Why Southerners Love The Simplicity Of Classic Salmon Patties


Bringing back that comfort classic.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
8 patties

Salmon patties (AKA salmon cakes or croquettes) are one of the quickest and easiest things we can whip up from pantry staples. Simple and straightforward without being boring, salmon patties require minimal prep and can be on the table in minutes.

The sizzling golden brown cakes are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside when served hot from the skillet, but they're not half bad at room temperature, and can hit the spot when pulled straight from the fridge for a quick high-protein nosh. Some of us grew up eating salmon patties for school-night suppers or weekend breakfasts with biscuits or grits, and still consider them top-notch comfort food.

Canned salmon is often an overlooked and underappreciated choice when selecting budget friendly fish, and the wild-caught varieties are a sustainable choice as well. A 5-ounce can or pouch of wild-caught pink salmon delivers around 22 grams of very lean protein for only around 100 calories, making it an appealing pantry staple. Unlike the canned salmon that our grandmothers had to pick through to remove sharp bones and unsightly skin before making their croquettes, most brands these days are boneless, skinless, and ready to use. This is salmon that's as easy to use as a can of tuna or beans. Most canned salmon is mild, delicate, and less fishy than most other types of tinned fish and seafood.

We might find recipes for salmon patties in family recipe boxes and the occasional community cookbook, but most home cooks made them by feel and habit, trusting handfuls and pinches more than precise measurements, just like when scrambling eggs or making a good sandwich. That being said, the following recipe is a trustworthy template for cooks who haven't made them in a while, or never have.

Don't be tempted to fancy these up. The simplicity is the point. Some people eat them with ketchup, tartar sauce, or hot sauce, but they do just fine on their own.

Salmon Patties

Jessica Furniss


  • 1 ½ cups boneless and skinless salmon, drained if water-packed (about 10 ounces)

  • 1 cup finely crushed saltines (about 24 crackers)

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 1 large egg

  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay (optional)

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • A generous pat of butter and splash of oil, for pan frying


  1. Stir together the salmon, cracker crumbs, mayonnaise, egg, Old Bay (if using), and pepper in a medium-size bowl. Let stand a couple of minutes, and then stir until the mixture comes together and holds its shape on a spoon.

    stirring together salmon and ingredients for salmon patties

    Jessica Furniss

  2. Divide the mixture into 8 patties that are about ½-inch thick.

    8 salmon patties divided on a white plate and ready to be cooked

    Jessica Furniss

  3. Warm the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter bubbles, add the patties in a single layer, spacing them evenly. (Work in batches if need be, and add more fat to the pan as needed.) Cook until the patties are nicely browned and sizzling, flipping once, about 3 minutes per side. Serve warm, although refrigerated leftovers are good, too.

    cooking salmon patties in cast iron skillet

    Jessica Furniss

Serving Suggestion

Serve with a flavorful sauce like our Old Bay Rémoulade.

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