Whether you have leftover salmon, are making them to make them or accidentally bought a kinda crappy bag of frozen salmon filets at the grocery store (raises hand), these fresh salmon cakes will bring any salmon to life.
Fresh salmon cakes are similar to crab cakes and cod cakes. They take cooked fish and combine them with a light binder, sautéed veggies and a fresh dipping sauce.
They can be served as an entree, on top of a salad or even on appetizer boards or butter boards.
Why You’ll Love Them
- These don’t use a lot of binder, so you get lump pieces of salmon and not a lot of filler. In fact, there is so little that they are extremely fragile and can be hard to flip.
- Salmon cakes are dotted with briny bursts of capers and other fresh vegetables.
- Variety of dipping sauce options.
- They are freezer friendly and make-ahead friendly!
- Make a half batch using leftover salmon.
Fresh Salmon Cakes Ingredients
I know this list looks lengthy, but it I promise you’ll have most of it in your fridge or pantry. These fresh ingredients make for the best easy salmon patties.
- Olive oil – A little oil for sautéing, other neutral oils like avocado oil or vegetable oil can be used.
- Yellow Onion – Or white onion, I like something with a little bite. Red onion is a little too strong for me.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves – For the most garlic flavor, go for fresh. Jarred garlic is great for cutting corners, but is often sweet.
- Celery – A staple in southern style salmon patties, make sure you minced it tight so it can incorporate in well.
- Salmon – I use fresh salmon fillets for this salmon recipe. You can use leftovers that are already seasoned or cook the salmon with few shakes of salt and pepper.
- Mayonnaise – This is the binder, or glue, if you will. It is essential to making sure everything sticks together.
- Panko Bread Crumbs – Regular can also be used, but they are finer. I like the heftier crunch of panko.
- Capers – The briny and salty pop that capers provided can not be duplicated. It is what truly makes these salmon cakes unique and totally tasty.
- Dijon mustard – Adds a zing!
- Worcestershire Sauce – This heady sauce packs a lot in a little dab. Soy sauce can also be used, but Worcestershire is much more complex.
- Seafood seasoning – Something like Old Bay is a good pick, but they are salty, so add sparingly and after you’ve tasted it to know just how salty it is.
- Ground Black Pepper – Ground white is also an option, but whatever you pick, make sure it is freshly ground.
- Fresh parsley and Fresh Lemon Wedges – both are optional and for garnish, although a nice spritz of fresh lemon juice brightens the dish.
The cakes themselves carry a lot of flavor, so I try not to serve them with anything too overwhelming. The yogurt sauce is cooling and mild, the perfect match, but here are a few other sauces for seafood.
Fresh Salmon vs Canned Salmon
I did use fresh salmon for this recipe, well it was frozen, but I cooked it. To do this, simply season lightly with salt and pepper and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. More for thicker fillets and less for thinner.
Canned salmon can also be used, it certainly saves a step. Buy with red salmon or pink salmon. Red is a tad more expensive and is considered to have better taste, but if often drier. Pink salmon has a less fishy flavor and moire juicy; if you will.
Fresh Salmon Cakes Variations
- Fresh herbs- Chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs and add them to the cakes. Dill, parsley and cilantro are fan favorites.
- Spice it Up– Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili powder or 2 tablespoons of chopped scallions or spicy chile peppers.
- Bell Pepper- I’m from Maryland where putting any sort of red bell pepper into a cake is strictly forbidden, but feel free to add 2 tablespoons of minced bell pepper to the veggie mix while sautéing.
Baking & Air Fryer Instructions
One of my favorite things about this best salmon cake recipe is that there is more than one way to make them. The original recipe is fried on the stove, but check out these other methods for making simple salmon patties:
- Baked Salmon Cakes– Frying is the only way to get a crispy, brown exterior, but they can be baked. Since they are already cooked, you really just need to heat them through, so 350°F for 15-18 minutes should do the trick.
- Air Fryer- They can also be air fried. Coat them in cooking spray and cook for 3 minutes on each side at 350°F.
These are super versatile and total comfort food. Here are a few sides that pair perfectly.
Storage & Freezing
Storage & Leftovers: Store in an airtight container or tightly wrapped. Seafood scents have the tendency to travel to other foods, so make sure they are airtight. Keep for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet with a small amount of oil or in the oven for 4 minutes at 350°F. You can microwave, but they will dry out and your whole house will smell like salmon.
Freezing: Salmon cakes can be frozen formed and uncooked or cooked. Wrap well in freezer paper or aluminum foil and then an airtight freezer bag, pushing out as much air as possible. Store for up to 6 months.
Thaw in the fridge overnight and cook or cook while frozen at 350°F for 20 minutes or until the centers are warm (125°F).
More Easy Dinner Recipes
Fresh Salmon Cakes Recipe
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup yellow onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons celery minced
- 1 ¼ pounds salmon cooked and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs divided
- 3 tablespoons capers drained and chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Fresh parsley minced for garnish
- Fresh lemons wedges
Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 fresh lemon juiced and zested
- ½ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2-4 tablespoons canola oil
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet, add the onion, garlic and celery. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together the sautéed veggies, salmon, mayonnaise, 1/3 of the panko breadcrumbs, capers, mustard, Worcestershire, seafood seasoning and black pepper. Do not overmix or else the large pieces of salmon will break apart. This is best done with your hands.
- Form into 6 large patties. Flatten as well as you can. Place the remaining 1/3 cup bread crumbs into a shallow dish and press each salmon cake into the bread crumbs before removing to a plate or parchment lined baking sheet and chill for 30-60 minutes.
- When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add salmon cakes, working in batches if needed. Pan fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until well browned.
- If working in batches, place fried cakes in a warm oven until the rest are ready to be served.
For the sauce:
- Blend together the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!