Not Grandma's Salmon Loaf

Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf

As a child, I don’t think anything struck more terror in my heart than learning dinner was Grandma’s Salmon Loaf. It was on regular rotation during both Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, and Lent, before Easter, when there were many days of fasting, abstinence, and obligation when meat wasn’t served. I’ve always thought about making a post for that Salmon Loaf, but just never could do that to y’all – or to me! So that’s prompted me to come up with Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf!

Not Grandma's Salmon Loaf

Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf – this is the recipe that will win you over!

Growing up Catholic in a small town in landlocked Iowa during the 1960s, eating fish on Fridays (serving something vegetarian in our farming culture was unheard of – as much a sin in many households as eating meat!) meant if you wanted fresh, you’d probably have to catch it. The other options were the Friday Fish Frys, sometimes at a Church basement or hall (and those are still going on in the Midwest, especially in Minnesota (land of 10,000 lakes where Walleye reigns) and Wisconsin (which nestles up to both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior). And we can’t forget the frozen fish sticks, which my Mom refused to serve. Mostly, though, people relied on the ubiquitous canned Salmon or Tuna.

About Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf:

Me, I was obvs NOT down with the Salmon Loaf! And it wasn’t just my Grandma that made it or my Mom. I think every family pretty much made the same Old Fashioned Salmon Loaf. And I can tell you the recipe off the top of my head. 1 can of Salmon, 1/2 a sleeve of crackers, crushed, enough milk to moisten the crackers and and 2 eggs. Mush it together till it’s heavy and dense and bake it until it’s dry and horrible. Make your kids, who were taught to clean their plate obediently without ever a word of objection lest they be sent from the table (or worse) eat it. My gosh, it’s a wonder I ever liked food at all, let alone became a food blogger!

And it’s a wonder I ever decided to make Salmon Loaf some 50 plus years later and post it here, but I had an inkling it could be done – and done well. And so here’s Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf. The flavor’s spot on, traditional, without any real twists and just a little boost, here and there, but what really makes Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf is the texture. This Salmon Loaf is a bit lighter, moist (Why Do People Hate the Word Moist?) and a little souffle-like and bakes up with just the nicest, crispy top. It’s a play on flavor, texture, and contrast and that makes all the difference in the world.

Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf would be great with a little cream sauce, maybe something with lemon or dill, but I got around all that by refashioning another bane from my childhood, Creamed Peas and Pearl Onions. Honestly, I don’t know how I got by with it at the table but as a child, I’d very carefully nudge the peas and/or onions aside and eat the sauce, only. I’d pick it up between the tines of my fork! Well, the sauce is the BEST part, after all! I’m betting you won’t be able to resist (I couldn’t) dragging each forkful of your Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf through that creamy deliciousness! I forgot to put lemon wedges in the pics – that’s always recommended!

Not Grandma's Salmon Loaf

Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf – this is the recipe that will win you over!

Making Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf:

First of all, let’s talk about the Canned Salmon in this recipe. Speaking of terror, that’s an ingredient that scares a lot of people off (and yeah, it used to scare me!) from home cooks to Chefs. Really, it’s just Salmon, and often wild-caught Atlantic salmon, that’s bland, overcooked, and packed, usually with a bit of skin and some small bones. I’m gonna show you how to take care of it easily, and I have a post, “What to do with that Can of Salmon Lurking in the Pantry?” that’s gonna help you out. Then you’re going to want to really mush your Salmon up well, even before you add any of the other ingredients.

I didn’t want to use too much “filler” with this recipe, but you’re going to need about a half a cup of breadcrumbs (check out my post on homemade breadcrumbs if you want to make your own) or oatmeal or crushed up crackers to make it work and hold together. I’ve only ever used the crackers. And you’ll need a little liquid to soak any of the above, in. Now, some people like to use the liquid the Salmon is packed in for more salmon flavor; at my house, Homer the Cat and Chance the Deplorable Labradorable usually get a bit of that. I like to use about 1/4 cup of milk. Use whichever you’d like. As far as the onion, very finely dice it so it cooks through; if it’s larger, you’ll have chunks of raw onion and that can be obnoxious.

What makes this recipe for Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf work is how moist it is and the semi souffle-like texture. That means butter (something missing from Grandma’s recipe) and three eggs. And the eggs are separated and the whites beaten and folded in. That’s what makes The Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf rise up as it bakes, souffle-like. It will settle down a bit when it’s done, and that’s when the top is lightly golden brown and just a little crusty. Don’t overbake it! In a pinch, you can make this without separating the eggs but it will be heavier and denser. And not quite as good.

