Don’t Like Fish? I Bet You’ll Like These Salmon Cakes

fries and salmon cakes on plate

My salmon cakes have always been a hit with our family, but when a good friend’s daughter had them with us and raved about them to her mom, I knew it was a “must share”. (And now you have the recipe, sweet Reese, so your mommy can make them.)

Even those who don’t care for fish might be happily surprised to find that these don’t taste all that fishy. They are well-seasoned, and frying anything in good fats can only make them taste even better. As a perk, they’re a particularly inexpensive way to put nourishing seafoods on the table.

The Way We Get More Salmon in Our Diet

This was originally inspired by the Fish Cakes recipe in Nourishing Traditions. That recipe required fresh fish and fish roe, neither of which I have on hand or can afford to buy very often. I wanted to convert this recipe so that I could make it up anytime, as a way to get more fish in our diets.

Using canned foods isn’t a preference for me, and we avoid most canned goods due to BPA exposure from the linings of the cans. I’ve eliminated almost all other canned foods or found BPA-free versions, but fresh and even frozen salmon is expensive, but so incredibly nutritious and beneficial for our health.

Seafoods were one of THE most valued foods among the traditional tribes that Weston Price studied, and wherever he found cultures subsisting heavily on seafoods, he found exceptionally strong bones and robust health. Calcium and other nutrients in the bones, omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA and EPA for children’s growing brains and pregnant/nursing moms), and all the other goodness that resides in wild salmon is just nourishing beyond belief, and so that’s why our family still eats a lot of canned salmon.

Salmon Cakes

Makes 8-10 cakes, depending on size– just enough for the 5 eaters in our home when served with other side dishes.

  • 2 cans salmon (with bones, but drained) — Always choose wild salmon, never farmed. You can use pink salmon, which is cheaper, although my strong preference is for red sockeye salmon.
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (any bread works- homemade wheat, spelt or kamut, gluten free, sourdough, etc.)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced OR 1 tsp dried onion powder
  • 2 cloves minced garlic OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp mustard (dijon or regular)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp organic soy or tamari sauce
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste (I just add a little- these have quite a bit of flavor already)

mixing salmon cakes

Drain canned salmon, then dump into a medium sized bowl. Using the back of a fork, break salmon apart and crush bones. Mix in eggs, then bread crumbs, and lastly, all of the seasonings.

salmon cakes cooking

Preheat a cast-iron pan to medium heat, and add a few pats of butter and some extra virgin olive oil (you can do just one or the other, or even use coconut oil instead, but the mix gives such a great flavor).

You’ll have to use your hands to shape these patties as you go to make them. I just put a big dollop in my hands, shape it best as I can, and flatten slightly once in the pan if needed. I don’t bother to pre-shape them, but just do it as I go.

salmon cakes flipped over cooking

Once cooked halfway through and nicely browned (2-3 minutes), flip over and allow to cook all the way (another couple minutes).

I frequently serve these with sweet potato fries (made similarly to these baked french fries- one of these days I’ll have to post a true tutorial, since they are among my children’s favorite foods), for a very easy dinner. They’re also good alongside any sort of salad– green, broccoli salad, coleslaw, what have you, or even with a plate of raw veggies and dip.

Although they taste wonderful just as they are, they’re also quite tasty with homemade tarter sauce. I don’t have a specific recipe but this is basically how I make mine:

  • Start with about 1 cup of mayonnaise in a mason jar (homemade mayo is best)
  • Take 1 good-sized dill pickle and mince it as finely as you can
  • Add a bit of pickle juice or lemon juice (or a bit of both) into the mayo, along with the minced pickle, and stir it well.
That’s it! Super easy. It tastes best if it has some time to sit, to allow flavors to mix.

Do you eat seafood very often? What are your favorite ways to get fish into your family?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Veronica says:

    Do you think these freeze well?

