Made of simple ingredients from the pantry, our Old-Fashioned Salmon Patties recipe yields sizzling, golden brown salmon cakes that are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. This is one of the ultimate pantry staple recipes, using canned salmon, mayonnaise, cracker or bread crumbs, egg, and seasoning.
Simple salmon patties (a.k.a. Salmon cakes or salmon croquettes) like these are ubiquitous in southern households for a reason. This classic recipe is tremendously budget friendly, unbelievably easy to make, and pleasing to even picky eaters!
This is like your grandma’s old fashioned salmon patties recipe, but easier, fresher, and faster than back in the day! Unlike when our parents and grandparents had to pick through a can of salmon to remove skin and bones, most canned salmon today comes canned boneless and skinless already.
You can absolutely fancy up these southern salmon patties if you want to; adding chopped capers, serving with hollandaise sauce, and the like… But part of the charm of these salmon cakes is their simplicity and ease.
While I adore them hot and sizzling from the pan, they’re also great at room temperature served on a salad or from a lunchbox. And I have been known to grab a leftover salmon cake from the fridge and nosh on it post-run for a fast, delicious protein fix.
Old Fashioned Salmon Patty Recipe
Let’s go over our ingredients and equipment really quickly, shall we? It’s not complicated and you have some options to help make this even more pantry-friendly.
- Canned Salmon
- Large Egg
- Hot Sauce or Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt and Pepper
- Granulated Garlic or Garlic Powder
- Granulated Onion or Onion Powder
- Optional but tasty: Old Bay Seasoning, fresh or dried dill, green onions
Sounds vague right? That’s because our salmon croquettes recipe is very forgiving.
You can either go old-school and get the canned salmon that has skin and bones in it or go for a more convenient modern boneless-skinless option. I tend to use the boneless and skinless canned salmon for the sake of ease.
The most commonly available cans of salmon contain pink salmon. This is also the most budget friendly salmon, so that’s a win!
If you do get the old school salmon for this old-fashioned recipe, just be sure to drain it before removing the skin and bones. It’ll be easy to see the larger bones, but you may have to dig around a bit to find and remove the smaller bones.
That is fine, since you’d be shredding up the salmon anyway before making your salmon mixture.
I do not make these with smoked salmon or fresh salmon; that’s just too precious to use for salmon cakes! Besides that, you’d have to pre-cook the salmon before adding it to the salmon patties.
How to Make Tuna Patties
I do -from time to time- make this with canned tuna instead of canned salmon. You make tuna patties the exact same way you would salmon patties.
This transforms into a tuna patty recipe by the simple expedient of substituting an equal amount of drained canned tuna for the salmon. It’s just that easy!
Mayonnaise, egg, and hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce serve as binders as well as flavour agents. You can go for either hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce depending on your tastes.
I like to use Old Bay Hot Sauce in these simple salmon patties, but any hot sauce you like will do the job! And if hot sauce isn’t your jam, use Worcestershire sauce. They’re both delicious.
“But what kind of crumbs do you mean?” I hear you ask. Aha! We have so many choices!
Gluten Free Salmon Patties Recipe
The best salmon patties recipe is the one you make your own! Need gluten-free at your table? Simply choose a gluten-free version of whichever type of crumbs you like best.
I’ve used crushed saltine crackers, potato chips, corn chips, dry bread crumbs, and panko crumbs. I’ve taken the heel ends of sandwich bread and pulsed them in a food processor for fresh bread crumbs.
The world is your oyster, er, salmon cake. The only thing you need to do is make sure you’re adding enough to hold your salmon patty together.
What you will want to do, though, depending on what crumb source you have, is adjust the amount of salt and seasoning you add. If you use unseasoned bread or panko, you’ll want to add salt or Old Bay seasoning.
If you use potato, corn, or tortilla chips, or cracker crumbs you may want to omit the salt altogether depending on the saltiness of the chips or crackers. Keep the black pepper, though!
Out of mayo but you have salad dressing on hand? Go for it!
And why do I call for butter and oil? It’s a personal preference. You can use all oil if you prefer, but I love the taste of a little butter with my fish cakes recipe.
You can definitely tinker with the seasoning to suit your fancy. Add some Old Bay seasoning or dried or fresh dill if it dings your chimes!
If you’re so inclined, you can add a little of any or all of the following: minced red bell pepper, red onion, yellow onion, fresh herbs, or more. You can, as many do, sprinkle each side of your salmon patties with a little corn meal or panko breading for added crunch.
I don’t always add the extra sprinkle. You can do with or without it, as your pantry and preferences dictate.
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Sturdy Spoon
- Large Dinner Plate
- Frying Pan or Half Sheet Pan with Parchment
- Fish Spatula or other Slotted Spatula
I’m just going to go ahead and say that these easy salmon patties are at their very best made in a cast iron frying pan. The cast-iron holds the temperature more steadily than other types of pans which translates to less temperature variation when you add the cold salmon patties to the hot oil in the pan.
A steadier temperature for cooking means a crispier exterior and more moist, tender interior. You don’t have to worry about dry salmon patties when you cook them in cast-iron skillets!
Of course, you have options here, too! Feel free to bake these salmon patties on a parchment lined sheet pan. They’ll still be delicious even if they’re not quite as crisp on the exterior.
Salmon Patty Recipe Tips
- Be sure to thoroughly blend your salmon patty mixture.
- Let the formed patties rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking them.
- Don’t move the patties around in the pan. Let them stay where you put them.
