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Salmon Cakes

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Made from fresh salmon and dill, these salmon cakes are as elegant as crab cakes but so much more affordable to make.

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

When I told my friend and Once Upon a Chef right hand, Betsy Goldstein, about these salmon cakes, she said, “Hmmm…I think I’ll wait until some of the reviews roll in to try those.” I laughed because I knew she was thinking of the salmon cakes made from canned salmon that many of us grew up on. I promise: these are a whole different animal. Made from fresh raw salmon and seasoned with Old Bay, they’re as elegant as crab cakes yet so much more affordable to make. What’s more, they can be made entirely ahead of time and reheated. I love them for brunch over a green salad with vinaigrette, but they also make a delicious dinner alongside rice pilaf and roasted asparagus. Either way, I serve them with homemade tartar sauce.

What you’ll need to Make Salmon Cakes

ingredients for salmon cakes

How to Make Salmon Cakes

To begin, finely dice the salmon into 1/4-inch pieces (or smaller). It’s important that the pieces are not too large or the cakes won’t bind together easily.

chopping salmon to make salmon cakes

Set the salmon aside and, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper.

mayonnaise and seasoning in bowl for making salmon cakes

Whisk to combine.

whisked mayonnaise and seasoning for salmon cakes

Add the diced salmon, ¼ cup of the panko, the scallions, the celery, and the dill.

chopped salmon, herbs and sauce in bowl for salmon cakes

Gently mix until uniformly combined.

mixing ingredients for salmon cakes

Place the remaining 1 cup of panko in a shallow dish or pie plate.

coating salmon cakes with panko

Using a 1/3-cup measure, scoop the salmon mixture and form into a compact cake about 1 inch high. Place the salmon cake into the reserved panko and gently coat it all over in crumbs.

coating salmon cakes with panko

Repeat with the remaining mixture to form about 9 cakes. (At this point, you can refrigerate the salmon cakes for up to a few hours before cooking, if you’d like.)

salmon cakes on a plate ready to pan fry

Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the salmon cakes in the skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

frying salmon cakes

Carefully flip the cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium if the cakes are browning too quickly.

frying salmon cakes

Transfer cakes to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining cakes (no need to change the oil).

draining salmon cakes on a paper towel

Serve the salmon cakes warm with tartar sauce and enjoy!

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

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Salmon Cakes Video Tutorial

Salmon Cakes

Made from fresh salmon and dill, these salmon cakes are as elegant as crab cakes but so much more affordable to make.

Servings: 9 cakes
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Salmon Cakes

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ lb skinless salmon fillet, finely diced into ¼-inch pieces (see note)
  • 1¼ cups panko bread crumbs, divided
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions, from 3 to 4 scallions, light and dark green parts
  • ⅓ cup finely diced celery, from 2 stalks
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Salad greens with vinaigrette, tartar sauce and/or lemon wedges, for serving (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Add the diced salmon, ¼ cup of the panko, the scallions, the celery, and the dill. Gently mix until uniformly combined.
  2. Place the remaining 1 cup of panko in a shallow dish or pie plate. Using a ⅓-cup measure, scoop the salmon mixture and form into a compact cake about 1 inch high. Place the salmon cake into the panko and gently coat it all over in crumbs. Repeat with the remaining mixture to form about 9 cakes. (At this point, you can refrigerate the salmon cakes for a few hours until ready to cook, if you'd like.)
  3. Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place half of the salmon cakes in the skillet and cook without moving until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Reduce the heat to medium if the cakes are browning too quickly. Transfer cakes to paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining cakes (no need to change the oil). Serve warm.
  4. Note: If buying a skin-on salmon fillet, purchase 1⅓ pounds of fish to yield 1¼ pounds of fish after skinning.
  5. Make-Ahead: The salmon cakes can be fully cooked and refrigerated up to several hours ahead of time. To reheat: preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the salmon cakes in the oven and cook until crisp on the exterior and warm throughout, 10 to 15 minutes. The cakes may also be frozen for up to 3 months; defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked salmon cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Once cool, lay them out on one (or more) foil-lined baking sheet(s) and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Freeze the patties in a single layer for about an hour, then remove them from the freezer. Wrap the cakes individually in plastic wrap and then put them together in a freezer bag or airtight container. Before serving, defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 salmon cake
  • Calories: 280
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Sodium: 222 mg
  • Cholesterol: 37 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Is there a substitute for the mayonnaise in the salmon cakes?

    • — Cathleen I Christian on January 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cathleen, You can replace the mayo with Greek yogurt, but because Greek yogurt is a bit tangy, I’d suggest omitting the lemon juice. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • Don’t you dare make fun of the canned salmon patties we grew up on! They were delicious, served with creamed peas and new potatoes!

