Recipe: Spicy Canned Salmon Cakes

updated Feb 3, 2020
Spicy Canned Salmon Cakes
These salmon cakes start with canned salmon and use a breading method similar to the best crab cakes for an easy-fancy weeknight dinner.


Makes8 (2-inch) cakes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You don’t hear much about canned salmon, as tuna seems to dominate the conversation when you’re talking about canned fish. Here’s a way to pull it into the spotlight in an unexpected way: Give it the crab cake treatment. While we love crab cakes just as much as the next person, crab’s not cheap enough to be an everyday meal, so let’s make salmon cakes that are just as fancy and tasty as their crab counterparts — your tastebuds and wallet will thank you.

These salmon cakes are influenced by an incredible crab cake recipe from Chef Ming Tsai, and they’re held together by a spicy mayonnaise (that’s also a dipping sauce!) and coated in crunchy panko breadcrumbs. They’re tasty as a quick weeknight dinner with a green salad, but also fancy enough as your next dinner party appetizer.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Working with Canned Salmon

One thing I’ve found when working with canned salmon is that there can be little bits of bone or skin in it. It’s worth taking the time to pick through the salmon to remove the unwanted bits before you flake the fish. While none of the bits are large or harmful, it just makes a nicer finished salmon cake with a better texture.

You can also form these cakes into four larger burgers instead and eat them inside hamburger buns. I highly encourage it!

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Spicy Canned Salmon Cakes

These salmon cakes start with canned salmon and use a breading method similar to the best crab cakes for an easy-fancy weeknight dinner.

Makes 8 (2-inch) cakes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 cup


  • 2 tablespoons

    sambal oelek

  • 1 tablespoon

    finely chopped scallions, plus more for serving

  • 16 ounces

    canned salmon, drained, picked through for bones and skin, and flaked

  • 1 tablespoon

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2/3 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil


  1. Place the mayonnaise, sambal, and scallions in a small bowl and mix to combine. Transfer 1/3 cup of the mixture to a medium bowl. Set aside the remaining mixture for serving.

  2. Add the salmon and lemon juice to the medium bowl and gently fold into the mayonnaise mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Divide the salmon mixture into 8 (1/4-cup) portions and place on a large plate or baking sheet. Using your hands, form each into a 2-inch-wide patty. Place back on the plate. Refrigerate while you prepare the dredging station.

  3. You will need 3 shallow, wide bowls or pie plates for dredging: Place the flour in the first one, beat the eggs until broken up in the second, and place the panko in the third.

  4. Working with one patty at a time, dredge a patty in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the panko, making sure it is evenly coated. The salmon cake will be soft and may fall apart slightly during dredging — just roughly pat it back together when it's all coated. Place back on the plate.

  5. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the salmon cakes and cook until golden-brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with the reserved mayonnaise mixture and topped with scallions if desired.

Recipe Notes

Using fresh fish: One pound of any cooked fresh fish, such as salmon or trout, can be used in place of the canned salmon.

Make ahead: The dredged 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.