Crispy Crab Bites (Cheesecake Factory Copycat)

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These crispy Crab Bites are perfect as an appetizer or a snack — or even as a main dish! Inspired by the Cheesecake Factory recipe, they’re tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Full of seafood flavor plus some salty and savory goodness thanks to the added seasonings, these fried crab balls are the ultimate crowd-pleaser!

Titled Image: Crispy Crab Bites Cheesecake Factory Copycat Recipe


Crab Bites

I love me a good appetizer or snack option! Seriously, I’ve been known to make an entire meal out of small plates when the mood strikes… and apps happen to be my favorite part of any party, get-together, or game-day celebration!

With options like air fried pickles, arancini balls, jalapeno popper taquitos, crockpot buffalo wings, and more, I think it’s easy to see why!

Whenever Chad and I have a date night, we always splurge and get some apps.

Cheesecake Factory is one of our easy go-to’s when we can’t decide where to eat, and I always look forward to their crab bites in particular.  

Salty, briny, and a little bit sweet thanks to the crab, these are about to become one of your new favorites too.

Served with a homemade tangy and creamy mustard sauce, you won’t be able to resist!

ingredients for cheesecake factory crispy crab bites

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Lump Crab Meat – I’m using lump crab meat as it works best for these crab cake bites — it has larger and more intact pieces of crab.

    That said, you can use other types if you have them on hand!
  • Breadcrumbs – Opt for Panko breadcrumbs for the crab bites batter, and fine breadcrumbs for the outer coating.

    The latter will give you that extra crispy exterior I mentioned!
  • Egg – To bind everything together before you fry the bites.
  • Mayonnaise & Dijon Mustard – For the bites and for the dipping sauce, use a combination of spicy Dijon mustard and creamy mayo.
  • Lemon Juice – You’ll use lemon juice for both parts of this recipe — the fried crab balls and in the homemade sauce.
  • Vegetable Oil – Needed for frying. I like canola oil best.
  • Seasonings – I’m using Old Bay for the crab cake bites themselves, plus granulated garlic and kosher salt for the mustard sauce.
adding crab meat to mixing bowl

Tips and Tricks to Make Perfect Crab Cake Bites 

  • Use a gentle hand when creating the balls.

You’ll start with the wet ingredients — egg, mayo, Dijo, and lemon juice plus the seasonings — and then add the lump crab meat and breadcrumbs. 

Gently fold in the crab and the Panko to avoid breaking up the meat too much. You want those lumps as they create a more textured and flavorful bite!

  • Deep fry like an expert.

After you’ve formed the crab bites, pop them in the freezer to set. This will help them hold their shape and let the flavors meld together!

While you wait, heat the oil to 365°F, and make sure the temp stays consistent.

Maintaining the same temperature is crucial to achieving a golden brown color and crispy texture.

As another note here, be sure to fry in batches to prevent overcrowding and ensure even cooking.

Finally, use a slotted spoon or even tongs to remove the crab balls from the pan, then transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of any excess oil.

  • Adjust the dipping sauce to your liking.

The great thing about making homemade dipping sauces is that you can customize them however you’d like! Feel free to add more (or less) of any of the ingredients.

More Dijon will make it spicier, while more lemon juice will add an extra tang.

If you like sweet sauces, consider adding 1 tablespoon of honey!

crab balls on a baking sheet

Prep Ahead

  • Make the mustard dipping sauce
  • Heat the oil to 365°F

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Mixing Bowls – I like to have a variety of sizes on hand, and this set has them all.
  • Whisk – These have held up for over 10 years and are still as good as the day I bought them. With 3 sizes, there is a whisk for every job!
  • Baking Sheets lined with parchment paper – Used for anything from baking projects to roasting, a good baking pan will last for years.
  • 4 Quart Stock Pot – Great for soups, roasts, frying, and more! This is a staple in my kitchen.
  • Tongs – I love this set of 3, and I use every pair of them. They are so handy and grip amazingly well! Or, use a Slotted Spoon instead.
rolled crab bites in bread crumbs

Serving Suggestions

I like to garnish my fried crab balls with some fresh parsley for a pop of color and flavor. 

I also love to serve them alongside other Cheesecake Factory-inspired dishes for the full experience! Favorites include their famous avocado egg rolls, bang bang shrimp, and a side of brown bread.

You’ll never know the difference between my recipe and the crispy crab bites by Cheesecake Factory!

fried crab balls in a pot

Storing and Reheating Fried Crab Balls

I doubt you’ll have many leftovers, but if you do, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When properly stored they will keep for about 3-4 days.

