This easy Salmon Patties Recipe (aka salmon cakes) is the perfect weeknight dinner. They come together in just 20 minutes using 10 ingredients including affordable canned salmon. They are great to make-ahead and use no breadcrumbs, making them low-carb, keto and paleo—everyone is happy!

Old Fashioned Salmon Patties

Most salmon cakes are loaded with breadcrumbs, Panko, or even potatoes to bind ingredients together and to make more hearty patties. They’re so common, it’d be easy to think you couldn’t make these fish cakes without some type of carby filler. 

But, here’s the good news, I’m going to share my expert tips from recipe testing these patties several times so you can make them without breadcrumbs. If you love salmon recipes, you must try some of my other favorites like pesto salmon pasta, miso-glazed salmon, and grilled balsamic salmon.

Benefits of Using Canned Salmon

Canned wild salmon is a staple in my pantry! It’s a great go-to when you’re short on groceries, aren’t sure what to make, or are short on time. 

To simplify the process of making these cakes, and to cut down on prep work and cook time, I turn to the canned wild caught variety. Sure, it’s not as fresh as, well, fresh salmon, but it’s a great way to add heart-healthy fat and protein to your diet in an inexpensive way.

I prefer to pick through and remove any bones or cartilage I find in my canned fish (very common). However, the bones soften through the canning process which makes them safe to eat. Plus they are packed with calcium, so if you don’t mind some added crunch, go ahead and keep them in!  

Overhead photo of salmon cake ingredients (egg, salmon, herbs, shallot, mayo, salt and pepper)in a large bowl.

Ingredients

  • Canned wild salmon: you’ll need one large (14.5-ounce) can of salmon or three small (6-ounce) cans. I recommend buying high-quality canned wild salmon—Wild Planet or Redhead are two great options.
  • Large egg: an egg is important for binding these cakes together. Use a large or extra-large egg for this recipe.
  • Shallot: this adds a lovely oniony and garlicky flavor! You’ll need one small shallot.
  • Lemon juice: fresh lemon juice brightens up these cakes and balances out all the savory flavors. Grab 1 lemon.
  • Mayonnaise: just a tablespoon of mayonnaise is needed for a bit of fat, flavor and binding these cakes together.
  • Fresh chives: there are three different types of herbs in these cakes—may seem like overkill but they all add a lot of flavor. You’ll need 1 minced tablespoon of chives, so grab a small bunch and use the leftovers in my Shrimp Rolls.
  • Fresh dill: fresh is always best, but if you don’t want to buy so many fresh herbs, you can use 2 teaspoons of dried dill instead. If you do buy fresh dill (which I recommend) you can use the leftovers in my herby Orzo Salad.
  • Fresh parsley: you’ll need just 1 tablespoon of minced fresh parsley. Use the rest of the parsley as greens in a Garden Salad.
  • Dijon mustard: a teaspoon of Dijon really punches up the flavor of these cakes! Feel free to use a heaping teaspoon if you love mustard!
  • Cayenne pepper: for a mild rounded bit of heat, add a pinch of cayenne. If you aren’t a fan of cayenne, you can use black pepper instead.
  • Olive oil: a couple tablespoons are needed for frying up the cakes in two batches. You can also use avocado oil or canola oil.

How to Make Salmon Cakes Recipe

  1. Drain the canned salmon then remove and discard any bones or cartilage. Transfer the canned fish to a medium bowl and flake into small chunks using a fork.
  2. Add the egg, shallot, lemon juice, mayonnaise, chives, dill, parsley, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Using ¼ cup measure, scoop level amount of the mixture and form into patties 2 1/2-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining mixture.
  4. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until just shimmering. Place half of the patties into the skillet and cook, without moving, until golden brown, 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Carefully flip the patties and cook until the second side is golden brown, 2 to 2 ½ minutes more. Transfer patties to a wire rack and keep warm until ready to serve.
  5. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and repeat the cooking process with the remaining tablespoon of oil and patties.
  6. Serve as desired (ideas below). We like to top them with tartar sauce.
Overhead photo of prepared salmon cakes arranged on a white plate, ready to be cooked

Pro Tips for Recipe Success

Tip 1: add an egg

For these salmon cakes, instead of using breadcrumbs I chose to use an egg for binding and adding structure. The egg is incredibly important when making patties with canned fish.

