Salmon & Rice Cakes with Easy Variations

I try to prepare one meal featuring fish or seafood every week. I think it is important to vary the types of protein that our meals include.

Our whole family likes fish and seafood. In fact, we would probably love having it multiple times a week! But there’s a good reason we don’t.


Salmon & Rice Cakes with Easy Variations

You probably guessed it: our budget! As delicious as fish is, it can be difficult to feed it to an entire large family while minding the grocery budget.

Thankfully, canned fish is a frugal option and the one I use most frequently for our fish meals. Our very favorite way to enjoy canned fish, and canned salmon in particular, is in these delicious fish cakes!

The whole family loves them and my husband in particular. I love that even when we haven’t been grocery shopping for a while, I typically already have the ingredients I need to make them. 

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Usually when I make fish cakes, I use canned salmon. Depending on your budget, you can use either pink or red sockeye salmon that’s wild-caught.

If you’ve never used canned salmon before, you might be a little put off by your first peek in the can. It isn’t exactly pretty, and it does have skin and bones in it. But I promise, once you cook it, you don’t even notice the skin and bones. The bones are actually an excellent source of calcium!

You can also use 2 cans of tuna. When I do that, I like to choose tuna that’s canned in olive oil, like this one. Our family enjoys these with both types of fish.

Salmon & Rice Cakes with Easy Variations 2


Salmon & Rice Cakes

  • 1 (14.75 oz) can wild Alaskan Salmon, undrained
  • 3 c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 1/2 c. finely diced onion
  • 1 T. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 c. shredded carrot
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. dried thyme or parsley
  • sprinkle of cracked pepper
  • Coconut oil, palm oil, or palm shortening (a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening) for frying (you can also find these at Tropical Traditions and Vitacost)

salmon, rice, and mixture for fish cakes


  1. Mix salmon and rice together in a large bowl until evenly combined
  2. Beat eggs and cottage cheese together with a fork in another medium bowl, then add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Mix the egg mixture into the salmon mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Heat a heavy skillet (I love cast iron!) over medium heat, then add about a teaspoon of oil/fat for frying.
  5. Scoop out about 1/4 c. of the mixture onto the skillet to form a cake, then continue until the skillet is filled. Fry for about 10 minutes on one side, or until firm, then flip and brown the other side. Transfer to a dish to keep warm, and continue frying until all of the mixture has been used.

frying fish cakes


Easy Variations

When I make fish cakes now, I rarely use the exact Salmon & Rice Cakes recipe. I’ve made these so many times that I know what the mixture should look like before frying, and what substitutions I can reasonably make in case I’m missing an ingredient.

Once you get the hang of the original recipe, try some of these tasty variations!

  • Substitute the 3 cups cooked rice for 3 cups of loosely packed shredded raw potato.
  • Replace the 1 cup shredded carrot with shredded raw beet, broccoli stem, or butternut squash.
  • Out of cottage cheese? Try adding 1/2 cup shredded cheese with 1/4 cup sour cream.
  • As mentioned above, use 2 or 3 cans of tuna in oil (undrained, 5 oz cans) instead of the 1 can of salmon.
  • Instead of rice, use 3 cups of soft cooked lentils and mash them up well as you do your mixing.
  • Use up to 1/4 cup of fresh herbs in place of the dry. Chives are a favorite here!
  • Add leftover cooked vegetables to the mixture.
  • If ever your variation seems too dry, just add an extra egg to hold it together.

Lentil fish cake variation


These salmon cakes were made with lentils instead of rice

My husband loves to eat Salmon & Rice Cakes, or another fish cake variation, with hot sauce or hot pepper jelly. The kiddos like theirs with ketchup, and I prefer mine plain. If you like tartar sauce, that might work here, too.

We rarely have leftovers when I make these. The few left hanging around on the pan are generally gobbled up before bedtime by a snacking passerby.

Do you cook with canned salmon or other canned fish? How do you fix it?

This post is a combination of two older posts shared two and four years ago. Since we enjoy this recipe so much, I thought it was worth sharing again in a clearer way.

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    1. I did make these for my mom on Sunday. I didn’t have rice cooked up so used quinoa. We really enjoyed them and I’ll make them again. Since there were just two of us that day I had plenty left to give her to take home and to give to a single friend. Thanks for the recipe! 😀

    2. Thanks for posting this recipe. I’m definitely going to make these for my mom this weekend. I know she’ll be thrilled. 🙂

    3. Love this! Thanks so much. I have 7 kids an am always looking for ways to stretch food and money. Made this tonight and was a hit. I baked the patties in the oven because I had other things to do and didnt want to have to babysit to pan fry. They turned out great! Thanks again 🙂

      1. I’m so glad your family enjoyed them. I must say, too, that baking them is a genius idea! I feel silly, but I’ve never thought of doing that! I’ll definitely remember your smart idea next time I’m in a time crunch. Thanks for sharing, Cathy!

    4. So, I’ve made these three times and only one time did I actually get “cakes”. It usually ends up more like stir fry. Any suggestions. I tried adding an egg. Should it be really wet?

      1. Hey Stephanie! I’m sorry that they aren’t setting up for you! It is a pretty wet mixture (some of that may depend on the brand of cottage cheese or the texture of the cooked rice), but it shouldn’t be soupy. I have found that if I try to flip them before they have really browned well at the bottom and set up some, they will fall apart. If the mixture seems to wet, you can try adding extra shredded cheese or some bread crumbs. I hope that helps!

    5. These look delicious! I was just thinking the other day that I really, really need some new lunch ideas. This would make a perfect nice Saturday lunch (or dinner!) I’ve made tuna/salmon patties before, but think that adding rice would make them SO much better.

      1. Hi Ginger! Great question. I should have clarified that in the original recipe (and I’ll add it now). 🙂

        This is made with a standard 14.75oz can of salmon, or two or three of the regular sized cans of tuna (5oz).

      1. Thank you, Jacqueline! We do love them. (And my picture are all taken with my iPhone and some editing in PicMonkey… ha!)