Tuna Patties

LentenBudgetQuick and EasyCanned Tuna

Quick, easy, delicious tuna patties! Best thing you can make with canned tuna. Kid-friendly, Budget-friendly.

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.)

How to make tuna patties

Tuna Patties Recipe

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


  • 2 cans tuna (5 to 6 ounce cans)
  • 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.

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

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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228 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Dawn Rae

    Yum!! I do similar with canned salmon. I don’t know why I never thought to use tuna. What a great idea! I can have “fish” patties more often now!

  • Octavia

    I think these were alright! They weren’t the biggest hit, but they certainly were not bad, either. I’m not sure if I’d revisit this, but I do not regret making them at all and trying them as I had never had a tuna patty before.


  • taylor

    I hated tuna as a child but was visiting a friend’s house for lunch and her mother served tuna patties. They were delicious but never had them again. At some point during a mid-life weight crisis, tuna became part of my diet but I did not mix it with anything. I eventually gave up the diet as a lost cause but started eating tuna sandwiches. I will not eat fish unless it is tinned tuna or salmon. Last night, around 9 pm I was looking for a recipe for lemon meringue pie and two very good things came from that search. When I saw the tuna patties recipe I immediately went to the kitchen and cooked up one heck of a delicious bedtime snack. I also found your wonderful recipe for lemon meringue pie. I wanted the pie for today for lunch so set my alarm for 3 a.m. and the pie is now cooling — it is now 6 a.m.. It looks wonderful and I can’t wait for my guests to arrive so I can greedily dig in. My lemon trees are so laden with fruit and am always looking for any recipe in which I can use them. I am in the tropics and fruit is seasonal so will freeze about 30 lemons for future recipes until next season. Thank you for two wonderful recipes and I will be a permanent visitor to your site.


  • Seasons01

    Can you tell me how many Tuna cakes a person is supposed to eat of these in one sitting? Assuming they are put into 4.

  • Chelsea

    Hello! I’m confused what size can of tuna to use. You say to use 2 6oz cans, but they don’t make 6 oz cans and in the video the one you are using shows 5oz and the drained weight is 4oz. So the total amount of tuna for this recipe technically for 2 cans would only be 8 oz after draining? Or do I need a total weight of 12 oz of tuna after draining which is what the instructions make it seem like(2-6 oz cans)? Also is albacore tuna ok to use in this recipe or just the regular? Thank you!!

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