Easy Southern Salmon Patties

These Southern salmon patties are an instant crowd-pleaser. Bursting with flavor, no one can resist the combination of tender salmon surrounded by a crunchy cornmeal coating.

Close up of stack of fried Southern salmon patties.

These old-fashioned salmon patties are a classic Southern dish. I know most of y’all growing up here regularly had salmon croquettes or cakes for supper. The classic recipe generally uses crushed Saltine crackers, but today I’m choosing to use another Southern staple – cornmeal. Yep, these cornmeal salmon patties are an old-fashioned recipe, made just how we like ’em. 

They’re quick and easy to make, don’t have a strong fishy taste, and I just know your kids will love ’em too. The first step is to mix the ingredients together. The main ones are, of course, canned salmon and cornmeal. Then we add onions, an egg and flour to bind the patties, mayo to keep them moist, and chili powder for just the right amount of pizazz! Once the ingredients are mixed and the patties are shaped, we simply fry them in a skillet until golden brown. It’s as simple as that!

Appetizer or main meal?

These salmon patties work well as both an appetizer and a main meal. If you want to serve them for supper, they go hand in hand with other classic Southern side dishes, like mac and cheese or our fried green tomatoes. My favorite though is serving them with homemade coleslaw or dipping them in our comeback sauce.

Gluten-free salmon patties

Finally, if this recipe wasn’t already the best, it’s also super easy to transform these into gluten-free salmon patties. Simply use almond flour instead of all-purpose flour, find a gluten-free chili powder, and voila!

I’d recommend watching my quick Youtube tutorial below before you get started so you can acquaint yourself with the recipe! 🙂 

Flat lay of ingredients for Southern salmon patties.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Canned pink salmon (with or without bones)
  • Onion
  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Egg
  • All-purpose or almond flour (gluten-free option)
  • Duke’s mayonnaise (can use any mayonnaise but why wouldn’t you use Duke’s?).
  • Chili powder (to make this gluten-free, look for a gluten-free version).
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How to Make Southern Salmon Patties With Cornmeal

Loosening salmon with a fork.

Open a can of salmon and drain completely.

I typically remove any skin or bones.

Place drained, packed salmon in a mixing bowl and loosen it up with a fork.

Go on, dig all around in there!

Add onion, cornmeal, flour, mayonnaise, and egg to the mixing bowl..

Add onion, cornmeal, flour, mayonnaise, chili powder, and egg to the mixing bowl. Then add as much salt and pepper as you like.

Stir that up and blend up those bits!

Also, don’t be alarmed y’all, my one large egg had a twin yolk!

Measuring cup with salmon patty mixture.

Just like this…

Raw salmon patties

Shape the salmon mixture into patties to whatever size tickles your fancy.

I use a measuring cup to shape them into the size of a small burger.

Golden brown salmon patties in skillet.

Cook in oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, whatever ya fancy) in a cast-iron or regular skillet over medium heat until golden brown on each side.

Turn once after 5 minutes or so while frying to brown both sides.

Stack of salmon patties on plate

Serve your fried salmon patties with dippin’ sauce, tartar sauce, or remoulade.

Mmm, mmm!


  • You can refrigerate the salmon patties for up to 7 days and then reheat them on the stovetop or in the oven or air fryer when you’re ready to serve. This will help bring back that crunchy cornmeal coating.
  • Once cooked and cooled, you can also store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Just wrap them individually in aluminum foil or plastic wrap (or both to prevent freezer burn).

Recipe Notes

  • If you have the time, letting the patties chill in the fridge before frying helps them stay together. It’s best to refrigerate the salmon patties for at least an hour (up to one day) before frying.
  • Let me let you in on a secret… mayonnaise is the winning ingredient of this recipe. You wouldn’t think it, but it brings just the right amount of flavor and moisture to this dish. I use Duke’s, cuz, well…it’s the best! But you do you.
  • If you want to add more flavor to this recipe, here are some suggestions:
    • Add one red bell pepper (or 1/4 cup of chopped roasted red bell pepper) or 1/4 cup of finely chopped celery.
    • Substitute the onion for green onion.
    • Add a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
    • Stir in a 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley, basil leaves, or cilantro.
    • Add half a tablespoon of Creole, Cajun, or Old Bay seasoning.

Fork breaking into a salmon patty

Recipe FAQs

What is a good side dish for salmon patties?

Seeing as this is a Southern classic, I recommend serving salmon patties with other Southern side dishes like…

Another option is to make a salmon burger and serve it with your favorite salad toppings, a healthy serving of tartar sauce, and a side of fries.

Is there a difference between salmon patties, cakes, and croquettes?

No, all of these names represent the same meal and can be used interchangeably. But salmon croquettes are sometimes what we call them in the South.

