Hearts of Palm Cakes (Vegetarian Crab Cakes)

Hearts of Palm Cakes are a simple and crunchy cake served with delicious garlic aioli. Perfect as an appetizer or vegetarian entrée, these vegetarian crab cakes will blow your mind!

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Hearts of Palm Cakes are crunchy cakes made with hearts of palm, artichokes, garlic and panko served with a zesty garlic aioli.

Hearts of Palm Cakes

I live in the heart of crab cake country on the Chesapeake Bay. Folks around here are serious about their crab cakes; little filler and jumbo lump crab.

The Hearts of Palm Cake was developed as a solution for our vegetarian friends not having a similar option. Essentially, it is the vegetarian crab cake!

Fresh palm hearts offer a similar texture to crab, smooth and buttery. Most, as I did, also add artichoke hearts and additional seasonings.

As with any good crab cake, hearts of palm cakes are not dense, in fact they are fairly loose and fragile.

Why You’ll Love These Hearts of Palm Cakes

These small cakes are loved by many for all kinds of reasons. Here are a few reasons why we love them:

  • Full of flavor – With ingredients like fresh garlic, dijon mustard and dried onions, the flavor of these cakes is out of this world and very sophisticated.
  • A great vegetarian option – If you’re having a dinner party with vegetarian friends, this is a great way to serve something that everyone is able to enjoy.
  • Perfectly crispy – The panko breadcrumbs coating on these cakes makes them perfectly crispy and ready for dipping into your favorite sauces.
close up overhead shot of vegetarian crab cake

Hearts of Palm

Many seem to associate hearts of palm with artichokes, but they come from a completely different plants. They come from trees, palm trees in fact, hence hearts of palm. They are plentiful in Costa Rica, South American and Florida. The actual tree is sometimes referred to as a swamp cabbage, but more formally the sabal palm.

Known as a delicacy around the world since palm trees can’t be grown just any place, they are a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees.

Hearts of Palm are low in cholesterol, and a good source of potassium, contain vitamin C and are ideal for adding to your favorite family dishes.

Toss them into a leafy green salad, pasta salad, pasta dishes, on top of pizza, in omelets, dips and spreads, casseroles or even blend into homemade salad dressings to thicken.

They are shelf stable, so you can always keep a few cans in the pantry to use in a jiffy.

They may not be harvested from the same place, but hearts of palms best friend are the artichoke.

Ingredients

Besides a few ingredients, you might have most of these simple ingredients on hand. Everything else can be easily found at the grocery store.

  • Hearts of palm – Grab a jar from the grocery store, it’s the easiest way to do it. Make sure they are drained, dried and chopped.
  • Artichoke hearts – Same for these, grab a jar form the store rather than buying fresh. Also make sure these are drained, dried and chopped.
  • Garlic cloves – I much prefer to mince my own garlic rather than buying the jar from the store. The flavor is much more potent that way. You can also use garlic powder.
  • Italian parsley – Fresh herbs make all the difference, so make sure to use fresh chopped parsley here.
  • Dried onions – I like to use dried onions rather than fresh so that there’s not too much moisture in my cakes.
  • Dijon mustard – You wouldn’t believe the tang and flavor that dijon mustard adds to these hearts of palm cakes.
  • Egg – Egg acts as a binder for this recipe. This is what is going to bind everything together.
  • Mayonnaise – Use your favorite store-bought brand, or you could even make your own homemade mayonnaise.
  • Panko bread crumbs – We use this both in breading for the crispy coating, but also to bind with the eggs to hold everything together on the inside.
  • Olive oil – We use this for frying. I prefer to use light extra virgin olive oil so that the flavor doesn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients in these cakes.
  • Salt and pepper – To finish off the seasoning for the breading, we just need a blend of freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt.
overhead shot of hearts of palm cakes on a platter with dipping sauce

How to Make Hearts of Palm Cakes

Despite their complex and delicious flavor, you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy this great appetizer is to make.

  1. Combine ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for hearts of palm cakes, mixing well.
  2. Make panko mixture. In a shallow dish or pie plate, mix together ingredients for panko crust: panko bread crumbs, sea salt and ground black pepper.
  3. Form patties. Divide hearts of palm cake mix into eighths, form into patties. Patties will be loose.
  4. Dip in panko. Place in panko crust mix and pat on both sides. Transfer to a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat with all.
  5. Chill. Freeze cakes for half an hour.
  6. Heat oil. Heat olive oil in a frying pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  7. Fry in batches. Working in two batches, fry cakes in olive oil until golden brown.
  8. Drain on plate. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  9. Enjoy! Serve immediately with garlic aioli and lemon wedges.

What to Serve with Hearts of Palm Cakes

You can serve these cakes as a main entrée for a great vegetarian option. If that’s the case, pair with something hearty like mashed potatoes or a rice dish.

