Tuna Patties


Tuna patties! All you have to do is say these two words and I’m flooded with childhood memories. We kids are only a few feet high, have tiny feet, scabbed knees, and boundless energy. In between chasing each other around the dining room table we are squealing to our mother, “We’re having tuna patties!”

We were enthusiastic about food, to say the least. And always hungry. Back then, this was one of my mother’s go-to dishes. No idea what her recipe was, and it’s been so long since she’s made them, it’s long forgotten. This recipe is as close as I can come to what I remember, probably with a few added flourishes.

Tuna Patties

What I love about the recipe is that I almost always have the necessary ingredients in the pantry and fridge, the patties are incredibly easy and quick to make, and they’re budget friendly too. Oh yes, and they taste great! (At least to us. Big fans of canned tuna here.)

Tuna Patties Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 4 patties


  • 2 6-ounce cans tuna
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup white bread torn into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp water (or liquid from the cans of tuna)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives, green onions, or shallots
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A couple squirts of Crystal hot sauce or tabasco
  • 1 raw egg
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter


1 Drain tuna: Drain the liquid from the tuna cans. If you are using tuna packed in water, reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water, and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the tuna mixture in the next step.

2 Mix tuna with mustard, bread, zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, hot sauce, salt, pepper, egg: In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the mixture before adding the egg to see if it needs more seasoning to your taste. Mix in the egg.

3 Form into patties, chill: Divide the mixture into 4 parts. With each part, form into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place onto a wax paper lined tray and chill for an hour. (You can skip the chilling if you want, chilling just helps the patties stay together when you cook them.)


4 Sauté in skillet: Heat the olive oil and a little butter (for taste) in a cast iron or stick-free skillet on medium high. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook until nicely browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.

tuna-patties-method-2 tuna-patties-method-3

Serve with wedges of lemon. You can also serve with tartar sauce on slider buns for a tuna burger.

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Showing 4 of 140 Comments

  • Wendy

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but my mom, grandmother, and I have been making tuna patties for years. They are especially handy for Fridays during Lent. But, we just mix tuna, Italian breadcrumbs, and egg together to make them and don’t bother chilling them. They are fast, easy, and the kids love them…especially with Tater Tots.

  • Jack

    Tuna patties did not sound appealing to me at all…boy was I wrong. The wife convinced me to make this, and I have found a new favorite (and easy) recipe! Thank you for this one.

  • Dave

    These tuna patties are fabulous. I just finished eating them and they taste like crab melts without the cheese. Thank you sooo much for this recipe. The best use for canned tuna ever.

  • Norma Livesay

    Try using meal with a little flour instead of crackers and also salmon instead of tuna. I crush all the bones, etc in with the salmon and do not pick them out. Also use part of the juice which keeps them from being too dry. My mother made the salmon patties along with a skillet of corn bread then she made meal gravy (brown it real good) in the grease that the patties were fried in. Put the gravy over the cornbread and patties. Delicious!!!!

  • Dolly D

    I loved this recipe, I just used fresh lump crab meat instead of Tuna. The last time I would eat canned tuna was back in late 70’s when they had a product called “Tuna Twist”. Here’s the link to TV ad from 1976. { https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ma16CwjIEm0 } It was a package of dried herbs, dried vegetables and healthy dose of MSG in a package that you “just added boiling water and mayonnaise”. It would make 6 sandwiches from one can rather than four. It was really good but was discontinued for it was giving dumb folks stomach problems around the country. Many Americans who are idiots do not or can’t read directions. The dried veggies swelled in their intestines cause they didn’t follow the directions. I never ate Tuna again. I can’t even fathom eating it hot. Probably a traumatic experience I had with Tuna Noodle Casserole in late 60’s.

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