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Tempeh ‘Crab’ Cakes with Horseradish-Dill Mayo [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

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In making a mock “fish” dish, it’s important to get that taste that reminds you of the sea. Seasonings like Old Bay, kelp, dulce, seaweed, lemon, and dill are good for that. Many people make mock “crab” cakes with tofu but that texture doesn’t seem right to me. Tofu is too smooth. Tempeh is more substantial, giving you that flaky texture reminiscent of seafood.

And of course, my recipe is gluten-free, so I used corn flake crumbs and chickpea flour. But if gluten is not an issue for you, any bread crumbs and flour you like will do. The Tempeh “Crab” Cakes were so delicious. They were crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside. The flavors were so spot on, I think these could possibly fool an omnivore or at least show them that it isn’t necessary to harm a crab to have these scrumptious cakes.

Tempeh 'Crab' Cakes with Horseradish-Dill Mayo [Vegan, Gluten-Free]






For the tempeh “crab” cakes

  • 1 Tbs. flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbs. warm water
  • One 8 oz. package of gluten-free tempeh
  • 2 Tbs. safflower oil, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped (reserve some greens for garnish)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free vegan Worcestershire sauce OR
  • ½ tsp. gluten-free tamari and ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 Tbs. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. kelp or dulse flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 – ½ cup corn flake crumbs or gluten-free bread crumbs

For the horseradish-dill mayo

  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • Scallion greens and lemon slices for garnish


For the tempeh “crab” cakes

  1. Steam the tempeh – 20 minutes in a steamer or 5 minutes in the microwave. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the flaxseed with the water. Mix and let stand for 10 minutes. This is your binder. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large skillet. Saute the bell pepper, celery, scallions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool. Wipe the skillet clean.
  3. Crumble the tempeh into a bowl. It should look like tiny pebbles. Add the vegetables along with the mayo, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the baking powder, Worcestershire sauce, flax gel and seasonings to the bowl and mix (with your hands is best) until everything is well combined and you have a relatively smooth mix with no big chunks of anything. Add the bread crumbs and mix again until smooth. Check the mixture to see that you have a consistency that will hold together. If the mixture feels too loose, add more crumbs, up to another ¼ cup. Cover and refrigerate the tempeh mix for at least 30 minutes; the longer, the better. Note: you could use a food processor but the cakes won’t look as pretty on the inside.
  4. Divide the mixture into cakes. The cakes should be smaller in diameter and thicker than a burger patty. Let the cakes rest for a few minutes so they can set. This will help them absorb moisture and hold together better. This recipe makes about 6 average-sized cakes or 8 small ones.
  5. Heat the remaining Tbs. of oil to the skillet. Cook the cakes on medium-high heat until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Be sure to flip them very gently so they don’t break apart.
  6. Serve while hot with my Horseradish-Dill Mayonnaise and lemon slices or wedges.

For the horseradish-dill mayo

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste to make sure it is to your desired level of spice. Refrigerate until ready to use. Garnish with scallion greens and lemon slices.





When Rhea became vegan, there were no places in her Bronx neighborhood to eat so she had to learn to cook, mostly by watching TV cooking shows, especially Christina Pirello and Rachael Ray.  That led to the creation of The "V" Word website which focuses on vegan versions of favorite, familiar foods. Rhea has written several e-cookbooks which are available on her web site. It is Rhea's hope that she can spread the "V" Word to bring more compassion into the world and it is her dream to become the vegan Rachael Ray.



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16 comments on “Tempeh ‘Crab’ Cakes with Horseradish-Dill Mayo [Vegan, Gluten-Free]”

Click to add comment
4 Years Ago

I want to make these crab cakes tomorrow, but I would like to know why using a tablespoon of baking powder. What is the reason since we are not using flour? i am afraid it will give it a weird taste considering a TBS is a lot . Can someone illuminate me on this ? Thanks

charlotte Collins
4 Years Ago

What is Old Bay Seasoning,i live in South Africa and have never heard of it.Can you explain so i can try and find something similar?

Joanne Shumaker
4 Years Ago

I made this yesterday! Yummy!

Lauren MiddlenameNonapplicable
4 Years Ago

Christina Marie Del Santo

Christina Marie Del Santo
02 Jun 2014

You know I'll keep trying it. That's one of the few things I don't like the taste but I love the texture.

Becky Johnson
4 Years Ago


Vanesa Nović
4 Years Ago

temp-tation :p

Mei Mei Teoh
4 Years Ago

Jason Lee

Eule Knowles
4 Years Ago

This makes me hungry!

Sunny Collins
4 Years Ago

~ sharing ~

Judee Fitch
4 Years Ago


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