Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

How To Make the Absolute Easiest Salmon Patties

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

Flake the salmon. Place the salmon in a large bowl and flake into smaller pieces with a fork.

Add remaining patty ingredients. Add the shallot, garlic, mayonnaise, dill, mustard, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir with the fork until well-combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Shape the patties. Remove mixture from refrigerator, shape into 8 (1/3 cup) patties about 3-inches in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Cook the patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Using a wide, flat spatula, gently transfer 4 of the patties into the hot oil and cook, flipping once, until golden-brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.

Repeat with remaining patties. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and salmon patties. Serve warm.

As a pescatarian, I'm always on the lookout for smart and flavorful ways to incorporate fish and shellfish into my diet, and these salmon patties have proven to be an easy, delicious way to do so. If you, like me, love canned tuna but are new to canned salmon, these patties will convince you to keep the latter stocked in your kitchen at all times. When mixed with fresh herbs and a few other pantry ingredients, canned salmon becomes the base of a surprisingly elegant weeknight meal. Here's how to make them.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

The Key Ingredients for the Best-Ever Salmon Patties

We all know the best crab cakes are the ones without too much "filler," which in many cases is breadcrumbs or crushed crackers. Salmon patties abide by the same principle: the fewer the ingredients, the more the fish itself can shine. So for this recipe I eliminated breadcrumbs altogether, which not only highlights the flavor of the rest of the ingredients but also makes these patties gluten-free.

After flaking the salmon, you'll add a finely chopped shallot, which adds sweet, mild flavor, some minced garlic, and a tablespoon of Dijon, whose sharp, signature bite pairs so well with salmon (hello, gorgeous mustard-glazed salmon). Fresh dill and lemon zest and juice brighten up the mixture, while just one egg and a spoonful of mayo are all you need to bind everything together. The process couldn't be easier — everything comes together in just one bowl.

Because the star of the show here is the canned salmon (which I prefer to fresh fillets for salmon patties because it's cheaper, quicker, and much easier), you'll want to look for a brand that uses sustainable, ethically sourced fish. My personal preference is Wild Planet's Wild Sockeye Salmon, which, because it's canned right after it's caught (as opposed to being frozen first), boasts rich, pure salmon flavor. Although the fillets are boneless and skinless, it's never a bad idea to pick through the fish before flaking it to make sure there are no bits of bone or skin.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn

How to Shape and Cook Salmon Patties

Because there's very little binder in these patties, you'll want to refrigerate the mixture twice — once before you form the patties, and once after — to ensure they hold together in the skillet. After the first chill, you'll form the mixture into eight equal-sized patties (about 1/3 cup each); I find this easiest to do this with your hands. Then, while they're firming up in the fridge, you'll heat a tablespoon of oil in your skillet to give it a chance to get nice and hot. That way, when you slide the patties in, the bottom of each will immediately crisp, creating that gorgeous golden-brown crust. Be sure to add a second tablespoon of oil to the pan before cooking the second batch of four, ensuring each and every patty gets to sizzle and crisp.

How to Serve Salmon Patties

The easiest way to serve these is straight from the skillet with a simple side salad, an extra sprig or two of dill, and some lemon wedges. But they're also delicious topped with a simple Greek yogurt sauce made with lemon juice and chopped capers, sandwiched between a hamburger bun slicked with garlicky mayo, flaked onto a grain bowl, or served with crackers. Leftovers can be eaten atop a salad for lunch, or stuffed inside a pita pocket.

And now that you've got that stack of canned salmon in your pantry, try experimenting with a variety of ways to enjoy it. Here are 10 of our other favorite ways that canned salmon can be dinner tonight.

Flake the salmon. Place the salmon in a large bowl and flake into smaller pieces with a fork.

Add remaining patty ingredients. Add the shallot, garlic, mayonnaise, dill, mustard, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir with the fork until well-combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Shape the patties. Remove mixture from refrigerator, shape into 8 (1/3 cup) patties about 3-inches in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Cook the patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Using a wide, flat spatula, gently transfer 4 of the patties into the hot oil and cook, flipping once, until golden-brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.

Repeat with remaining patties. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and salmon patties. Serve warm.

Salmon Patties

Makes 8 (1/3 cup) patties; serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes ; cooking time: 12 minutes

  • 4 (6-ounce) cans

    wild salmon (such as Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon), drained

  • 1

    medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 clove

    garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons

    mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons

    chopped fresh dill

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1

    large egg, lightly beaten

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely grated lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl

  • Plastic wrap

  • Baking sheet

  • 12-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet

Flake the salmon. Place the salmon in a large bowl and flake into smaller pieces with a fork.

Add remaining patty ingredients. Add the shallot, garlic, mayonnaise, dill, mustard, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir with the fork until well-combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Shape the patties. Remove mixture from refrigerator, shape into 8 (1/3 cup) patties about 3-inches in diameter, and place on a baking sheet. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Cook the patties. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl so that it coats the bottom of the pan. Using a wide, flat spatula, gently transfer 4 of the patties into the hot oil and cook, flipping once, until golden-brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and salmon patties. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The patties can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours before pan-frying.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in a low-temperature oven.

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