- Don’t crowd the pan!
- Do not flip the patties more than once.
Most of these tips have to do with keeping your salmon patty intact through the cooking process. Salmon patties with big chunks of salmon have a tendency to disintegrate in the pan.
Letting the patties chill before cooking also helps keep them together when heat is introduced. It gives the crumbs time to hydrate and bind and the egg time to set up.
When you place patties in the pan, leave them there! Give the bottom of it time to brown and release itself from the pan. This will take about 3 minutes.
I understand that it might seem like you’ll get done faster if you put all your patties in the pan at once. But unless you have a massive cast iron skillet like mine, you’re likely to need to do this in batches.
If you overcrowd the pan, you drop the temperature of the oil which keeps your patties from developing a delightfully crispy crust on the outside. You also make it tougher to ease a spatula under them for their single flip, which means you might break them apart.
This whole recipe is done cooking in under 10 minutes, so saying “patience is a virtue” is a little silly, but it’s still true. Be patient. Don’t flip the patties until the underside is a gorgeous, deep golden brown and it smells irresistible
This helps -all together now!- hold the patties together while cooking. And flipping them once only, allowing the second side to form a crust like you did with the first side, ensures a more cohesive salmon cake.
What to Serve with Salmon Patties
These are great straight up out of the pan served with spicy roasted broccoli or asparagus, shaved asparagus salad, broccoli grape salad or jalapeno coleslaw. If you want to make them into a complete meal, try letting them cool a smidgen and serve them in place of salmon filets in this salmon caesar salad.
You do not have to add anything else to these, but a squeeze of fresh lemon juice wouldn’t go amiss! Some folks like to drizzle a little thousand island dressing or caesar dressing over them.
My kids like them with ketchup or tartar sauce. Plain or dressed, you’re going to love these!
Round out your meal with a tea infused Lady Greyhound cocktail or light and refreshing mixed berry sangria by the glass. And if you want to keep your southern theme going, finish the meal with a sweet slice of the very best Angel Food Cake with a dollop of fresh lemon lime curd.
Old Fashioned Salmon Patties Recipe
How To Make Salmon Patties
Add the drained salmon to a mixing bowl and use a spoon to break it up thoroughly. Stir in the crumbs, mayonnaise, egg, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce, salt or Old Bay seasoning, and black pepper.
Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, then stir until the mixture looks even and holds together when lifted on a spoon. Divide into 8 equal portions.
Roll each portion into a ball then flatten slightly into a patty that is about ½-inch thick, but no more than 3/4-inch thick. Plate them on a plate, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 30 minutes before cooking them.
How to Cook Salmon Patties
Place a cast iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom.
Drop the pat of butter into the skillet. When it foams up, gently place the salmon patties in a single layer with space between them into the hot pan.
Do not move them once they are in place. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom of the patty is deep golden brown, you hear sizzling, and it smells good.
Ease a fish spatula or other slotted turner under each patty and gently turn it over. Only turn these once!
In order to avoid overcrowding the pan, you may find you need to do this in batches. If so, repeat the oil/butter coating between batches.
How to Bake Salmon Patties
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a half sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.
Arrange the chilled salmon patties with plenty of space between them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spritz lightly with olive oil.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and set up, turning once halfway through cooking.
How to Serve Salmon Patties
Serve them alongside steamed, roasted, or fried vegetables, on a bun like a salmon burger, or straight out of the fridge as a high-protein midnight snack.
Old Fashioned Salmon Patties Recipe
- 1 mixing bowl
- Measuring Cups
- measuring spoons
- 1 sturdy spoon
- 1 Large Dinner Plate
- 1 frying pan
- 1 Fish Spatula or other Slotted Spatula
- 1 ½ cups canned salmon drained if packed in liquid, picked free of skin and bones if the can contains them.
- 1 cup cracker crumbs or unseasoned bread crumbs
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt or Old Bay Seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or another neutral oil with a high smoke temperature like canola, vegetable, or light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Optional but tasty: fresh dill or sliced green onions for garnish
How To Make Salmon Patties
- Add the drained salmon to a mixing bowl and use a spoon to break it up thoroughly. Stir in the crumbs, mayonnaise, egg, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce, granulated garlic and onion, salt or Old Bay seasoning, and black pepper.
- Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, then stir until the mixture looks even and holds together when lifted on a spoon. Divide into 8 equal portions.
- Roll each portion into a ball then flatten slightly into a patty that is about ½-inch thick, but no more than 3/4-inch thick. Plate them on a plate, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 30 minutes before cooking them.
How to Fry Salmon Patties
- Place a cast iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom.
- Drop the pat of butter into the skillet. When it foams up, gently place the salmon patties in a single layer with space between them into the hot pan.
- Do not move them once they are in place. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the bottom of the patty is deep golden brown, you hear sizzling, and it smells good.
- Ease a fish spatula or other slotted turner under each patty and gently turn it over. Only turn these once!
- In order to avoid overcrowding the pan, you may find you need to do this in batches. If so, repeat the oil/butter coating between batches.
How to Bake Salmon Patties
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a half sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment and set it aside.
- Arrange the chilled salmon patties with plenty of space between them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Spritz or drizzle lightly with olive oil.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and set up, turning once halfway through cooking.
- How to Serve Salmon Patties
- Serve them alongside steamed, roasted, or fried vegetables, on a bun like a salmon burger, or straight out of the fridge as a high-protein midnight snack.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.