Why? Well, when protein is heated during the cooking process, the protein molecules unfold and extend. The molecules then have more surface area to bond to other protein molecules, which create a network of cross bonding, aka clumping. 

So, when we use pre-cooked (canned) fish, instead of raw, we lose out on that lovely molecular expanding, bonding, and contracting process. So to create a patty that holds together and doesn’t crumble the moment you try to flip it, we need to add a raw protein that can undergo that process, and you guessed it, bind everything together!

Tip 2: be smart with the add-ins

Since we aren’t relying on breadcrumbs to absorb excess liquid we need to keep added moisture to a minimum. To do this, I call for just a tablespoon of lemon juice and a tablespoon of mayo.

Aside from added moisture, it’s important to prepare the add-ins (shallot and herbs) very small not chunky. The chunkier the shallot, the more risk of the patties to fall apart.

I recommend grating the shallot on a box grater, then giving it a pass with your knife too, just to ensure it’s tiny. Then thoroughly mince the parsley and chives. 

Tip 3: high heat and a nonstick skillet 

To create a nice golden crust be sure to adequately heat 12-inch a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the oil, let it heat up just until shimmering, and add the cakes.

Avoid messing with the cakes as they cook and allow them to sear for 2–2½ minutes before flipping to the second side. The less you mess with them the less likely they are to fall apart. 

Overhead of a salmon nicoise salad on a white oval plate

Variations

  • Salmon Patties with Fresh Salmon: if you’re looking to make salmon patties without canned salmon, you can use fresh salmon. Make my Broiled Salmon, let it cool, then use the cooked salmon in the cakes. Easy and delicious!
  • Seafood Patties: use this recipe method to make all kinds of other seafood patties. Canned tuna and canned crab meat would be the two best options. Or try my Shrimp Burgers for a shrimp version!
  • Bake or Air Fry: instead of pan-frying, you can bake the patties or air fry them.

    I haven’t tested this, but here is what I would do: preheat an oven or airfryer to 400ºF. For the oven, brush a sheet pan with avocado oil and bake until nicely browned on both sides, flipping patties halfway through, this will probably take about 8 minutes per side.

    For the airfryer, coat the air fryer basket with nonstick spray and cook the patties for 8 minutes. Flip, then cook for about 4 minutes more or until the patties are nicely browned.
  • Mediterranean Salmon Patties: instead of the trio of herbs, use some fresh oregano, minced capers or olives and lots of lemon zest. Serve with a creamy feta sauce or my Zucchini Tzatziki from my Mediterranean Turkey Burger.
  • Asian-inspired: skip the trio of herbs, Dijon, lemon and shallot and instead add garlic, green onions, a dash of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and fresh grated ginger. Serve with the hoisin sauce from these Asian Meatballs.
  • Southern-Inspired: try my Salmon Croquettes—they are a Southern version of this recipe.

What to Serve with Salmon Patties

Salmon patties are excellent on their own with a delicious sauce like our tartar sauce or mustard sauce. Here are some other easy ideas:

Storage

This salmon cakes recipe is best served immediately after frying in the skillet. Storage options include:

  • For the fridge: place in an airtight container in the refrigrator for up to four days for cooked patties and up to 1 day for uncooked patties.
  • For the freezer: wrap cooked or raw patties individually and place in a freezer safe ziptop bag for up to 1 month. Thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Make-ahead: assemble the raw patties up to one day ahead and store on a plate in the fridge covered with plastic.
Close up photo of salmon cakes stacked on a white plate with lemon slices on a gray table with a blue napkin.

FAQs

Can I make salmon cakes with fresh salmon?

Yes, this recipe will also work with fresh fish as well you may just need a second egg for binding the patties together.

How long do salmon patties take to cook?

Only about 3 minutes per side until golden brown and hot.

Can salmon patties be cooked from frozen?

It is recommended to cook the patties from fresh for texture. If the patties are frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for an hour or so until completely thawed.

Why do salmon patties fall apart?

This is because there wasn’t enough binder in the recipe. In this recipe we use egg, but breadcrumbs can also be used. Add an additional egg as needed.

Can you make salmon patties in the air fryer?

Yes, this recipe hasn’t been tested in the air fryer but follow according to another recipe instructions.

Can you make salmon patties without eggs?

Yes, eggs are used to bind the patties together in this recipe. If you don’t use eggs, then you will need to use something like breadcrumbs to keep them from falling apart.

