Homemade Fish Cakes

by Kristen on May 17, 2013 · 49 comments

in Main Dishes, Recipes


After trying some fish cakes at a restaurant a while ago, I was inspired to make some at home. I’m generally not a huge fish fan, but I actually like it when it’s made into a cake.

Basically, I took the crab cake recipe I use and tinkered with it a teeny bit to make it work for fish cakes. I’ve been making these on a pretty regular basis now and since they’re approved by the whole family, I thought I’d share the recipe.

fish cakes

I think you could use pretty much any mild-tasting white fish you’d like, but I use frozen tilapia, which you can buy in a two pound bag at Aldi for $5.99.

You know what my one complaint about tilapia is, though? Pretty much anywhere I buy it, each fillet comes individually wrapped in plastic. The trash-y part of that annoys me, but it’s also a pain to cut open each fillet, especially when you’re using a whole bunch of fish for a family of six.

I digress.

Where were we? Oh, the fish. You’ll need a pound of cooked white fish. I thaw my tilapia, season it with salt and pepper, and cook it over medium-high heat in a skillet (with enough butter to keep it from sticking). It only takes a few minutes on each side.


Let the fish cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together mayo, mustard, parsley, seafood seasoning (Old Bay), and an egg, and then stir in the bread crumbs.

I usually make my own bread crumbs by toasting dried ends of bread and then running them through the food processor, but you can use prepared crumbs instead.


When the fish is cool enough to handle, break it up into small pieces and add it to the mayo/egg mixture. Properly cooked fish should flake really easily, so this isn’t a time-consuming task at all.

fish cakes in process

Gently fold the fish into the egg/mayo mixture until it’s all evenly coated.


Using your hands, shape the fish mixture into patties. You can make them as large or as small as you want, but I usually go for something around the size of a hamburger. Place the patties onto a clean baking sheet.


At this point, they’re pretty delicate and would fall apart if you tried to place them in a skillet. To help them firm up, place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Add as many fish cakes as will comfortably fit in the skillet (leave room so you can easily flip them).


I’m not sure why there are only two in the skillet in this particular photo. Please imagine another three or four.

Let the cakes cook for 5-7 minutes (depending on the size), or until they’re nicely browned on the bottom. Then gently flip them over and cook ‘em until they’re golden brown on that side.

Repeat with the remaining patties, adding more butter as needed, and then dig in!

You can serve these as-is, with tartar sauce on the side, or they’re also good made into sandwiches, with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato.

fish cakes with salad and asparagus

Fish Cakes

serves 4-6

Printable Fish Cake Recipe

1 pound of cooked white fish, flaked
1 egg yolk
1 egg
2 teaspoons seafood seasoning
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (not dry)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup bread crumbs

In a bowl, whisk together egg yolk, egg, seafood seasoning, mustard, parsley, and mayo until smooth. Stir in bread crumbs, then gently fold in fish.

Shape fish mixture into patties and place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add two tablespoons butter. Gently place fish cakes in pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom. Carefully flip cakes and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides.

Serve with tartar sauce, or make into a sandwich with a bun, tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato.

Food Waste Friday is over at Simply Being Mum today.

Joshua’s 365 post: My Latest Origami

Leave a Comment

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda M May 17, 2013 at 7:26 am

I make fish cakes but use either canned mackerel, tuna or salmon. I will try using your recipe but sub my canned fish….your recipe sounds yummy. Thanks much.


2 sarah@everydaylifeonashoestring May 17, 2013 at 8:12 am

Fish cakes are on the menu here today to use up some tinned fish. I tend to use mashed potato in mine and coat them with bread crumbs on the outside. I’ve never heard of tilapia before but it looks good.


3 Tammy May 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

These sound good. I usually buy my tilapia at Meijer when they go on sale for $3.50/lb. They are flash frozen and in one bag, not individually wrapped.


