Tuna Patties

Tuna patties are a classic frugal recipe to make when you’re short on time but hungry for something delicious. Featuring canned tuna, mustard, and lemon, our tuna patties recipe will become a new family favorite!

Tuna patties topped with sauce and stacked on a plate with a forkful of patties removed and set next to it.
Ciara Kehoe

Tuna Patties: A Kid-Friendly Favorite Adults Love Too

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.

Video: How to Make Tuna Patties!


How to Make Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties: A Go-To Dish

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.

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 cakes on a white plate along with a lemon wedge and fork.
Ciara Kehoe

The Best Canned Tuna for Tuna Patties

Canned tuna is such a tasty and affordable staple to have in your pantry. But there are so many options, how do you choose? We prefer to support brands that are sustainable and use ethical fishing methods Look for BPA-free cans that are pole-caught or trolled for better fishing practices.

Packed in oil or water? It's really a matter of personal preference. Be sure to read the ingredient list, though for oil-packed tuna, to make sure they don't use ingredients you might not want.

Light vs. White tuna? Albacore tuna is the only kind that can be labeled as white tuna. "Light" tuna is usually skipjack or yellowfin, with slightly darker meat and more flavorful. The difference is akin to the difference between white meat and dark meat chicken. Again, which one you choose is based on our personal preference.

Easy Swaps and Substitutions 

  • Use prepared breadcrumbs or panko instead of white bread.
  • Gluten free diet? Just replace the white bread with potato flakes, oats or gluten free flour.
  • You can use any other mustard in place of the Dijon.
  • If you don't have any fresh herbs, feel free to substitute with dry herbs.
  • Feel free to add finely chopped onions, garlic, bell peppers and/or other fresh herbs you like.
  • Instead of a skillet, you can make them in air fryer, but be sure to chill them first, so they keep their shape.

The Best Sauces and Dips for Tuna Patties 

More Easy Tuna Recipes!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Tuna Patties

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 18 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 4 patties


  • 2 (5 to 6-ounce) cans tuna

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1/2 cup white bread , torn into small pieces

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon water, or liquid from the cans of tuna

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, green onions, or shallots

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce, to taste

  • 1 raw egg

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon butter

  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. Drain the 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. Make the tuna mixture:

    In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, and hot sauce. Sprinkle on some 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.

    Ingredients in a bowl to make a tuna cakes recipe.
    Ciara Kehoe
    Ingredients mixed in a bowl to make a tuna patties recipe.
    Ciara Kehoe
  3. Form into patties and 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 are short on time. Chilling just helps the patties stay together when you cook them.)

    Tuna patties scooped on parchment paper to show how to make tuna fish.
    Ciara Kehoe
    Pressing tuna patties together to show how to make tuna fish.
    Ciara Kehoe
    Flattening the tuna cake mixture for a tuna cake recipe.
    Ciara Kehoe
  4. Sauté in a 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 to 4 minutes on each side.

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

    Pan frying tuna patties.
    Ciara Kehoe
    Squeezing lemon on tuna cakes.
    Ciara Kehoe
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
209 Calories
11g Fat
3g Carbs
23g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 209
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 514mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 23g
Vitamin C 5mg 25%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 259mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.