    • — Nancy Kilpatrick on January 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • We don’t have Old Bay seasoning in Ireland, does anyone have a recipe or a substitution for it? Thank you

    • — Sinead on January 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sinead, If they don’t have it in Ireland, here’s a recipe for homemade Old Bay. (And it’s a delicious seasoning for all kinds of other foods including popcorn, fries, and egg salad.)

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’ve been making your Maryland Crab Cake recipe in my air fryer for years & it’s one of my favorites, but crab has been so incredibly expensive the past few years! These are a great substitute and turned out fabulous in the air fryer at 1/4 of the cost. Thank you! I served with the quick tartar sauce from your crab cake recipe with a little cayenne and garlic powder + lemon zest. Trader Joe’s has wild skinless salmon and it made the prep really simple. Will now be on my regular rotation without breaking my budget!

    • — Kristen on January 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • Second time making these – they’re delicious! I first put the salmon fillet skin side down in a heated skillet on medium heat for about a minute, which made removing the skin with a metal spatula quite easy. I also put the salmon cakes in the fridge for a good half hour after forming them, which helped firm them up and retain their shape (thanks to a tip from another one of your fans). Made a tartar sauce to go with it, and not a crumb remained. Thank you Jenn for yet another mouth-watering recipe.!

    • — SF Ana on January 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made these yesterday, followed the recipe exactly as written and they are absolutely delicious!

    • — Katherine on January 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • These were really good!! I didn’t get 9 patties out of it, and they fell apart a little bit, but they tasted great. Next time I plan to double the recipe and freeze half.

    • — Laura E on November 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello there! I will be doing this recipe tonight but would prefer to use my air fryer. Has anyone tried to do it in the air fryer? If so what are the settings you would recommend please. Thank you in advance!

    • — Nellie on November 15, 2022
    • Reply
    • I just tried the recipe with my air fryer on 350F for 8 minutes. Turns out great!

      • — Christina on January 16, 2023
      • Reply
      • Did you flip them? Thanks

        • — Marilyn on January 22, 2023
        • Reply
  • My husband went king salmon fishing a few weeks ago and I made this the very next day. They were absolutely amazing. I’m making them again today but going to double the recipe. I did have a heck of a time keeping the patties together. I’m just going to dice smaller today. I did not make a tartar sauce but a fantastic mustard sauce.

    • — Ineke Basile on October 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this many times, following the recipe as written, and it comes out great. Recently I was pressed for time, so used cooked salmon instead of dicing raw salmon. I added all the panko into the mixture with 2 eggs. The result was just as good, and much less time consuming. Also, the cakes held together better, making it easier to saute.

    • — Suzie on October 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I left you a comment about substituting Miracle Whip for Mayo just yesterday, decided to go with the Mayo! I got fresh salmon and wanted to know if I can make theses salmon cakes a day ahead of time and simply refrigerate with the same results?

    Thank you as always for your quick responses and amazing recipes! xoxo

    Stacey

    • — Stacey Jacobs on October 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Stacey, You can definitely make these a day ahead with excellent results. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 9, 2022
      • Reply
      • You’re the best Jenn…not only ar your amazing recipes, but responding to everyone! 🤗 Thank you so much!!!

        • — Stacey Jacobs on October 9, 2022
        • Reply
        • 💗

          • — Jenn on October 10, 2022
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I made these delicious salmon cakes before and my sister and brother-in-law are in town and he can’t do dairy with the mayonaise. Can Miracle Whip be substituted or can you recommend another ingredient to replace the mayonaise? Thank you as always for your wonderful recipes! Sincerely, Stacey

    • — Stacey on October 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like them! I’ve never used Miracle Whip so I can’t account for how it would change the flavor, but it should work. Please LMK how they turn out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • Flavor is good. Needs a bit more salt. But completely falls apart when trying to cook so you end up with crumbs much like hamburger which has been separated while cooking but definitely NOT cakes. Am really sorry as I like salmon cakes but this one is a disaster and definitely not worth the effort needed to make it. Will not go through this much work for so little reward again.

    • — Penny on September 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Did you refrigerate them before cooking?

      • — Ms. Kristy on January 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hello Jenn,
    Could I use canned Red Sockeye Salmon ? If so please give me an idea of the amount of salmon I would need. I was just gifted your latest book, 70 Quick Fix Dinners. Recipes all look and sound exactly what I need in my life right now for my family ! Look forward to cooking up a storm.
    Thank you so much !
    Yvonne

    • — Yvonne on September 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Yvonne (and hope you enjoy those in the cookbook too)! I haven’t made these with canned salmon, but a number of other readers have commented that they have with good results. And I’d use 1¼ pounds (so 20 ounces). I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Everybody in our family loves this dish! Kids are usually not big fan of seafood, but they loved this one! The most troublesome work is cutting salmon into small pieces. And coating salmon cake with panko is a delicate job. Other than that, it’s a fairly simple and straightforward process. Thank you for the recipe!