  2. I love fish and just had to add this recipe to my menu plan this week: http://nearlynaturalnicole.blogspot.com/2012/04/menu-plan-430-56.html
    My kids didn’t love these patties but my husband and I sure did. I’ll be making this recipe again for sure!

  3. I have made salmon cakes before – and your right – they are pretty simple to make and a great way to get more fish into your diet.

    Another Good Fish Recipe is for that cheap tilapa fish you buy at walmart and set your stove to broil – Use a cookie sheet and tin foil put fish fillets on – Cook 5 minutes each side – Take out and put Mayonaise on them then either add shredded cheese or parm and re broil for another few minutes till cheese is cooked – both my teens and hubby love this.

  4. CeCe1942 says:

    I make salmon cakes often and my recipe is similar to yours, minus the soy sauce. I do add finely minced celery and some fresh parsly finely chopped. I also make a creamy dill sauce with reduced fat mayo, plain yogurt, lemon juice, a couple of scallions and fresh dill. It keeps a couple of days in the fridge and I eat the leftovers with tuna and crackers for lunch.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I’ll have to try your recipe. It looks fast. Another recipe that I have grown to love is Rachael Ray’s salmon cakes — wow! This dill and lemon make a big difference — yum. As a side note, I rarely have chives, so I usually just dice a regular onion really small. Also, unless I can find an organic bell pepper in season, I usually have to do without that ingredient. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/salmon-cakes-recipe/index.html

  6. MOM24BOYS says:

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and find that all fish is more expensive than southern California! When we lived there just 6 years ago, twice a year our market had whole salmon on sale for $1.50/# ! And it was wild.

    I miss it so much. To get farm raised here it is at least, on sale, $5.99/# and they never, ever have whole fish.

    Our solution is to just stick with canned salmon and good canned tuna.

    Soon though, we hope to learn how to can tuna with friends (they meet with family and their motor homes at a campground near a fishing port, set up outdoor kitchens and can together all week, helping each other get a year’s supply put up).

  7. Ah, salmon… well what can I say? We live in Alaska and bring home 40-50 salmon every summer. We cook it about once a week so that usually means two meals (one from leftovers). My 16yo daughter’s favorite way to eat it is fried in a cast iron skillet in coconut oil. We grill a lot in the summer (I have a special bbq sauce for salmon that has converted people who thought they didn’t like salmon), broil when it’s just too cold to grill (salt and pepper the filet, stir some grated lemon zest into homemade mayo then slather it on , then put under broiler), fry it (just salt and pepper, no breading) or poach it (although the only time I poach it is when I am preparing it ahead to have cooked salmon for some other recipe… like salmon patties or a casserole).
    We can our own too, skin and bones included. We use canned for salmon salad (mayo, a bit of onion, sometimes celery and dill pickle) for sandwiches or on top of a bed of salad greens or if we’re not eating grains but feel like a sandwich we stuff half a red bell pepper with the sandwich ingredients, sometimes adding some grated cheddar and a little mustard to the salmon mixture. My kids love salmon gravy over biscuits or mashed potatoes (just stir a can or jar of salmon into a flavorful white sauce and you have salmon gravy!). You can smoosh the salmon up with a little liquid smoke and blend with cream cheese and a few chives for a yummy dip.
    Of course, you could use real smoked salmon for the dip too, which we do until we’re out of it. Smoked salmon is also good in a potato salad.
    Salmon tacos are yummy made with grilled salmon. Salmon chowder… yeah, we eat a lot of it!
    To answer the bones questions: they are definitely not a choking hazard when canned. My daughter describes the texture as sort of like those little Smarties candies (not that she’s ever eaten them or anything… ;)). I’d say it’s a soft crunch, like maybe… almost cooked onions? You could smash the bones between your finger and thumb with no problem. For a baby I’d just make sure everything is smashed very thoroughly. There is too much good stuff in the skin and bones to throw them away.
    As an aside, we feed the carcasses, after fileting, to our dogs, along with some of the skin. They will crunch down the whole head too!
    This year I’m going to be working on us eating the roe, which I’m almost ashamed to say usually goes to the dogs too. Living and learning.

