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This quick and easy Salmon Patties recipe is a delicious dinner that takes advantage of leftover grilled, baked, or pan-seared salmon — or even canned fish. The salmon croquettes are crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and delicious alongside coleslaw, biscuits, hush puppies, and cornbread!

Overhead shot of three salmon patties on a plate with a side of fries and coleslaw

Salmon Croquettes

Salmon patties, salmon croquettes, salmon cakes — whatever you call them, these delicious little fritters are a great way to add more healthy seafood to your diet! Just like crab cakes, the easy recipe involves a mixture of cooked salmon, egg, cracker crumbs, onion, fresh herbs, and lemon that come together in patties. The patties are dredged in bread crumbs and pan-fried in butter and oil, giving them a crisp exterior and a moist, flavorful inside. Whether you use canned salmon or fresh salmon, these are truly the best salmon patties — and they couldn’t be any easier!

Mixing together salmon and breadcrumbs

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for the best salmon patties. As always, specific measurements and complete step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Olive oil: to sauté the onion.
  • Onion: for savory flavor in the patties.
  • Salmon: I prefer cooked fresh salmon, and often use leftovers from a previous meal (you can even store leftover salmon in the freezer to use in this recipe at a later date). Grilled salmon, baked salmon, roasted salmon, or poached salmon will all work. In a pinch, you can even use canned salmon — but it’s not my preference.
  • Saltine cracker crumbs: a binder that helps hold the croquettes together.
  • Egg: give the cakes structure.
  • Mayonnaise: adds moisture and flavor to the salmon cakes; helps bind them together.
  • Lemon: both lemon juice and lemon zest offer a bright acidic component to freshen up the salmon patties and add great flavor.
  • Parsley: for even more color and flavor. Fresh herbs are my preference, but you can substitute with 2 teaspoons of dried parsley flakes when necessary.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Breadcrumbs: coat the outside of the salmon croquettes to help them brown and crisp in the skillet.
  • Butter and oil: pan-frying the patties in butter gives them great flavor, while a neutral oil (like canola oil or vegetable oil) provides a higher smoke point.
Dredging salmon patties in bread crumbs

The Best Salmon for Salmon Croquettes

Since salmon is the most important ingredient in salmon cakes, I like to use the highest quality, most flavorful salmon available. Fresh cooked salmon is the best option, and almost any version will work. In fact, salmon patties are a great way to use up leftover salmon from a previous meal. Cook some extra salmon fillets, stash the leftovers in the freezer, and use the cooked fish in this recipe at a later date.

You’ll need about 3-4 salmon fillets (each weighing about 6 ounces when raw), to equal 1 lb. of cooked salmon. Grilled salmon, poached salmon, baked salmon, orange glazed salmon, roasted salmon, and even blackened salmon will work here. The more flavor, the better! In a pinch, you can even use 1 lb. of canned salmon, bones removed.

Pan frying salmon croquettes in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Salmon Patties

You only need a handful of pantry staples to pull together these easy salmon patties with crackers and mayonnaise any night of the week!

  1. Sauté the onion in a large skillet in olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the onion to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the salmon, saltine cracker crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir gently to mix, being careful not to break up the big chunks of salmon.
  3. Form the mixture into 8 patties, about ½ inch thick.
  4. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, and season them with salt and pepper.
  5. Dredge the salmon patties in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides.
  6. Refrigerate the patties for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours), until firm.
  7. Pan fry the patties in butter and oil in the same large skillet that you used to cook the onion. Work in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan, and reduce to medium heat if they start to brown too quickly. The patties are done when they’re a nice golden brown on the outside, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. Drain on paper towels, then serve!
Close overhead image of salmon patties recipe on a tin plate

How to Serve Salmon Cakes

Serve the warm patties with lemon wedges or a squeeze of lemon juice, an extra fresh parsley garnish, and your sauce of choice.

Sauce for Southern Salmon Patties

You can pair salmon patties with a variety of different sauces. Purchase tartar sauce (or make your own with this recipe), purchase cocktail sauce (or make your own with this recipe), use a remoulade sauce, or even good ole’ ketchup!

Side shot of a dinner table with salmon croquettes and french fries

Sides

Here are some easy sides that go well with the easy salmon patties:

Squeezing lemon juice over salmon croquettes

Make Ahead Salmon Croquette Recipe

You can prepare salmon croquettes in advance and refrigerate the patties for up to 24 hours or freeze for up to 2 months before cooking.

Storage

If you want to make the patties and cook them in advance, or if you have leftovers, the cooked salmon patties will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Overhead shot of a plate of salmon croquettes

How to Reheat Salmon Patties

To reheat cooked salmon cakes, place the patties on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil and warm in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or just until heated through.

How to Freeze

You can freeze the patties either before or after cooking. To freeze before cooking, wrap individual patties tightly with waxed paper and foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, allow the patties to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before frying in a pan according to the recipe instructions.

Cooked salmon croquettes can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months. When ready to use, allow the patties to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. To reheat, place the thawed patties on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil and warm in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, or just until heated through.