What can I use instead of breadcrumbs in salmon patties?

Instead of panko breadcrumbs, you can use cornmeal as we are or crushed Saltine crackers.

Why do my salmon patties fall apart?

If you find your salmon patties are too dry when shaping them, try adding some of the salmon juice from the can back into the mixture and try again. This should stop them from falling apart before frying. Another option is to refrigerate the mixture before frying them.

Can you use fresh salmon instead of canned in these salmon patties?

Yes, you can use fresh instead of canned salmon in this salmon patties recipe. However, if you choose fresh salmon for this recipe you will need to cook the fresh salmon and allow it to cool before adding it to the recipe. Bake it in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Is red or pink salmon better for salmon patties?

You can use either pink or red salmon in your Southern fried salmon patties. Canned pink salmon is cheaper, but canned red sockeye salmon is of higher quality in texture and flavor.

Why are my salmon patties dry?

Dry salmon patties are usually due to too much cornmeal or the heat not being high enough. But if you follow the directions, you’ll be all good! Plus, the mayonnaise helps keep them from getting dry too.

Are salmon patties healthy?

These Southern salmon patties are quite healthy on their own, as the salmon is the stand-out ingredient.

Can you bake these Southern salmon patties instead?

Yes, you can bake salmon patties. I recommend setting the oven to 375 if you baked the fresh salmon as described above or if you used canned salmon. For fresh salmon patties, increase the temperature to 475. For canned salmon patties, keep it at 375. Then bake them for about 10-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Remember ovens do differ so keep an eye on them depending on how crunchy you like them.

You can also follow these instructions for air-frying salmon patties. Just decrease the cooking time i.e. cook for 5 minutes, flip them, then cook for about another 5 minutes.

Your salmon patties growing up…

Let me know if this is how your mama made salmon patties and what you typically serve with them in the comments below. Always love to hear from y’all!

Close up of stack of fried Southern salmon patties.

Southern Salmon Patties

Bursting with flavor, no one will be able to resist the enticing combination of tender salmon surrounded by a crunchy cornmeal coating.
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: burger, fish, patties, salmon
Servings: 4
Calories: 155kcal


  • 1 14.75-oz can pink salmon (with or without bones)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or almond flour
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil of your choice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Open the can of salmon and drain completely. Place drained, packed salmon in a mixing bowl and loosen it up with a fork.
    1 14.75-oz can pink salmon (with or without bones)
  • Add onion, cornmeal, flour, mayonnaise, chili powder, and egg. Then add as much salt and pepper as you like. Stir that up so all the bits are blended.
    1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 large egg, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or almond flour, 3 tbsp mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp chili powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Shape the mixture into patties of whatever size you like. Personally, I use a measuring cup and shape them into the size of a small burger.
  • Cook in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown on each side. Turn once while frying after 5 minutes or so to brown both sides.
    1/2 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil of your choice


Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 72mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

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  1. My mama taught me that after draining the liquid to crush the round bones and leave the skin, that it was all good for you. The bones turn into a fine powder. I always do what my mama tells me, God rest her soul. Later I researched it and she was right. I always make 2 cans, we love the leftovers cold, straight out of the frig, dipped in yellow mustard. This 66 year old woman has always used soda crackers (saltines to you younguns) but I am going to try it your way next time. Except, with Hellman’s (also Mama and Granny’s instructions). ❤

  2. Made these when my children were little. Served with creamed peas and potatoes.

    Our son looked sadly at his plate and said “Hmm, everything I don’t like.”

    My husband chastised him, but I had to laugh; it was the same response I had years ago, and I was scolded too!

    Some dishes one doesn’t appreciate during childhood- they are most appreciated when one is an adult

  3. This recipes sounds delicious! My mom and Grandma always made there Salmon patties with egg and saltine crackers as the binder then just salt and pepper. They were always served with fried potatoes.

  4. These Patties look delicious! I am adding canned salmon to my weekly shopp8ing list and will make some asap! My mama served just plain cold canned salmon, fried potatoes, and vinegar slaw on those screaming hot summer nights when she got off work. She was a working mom in the 50’s and didn’t want to heat up the kitchen much when it was so darned hot! Sometimes we even ate in the basement just to be cool!

    1. At first I was wondering what y’all were talking about and then I took a closer look and LOL! I wasn’t thinking about keeping that in there for a good laugh but fixed it anyway. Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  5. I’ve never made them with Mayo. I’m 63 yrs old born and raised in GA now live in TN. My family recipe has always been large can of double q salmon, grated small onion, 1 lrg. egg, 1/4 cup flour and a splash of buttermilk (salt and pepper as desired). Seems to me the Mayo would make them greasy.

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