    • How awesome that you have such a plentiful supply of salmon! Thanks for the many ideas to use it. I get into a rut with patties and fillets. Now I have a lot of great ideas to use any leftovers up!

    • Babe, we have a friend that lives in Stewart. We visit him every once in a while and go fishing. I love fresh salmon, halibut and cod. We usually catch enough for the whole year in returning to Texas. So many wonderful ways to cook. Fish soup is wonderful too. Our friend fed-ex’s us some of his home canned salmon and frozen and of what ever other kind he fish. With what he sends us and what we catch in the gulf when we don’t make it to Alaska, satisfies my taste for fresh fish. Nothing else like it!

    • Just a side note regarding feeding salmon to dogs. I lived for many years in Seward AK so I have had the great pleasure of fresh salmon right off my hook and made into many different things over the years. Also homemade dog food, or as you suggest, raw fish for the dogs. But, if you do not live in the Arctic North, DO NOT GIVE RAW SALMON TO DOGS. In the lower 48, and here in my current home on the Oregon coast, salmon move through water that is warmer and they have a “fluke” or a type of organism, that is deadly to doggies. Big no-no down here. Look up salmon poisoning in canines and you’ll get a better explanation, but I just wanted to add this note to prevent the sad business of loosing a beloved pet. It is a sad slow death. If they do happen to live through it, (and they can if caught immediately and the dog is medicated by the vet) they will often be immune to future poisonings, but not always. Better to go with cooked salmon for the doggies. Kitties, that’s another thing altogether. They love a little raw fish and it won’t make them sick, just the canines. Boy do I envy you – I would move back north in a heartbeat if I could. Life is not as good down here. Whatever you do, do not leave Alaska!!!!

  8. Thank you for sharing your recipe. I too always leave the bones in when making salmon patties! They are such an excellent source of calcium as others have already said. Due to the way the canned salmon is processed the bones are so brittle you can crush them been your fingers (it’s definitely not like you’re trying to eat raw fish bones). My question is: do you eat the skin as well? I’ve always taken that part off but am willing to try leaving it in if it’s beneficial and unnoticeable.

  9. This recipe sounds good! The two cans of salmon are 14 oz, right? I have a bunch of 8 oz and wanted to make sure. Thanks!

    • I second this question! I actually got back on here to see if there was an answer. I’m thinking of making them tonight, but with my small 6 oz cans, it doesn’t sound right.

      • MOM24BOYS says:

        it sounds like your cans are the boneless type of canned salmon. That can be used also but you forgo the benefits of the bones and the fat that is in the skin. I would say that the equivalent to 2 of the bone-in canned salmon would be 4 of the deboned type.

        • I actually had one can with both bones and skin, it was 14.5 oz. I have some smaller cans that my mom bought, those are boneless skinless. Not knowing how many to use, I used the large one and one small one and it came out well.

  10. We love salmon here too! I do splurge for wild, frozen, red sockeye salmon fillets at Trader Joe’s every month or so. It is expensive, but it’s such a quick, easy and beloved dinner around here. I tried all kinds of recipes for a while, and finally settled on seasoning both sides with salt and pepper, and cooking in an olive oil and butter combination. You’re right, it is an excellent flavor! My husband absolutely loves it!

    I also make salmon patties. I’ve tried many recipes, and they are all good, but nothing has really wowed me yet, so I’ll definitely give your recipe a try. I also make homemade tartar sauce. However, my favorite is a creamy dill dipping sauce I found on allrecipes. It’s a mayo, sour cream combo with dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It’s so easy and so yummy!

    We also love the canned tuna and salmon from Vital Choice. It’s the best I’ve ever had! I can eat the tuna straight from the can. It is pricey, but the cans are BPA free, which I’m happy about. The quality really is outstanding, so we splurge a few times a year and stock up. I’ve also seen it available recently through Azure Standard.

