Most of us who grew up eating dinner around the table with our families have a few heavily rotated meals that we remember, and a big one for me was salmon patties! A plate of freshly-fried salmon cakes with a side of mac and cheese and frozen peas was a standard in my house growing up. Decades later, salmon patties just like Mom used to make are still in constant rotation in my house!
Salmon cakes are a wonderful way to get all the glorious flavor and nutrition of salmon in an easy, weeknight pantry meal. You can use fresh or frozen salmon filets to make these cakes, but they really are made for canned salmon—which is more affordable than fresh, easy to work with, readily available, and a great option to keep stocked in your pantry. This no-fuss meal is so tasty that even fish-haters will gobble these cakes up!
What do I need to make this salmon patty recipe?
While you can absolutely make salmon cakes with fresh or frozen salmon fillets (see notes in the recipe), I’m recommending that you use canned salmon here. The taste is very similar, but canned salmon makes the cakes so much easier and faster to put together. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper!
For the rest of the ingredients, you have options: you can either use fresh herbs, or you can stick with things you probably already have in your pantry. The salmon is the star of the show here, after all, so if you don’t have fresh dill or parsley on hand, no problem!
No eggs? That’s okay—you can still make some great salmon patties. If you have chia seeds or ground flax seeds, you can make substitute eggs by combining 2 tablespoons of the seeds with 6 tablespoons of water. Alternatively, 2 tablespoons of gelatin powder mixed with water will work as well.
How should I serve these salmon cakes?
Salmon patties are great topped with a tartar sauce, remoulade sauce, or tzatziki sauce. My daughter prefers to dip hers in sour cream (she prefers to dip almost everything in sour cream). I serve them with a knife and fork, but you could also serve them on top of greens or even on a small bun to make salmon sliders.
What should I look for in a canned salmon?
Wild Alaskan red or pink salmon is going to be the best of the best when it comes to canned salmon. We prefer pink salmon in our house because it has a slightly less fishy flavor.
Um, there are bones in my canned salmon. Do I have to pick all those out?
Canned salmon comes with some small bones in it—no need to take them out. The canning, mixing, and cooking processes breaks the bones down to where they are completely edible (and even a good source of calcium).
Can I make these salmon patties gluten-free?
Sure can! Swap out the breadcrumbs for 1/3 cup blanched almond flour and two tablespoons coconut flour, and you’ll be eating gluten-free salmon cakes in no time. Bonus: This also makes the patties paleo and Whole30-friendly!
So how do I make salmon cakes?
Once you have your ingredients in order, here’s all you need to do to make salmon patties:
- Mix everything together with a fork in a large bowl, making sure not to break up the salmon too much. Let it rest for a few minutes.
- Form the mixture into patties, and pan fry them in a hot skillet in 2-3 batches over medium heat. We prefer using lard or avocado oil, but a pat of butter melted with olive oil will also do the trick.
- Move the finished salmon patties to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb some of the oil while you cook the rest of the cakes.
Some folks use crushed saltine crackers in place of breadcrumbs in the recipe.
Help! My salmon patties are falling apart!
Canned salmon varies in moisture and fat content, so if your patties seem to fall apart, you might need to add more “glue” in the form of eggs. Just add in another egg, plus some extra bread crumbs, until you get a very sticky consistency.
It’s also important to not mess with the salmon cakes once they are in the skillet frying. Place them in the oil, and then don’t move them! Let them get a good, solid crust on the outsides before flipping—this will help keep them together. Repeat with the other side.
I don’t have canned salmon, but I do have canned tuna. Will that work?
Sure will! Tuna patties are equally delicious. For the recipe below, you’ll need between 5-6 of the 6-ounce cans of tuna. Everything else in the recipe works as written with tuna.
How do I reheat salmon patties?
We reheat salmon cake leftovers in the toaster oven at 350°F until crisp and heated through. You can also reheat them in the conventional oven or in a skillet. I would skip the microwave—not only does it make the patties soggy, but it’ll also stink up your whole house!
What goes well with this salmon cake recipe?
In our house, we love serving our salmon cakes with classic comfort food sides like mac and cheese, sweet potato fries, or potato salad. We always make sure to have something fresh and green on the side, too—a fresh green salad is always a winner in our house!
Can you freeze salmon patties?
Sure can! In fact, I always double this recipe and put half in the freezer for an easy dinner later. I recommend freezing before cooking—just form the patties as the recipe lists, and then freeze in a freezer-safe container with parchment paper to divide layers of patties. You can also flash freeze the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then when frozen, transfer the patties to freezer bags.
Thaw the frozen patties in the refrigerator, and then cook them in a skillet the same way you would the fresh patties.