4 Lili@creativesavv May 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

I am probably less of a fish person than you are, Kristen. But . . . my family wants me to cook and eat fish more often. It’s something I’ve been working on all 2013, and I’m not making much progress.

Maybe I’ll give your recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.


5 Tina B May 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

I grew up eating fish cakes, but like Linda M, mine was made using canned mackeral. Now as an adult, I see the benefit of the way you do it, but I suspect the canned option was cheaper for my parents. Now I have to think about what my Mom’s recipe was. I used to make them, but haven’t in years.


6 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I think the freshly-cooked fish is much tastier than canned fish! You should try them this way. :)


7 Sarah May 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

This is great! I have my Aldi Brand tilapia thawing for dinner right now. I was just going to bread and bake them, but this is a nice change. Guess who’s making fish cakes for dinner tonight! Thanks!

I agree, the individual packaging annoys me for all the reasons you stated.


8 Economies of Kale May 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

I bet this recipe would work well with tinned sardines as well, although they would taste more fishy. I love Aldi’s sardines because they are so cheap (59c a tin)!


9 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Yeah-tilapia is nice because it’s not super fishy tasting. It’s more expensive than $0.59, though!


10 Lori May 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm

My family all love fish. I’m definitely going to give this a try this week.

And, individually-freeze-dried fish drive me crazy, too. Are there really many people deciding to cook up just a single filet?


11 AFS May 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

My, oh my, those look tastey. I’ve been trying to include more seafood in my diet and still be frugal.
I make salmon patties with canned salmon, eggs, crumbs and seasoning, but I’ve never thought of using white fish.
Do you know what is in the Old Bay? I’d rather mix my own seasoning than purchase a blend if I can replicate it accurately.


12 SandyH May 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

This is the one I use:
1 tablespoon bay leaf, ground
2 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground mace

Combine all ingredients in glass jar and store in a dry place.


13 AFS May 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Thank you so much


14 EcoCatLady May 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Every time I think of fish cakes I think of a line from some Wilford Brimley movie – can’t remember which one. He says something on the order of “she cooks those salmon cakes so good… makes ‘em taste just like fish!”

I just made a batch of salmon cakes last night – all I did was follow the instructions on the can – drained can of salmon, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup flour, 2 Tablespoons cornmeal, 1/4 cup diced onion, salt & pepper.

But the mayo in your recipe sounds quite intriguing… I never thought to make fishcakes with fresh frozen fish. Hmmm… I’ll have to do a price comparison!


15 rosarugosa May 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Thanks for the recipe, Kristen. I will ask DH to give it a try (he is the cook in the family). We love seafood, but have only had mediocre store-made fishcakes. These sound much nicer!
PS: We buy tilapia at Costco and the filets are not individally wrapped. They might not be the cheapest option though. They are definitely higher quality than what we get at the grocery store, but we eat these poached or baked. A cheaper option might be just fine for fish cakes.


16 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Ooh, that’s good to know. I’ll keep an eye out next time I go.


17 Mrs K May 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Fish cakes is one of my hubby’s favorite ways to have fish. I’ve recently made some but used a mix of wheat germ, ground flax and baby cereal instead of bread crumbs. Not much of a difference in taste but it helped to get more nutrition into my 13 month old!


18 KT May 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Is your crab cake recipe on site? I searched, but couldn’t find it. Thanks.


19 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Nope-but it’s almost identical to this one. Just use a pound of crabmeat, and you shouldn’t need to bother with the step of refrigerating the cakes before you cook them. Crab cakes seem to hold together better than fish cakes!


20 KT May 17, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Thank you! I love your simple recipes….and I love crab cakes. I just do not fix seafood because I don’t have the confidence. But I think I will try sometime soon.


21 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Ah, if you make crab cakes, you’re dealing with already-cooked meat, so it’s pretty foolproof! Not nearly as scary as you might think. :)


22 Alice May 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Is that a new white plate? (it doesn’t look like the white soup bowl you have been using) Maybe you have new dishes? I like the bumps around the edge.


