Appalachia Appalachian Food

Salmon Patties

Today’s guest post was written by B. Ruth

For salmon patties you need one large can Alaskan Pink or Red Salmon…large meaning 12, 13 or 15 oz can. What ever they have decided today to sell us.

It comes in a red can…used to be .79 cents now it’s closer to two dollars.

Open the can and drain juices into a bowl, reserve the juice….In a medium bowl place salmon.

Do not look if you cannot stand to see the grey and silver skin (looks shiny slimy but not) that sometimes is apparent on the fish.

Also as you spread the salmon apart with a fork, do not look if you cannot stand to see little white round bones hooked together (like a chicken neck) in the fish..(they are pressure cooked until soft as air, don‘t worry!)

Do not take these little round bones out of the fish they will not hurt you!! They will help you to grow up to be a big girl or boy and will make you strong with big muscles or tall like a model so you can be rich like a movie star, etc., etc..

While hanging my nose over the bowl I saw these bones one time…I asked about them, got the answer above….I wanted to see one up close, so Mom fished (pun) one out of the bowl with the fork and gave me to inspect.

I held it in my grubby little fingers and it immediately crushed into a zillion pieces.

“See, the bones are soft, and they are just fine in the fish” she said.

My mind wondered and pondered about just how good they were to eat if they fell apart like that. There was something fishy in Moms strong bone theory!

Back to the recipe…

Mash the salmon around a little and add one egg…(this is your binder to hold the patty together as well as to stick it together with the upcoming flour.)

I just crack it and toss it in…

Add some chopped onion…about ¼ “ size or smaller. However much you like.

Add some chopped bell pepper…about ¼ “ size or smaller. About the same amount as the onion. I keep chopped red and green bell pepper in the freezer for cooking all the time.

Growing up we didn’t always have bell pepper so it was used only when we had a garden or some left over.

Back then Mom never froze bell pepper. I don’t know why. There were all these rules about blanching every little thing, so that may have been the reason…

Add salt and pepper but I usually just add black pepper…you could add a little crushed red pepper flakes if you like hot stuff. Always ask for crushed red pepper flakes when ordering out pizza, they always come in handy. Perfect little packages for times like these.

Stir this all around until mixed…Start adding a little flour, either self-rising or plain and keep adding until thick but not like biscuit dough more like drop biscuits.…if you need to thin it again add a little of the reserved liquid from the fish. Mom would eventually add all the liquid back…because those were the vitamins she said that she poured off and they must go back in. I think it was an excuse to add more flour and of course that stretched the salmon patties. Just like oats or bread stretches the meat loaf.

Get the iron skillet…or whatever frying pan you use.

Put a little lard, shortening or oil…Now days I just use Pam or a little oil. Don’t float or drown them. They sort of bake fry on top the stove.

Drop by spoon full into the skillet, push down with your tablespoon, it will round out itself. Cook on one side, flip and cook on the other until good and brown on both sides. You can tell when they are getting done. You can see the onion will be clear. I think they are better cooked started hot and then turned down and cooked slow. I usually cream my potatoes right before they are done and stir the green beans or vegetable mix. It all comes together quick and can sit and wait until everybody is home.

When the kids come in from school and take a whiff and say, “Oh no Moms cooking fish patties for supper.” Just repeat story above. You could add my Moms favorite, saying,

“Fish is brain food and it will help you pass your test tomorrow”.

Written from memory of my youth and my experience raising my boys…

PS….My husband said they ate so many salmon patties (8 kids) that when he went fishing he actually thought they lived in the TN river and he could catch them…

B. Ruth


Hope you enjoyed B.’s recipe, thoughts, and memories about salmon patties. Leave her a comment and I’ll make sure she reads it!



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  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    My three younguns grew up eating fish cakes (aka salmon patties) with Mac n cheese and some colorful veggie, usually green beans. But peas, carrots, broccoli etc would round out the meal nicely. I used cornmeal… no onion or peppers for the kids but the grownups had a slice of onion on the side. Mmm mmm mmm!

  • Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

    We been eating salmon patties for 55 years. Love them for breakfast.

  • Reply
    Jackie Garvin
    July 31, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    I grew up with Salmon Patties. My mother and grandmother pronounced them sal-mon. The “l” wasn’t silent. I was pretty old, as least in high school, before I knew that was incorrect. I found your blog via Vintage Vera. As might guess from the name of my blog, “Syrup and Biscuits”, I am a Southerner through and through. I will visit again…if I’m invited, of course.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Loved the story and the recipe!
    Thanks Ms. B. Ruth!!!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I had these growing up and loved them. Oddly enough I don’t like fresh salmon but love this kind. You always make me feel like coming home here.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Oh my goodness, I came via The Fraker Farm to your site. I love how you told the story of the patties. The bones got to me when I was a child but now I dont mind the bones in the can. Its my hubby that I still have a hard time with. I have to go fishing in the bowl and get all the forementioned items out. But then he has to drown the patties with Catsup.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I have had these since I was little in the 50’s. I have made them with triscuit for for more fiber in recent years. For poorer days we have substituted canned Mackrel and that has worked as well. Made me so hungry, I made some tonight.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Here in Mid-Missouri we can our own fish. We use it the same way as the canned Salmon.
    I add onions and flour and a little baking powder (self rising flour would equal that I think). I also heat up an ion skillet with a little oil. But before throw them in the skillet I patty them and dip them in a little flour mixed with Andy fish mix (it’s a commerical cornmeal you can buy around here). They are so good! We had them this week in fact.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    ohhhhhh no…now I must have salmon patties for dinner. I gotta go to the store!