Canned Salmon

Canned Salmon

Saving Money on Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf:

Of course, the priciest ingredient in this recipe is the canned Salmon (and if you have leftover Salmon in this much quantity or want to use fresh or frozen Salmon, it will work, too) so shop carefully for it. If you’re not aware of Lent and the amount of fish and seafood sales it generates (most ads at the store won’t say Lenten sales, although some do) see my post on Easter & Lent, Leveraging the Sales. You want to be putting your food dollars on the items that are the best bargain and stock up – Buy Low. Literally fill your freezer with fish and seafood for the year if you use the frozen products and do the same with the canned Tuna & Salmon.

In my post on What To Do With That Canned Salmon Lurking In Your Pantry, I talk about dealing with the Salmon and also a bit about comparative pricing and the best places to buy. And just FYI, there’s been no compensation for showing that pic of canned Salmon’ I just wanted you to see that there are brands of wild-caught salmon. It can be a great budget alternative and time saver.

Eggs, of course, are also cheap during the Easter & Lent sales, so stock up on them and eat more of them! Mine this week 88 cents as opposed to $1.89 at the regular price. I’m going to be eating more eggs, a great, inexpensive source of protein. I’m usually brand particular on saltines but at three times the price of the bargain store brand? No more. I’ll suffer a very slight difference, especially since I usually crush them and use them in soup or recipes like this. And do grow your own herbs; they’re a great way to add a special touch to whatever you’re making and a pot of herbs is usually around the same price as buying a packet. If you kill them, dry them! It’s a no-lose proposition.

Not Grandma's Salmon Loaf

Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf – this is the recipe that will win you over!


Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf

A little tweaking of the classic Salmon Loaf makes Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf, light, moist, souffle-like AND absolutely scrumptious!

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1/2 cup crushed crackers (about 13 to 14 saltines) or oatmeal or breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 can (14-3/4 ounces) salmon, drained, bones and skin removed if desired
  • 1/2 small onion, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • lemon wedges for serving, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, add the crackers, milk and three egg yolks, mix together and set aside to soak as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a larger bowl, add the salmon and with clean hands or a fork mash and mush to break down the larger pieces. No need to mash to a paste but be thorough. Add and gently mix in onions, butter, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper, and the reserved cracker/milk/yolk mixture.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Mix 1/3rd of the egg whites into the salmon mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions.

Transfer to a greased 8×4-inch loaf pan or equivalent sized small casserole. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (the loaf pan will generally take longer) or until the top is a golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of moisture but otherwise clean. Let stand for a few minutes before slicing.

Keywords: Canned Salmon, crackers, Fish and Seafood, leftover fish, leftover Salmon, Lemon, Salmon

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 I’ll be sharing Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf at Fiesta Friday #268. Fiesta Friday is co-hosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Angie, herself, who puts on Fiesta Friday!



A little tweaking of the classic Salmon Loaf makes Not Grandma's Salmon Loaf, light, moist, souffle-like AND absolutely scrumptious! #SalmonLoaf #GrandmasSalmonLoaf #ClassicSalmonLoaf




39 thoughts on “Not Grandma’s Salmon Loaf

  1. Karyn

    Oh my! I have been looking for a salmon loaf recipe that was NOT my grandma’s and I found it! My mom would still make it once a month, even after my grandmother passed, not for religious reasons, (we are not Catholic) but for financial reasons. So, fast forward to 40 years later and me and my daughter, we love fish, husband does not, so we try to eat it once a week when he works late, yet it can get expensive. This recipe is perfect! Tasty and not AT ALL the dense, dry, almost scary thing that came out of the oven covered in ketchup which was always served with the yuckiest vegetables on the planet.
    Thank you for the recipe. It saves my finances and it makes me feel really good that I am serving good Omega 3s to my growing girl!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      O k I am so glad you liked it but I am just horrified by the thoughts of the salmon loaf with ketchup! I have no words l o l!!! I know some people are just about horrified at the thought of canned salmon but it is a great budget saver – you’re right. And it’s all wild caught as far as I know! Thanks so much for sapping back and commenting you have a great day okay

  2. Michael Robert Michael

    I see that you have one other person commenting on this and his name is also Michael. My mother used to make this quite often and I also loved it for the little crunchy bone parts. This is the first post I have found that is made the same way. But that is not why I reached out to you, I would like your recipe for the creamed peas and onions again my mother always made it that way but mine never looks like my mothers or yours.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      So sorry for the late reply! This really comes out so well. If my mom would have made it this way I would have looked forward to it. I see too that you already found the recipe here for the peas and onions I hope they turned out well for you and were as good as your Mom’s. 🙂 Mollie

  3. Michael

    I have been looking for a salmon loaf recipe for a while now when I was growing up my mother used to make it about twice a month. I maybe one of a very small group of people that loved it my favorite part was that you could chew up the little crunchy bones. Yours is the first recipe that I’ve come across that knew the trick with the egg whites.