To reheat, I like to use my air fryer — they crisp up unbelievably well! Preheat to 350°F, then pop the bites in for about 3-5 minutes or until heated through. 

You could also use your microwave and reheat in 30-second bursts, but they may not come out as crunchy. 

Crab Bites FAQ

What type of crab meat is best for crispy crab bites by Cheesecake Factory?

As mentioned, lump crab meat is best for crab bites. It features large, whole pieces of crab that add a wonderfully sweet and succulent flavor to this recipe.

Can I make fried crab balls ahead of time?

You can definitely make the crab mixture ahead of time, but I recommend waiting to fry them just before serving. Combine the ingredients, shape into balls, and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to fry — that way, they’ll stay crispy!

What dipping sauce pairs well with crab cake bites?

The mustard sauce I outline here is seriously the best! The creamy combination of mayo and mustard pairs super well with the savory crab. You could also serve them with a classic tartar sauce, garlic aioli, or a spicy Sriracha mayo. Experiment until you find your favorite!

fried crab balls in a cast iron skillet

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closeup of fried crab balls

closeup of crispy crab bites

Crispy Crab Bites (Cheesecake Factory Copycat)

Donna Elick
My crispy Crab Bites are the perfect app for parties, game day, and more! Easy to make and full of flavor, try my fried crab balls recipe!
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 18 crab bites


For the crab:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 16 ounces lump crabmeat
  • cup panko breadcrumbs

For the mustard sauce:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch kosher salt

For the breading:

  • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, egg, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, and lemon juice until well combined.
  • Fold in the lump crabmeat and panko breadcrumbs, being careful not to break up the crabmeat too much. Gently mix until evenly distributed.
  • Roll 1 ½ tablespoon-sized balls of the crab mixture and place them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the crab balls into the freezer to set and allow the flavors to meld for about 10 minutes.
  • While the crab balls are in the freezer, prepare the mustard sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, granulated garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Once the crab balls have set for at least 10 minutes, remove them from the freezer. Roll each crab ball in the fine breadcrumbs, reshaping if necessary. Place the breaded crab balls back onto the baking sheet and return them to the freezer for another 10 minutes.
  • While the breaded crab balls are in the freezer, heat vegetable oil in a deep pan suitable for frying to 365°F (185°C).
  • Fry the crab balls in batches of 5 or 6 at a time, carefully placing them into the hot oil. Fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until they turn golden brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the fried crab bites to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired, and serve the crab bites with the mustard sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Donna’s Notes

This recipe yields approximately 18 crab bites, but the quantity may vary depending on the size of the crab balls rolled.
Lump crabmeat works best for this recipe as it has larger and more intact pieces of crab. However, you can use other types of crabmeat if preferred.
Be gentle when folding in the crabmeat and breadcrumbs to avoid breaking up the crab chunks too much, resulting in a more textured and flavorful bite.
Freezing the crab balls before breading helps them hold their shape during frying and allows the flavors to meld together.
The mustard sauce can be adjusted to taste by adding more or less Dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice, or salt according to your preference. For added sweetness, add 1 tablespoon of honey to the mustard sauce.
Use fine breadcrumbs for coating the crab balls for a crispier and more even breading.
Heat the vegetable oil to 365°F (185°C) for deep frying. Maintaining the correct temperature is important to achieve a golden-brown and crispy texture.
Fry the crab balls in small batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and ensure even cooking. Overcrowding may result in uneven browning and greasy crab bites.
Use a slotted spoon or tongs to carefully transfer the fried crab bites to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.
Garnish the crab bites with fresh parsley for added freshness and presentation.
Serve the crab bites with the mustard sauce on the side for dipping. The tangy and creamy sauce complements the crab bites perfectly.
These crab bites make a delicious appetizer or snack. They can also be served as a main course alongside a salad or as part of a seafood platter.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 145cal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 375mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 0.5g | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Crispy Crab Bites Cheesecake Factory Copycat Recipe - PIN

Originally published February 2024

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  1. 5 stars
    oh my gosh, these crispy crab bites were a breeze to make! i followed the recipe from The Slow Roasted Italian website, and they turned out absolutely scrumptious. Donna and Chad really know their stuff!

  2. 5 stars
    made these crab bites using imitation crab instead of lump crabmeat and they turned out great! donna’s recipe from the slow roasted italian is always a winner.

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