Tuna Patties

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.)

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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.

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

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Tuna Burgers

Showing 4 of 175 Comments

  • Suzanne

    Can you use cooking spray instead of oil and the butter? I use the spray all the time for hamburgers and such. I always thought that the spray is healthier for you.

  • Hooper Holmes

    Thank you for this recipe. My boys and I enjoyed it. Excellent!

  • Rose Musgrave

    I’ve been making Tuna cakes for years, and I always add a cup of left over mashed potatoes to two cans of tuna to my recipe, which is similar to the one listed. I do use the bread crumbs too, along with the mashed potatoes.

  • Betty Brantley

    I make salmon patties a lot but never thought of using any of these ingredients but I am going to try it. I only use salmon and juice with a large chopped onion, 2 eggs, and coarse ground cornmeal. My family loves them with baked beans and French fries.

  • Marcy

    can you bake the tuna or salmon cakes?

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