  4. Eleanor

    I grew up Catholic too and I hated my Grandmother’s salmon loaf! Today 3/4/2/2022 is the first Friday in Lent so I tried your salmon loaf recipe using canned pink salmon. I just tasted it and it is delicious! This will be on regular rotation. Thanks for this great recipe!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Eleanor, Yup, it sounds like we are kindred spirits! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks for stopping back to comment!


  5. Marie

    I was looking for a less dense version of salmon loaf and this was great! I just beat the egg whites a little by hand with a fork – didn’t bother to use the mixer – and that still helped lighten it up a lot. I added some dill weed for extra flavor. Thanks!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Marie, thanks for stopping back to comment! I’m not a huge dill fan but I can really see how it would play nicely with salmon – such a classic combo! And good to know about the eggs, too!


    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Jody, I think the leftovers are good, but not quite the same as the first day. If you’re thinking about this for something like a party where you’d like to get things out of the way, maybe you could make it up to the egg whites the day before, then add them and bake it?

  6. hannah

    I made this last night, first time making salmon loaf (67 yrs old), and like you I grew up with my grandmother making it much like you describe. It was OK for a kid who didn’t like fish at all, but it wasn’t great. I LOVE this recipe and will make it again and again. May even try it with fresh (baked) salmon as I didn’t enjoy trying to remove all the skin. I doubled the recipe and used 4 cans of Trader Joe’s sockeye salmon. Gave the smaller loaf to the young neighbors next door. The texture and flavor were fantastic. I did read that some others added Worcestershire, and since I love it, I did the same. Thank you for a fabulous recipe! This will definitely be in rotation.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Hannah I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it it makes a big difference those little steps. I get you about the skin. I don’t even like the skin on fresh salmon Let alone the Canned stuff. I don’t know if it was here or someplace else that someone was telling me the Costco salmon comes very clean with no skin on it Just in case you might be a member. And just know that somewhere someone is reading this and rolling their eyes about our Is squeamishness lol. I think so much depends on what We’ve been exposed to especially as children.

  7. DebDeGreeff

    I bought a can of salmon at the beginning of lent but haven’t made anything with it yet. I saw this recipe and I decided to make it last night for dinner. It smelled so good while it was baking. It was very delicious! I grew up on salmon loaf – it wasn’t horrible but wasn’t something I looked forward to. This recipe is definitely 1 I will make again. I think I’ll try a dash of Worcestershire sauce too as mentioned in some other posts. 1 last item – my husband never had salmon loaf before last night – that’s just something his mom never made as a kid. He loved it as well. Okay – 1 final item: I’m a lifetime WW member and this recipe is very point friendly. Just 2 pts per 3 inch square or so. Tastes great, healthy, AND figure friendly. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Deb, thanks for stopping back with your comments and I’m so glad you both enjoyed the Salmon Loaf. Congrats on the lifetime WW!! Wow! It’s nice to now about this Salmon loaf, too. I think a dash or two of hot sauce wouldn’t be wrong, either, btw!


  8. Christy Whitmore

    Love this recipe! We had some left over filet recently, and this was the first recipe I came across for “things to do with cooked salmon”. Salmon loaf??? I was sure it would be a disaster – but the comments were all thumbs up so I tried it and oh my goodness! Delicious! The whipped egg whites definitely give it lift. A new favorite. Making it again tonight. Thanks!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Christy thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m so glad you guys liked it. It’s def the whipped egg whites that make the difference from your every day old salmon loaf. . Haplpy New Year!


  9. 707 Babs

    I’m elderly so it was my Mom’s Salmon Loaf, and it was so good that today my daughter’s make it. Mom didn’t separate the eggs ( which she always did for hotcakes) but it was still fluffy, perhaps from the cracker crumbs. She did add a dash of worcestershire but other than that it was very close to your recipe. The big problem today is getting canned red salmon but I have made it with the pink and it is acceptable. This is a good recipe for Covid times as you probably have all the ingredients on hand. I will try your recipe today.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Babs,

      I hope you liked it and glad to hear your daughters make your salmon loaf, too! My Mom put a little Worcestershire sauce in a lot of things, really a lot now that I think of it, and so does my daughter. Me, not so much…guess it skipped a generation, but next time I’m gonna add a dash or two!