23 Kristen May 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Oh, that’s another Goodwill plate…my other white bowl/plate is also from Goodwill. My regular dishes are black and they are just terrible for photographing food. So, I picked up a few white ones at Goodwill specifically for this purpose!


24 Kim May 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm

On the Wild Side: I use packaged wild alaskan salmon (by the tuna in g-store) , diced up very tiny jalepeno, splash of lemon juice,celery, pinch of garlic powder, pinch of cayenne pepper and still the mayo,egg and prepared crumbs (not as good as yours i am sure but Panko is pretty good). Hot oil and a tiny bit of butter to flash fry them. Nice crunchy patty. Mmmm. Try it.


25 Leslie May 18, 2013 at 8:56 am

I just love your photography. Even when it’s simply a picture of a dinner plate, it’s lovely :)


26 Kristen May 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Aww, thank you so much. That means a lot to me. :)


27 sheila May 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

I for one actually LOVE the individually wrapped frozen fish. Yes, the extra packaging is a waste, but unless I use an entire bag all at once, it ends up getting freezer burn and I have to throw it out. Since we live in the country, we burn as much of our trash as possible and haul everything else once or twice a year. I don’t know what the environmental consequences of it, but I at least tell myself that if we burn it, it doesn’t require getting trucked off to a landfill.


28 The Norwegian Girl May 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

oh, this recipe looks great! I love fish, so Im always looking for new ways of cooking fish!


29 mindy May 30, 2013 at 7:27 am

Just wanted to let you know that I made this for supper recently, and we loved it. Thanks for sharing your recipe, we will be adding it to our rotation!
I made a slight change – halved the recipe (because there are just two people in my house) but used the whole amount of Old Bay seasoning.


30 Melissa June 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Made these for dinner. They were a huge hit! I will definitely make these again.


31 Tonya July 25, 2013 at 2:53 pm

We are actually going to try these tonight for the first time. Instead of parsley, I am going to use cilantro (my favorite). Thank you for sharing this and I will let you know how I did. I really love seafood and love experimenting when I cook :)


32 Melissa August 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm

These are a huge hit at my house and have become a favorite!!
Thank you!!


33 Jessica August 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

I don’t like fish but I will give these a try because I would really love to incorporate fish into our diets, considering how healthy it is. Do you think I could sub either greek yogurt or sour cream for the mayo? I am not not a mayo fan…


34 Kristen August 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I don’t really know! Honestly, the finished product doesn’t really taste like mayo…the mayo just acts as a binder. Maybe some googling would lead you to an answer?


35 one2enjoy August 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Egg/bread crumbs are also a binder. When I tweak my recipe I plan on using yogurt and baking. I usually coat the bottom of my baking dish for the bottoms. For the tops I have a oil sprayer with olive oil that I use to coat tops of thing that would otherwise be fried. Half way through the bake time I will check to see if things are browning the way I like. If not I flip them to achieve my desired browning. As far as yogurt vs mayo; homemade mayo is made with olive oil, lemon and egg yolk (salt and pepper can also be added). Because mayo is mostly oil it works great as an alternative browning agent. Yogurt, at least in my experience, works great as a sticking agent. This means use just enough add your desired taste. If things get to ‘wet’ you can add a bit more bread crumbs just be careful not to create a ‘flavored bread crumb’ patty. :-D Oh, many store bought mayos contain soy and other items that you may not want. I usually make my homemade mayo when I make mini (two bite size) angle food cake for my sweety. I freeze 1.5 dozen and leave the remaining .5 dozen out so not to create to much temptation.


36 Jessica August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm

thank you!


37 one2enjoy August 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I love crab and salmon cakes. Why I never use tilapia for fish cakes is beyond me. Thanks for a new choice in what I do with my fish. Having a person in my life who needs to watch intake values I will be tweaking it a bit to see what I can do with the recipe….May even add some dill because I have not met a fish yet that I do not like dill with, lol.