    We only eat seafood once or twice a month, and I really need to step it up! Thanks for the recipe!

    • The dill sauce sounds great– I’ll have to try!

      • I had to come back and say wow! I made these last night for dinner, and I’ve finally found a recipe to keep. :) I used 4 smaller cans of salmon (6-7oz.), and the first four patties crumbled, so I added another egg. That did the trick and these cooked up nicely. Even my husband said the flavor of these were awesome. I made my favorite creamy dill dipping sauce, but he said they were so good they didn’t need a sauce. Now that is saying a lot! Thank you!

  11. I grew up with a mom who loved to make salmon or tuna patties just like this. :o) She even added some diced celery and peppers,…. now as an adult I add for myself and for the ones who like ‘em,…. jalepenos! :o)

  12. thank you!! I just bought some canned salmon last week and was going to search for a good recipe for it. we don’t eat a whole lot of fish, except for special occasions. I am really going to try to move towards more fish, less beef/chicken.

    We had salmon and halibut this week with my mother-in-law here and made two salsas from Giada DiLaurentis (sp) – one with arugula, lemon and capers and the other with mint, parsley and lots of citrus – so good, highly recommend looking them up!

  13. The canned salmon bones are very soft and soo good for you and the kiddos as well as the skin… I have made the typical salmon cakes for many years(i’m the 55 yo peep here) and mush up the cartlidge(big bone),bones and skin till they are indistinguishable. I have made them w/o eggs, and cooked them on the smoker on a grid. Most recently i was using up @ 1/4C of leftover black beans to 1 little can of salmon (cooking for 2 is the pits) and added cumin then topped this with a poached egg and seasoned chopped tomatoes it and served it over sauteed kale …It was the bomb…. will be doing this again not as a leftover user up dish.

    • How did they stay together without the egg? My little girl is gluten, dairy and egg-free, so it’s really hard coming up with a good binder. I miss salmon cakes! Thank you! :)

      • I’ve heard that chia seeds can form a good binder, like eggs. Not sure exactly what the chia-water proportion would be though

      • I have done them using flax egg replacer when we couldn’t eat eggs for a while. They don’t stay together quite as well, but it works. And almond meal works, too, if you don’t have gluten free bread on hand.

  14. My family makes almost this exact same recipe and we love it. One thing we’ve discovered is that you can substitute almond flour 1:1 for the bread crumbs if you need to do a grain-free or GAPS-friendly version (and of course the soy sauce would be out, but it still tastes great!).

    Have you ever heard of Vital Choice Seafood? I believe they have a website, and we get all of our canned wild seafood from them. Very reliable source of quality food.

    As far as bones go, salmon bones are so soft that you can smash them with your fork if you run across any large enough to notice while you are mixing the ingredients (you also chew through them without noticing). I would very thoroughly inspect any of the salmon you gave to a small child, but older kids should be fine chewing through the bones without any issues. The first time I made this recipe, I was hesitant about the bones and the skin, but you really and truly don’t notice either one, and they are SO good for you.

  15. I absolutely love salmon cakes (we call them salmon patties)! They are what I request for my birthday and the first thing my husband cooked for me when dating. My recipe is a little different but I love the addition of soy sauce and will have to try that! I may also have to try your tartar sauce recipe; I think my husband would really enjoy that. http://myspiritedadventure.blogspot.com/2011/02/salmon-patties.html

  16. Haha, yeah I’m going to chime in on that bone theme, too. It’s probably the main reason I don’t eat salmon, or any seafood really. Eating or even preparing fish or seafood is completely unknown territory to me (with the exception of canned tuna.) And a lot of times we don’t eat because we don’t know… I would love a series on this!

    For egg replacer, I would experiment with flax meal gel but in my experience it will need a lot more butter/oil to prevent sticking to the pan. And it may still not hold together as well. It might end up as a salmon scramble. ;)

    • I’ve tried the flax…and it was salmon scramble. :/ But I ended up just creating a new dish and calling it spicy salmon and rice! I just mixed up the “salmon scramble” with brown rice! LOL!

