Salmon Cakes with Avocado Tartar Sauce
Salmon Cakes with Avocado Tartar Sauce is a quick, easy, and healthy dinner recipe made with fresh salmon. And if you make small salmon patties they are perfect for a party appetizer.
These salmon cakes are super tender and flavorful. They are beautifully crisp on the outside (without using any flour!) and moist inside. Plus, you don't have to cook the salmon first. I'll tell you why I make them with raw salmon in just a minute. Spoiler alert: it makes the best salmon patties!
Not only are these easy to make for a quick weeknight meal, but they're also great for meal-prep. Pack the leftovers with some of the avocado tartare and a handful of salad greens and lunch is made.
Or make mini salmon cakes and serve them as an appetizer the next time you have friends over.
Why this is the best salmon cakes recipe
- Tender cakes. As you only cook the salmon once (unlike most salmon cake recipes) it doesn't overcook and dry out.
- Crispy edges. Because it's the crispy tender contrast that wins each bite.
- Made without flour. Because we know of an option that's better for us AND makes these salmon patties tastier, too. Win!
- These fish cakes are so delicious that they don't even need a sauce. But since my family LOVES sauce, I always serve them with some avocado tartar. It's ridiculously good.
- This is a gluten-free + Whole30 + paleo salmon cake recipe. But if you don't mention that, no one will ever guess they're healthy. It can be our little secret.
How to make salmon patties
These guys are really easy to make. There are 4 basic steps: chop, mix, form, cook.
- Chop the salmon into small pieces, just like in the photo above. If you need to remove the skin from the salmon, check out this Lemon Salmon Burgers post for instructions. It's pretty straightforward.
- Mix the salmon with the 5 other ingredients and a little salt and pepper.
- Scoop the salmon into a 1/4 cup measuring cup then carefully drop it into a bowl of almond flour. Sprinkle some almond flour on top then carefully lift it up and gently form it into a patty.
- Cook the salmon cakes for a few minutes on each side so they are crispy outside and tender inside.
That's it! Making salmon patties is really easy.
Tips to prevent your fish cakes from falling apart
This recipe makes soft, tender fish cakes, which is what you want. If you can flip your fish cakes like they're hamburger patties without them falling apart then you might as well flip them straight into the garbage. There are two tips you need to make these easier to work with.
- Use a gentle hand. I can't stress this point enough. When you coat them in the almond flour, VERY gently pass them back and forth between your hands like a ball until a patty forms. Don't try to squish them into a patty or they'll fall apart. And when you place them in the pan to cook (and when you turn them over) be gentle.
- Let them rest for a little while after you form and flour them. I put them in the fridge while I prep the rest of dinner then take them out to cook 10 minutes before everything else is ready. This extra step makes them a little more sturdy.
And remember, if they seem like they're just barely staying together before you cook them, you know they're going to be super delicious.
What kind of salmon is best?
For the best salmon cakes, you want the fattiest salmon. King salmon is ridiculously good, but it comes with a steep price tag. Atlantic salmon is also high in healthy fats. When you're shopping, look for land-raised Atlantic salmon. (It sounds like an oxymoron but raising salmon in tanks helps protect our oceans.)
Steelhead trout (ocean-going rainbow trout that tastes a lot like salmon) is a great, low-cost option. We buy it frequently and it's what you see in these pictures.
In a pinch, you could opt for sockeye or coho, but know that they will make your salmon cakes a little dry.
What the heck is avocado tartar sauce?
I'm glad you asked! I love a good tartar sauce so was super skeptical the first time I made this. I didn't have high hopes but ended up being blown away by it.
Instead of using mayonnaise or sour cream, this recipe uses an avocado. The trick is to mash it really well so it is creamy then mix in enough water so that it is the same consistency as mayonnaise.
My family loves this healthy tartar sauce and I love that I can feel good about serving it to them.
What to serve with your salmon cakes
Making this into a complete meal is super easy. Often I'll serve them with a big salad (like The Best Kale Salad or my Greek Salad Recipe) and call it dinner. Here are a few other sides that go well with these salmon cakes:
- Smoky Roast Potatoes
- Mini Hasselback Potatoes
- Sauteed Asparagus with Parmesan
- Pesto Stuffed Tomatoes
- Cheesy Irish Cheddar Cauliflower
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Best Salmon Recipes
- Lemon Salmon Burgers with Lemon Dill Sauce
- Thai Fish Cakes with Mango Avocado Salsa
- Coconut Crusted Salmon Bites with Sweet Chili Sauce
- Pecan Crusted Salmon with Garlic Maple Glaze
- Tzatziki Avocado Salmon Rolls
- Cashew Coconut Salmon Curry
Salmon Cakes with Avocado Tartar Sauce
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- 1 ¼ lbs. salmon, skin removed and chopped very small
- ½ red onion, grated (see notes)
- ½ cup minced parsley
- 1 ¾ cup almond flour, divided (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs
- Zest and juice from ½ lemon, about 1 ½ tablespoons
- Oil, for the pan
Avocado Tartar Sauce
- ½ ripe avocado
- Juice from ½ lemon, about 1 ½ tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 4 gherkins, chopped
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix the salmon, grated onion, parsley, ½ cup of the almond flour, salt, pepper, eggs, lemon zest, and juice.1 ¼ lbs. salmon, ½ red onion, ½ cup minced parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, 2 large eggs, Zest and juice from ½ lemon
- Place the remaining 1 ¼ cups of almond flour in a shallow bowl. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, take a scoop of the salmon and drop it into the almond flour. Sprinkle some almond flour on top then carefully pick up the salmon. Very gently, pass the salmon back and forth between your hands a few times to form a patty. Do not try and squish the salmon or it will fall apart. (See the blog post for tips.)
- Place the salmon patty on the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining salmon to make 8 patties. Put the cakes into your fridge, uncovered, while you make the sauce, about 10 mins.
- Using a fork, mash the avocado until it is creamy. Add just enough cold water (2-3 tablespoons) so that it is the consistency of mayonnaise. Mix in the remaining ingredients and set aside.½ ripe avocado, Juice from ½ lemon, 1 tablespoon capers, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, 4 gherkins
- Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, add the salmon patties to the pan with the top side (dry side) facing down. Cook the salmon cakes for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. Be gentle when turning them over to prevent them from cracking. Serve with some lemon wedges and the avocado tartar sauce on the side.