    • — Karen M on September 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • These salmon cakes were on point! Made these together with my teenage son. Had a great time making these delicious cakes and expanding the list of go-to meals. Thanks so much for these Jenn!

    • — Kenny on August 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I really want to make these – they look delicious. I did give 5 stars, even though I haven’t made them yet, because I’m certain they are excellent! My question: I’m on an austerity budget right now….would it be so awful if I substituted canned, wild-caught salmon for the fresh salmon? If I did do that, are there alterations in the recipe you would suggest?

    • — Linda on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I haven’t made these with canned salmon, but a number of other readers have commented that they have with good results. (I don’t think you’d need to make any modifications to the recipe.) Please LMK how they turn out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • Second time making the salmon cakes. They are delicious, tonight I am trying them in the air fryer.

    • — Cheryl on July 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • How did they turn out in the air fryer?

      • — Shannon C on October 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made these salmon cakes last night and they were delicious! It was a bit time consuming, but well worth the work. The only thing I did differently was left out the dill, which I did not mean to do. After I formed the patties I noticed my 2 tablespoons of chopped dill sitting on a cutting board – well shoot (not exactly what I said). Next I made the tartar sauce you included with this recipe, and the only thing I did differently was to add 2 tablespoons of chopped dill ;o) It also was delicious and paired nicely with the salmon cakes.

    • — Shellie on July 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • These were wonderful! A beautiful presentation and such a nice change from a filet of salmon!

    • — Melinda on July 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Outstanding! 2 fish lovers and 2 eh, not so much in my family, and we all enjoyed this. The patties are on the smaller side but very rich. The tartar sauce is wonderful. Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Lynn D on July 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • These salmon cakes are delicious and it was so nice to be able to use fresh dill and green onion tops from our garden in them. I really enjoy the flavors of Dijon mustard and Old Bay seasoning and I think they added extra zest and tanginess to the cakes. My mother made fish cakes from our local warm water fish with potatoes and they were delicious too yet these are nice for a change with the cold water salmon. I Can’t wait for my grandkids to try them.

    • — Sarah on June 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • These salmon cakes are DELICIOUS! I will certainly be making them again!

    • — Eileen S on June 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • First time I’ve made a fresh salmon cake. These are FABULOUS!! I used 2 1/4 pounds fresh salmon and bumped up the other ingredient list a tad. Not one left after Father’s Day dinner. Will not need to look for any other recipe for salmon cakes because this is perfect!

    • — Vanurse on June 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I have been following your recipes and most are easily made. I’m a pescatarian so I have to pick and choose which will work for me.

    I also live alone and wish there was a recipe adjuster so I can select the amount I want to make and have a more accurate measurement of the ingredients. I have also had my daughter view and make recipes as well.

    Thanks in advance

    • — Ramona on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ramona, Glad you find the recipes easy to make! Regarding scaling recipes, a reader shared is a website that will do that. It’s called AnyList if you want to check it out. I took a peek at it and it appears that there are a lot of free options but if you want to scale recipes, that’s an option you need to pay for. (Keep in mind that I haven’t tried it myself.) Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made these salmon cakes last week and they were excellent. Fresh salmon makes all the difference. My husband really enjoyed them, too. Thanks for the recipe.
    Valarie

    • — Valarie Foehlinger on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely wonderful! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Malcolm Armstrong on June 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Once again, Jenn…you hit it out of the Park!

    Theses Salmon Cakes were AMAZING!!!

    Simply the best! Thank you so much for all your delicious recipes! 🤗

    • — Stacey Jacobs on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer,
    These were a bit work but unbelievably good and I’m going to make them for appies for our dinner group! I wasn’t sure they would hold together but they did beautifully. Your suggestion to ensure the salmon was diced small was a good one. Thank you for sharing. Your recipes are my go-to and never fail!

    • — Janet Good on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • As for Salmon Cakes,, you left out the part of needing to live where one can obtain Fresh raw Salmon. This was easy when I lived in West Washington State,, but now here in central NC, it’s unobtainable.

    • — Warren Osborne on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Warren, if you have access to frozen salmon, that will work as well.

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • My variation. Used grated ginger, cilantro and finely chopped lemon grass. A little heat, too, with either cayenne or 10mL of harissa. Served with mango chutney and lemon risotto. Lovely combination of flavours.

    • — Paul on June 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m not a huge fan of salmon typically but these salmon cakes were just superb. They were easy to prepare and easy to cook and tasted wonderful. My husband said he had never had better. I will even make these for company sometime. I love your recipes and find that if I follow the directions, I get a superior product. Your weekly email is always fun and I keep them all for reference. Thank you. PS, tell your friend she needs to try these for sure.

    • — Claudia on June 11, 2022
    • Reply

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