Lemon can tame fishy crab cake smells.

How to Absorb the Fishy Smell When Cooking Crab Cakes

by Shailynn Krow

Fishy smells are unavoidable unless you’re able to catch a fish and cook it right away. Unfortunately, after a night of making crab cakes, you’ll notice a lingering fishy smell that could last several days if you don’t neutralize it during the cooking process. It won’t take special cleansers or gadgets; a few household items will do the trick.


Seafood, including crab, contains trimethylamine oxide. These amino acids begin to break down when a crab dies and the amino acids turn into trimethylamine – the culprit of that fishy smell. Fresher crab won’t have an overly pungent fishy smell. When buying crab, avoid pieces that have a strong, fishy odor – this is an indicator your crab isn’t very fresh.

During Preparation

Soak crab pieces in a neutralizer to help remove the amino acids from the crab meat. Soaking crab meat in milk for 20 minutes before using it in a crab cake recipe might help. Rinse the crabs thoroughly – whether whole, legs or portioned out. Treat crab before cooking by adding lemon juice to the meat or crab cake recipe. This binds with the amino acids and can help reduce the fishy smell.

During Cooking

Ventilate the kitchen by opening windows and using hood vents over the stove. Try cooking crab cakes outside on a grill pan rather than cooking indoors to help avoid a fishy smell inside your kitchen. Leave a bowl of white vinegar on the counter during cooking and keep it there several hours after the crab cakes are done to help absorb the odor.

After Cooking

Brew a pot of coffee to counteract any fishy smells in the air after cooking. Burn a scented candle – preferably one with vanilla – to help mask the fishy odor. Remove fishy smells from pots used by brewing tea for at least 15 minutes in the pans before washing. Boil a pot of water using vanilla extract or lemon juice for at least a half an hour to help remove any lingering smells.

About the Author

Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.

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