Close up side shot of easy salmon patties recipe on a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Salmon Patties Recipe Variations

  • Add about 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning to the salmon mixture for some added zest and classic Maryland flavor. Other nice options include extra fresh herbs, Worcestershire sauce, or Dijon mustard.
  • Baked Salmon Patties: Pan-frying gives the patties the best flavor and a crispy, golden brown exterior. That said, you can also bake them in the oven. For baked salmon croquettes, preheat the oven to 450°F. Generously grease a rimmed baking sheet with butter, and place the patties on the pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
  • If you don’t have fresh cooked salmon, you can also use 1 lb. of canned salmon, boned and flaked.
  • Substitute with other types of fish (such as cod or tuna) to make fish cakes.
Overhead shot of hands eating salmon patties on a plate with tartar sauce

Tips for the Best Salmon Patties Recipe

  • Chilling the patties for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours) before frying helps them stay together when they cook.
  • The eggs and mayonnaise act as a binder, but a filler is also important to help hold the patties together when they cook. Saltine cracker crumbs make the best filler for salmon croquettes, but you can also substitute with bread crumbs.
  • Scale this recipe to feed any size crowd. If you’re cooking for just two people, cut the ingredients in half to make 4 patties. For a larger family, double all of the ingredients and cook the patties in multiple batches.
Salmon patties on a plate with a cold beer in the background

More Salmon Recipes to Try

Overhead shot of three salmon patties on a plate with a side of fries and coleslaw

Salmon Patties {Salmon Croquettes}

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Chilling Time (optional) 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 578 kcal
These easy salmon patties (or "salmon croquettes") are a great way to use up leftover salmon — or even canned salmon!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 1 lb. grilled, poached, or baked salmon fillets, broken into large chunks
  • ½ cup saltine cracker crumbs (about 15 crackers before crushing)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • Zest and juice from ½ of a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or sub with 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, for sautéing
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil, for sautéing
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley; lemon wedges

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer the onion to a large mixing bowl. Add the salmon, saltine cracker crumbs, egg, mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to mix. Try not to break up the chunks of salmon too much; do not over-mix.
  • Form the salmon mixture into 8 patties, about ½ inch thick.
  • Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Dredge the salmon patties in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides and pressing gently to adhere.
  • Refrigerate the patties for at least 1 hour, or until firm.
  • In the same skillet used to cook the onions, heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling hot (use enough butter and oil to generously cover the bottom of the skillet).
  • Place the croquettes in the hot oil, cooking in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Flip the patties only once; reduce the heat to medium if they start browning too quickly.
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve with seafood sauce, tartar sauce, or ketchup. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges, if desired.

Notes

Nutrition information includes all of the butter and oil as well, so the actual stats for your patties will vary depending on the amount of butter and oil absorbed in each patty.
Recipe adapted from Sarah Foster’s Southern Kitchen cookbook.
  • Add about 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning to the salmon mixture for some added zest and classic Maryland flavor. Other nice options include extra fresh herbs, Worcestershire sauce, or Dijon mustard.
  • Baked Salmon Patties: Pan-frying gives the patties the best flavor and a crispy, golden brown exterior. That said, you can also bake them in the oven. For baked salmon croquettes, preheat the oven to 450°F. Generously grease a rimmed baking sheet with butter, and place the patties on the pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
  • If you don’t have fresh cooked salmon, you can also use 1 lb. of canned salmon, boned and flaked.
  • Chilling the patties for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours) before frying helps them stay together when they cook.
  • The eggs and mayonnaise act as a binder, but a filler is also important to help hold the patties together when they cook. Saltine cracker crumbs make the best filler for salmon croquettes, but you can also substitute with bread crumbs.
  • Scale this recipe to feed any size crowd. If you’re cooking for just two people, cut the ingredients in half to make 4 patties. For a larger family, double all of the ingredients and cook the patties in multiple batches.
  • Substitute with other types of fish (such as cod or tuna) to make fish cakes.

Nutrition

Serving: 2pattiesCalories: 578kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 32gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 483mgPotassium: 740mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 544IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: canned salmon recipe, salmon cakes, salmon croquettes, salmon dinner, salmon patties
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in December, 2018. It was updated in March, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Since my wife’s stroke I’ve been doing all the cooking. She loathes seafood of any kind and I was wondering if this could be made with canned chicken chunks??
    Thanks
    Bill

    1. Hi, Bill! That’s wonderful that you’re now cooking for your wife. Yes, you can definitely use canned chicken in lieu of the salmon! Hope that you both enjoy the meal! 🙂

    2. Hi Bill – for vegetarians, I have been very successful subbing canned salmon/fish with canned hearts of palm. Cut them in 2 inch logs, and then rip them apart with a fork so they resemble crab shreds. they are a little tangy, so you can cut a bit on acid if you’re using any. they taste fantastic. Cheers,

    1. Hey, Patty! Yes — I like it! I don’t know that it’s drastically better than other brands, but it’s what’s available at my store, and I like that I don’t have to pick out skin and bones (like you do from other cans/brands). 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    Your bake- from- frozen instructions are perfect! I baked mine and then fried them really briefly (about 1 min per side) to get the breading really nice and crispy and it worked wonderfully! Thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Awesome! So glad that you found them helpful, Caitlin! Thanks for taking the time to come back here and let me know. 🙂