Need a recipe using leftover cooked salmon? This is the perfect way to use it up and create whole 30 friendly salmon cakes that can be served for brunch, lunch, dinner, and meal prep for a busy week ahead.
Whether you’re gluten free, paleo, whole30, keto, or have literally no way to define your diet, you will absolutely be head over heels for these crispy flavor packed salmon cakes.
They’re incredibly versatile and while you can use fresh salmon or canned salmon, they’re my go-to recipe for when I sometimes find myself with leftover cooked salmon from a previous meal. While I love a good Cedar plank salmon burger or this classic butter basted slow roasted salmon recipe, nothing beats making these as often as I do.
I love the crispy outside, the still moist and tender inside (even re-cooking cooked salmon this way prevents it from drying out), and doctoring it up with a handful of pantry staples and fridge friendly leftover veggies for the perfect patty. Top it all off with this absolutely killer homemade garlic basil aioli and you’re taste buds are in heaven.
Below I will guide you through some important techniques to help you have a fool proof cooking experience, provide you with nutritional information and give you all the tips for storing, reheating, and freezing too. Let’s dive into this delicious recipe!
- Food Processor
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Frying Pan
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
Read through all the helpful info below or jump to the recipe at the bottom of the page if you’re ready to start cooking.
How do I use already cooked salmon for this recipe? Can I substitute fresh or canned salmon?
While I loved using already cooked, wild caught salmon personally for this recipe, I did mention briefly above you can use any kind of salmon you have on hand (pre-cooked, fresh, or canned). If you are using fresh salmon, I would suggest pre-cooking it ahead of time for the best outcome.
With fresh or canned salmon, you may need to adjust the amount of mayo you use as well. I would start with 1/4 cup and add a teaspoon at a time as needed for them to bind together. Fresh and canned salmon are going to be a lot more “wet” and you don’t want them to become too soggy.
How do you prevent the salmon cakes from falling apart?
Here are 3 main reasons I have found for why salmon patties break and crumble apart during the cooking process:
- Flaked Salmon is not fine enough
- Too much filler or filler (veggies) are too large
- Too much moisture or not enough
Unlike a lot of other salmon cake recipes out there, this recipe doesn’t include additional binders like eggs, crackers, or bread crumbs. It also doesn’t need any whole 30 or gluten free flours like almond flour or coconut flour for it to bind.
The main trick is to first get the salmon broken down really well in the food processor. Then also food process the veggies so they too get broken down and blended into the cooked salmon. Lastly, use the mayo (a whole30 approved if you’re following this type of meal plan) as the “glue” to help keep everything together. All of these factors will help prevent the patties from falling apart.
How do you get the salmon patties crispy?
The mayo in the salmon patties helps encourage browning, but it’s also going to be about using a good heavy bottom skillet over medium heat and searing in oil. While olive oil is fine for searing, I prefer avocado oil because it has a very high smoke point (so you brown and don’t burn the patties).
Add enough oil to coat the pan and let it preheat heat. Don’t overcrowd the patties in the pan, but cook them in batches. This helps prevents them from steaming and gives you room to flip them as needed. I cook mine a few minutes per side and use a metal spatula to flip as needed.
- Cooked Salmon- Leftover salmon works great. Remove the skin and any pin bones. The salmon will need to mixed very well so a food processor works best. If you don’t have one you will need to mash thourghouly with a fork.
- Red Bell Pepper- Remove the seeds and cut into a small dice. This adds a nice, light, sweet flavor.
- Jalapeno-Remove the seeds and cut into a small dice. This adds a little heat to balance out the bell pepper. Keep the seeds in if you really like it spicy!
- Red Onion- Small dice, can sub with other onion if desired.
- Garlic- A few cloves minced.
- Mayo- Use what works best for your diet/ meal plan.
- Dijon Mustard- You can sub with regular mustard. You cannot taste it really but the slight acidic punch helps balance out the flavors.
- Tabasco Sauce- I like to add a few dashes for some heat. This is optional.
- Worcestershire Sauce- Traditional Worcestershire sauce isn’t whole 30 compliant but some brands are gluten free and have cleaner ingredients. You can also check out this recipe for a simple homemade whole 30 Worcestershire recipe instead too.
- Salt and Pepper
- Pre-cook your veggies before adding them into the food processor. This helps them break down and tastes better in the final product.
- Use a 1 inch cookie scoop to form your patties into even size balls that you can flatten in your hands.
- Prep all the patties and pre-form them before you start cooking.
- You will need to add a little more oil before each batch. If the bottom of the pan is too dry they could get stuck and then could also break apart.
- Remove cooked patties to a paper towel lined plater before serving.
- Serve with tartar sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.
- Pair with delicious blistered green beans, crispy smashed radishes and a refreshing prosecco mint julep.
Tips for storage, freezing, and reheating:
Storing- Let them cool completely before putting them into a container. This prevents sticking.
Freezing- If freeing, place them on a plate individually and let them set up in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before placing them in a freezer safe bag and storing.
Reheating- I love to reheat in the air fryer! I put mine in for about 3-4 minutes at 370 F. or until heated through.
Check out these other healthy omega 3 filled salmon recipes we love!
- Deconstructed Salmon Fish Tacos
- Coconut Crusted Salmon with Chimichurri
- Sesame and Pistachio Grilled Salmon
- Easy Cedar Plank Salmon Salad
Easy Salmon Cakes
- 4 cups Cooked Salmon
- 1 Red Bell Pepper diced small
- 1 Jalapeno seeds removed diced small
- 1/2 cup Red Onion diced small
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 1/3 cup Mayo use what fits your dietary needs
- 1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce optional
- 4-5 Dashes of Tabasco optional
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp. Pepper
- Avocado Oil for pan searing
- Garlic Basil Aioli for dipping
- Start by cooking your peppers, onion, and garlic on medium heat in a frying pan with 2 tsp. of avocado oil. Cook about 5 minutes, until tender.
- In a food processor, add your cooked salmon (see notes in the post regarding other forms of salmon for this recipe), cooked veggies, mayo, mustard, and optional Worcestershire and tabasco sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pulse the mixture until it is completely blended and the salmon forms more of a paste and doesn’t look flaky.
- Use a cookie scooper or a spoon to form 1 inch balls. Flatten them in your palm gently to about 1/2 inch or so and set them aside and repeat this step until you have made roughly 20-24 patties.
- In a heavy bottom skillet (I reuse the skillet I sauted the veggies from earlier in), swirl the bottom with avocado oil so it’s just coated. Pre-heat the pan to medium heat and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
- Add 5-7 patties into the pan and cook about 2 minutes per side. Gently flip and cook and brown the other side another 2 minutes or so. Remove them from the pan and place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat this until you’ve cooked all your patties.
- Serve your patties up with your favorite dipping sauce (tartar sauce, remoulade, or this garlic basil aioli) and enjoy.