Crispy Tuna Patties with Scallions and Dijon Mustard

published Jun 8, 2022
Tuna Patties Recipe

Tuna patties are a fun way to turn a few cans of tuna, vegetables, and herbs into a meal that's both easy and super-satisfying.

Serves4 to 6

Makes6 patties

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 12 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

In addition to canned beans and jarred pasta sauce, a stack of canned tuna is a staple you’ll always find in my pantry. It is so incredibly versatile. I make my fair share of tuna salad and tuna casserole, and sometimes use a can to bulk up a salad, but my absolute favorite thing to make with canned tuna is tuna patties.

Tuna patties are a fun way to turn a few cans of tuna into an easy, super-satisfying meal. And thanks to a mix of lemon, scallions, and herbs, along with the crisp, golden-brown crust, they even feel a little fancy.

How Do You Keep Tuna Patties from Falling Apart?

There are two tricks that will keep the patties from falling apart. First you need a binder that holds the ingredients together well. Here, that’s a mix of a couple lightly beaten eggs, mayo, and panko breadcrumbs.

Second, you’ll chill the shaped patties in the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking. The patties will feel a little wet when you’re shaping them (don’t worry, I’m sure you did a fine job draining the tuna). This is OK and normal, and also why it’s important to chill the patties before cooking. It gives the panko time to absorb the moisture, which helps the patties hold together and keep from falling apart.

How to Cook Tuna Patties

There are four simple steps to making tuna patties.

  1. Prepare the mixture. Gather the ingredients and stir everything together in a large bowl.
  2. Shape the patties. Scoop 1/3-cup portions and shape into patties about 3 inches wide and about 1/2-inch thick.
  3. Chill the patties. Place patties on a baking sheet, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  4. Sear the patties. Cook the patties in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet until golden-brown on crisp on both sides.

How to Serve Tuna Patties

My favorite way to serve tuna patties is alongside some salad greens with an extra squeeze of lemon, or maybe some tartar sauce. You can also use it to round out a grain bowl, serve it burger-style on a bun, or take inspiration from pan bagna and turn it into a sandwich.

Tuna Patties Recipe

Tuna patties are a fun way to turn a few cans of tuna, vegetables, and herbs into a meal that's both easy and super-satisfying.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes 6 patties

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 large


  • 3 (5- to 6-ounce) cans

    water or oil-packed tuna

  • 10 to 12 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 1 medium


  • 1 clove


  • 1 medium


  • 1/2 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided


  1. Lightly beat 2 large eggs in a large bowl. Drain 3 cans tuna, add to the bowl, and flake into smaller pieces with a fork.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same bowl as it is completed: Pick the leaves from 10 to 12 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons. Thinly slice 1 medium scallion (about 2 tablespoons). Finely grate 1 garlic clove. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Halve the lemon; juice one half until you have 1 tablespoon juice, then add to the bowl.

  3. Cut the remaining lemon half into 6 wedges and reserve for serving.

  4. Add 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the tuna mixture and stir until well combined.

  5. Divide the mixture into 6 (about 1/3-cup) portions. Shape each into a 3-inch wide patty about 1/2-inch thick, and place on a baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large 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 3 of the patties into the pan and cook, flipping once, until golden-brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  7. Repeat cooking the remaining tuna patties in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Serve warm with the reserved lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The patties can be mixed together and shaped up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to cook.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in a low oven until warmed through.