The first trick for quick crab cakes is to add the correct binder to the crab meat. If you’ve got the time to let the cakes rest in the fridge for an hour or two before cooking, you can get away without adding much binder at all. A little mayonnaise and a few seasonings is all it takes. However, in this case, you’ll need to incorporate an egg, for its protein-packed “glue,” and a bit of panko breadcrumbs to absorb liquid, hold together stray bits of crab, and form a somewhat nonstick coating on the outside of the cake. With these ingredients, you can move straight from mixing and shaping the cakes to cooking them on the skillet without any resting time.
The second trick is to choose the seasonings wisely. Since we need egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise and, of course, crab, we don’t have much space in the ingredients list to get crazy with flavorful additions. Old Bay is the natural choice for a primary seasoning, as it already blends several spices together. For a little more oomph, trade the mayonnaise for tartar sauce. It is, after all, mostly mayonnaise, and you’ll want to pull it out for serving anyway.