We’ve had this hearts of palm cakes recipe for ready to go for a while, but held off on posting it for some unknown reason. Our hearts of palm cakes are a delicious vegan version of the classic Maryland crab cake.

One of our favorite places to eat when we go to Florida is Darbster. We love it so much we wrote a review of it for our friends Annie and Dan Shannon’s blog, Meet the Shannons. Darbster makes delicious palm cakes – a version of crab cakes using hearts of palm.  These were the first crab cakes, vegan or not, that I really liked. After trying them, I knew I needed to make my own version.  In my pre-vegan days, I was not a big fan of crab cakes because I always found them too filled with extra things like red peppers. I like red peppers, but not in crab cakes. So, when researching crab cake recipes, I immediately ignored ones that contained red peppers or were needlessly fussy. Crab cakes are not a complicated dish and don’t need extras. What I was able to distill was that crab cakes need only a few basic ingredients: crab, mayonnaise, seasonings and a binder to hold them together, anything else was extra.

Creating a vegan crab cake was actually rather easy: hearts of palm in place of crab, vegan mayonnaise and seasonings. The question of what to use as a binder remained. Bread crumbs seemed like they would be too dry and bread would make them pasty. I decided to try using crushed saltines and the result was a fantastic hearts of palm cake to rival the ones from Darbster.

We like to serve our heart of palm cakes a top of bed of greens as a salad. However, we often make the patties half the size to serve them as hors d’oeuvres.

Update: when I first made these hearts of palm cakes, I fried them on the stove top. However, when our friend JL Fields stayed with us recently, we tried making them in the air fryer instead. This is now how we will always make them when we can. Directions for cooking in an air fryer are added at the end of the recipe. If you don’t have a copy of JL’s book, The Vegan Air Fryer yet, get one!

3 tablespoons water
2 1/4 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
1/4 -1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 14 ounce can of hearts of palm, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup crushed saltines (about 20 crackers)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and Ener-G egg replacer. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the vegan mayonnaise, water-egg replacer mixture, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.

3. Fold in the hearts of palm and saltines. Let stand for 3 minutes.

4. Shape into 8 patties. Place on wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour.

shaped and ready for to chill before frying

5. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high. Carefully place 3 or 4 of the palm cakes into the hot oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. Flip the palm cakes and fry for another 3 minutes. Transfer the palm cakes to to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining palm cakes.

Thanks to JL Fields for making the dressing and salad in the photo.


Air Fryer instructions: spray the frying basket lightly with cooking spray. Place the cakes in the basket, but do not crowd them, you may have to do it in batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Lightly spray the tops of the cakes with nonstick spray and fry for 8 minutes at 360F. Flip them over and fry for 8 more minutes. Repeat with remaining cakes. Right before serving, put them all back in the fryer, don’t worry about stacking them up, and cook at 400F for 3 minutes.