Other Salmon Recipes to Try

We’ve got tons of healthy salmon recipes, here are just a few of our favorites!

Easy Salmon Patties Recipe (Salmon Cakes)

4.74 from 23 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Yield 7 patties
Category Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Lauren

Description

This easy Salmon Patties Recipe (aka salmon cakes) are the perfect weeknight dinner. They come together in just 20 minutes using 10 ingredients including affordable canned salmon. They are great to make-ahead and use no breadcrumbs, making them low-carb, keto and paleo—everyone is happy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.75 ounce) can wild salmon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons grated shallot
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Drain salmon then remove and discard any bones or cartilage. Transfer salmon to a medium bowl and flake salmon into small chunks using a fork.
  • Add 1 egg, 2 tablespoons grated shallot, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon dill, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon Dijon, ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper, and pinch cayenne to salmon and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop level amount of salmon mixture and form into a patty 2½-inches in diameter and ½-inch thick; transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining mixture. 
  • Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat just until shimmering. Place half of salmon patties in skillet and cook, without moving, until golden brown, 2–2½ minutes. Carefully flip patties and cook until second side is golden brown, 2–2½ minutes. Transfer patties to a wire rack.
  • Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and repeat cooking process with remaining tablespoon oil and salmon patties.
  • Serve as desired, we like to top them with tartar sauce.

Video

Notes

A nonstick skillet is essential here! You can also use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. If you have neither, use a regular skillet and make sure to add more oil to the skillet during cooking to avoid any stickage. 
This salmon cakes recipe is best served immediately after frying in the skillet. Storage options include:
  • For the fridge: place in an airtight container in the refrigrator for up to four days for cooked patties and up to 1 day for uncooked patties.
  • For the freezer: wrap cooked or raw patties individually and place in a freezer safe ziptop bag for up to 1 month. Thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • Make-ahead: make the raw salmon cakes up to one day ahead and store on a plate in the fridge covered with plastic.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pattyCalories: 117kcalCarbohydrates: 0.5gProtein: 10.5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 159mg
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
Close up photo of salmon cakes stacked on a white plate with lemon slices on a gray table with a blue napkin.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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Comments

  1. These are great. I didn’t have a few spices but ad libbed. I used my air fryer at 380 for 15 minutes- flipped half way through. Delish and one bowl. Super easy!! Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this at the last minute tonight so I only had dried herbs on hand and they still turned out fantastic. I also made them air fryer like a previous review mentioned. Thank you for a great recipe!

  3. These are ridiculously good. Even without dill they were quite tasty. I let the mixture sit in the fridge for about 30 mins before forming and frying. They held together perfectly. Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    I made these tonight and they were amazing. I didn’t have fresh dill which next time I will make sure I have on hand. Thank you for this recipe I will be sharing this with everyone.

    1. Hi Toni! I’m so glad you enjoyed them! Fresh dill is great with these, but they definitely can stand on their own without it. Thanks for sharing it with people!

    1. Hi Morgan, definitely! I haven’t tested this, but I would recommend chilling the patties for 30 minutes or so before grilling, this will help them stay together while grilling. I would also recommend oiling your grill grates pretty well before adding the patties to avoid sticking. As for heat, medium should work well at about 3 minutes per side. Let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Meagan,

      Great question! I haven’t tested this recipe as baked but I think it should work fine! I would bake them at 375-degrees for about 10 minutes (on a lightly greased baking sheet), then broil them at the end to add some color. I would broil for 3–5 minutes per side. Let me know how it goes!

  5. 4 stars
    Yum! My husband and I loved these, and they were so quick and easy. They did seem pretty salty (and I am a salt-loving gal), so I wonder if it should be reduced a bit. A great weeknight dinner from kitchen staples. Served with a pot of rice, a salad, and fresh tomatoes; delicious! Thank you!

    1. Hi Lucy! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe—thank you for the note on the salt level! I will adjust that.

  6. 5 stars
    Delicious! I added a quarter cup of almond meal because I accidentally put it too much lemon juice and they were still perfect!

    1. Hi Aleah,

      I haven’t tested this, but I assume it would work well! I’d bake at 350ºF and start with 8 minutes, adding more time if needed. Let me know how it goes!

  7. I made these using leftover baked salmon. I had no lemon juice, so I used apple cider vinegar. They were delicious! Will make them again.

  8. This was my first time ever making salmon patties and OMG these will definitely be a staple in my house. Thank you for sharing this gem❤️