  10. Candy Mitchell

    Growing up, my favorite thing that my mother used to make was salmon loaf. So of course, when I left home I had to learn to make it. I was grossed out at first by the canned salmon, but got over it quickly. So for the last fifty years we have had salmon loaf about once a month. I have varied my original recipe many times depending on what I had on hand, cracker crumbs, bread crumbs , fresh salmon, canned etc. When I saw your recipe I needed to try it, the whipped egg whites specifically. Tonight I used one store can of salmon, and one jar of red salmon canned by my daughter (we are in Alaska).
    Anyway, tonight’s salmon loaf was delicious! I will use your egg method again. My husband agreed it was better than ever! Thanks so much!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Candy, it certainly sounds like you know your Salmon!! I’m so glad you (and the hubs) enjoyed the recipe and thanks for taking the time to stop back and comment. I’m a little boggled that I’ve never thought about anyone canning their own Salmon, though it makes perfect sense if you’re in Alaska where it has to be so plentiful. I can just imagine how good it is!

  11. terrence gordon

    Hello! Life-long Chicagoan here. Growing up Catholic, I absolutely dreaded Salmon loaf. My mother and sister made it together, and though normally they were quite accomplished cooks (my sis was actually a Miss Betty Crocker in the late sixties) This meal was always just GaSTLy!!!
    Soooo… for the first time since my childhood, due to a great local sale on Salmon, I thought I would try this.
    I made a double batch using hand skinned/ diced Salmon with your recipe and the result was INCREDIBLE!! Everything was perfect! The taste, texture, smell, OMG!
    My wife is a recent arrival from a South American city near the coast, where women sell hours-old fresh fish from their husband’s boats…. She knows a thing or two about fish! Guess what? She was absolutely bowled over! She loved it! 🙂
    Thank you so much!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Terrence, you made my day! Thanks so much for stopping back to comment! How fabulous to hear about your sister~~Wow!! That is a HUGE deal! I have not made with with “real” salmon, but now I’m inspired to do so and there are so many great salmon sales this week with all the Valentine’s day sales!

      I’m so happy to hear your wife loved it, too. What a huge change for her to be here; I would think being from South America she might be looking for more flavor and If that’s the case, I have an older post for Salmon Burgers on my site, too that maybe you guys might like? That page needs a rewrite and new photos but the recipe is delish and it’s so good with a little slaw on it!


      • terrence gordon

        My only problem was in the skinning /dicing of 2 lbs of Salmon… :/
        but it was well worth it. 🙂
        Have a VeRy sharp knife on hand to speed things up.
        …and yes I will try the salmon burgers! 😀

  12. rebecca

    Wow! I’ve been scouring the interwebs for a recipe like one in a school cookbook the teachers put together…’salmon quiche’. Salmon loaf is it – I had no idea it was a (notorious) thing!! Maybe I’m remembering it with rose-coloured taste buds (it was more than 30 years ago, haha). Love the sound of your upgrade and have it on next week’s list. (Also thrilled to discover your blog in said search. Your writing style is wonderfully engaging and relatable. Bon appetit!)

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for the lovely compliment! It’s much appreciated. I hope you like the Salmon loaf and that it lives up to expectations, and I hope you’ll visit often! 🙂

  13. The ingredients sound like my Mom’s except she made it into patties that she cooked in a skillet. I looooooove salmon patties and am excited to try your loaf version! I remember that exact red can of salmon, too. Oh boy!!!! Salmon loaf and creamed peas & pearl onions!!!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Yes! I do think I always liked the patties better when I was a kid…more of the crusty part than when it’s in a loaf! 🙂

  14. Oh my. canned salmon? really? I remember trying it once, and I couldn’t use it. but i trust you. i won’t be making this, but I believe it’s good!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      It helps me to think of it as just bland, overcooked salmon! 🙂 Brace yourself, there might be another recipe coming out for canned salmon. I brought some boxes of stuff from my folk’s pantry when I left there and just spring cleaned my pantry. I think those cans multiplied in the dark corner, lol!

  15. skd

    Oh dear poor Mollie! I can visualise the terror scene when the Salmon loaf was being served. It is so nice that you got over your displeasure for the dish and made your own version of it. I love the title, your little story, explanation of the Not Grandmas Salmon loaf , the recipe and the picture.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks much! I think when you’re a kid food is terribly important! I try to never forget that (although I never could forget Salmon even if I wanted to, lol!!)

  16. The dreaded salmon loaf! We alternated between that and salmon patties during Lent when I was a kid. Yuck. But like you, I’ve rejigged those recipes and now I love eating them! Great post, Mollie.

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