tuna cakes1 x

Tuna Cakes with Salad & Glazed Carrots . $3.45

Tuna Cakes (crab cake’s lesser cousins) are beautifully browned and crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy inside and bursting with flavor. Even my son, a notoriously picky eater when it comes to fish, eats these little gems with no problem. These are just as good made with Salmon.

Tuna Cakes
Tuna Cakes

Very quick and easy to make, these Tuna Cakes require a bit of time in the fridge (15 minutes at a minimum and up to an hour) to firm up or they tend to fall apart in the pan, so plan accordingly.

This recipe is a great way to take advantage of budget priced cans of tuna sold during Lent, but they’re always inexpensive to make. Almost any left over or previously cooked fish can be used in this recipe, too.

Make sure to read my Strategies, below, to find out how I put this meal on the table for a hair over three dollars. The Tuna Cakes are $2.20, and the salad (with Melissa D’Arabian’s Vinaigrette) and  Glazed Carrots with Parsley Butter added about another $1.45 to the menu.

Recipe:  Tuna Cakes with Red Bell Pepper  {Print}

serves 4

  • 2 (5 to 6 ounces each) cans of tuna, drained well
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and pepper if desired
  • 3/4 cup of toasted bread crumbs

Saute vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil until slightly tender. Add, along with any excess oil to a small mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, egg, mustard, lemon, and salt and pepper, if desired, and mix well. Add in the tuna and stir gently to combine.

Spread the 3/4 cup of bread crumbs on a dinner plate (add salt and pepper if desired.) Using 1/2 cup scoop or measuring cup, divide tuna mixture and place right on top of the bread crumbs. Put in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and preferably an hour so the mixture can firm up. This will help them to hold together.

When ready to cook, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick skillet and heat. Press the top of each tuna ball to flatten into a patty like shape and sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs over the top. Press the patties in from the sides and top, gently but firmly – these will be very soft. Make sure each side of the tuna patty is well coated with the bread crumbs.

A thin spatula will be very helpful in removing the patties from the plate and placing in the pan. Pick up a patty with the spatula and turn it over into your palm. The excess bread crumbs should fall away. Turn the patty back on the spatula and place it gently in the skillet.

Cook two to three minutes per side until lightly browned and crunchy. If the patties fall apart, gently press back together with the spatula.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips, as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing this recipe on a budget.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Nutritional Information for Tuna Cakes:

Cal:  353, 23% from fat; tot fat 11.51g, sat fat: 2.31g; chol 84mg; sod 987 mg; carb: 34g; fib: 4g; sug: 4g; prot:  29 g.

Tuna Safety

How much and what kind of Tuna is safe to eat? Check out this handy calculator by Colin Dunn of Planet Green. Hint: light tuna has much lower levels of mercury than Albacore.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

  • Both Chives and Green Onion are excellent in tuna cakes, but really, you could put almost any type of vegetables you like in them – if you use wetter vegetables like tomatoes, drain well, and add more bread crumbs to the filling if it’s too moist.
  • You can also vary the filler from bread crumbs to cracker crumbs or even oatmeal.
  • You could put a Caribbean twist to these, using lime and a little hot pepper and cilantro in the cakes and serve them with something like a papaya-mango or even pineapple salsa, with a little Chile Lime Mayo on the side.
  • The same recipe works wonderfully with Salmon, too – scale the ingredients in proportion to the number of ounces in the Salmon vs. the Tuna.

My PayOff: 

This is both kid AND adult friendly: an inexpensive dinner using fish on the table in about 30 minutes? A few extra in the freezer for another meal?  What more payoff could I want?

Made Tuna Cakes March 2012, priced $3.26 – remade and repriced February 2014 for $3.45. Based on a Melissa D’Arabian recipe.

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