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.)

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.

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 218 Comments / Reviews

  • Cindy Evans

    I’m a fan of salmon patties but I’d never thought about making tuna in any way except salad or casserole. These were very tasty. In my opinion, the lemon & zest was what made it.


  • Leah

    First off, I didn’t have some of the ingredients, like lemon zest and mustard. So instead I used ground mustard and a small amount of lemon pepper. I also didn’t use hot sauce since I’m not a fan. I’m honestly not the best cook so mine kind of fell apart but they were delicious none the less. I put the pieces between bread and it was great!


  • Michael Woodke

    I really appreciate that you you just specify canned tuna… not “Italian Tuna” or poached fresh tuna, both of which would probably work incredibly well, but which I suspect a lot of your readers, like me, don’t have in the day-to-day pantry. Thanks for making your site as so user friendly. It is rare to find a blogger who does so much to make a site so friendly. Kudos!

  • Laurie

    We were a whole lot poorer when my kids were younger. I just took cans of tuna, drained it (gave that to the cat) and added egg & crackers then fried it as patties. They loved them. Put Miracle Whip on and ate them with boiled potatoes and some can corn. Happy gang.

  • Tina

    One of my favorites!


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