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Easy Tuna Cakes – A Family Favorite

Tuna Cakes are a delicious way to do meat free during the week! They have a crispy outside and nice flaky middle filled with red onion, jalapeno and spices to make them so flavorful you won’t even miss the meat. 

These tuna cakes come together quickly and are enough to feed a family of 4 easily. You can have them made and on the table in under 20 minutes making them perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal you won’t have to feel guilty about. 

Tuna Cakes on top of a bed of lettuce on white platter

tuna cakes and the end of fussy eaters

I can say with certainty that this dish will be one your entire family will LOVE, this is coming from a former picky eater myself! The flavors in them are out of this world fresh, and don’t be afraid of the jalapeno; the seeds are removed so they are not spicy. If you follow along with our blog you will know that we have been trying to incorporate more meat free dinners into our weekly routine as a way to eat healthier and feel better about the food we choose.

These tuna cakes were adapted from a favorite pasta dish we frequently made when I realized I could combine the ingredients into a fish cake and serve them with salad for a fresh Spring dish. We played around with the add ins to find a combination we love, and you can do the same. Start with what we have for you below and then add or remove ingredients as your family seems to like. We are all about making dishes everyone approves of without having to make 3 different meals for the dinner table! In fact, get the kiddos in the kitchen with this one, let them mix the patties with their hands and see the fresh ingredients going in, I can guarantee this will entice them to at least try the tuna cakes before sticking their noses up. 

ingredients for tuna cakes on cutting board

making tuna cakes: faQ

how do you make fish cakes?

There are a number of ways to make them but we will share our favorite way, which is how we make our tuna cake recipe. We start with two cans of drained tuna and place in a bowl with our add ins; jalapenos, onions, egg, lemon juice, bread crumbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once you combine the ingredients you gently form into patties and then roll in a panko crumb for a crispy exterior. Cook for approx 2 mins per side in a medium-high pan with oil.

do you have to cook canned tuna?

Nope! You can eat it right out of the can which is why this recipe is so easy. Because we use an egg for binding the ingredients together it just needs a quick fry in the pan to crisp up and cook through which makes it a fast dinner recipe to have on hand.

can you reheat tuna patties?

YES! We often make extra when we do our tuna cakes to ensure we have enough left for lunches the next day. Now because they are already cooked you can serve cold over a salad or warm em up in the microwave for 30 seconds on medium heat and have a perfectly warm patty to enjoy. Be sure to heat in a single layer and only heat long enough (aprox 30 secs) for them to warm as you don’t want to cook the tuna again. Also, you can place them on a baking sheet and heat them in the oven for 10 minutes at 300 F.

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As you will see below with our step-by-step instructions for making our tuna cakes you will want a measuring cup (preferably the adjustable plunger style cup) to form the patties before rolling in your panko crumb mixture. This ensures perfectly even sized patties which will cook evenly.

tuna cake recipe 

Tuna Cake Recipe

20 minute Tuna Cakes have a crispy outside and flaky middle with red onion, jalapeno and spices to make them so flavorful you won't even miss the meat. 
Course Easy Dinners
Cuisine American
Keyword Quick Dinner, Tuna Cake, Tuna Recipes


  • 2 cans Tuna we used light flaked tuna
  • 1 Jalapeno seeded and diced small
  • 1 cup Red Onion diced
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup Breadcrumbs we use Italian style
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley dried is fine
  • pinch Salt
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs for rolling *optional
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil


  • Begin by draining tuna well, you want to ensure you have no excess moisture. Place tuna in medium bowl and flake lightly with a fork. 
  • Add all ingredients (minus the Panko) and mix well to combine. Meanwhile heat a medium pan with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium heat. 
    *you will need to add more oil as you cook through your 6 patties. 
  • Set up your patty making station:
    You will need a small bowl with Panko crumbs for rolling patties, measuring cup for forming as well as a separate plate to place patties on once formed. 
  • Using your measuring cup (we use the 1/4 measure) fill with tuna mixture and pack firmly. Flip the mixture out onto your hand and gently press down to ensure the patty is held together. Roll in panko and set aside. 
    Continue until all patties are made (we get 6 from 2 cans). 
  • Gently place 2-3 tuna cakes in your heated pan and allow to cook 2-3 minutes per side until nicely golden. Flip and repeat. 
  • Serve over a bed of lettuce or with a side of Quinoa. 

step by step tuna cakes 

I know sometimes just reading a recipe can be confusing so I wanted to share some photos of the process for our tuna cakes. Let us know in the comments section what you like to add in to yours!

Tuna and mix ins for fish cakes in white bowl

fish cakes mixture in bowl before forming

You can see from the above photo of the mixture once everything has been added that it is not “wet” but it will perfectly form into fish cakes.

pressing tuna mixture to form a fish cake

This step is very important! You want to make sure you press the tuna mixture into your measuring cup firmly so that it holds its shape once you flip it out.

rolling fish cakes in panko crumbs

Gently dip and roll your patties into the panko crumbs to evenly coat the outside, this gives you a nice crunchy exterior once cooked!

tuna cakes cooking in frying pan

Don’t overcrowd your pan, you want to give the cakes a little room for cooking. Also make sure you keep an eye on your oil and top up if needed. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes per side until nicely golden.

golden cooked tuna cakes in frying pan

Here you have a perfectly golden tuna cake once flipped! The panko crumbs have nicely crisped which will give you a delicious texture on the outside. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then remove and serve.

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