They also serve as a great side dish to many proteins like pork chops, a juicy steak or grilled chicken. Pair it with a leafy vegetable, side salad or baked potato.

close up of vegetarian crab cake

Variations

While I like these hearts of pal cakes just as they are, there are several ways that you can make this recipe your own.

  • Seasoning – If you like a traditional crab cake, chances are you like Old Bay Seasoning. Sprinkle some of that in the mix to take the flavor of these hearts of palm crab cakes up a notch.
  • Make it vegan – You can easily make this into one of your new favorite vegan recipes. Just use vegan mayonnaise and a flax egg. Serve with vegan tartar sauce for dipping.
  • Fresh herbs – These crispy cakes would have a great taste if you used fresh herbs. Thyme, oregano and rosemary would all be great additions to the fresh parsley.
  • Veggies – You can also add some veggies into the mix if you’d like. Green pepper, red onions or green onions can be added to the remaining ingredients for even more flavor.

Storage and Freezing

Storage: You can store these hearts of palm cakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. It’s helpful to add either parchment paper or paper towels in between the layers.

Freezing: You can also easily freeze these cakes. Do it the same way, in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer.

straight on shot of hearts of palm cakes on a plate

Frequently Asked Questions

What are vegan crab cakes made of?

While this recipe isn’t vegan, it can easily be made vegan by using a vegan mayo and a flax egg. Check the ingredient section above or the recipe card for a full list of ingredients.

Is there vegan imitation crab meat?

There is not a vegan imitation crab meat that I know of, but this heart of palm version can be if you use a vegan mayonnaise and a flax egg rather than real egg.

What is in good catch plant based crab cakes?

Good Catch is a brand of pre-made crab cakes. However, they have a plant based version that consists of a pea and chickpea plant protein blend, vegetables like red pepper, lemon juice and seasonings.

What do you eat with crab cakes?

Check the section above, but crab cakes are great with almost anything. Serve them as a main dish with a salad, or serve them as a side dish to most proteins.

collage of hearts of palm cake for pitnerest

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hearts of palm cake in pan with text overlay for pinterest
overhead shot of hearts of palm cakes on a platter with dipping sauce

Hearts of Palm Cakes Recipe

4.63 from 82 votes
Hearts of Palm Cakes are crunchy cakes made with hearts of palm, artichokes, garlic and panko served with a zesty garlic aioli.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 cakes

Ingredients

For the cakes:

For the Panko Crust:

For serving (optional):

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for hearts of palm cakes, mixing well.
  • In a shallow dish or pie plate, mix together ingredients for panko crust: panko bread crumbs, sea salt and ground black pepper.
  • Divide hearts of palm cake mix into eighths, form into patties. Patties will be loose.
  • Place in panko crust mix and pat on both sides. Transfer to a large plate or baking sheet. Repeat with all.
  • Freeze cakes for 20-30 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Working in two batches, fry cakes in olive oil for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.
  • Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  • Serve immediately with garlic aioli and lemon wedges.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was! 

Video

Notes

Notes: Using dried onions is important in this recipe because they help soak up some of the moisture from the cakes. If you were to use fresh, they would add moisture, making them even more challenging to keep together.

Nutrition

Calories: 225 kcal, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 23 mg, Sodium: 642 mg, Potassium: 949 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 10 g, Vitamin A: 560 IU, Vitamin C: 15.6 mg, Calcium: 51 mg, Iron: 1.9 mg
Author: Chef Jessica Anne
Calories: 225
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hearts of palm recipes, vegetarian crab cakes
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
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Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.63 from 82 votes (58 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

    1. 5 stars
      I made this recipe as described and it came out restaurant quality. Really amazing
      What do you think would happen if I only used hearts of palm and no artichoke?

  1. 5 stars
    These crunchy little fritters look amazing and great as an easy crispy starter! I’ve never used hearts of palm like this, so I’m super excited to try this recipe!

  2. 4 stars
    I know it was suppose to be vegetarian, but I’m not a vegetarian so I added bacon bits, (and Parmesan cheese). It was very tasty. Ive been obsessed with artichokes my whole life but have only recently discovered hearts of palm.

  3. 5 stars
    In these crazy days of Coronavirus containment, I am experimenting with many an ingredient and I just happened to have both of these key ingredients on my shelf. I never fry my crab cakes so I prepared these accordingly and baked them! Delish and they did not fall apart at all, even though I did not include an egg in preparation. I also put garlic cloves, a Tablespoon of butter and the Panko in a sauté pan and cook about 6 minutes until golden (discard garlic), then used those crumbs to coat the cakes, placed them on non-stick foil lined baking sheet and baked at 400* for 15 minutes. Perfect!

  4. 5 stars
    This was all new for me but they came out SO good and my husband was a fan so it was a double win in my book! Will definitely be making these again!

  5. 5 stars
    These were delicious!!! Served with a garlic aioli and a remoulade, my family couldn’t get enough and said I must make them again! My grandma was surprised there was no crab. Major hit!! However I did cook them in grape seed oil because the olive oil smoked and burned too much; grape seed oil has a much higher smoke point.