Old bay may not be for me.

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