38 Jurga August 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Few tablespoons of corn starch. That’s what you add to skip the “firming” step in fridge. And then it doesn’t matter what you use – mayo or yogurt – when you start frying the patties, starch reacts to the heat immediately and doesn’t allow to fall them apart. Also, you don’t really need to cook the fish before. Just chop it raw and add to the rest of ingredients. When in small pieces, it cooks perfectly well in those 7 -5-3 minutes per side.
I’ve done this recipe with chicken breasts as well. Replace the fish with the uncooked chicken breasts, chopped into small chunks (can grind too), switching the seafood seasoning with poultry seasoning, maybe adding some minced garlic. Then mayo/yogurt, egg, corn starch with/or without breadcrumbs. And fry. Same frying time. Kids loved it, husband couldn’t stand the texture of chicken. ( Our recipe when Daddy is not at home :) ) Still worth trying!
Thanks for reminding me about this with fish!~


39 Donna B August 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I’ve been doing a something like this with my canned white albacore tuna for years but didn’t think about doing it with the tilapia so thanks. While dieting, I have been grilling the tilapia on my Forman grill and adding McCormick Montreal Chicken seasonings for flavor. I’ve also used Durkee Fish and Chicken seasoning but prefer the McCormick (boring). I am a huge crab cake lover if someone else makes them but I never seem to be happy with my own. If you ever figure out how to make Deviled Crab like Red Lobster please let me know. It is not on their menu but you can ask for it and they will make it for you. I think they use a mix but I have not been able to find such a thing in the stores. I did find a recipe on Cooks.com and tried it but it was horrible. I am going to try your recipe tonight. Thanks again!


40 Melody August 26, 2013 at 7:50 pm

We had these for dinner tonight and they were soooo good. My husband said they were “like something from a restaurant.” :)


41 Lorna November 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

Do you have your chicken cakes recipe anywhere on your site?


42 Kristen November 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

It’s actually not my recipe…but if you click on the link up there in the post (the one to Nom Nom Paleo), you’ll be taken to a post where there’s a link to the PDF of the recipe.


43 viv February 1, 2014 at 7:17 am

nice recipe. fairly different from the recipe my wife uses (she learnt her recipe from my Mum). Just thought I let you know you refer to crab cakes instead of fish cakes below in some of your text.
I know you said you tweeked your crab cake recipe, but this is now a fish cake lol.


44 Kristen February 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

Ack! Thank you so much-I’ve fixed it now.


45 Brian Bruck, DC March 2, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Enjoy the recipe but if you only knew how Tilapia is farmed in China, you would hurl your heart out. The tilapia are in a pond with chickens on a wire grate above. When the chickens do their business, the matter drops through the grate and voila, fish food. This also holds true for chinese garlic, they are grown in similar matter.

Pay a little more and get a better product. It will taste better.


46 Patti March 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Trader Joe’s frozen fish (all kinds) are relatively reasonably priced and we’ve always been very pleased with all the fish we’ve gotten there. Thanks for the recipe…will give it a try!


47 Nicole March 29, 2014 at 2:51 am

I usually just make them with canned salmon, egg, and crackers but the other day I had some leftover imitation crab, onion, and bell pepper so I threw that in to. It was amazing.


48 Sybil April 13, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious!!


49 Kathy Colby August 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Hi, Just found your site. Was looking for a fish cake recipe to use with fresh fish. I have made salmon cakes many times before but I just got back from the beach and our son caught 13 lbs. Of trigger fish, vermilion snapper and big eye ! We baked them tonight with butter, salt and pepper and they were wonderful but we have leftovers. So I will freeze the fish and then make fish cakes latter. It is just my husband and myself so these will make us several good and healthy meals. Thanks for the recipe and the idea to use Old Bay seasoning, never thought of that.


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