  17. This is awesome. I’ve been searching for a salmon cakes recipe, and now I don’t need to look anymore! I don’t know where to find canned salmon with bones though… Guess I’ll need to look around.

  18. Huh. I’ll have to try this recipe, although I’m definitely wondering about the bones!

  19. I will definitely have to try these. It seems easy enough. I am not crazy about fish, but my husband loves it. Maybe these will satisfy the both of us :)

  20. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I love salmon cakes, but I’ve struggled with making them since my daughter has had to give up eggs. Any ideas on any other binders that would work?

    • I commented above that I have tried it with flax replacer. It definitely isn’t as firm as it is with eggs. They crumble more easily, but I found they still generally worked. Making them smaller helps, too. When they’re larger, then they definitely crumble more with flax. Just make mini cakes. :)

      • Thanks, Stephanie! Sorry to take up so much space in the comments…I was stalking anyone who suggested they did it without eggs! My girls love salmon…I hope making them smaller will help!

    • Use chia seeds instead of flax. They don’t need to be ground first. The ratio is about 9:1 water to chia, or a teaspoon seeds to 1/4 c water. It’s easy to find by googling chia egg replacer. We love chia seeds, much better than flax (which, by the way has never been traditionally used as food).

  21. I’m curious about the size of the cans you use – are they the small 5 or 6 oz. cans similar to tuna? Or the larger 12 oz.? Thanks – these sound great!

  22. We LOVE salmon cakes! Sometimes I form them and use them in place of burgers and we have Salmon Burgers. Yum!!! Your recipe is very similar to my mom’s.

    I too crush up my bones. I take out the large center bone and just smush the rest. We never taste them or even notice them. I was leery the first time, but I really can’t tell they’re in there.

  23. I chuckled when I read your question about getting fish into my family. I grew up in the Midwest, so fresh seafood was quite rare. I remember my mom making salmon-loaf on occasion. It smelled bad, but tasted good. My husband and I live in South Korea now. We eat seafood just about everyday (usually in some type of soup). I also ate a lot of fish bones the first few months we were here. I have since learned how to fillet a fish with chopsticks and a spoon. I have tried so many different types of creatures over here, but I think salmon is still my favorite form of seafood. This recipe looks delicious! Thanks so much for sharing it!

    • being from the midwest as well I would love to know how to fillet and clean fish with such finesse. Or live in S. Korea.

    • When we lived in Japan, we ate SO much more fish. I really miss all of that amazing fish, actually. Funny thing is, we live on the West Coast, and so there is definitely lots of fish available, but I still find it expensive (maybe because our family is so much larger now than it was when we lived in Japan), and there isn’t nearly the interesting variety available unless you go to speciality shops (which are extra expensive).

  24. I’m really curious about the bones too…are they so tiny you don’t ever bite them/choke on them? (Know you said to crush them, but I worry about the ones I would miss and my little eaters.) Thanks for the recipe!

    • They are so soft that even if you miss crushing one, you can just eat it easily anyways. We’ve been eating the bones for years and years and none of us has come even close to choking on them, and I know there are plenty of times when I miss crushing some of them. My little ones eat them (they’re my 2 year olds favorites) with no problem.

  25. I gotta know about the bones…What are they like, texture wise? We make salmon and tuna patties around here often, but from boneless. However, I have one child who can’t eat dairy and I know the bones would be great for her. Just not sure if everyone would eat it.

    **My recipe sounds about the same as yours, but we use Worcestershire instead of the soy :)

    • They’re just slightly crunchy, but they’re really very soft. You can chew them up as easily as a piece of celery (or even easier). We honestly don’t even notice them. I definitely leave the bones in for the calcium, especially because my 2 year old can’t have dairy and she needs other foods to make up for it.

Trackbacks

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