  • Reply
    February 3, 2011 at 8:25 am

    My dad tells stories of my Grandmother making salmon patties all the time, guess they were pretty popular back then because salmon was so cheap. I used a can of salmon once about 10 yrs ago & saw those round bone looking things & threw the whole can away – I didn’t know they were soft. I think it’s time to give them another try!

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 2, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I AM going to try these. I think the corn meal sounds good for the “crunch” factor (just not really sure about the bones??!?). A local Christian station I watch has a cooking segment, and they just recently metnioned the Panko/sp bread crumbs for salmon patties. Since I am currently taking 7 — seven!– fish oils caps a day, I might as well add salmon patties. I’ve just learned to like grilled salmon in the last year so this is the next step! Thanks!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    My dad used to make salmon patties all the time when I was young. He would put onion in all but one, I didn’t like onions back then. We mash up saltine crackers and mix with the salmon. I also coat them with flour before putting them in the skillet to fry.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    February 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Hummm, did not like them as a kid and do not think I would now. I ate them way back then covered with mustard and did not taste the Salmon at all. LOL

  • Reply
    Shirley Metts
    February 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I agree salmon patties are good, I don’t use flour. I use meal, along with the egg, and it gives it a good crunch. Make some home made biscuits and fry up a batch of salmons and pull out the bottle of syrup, and have for supper. I was raised by my grandparents and that was a big meal about twice a week.
    By the way if any of you live where there is a Harvery’s supermarket ( I think they are all in south Ga.) they have salmon on sale often for 10/$10. I always stock up on them when they do.
    My husband is from N.C. and his mom would cook salmon and rice, and that was a big thing in N.C. they said.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Even though we can easily get fresh wild salmon we still love having plenty of canned salmon on the shelf for homey comfey dinners off the cuff when I’ve been out late in the garden or messing with the horses. We’ve got several cans on the shelves right now, waiting for lambing season to come along.
    We’ll try these salmon patties, ours usually go into broiled open faced sandwiches or in a sauce on noodles. We have a new favorite way for tartar sauce, my corn relish in mayo. It would be delightful on these patties.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph. D.
    February 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Wonderful! Now I know what we will have for supper!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Wow! So many nice comments about the post…and so many other idees! Don’t you just love to hear how other folks cook.
    You won’t believe this! When I told my son about the post..and he read it, he couldn’t believe his eyes..He said, “Mom I had just thought about having Salmon Patties for supper and when I opened up “Blind Pig and the Acorn” there was your recipe!..LOL I still believe in Applachian magic!
    Since Panko bread crumbs are used in so many recipes and today we can buy regular bread crumbs,why wouldn’t they be used instead of flour..I use lemon or lemon pepper in my tuna. Never thought about it in my salmon or Rosemary either, sounds good. Saltines and biscuit crumbs, why not, I have used them in my meat loaf to stretch it when out of oats. I think I’ll change up my recipe next time and try these ideas…
    I’ve gone and made myself so hungry for Salmon Patties..
    Thanks Tipper and everyone….

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    February 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I was raised on them, and now that I can eat what i want, I prefer them because of the high protein, and as you say, it’s brain food. My mother made them every week. She was a Georgia farm girl, moved to the city. Somewhere she learned to make what she said was “salmon croquettes” a lightly breaded, rounded but angled shaped cake, not flat, never flat, more in the shape a triangle. She formed the shape with her hands. She made them much like you describe. A few years ago I found ZATARAINS’S NEW ORLEANS STYLE Salmon Cake Mix. It uses mayonnaise and makes 10-12, using 16 oz can of salmon. I always use red salmon because my mom did. They are delicious and pretty. I make them for company.

  • Reply
    Susan L
    February 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I used to hate salmon patties when I was little but fell in love with them a few years back. I make them using breadcrumbs instead of flour but always put peppers and onions in it. Sometimes when I’m feeling crazy, I’ll put a little shredded cheddar cheese in them too. It gives a decadent bite to them!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Like salmon patties and fix them often. Since the price went up, I bought a can of mackeral and tried to make it the same way. Was too stong and just was not good. Just have to bite the bullet and pay the price or do without.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I love the conversations with your Mom B. Ruth. They bring back great memories of being in the kitchen when my mom was making things like salmon patties. This will always be one of my favorite meals, but we usually eat them on homemade buns.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

    My granny used to make them for breakfast. That’s a little too early for me!
    I have to get out all the yucky stuff but leave the bones. I’ve always used cracker crumbs, Mama used biscuit crumbs & MIL uses cornmeal.
    I add lemon pepper but am going to try the pepper & onion–sounds good. Must have mashed taters & green beans with this–biscuits too.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I use panko bread crumbs instead of flour. Never tried bell pepper. Try lemon pepper in this recipe, or add a bit of lemon juice-it adds brightness to the salmon cakes. Leftover salmon cake sandwiches-yum!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Every day as soon as I finish your
    post, I find myself scrolling down
    to see B. Ruth’s comment and insight on things. Fixing salmon
    biscuits about the same way is one
    of my favorite finger foods. I can
    remember when they were only $.69
    cents a can, and now over $2.00.
    Although I know folks who mix all
    the ingredients and roll the patties in flour, I prefer adding
    flour to the mix. It ain’t near as
    messy this way. Thank you both for

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I love this site! It is great to see so many excited about their heritage. I will probably follow this site the rest of my days.
    I love them, and sometimes we eat them with cream gravy. I actually ate them one time for breakfast at the famous Greenbrier. I was pleased to read about the health of the bones, and the addition of peppers. I always add just a tad of cornmeal as it adds to the crunchiness. I always freeze a lot of chopped peppers, and had read somewhere they did not have to be blanched as other veggies due to some lack of enzymatic activity. Thanks B. Ruth for sharing.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 2, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Thanks, B Ruth, for sharing with us. I always liked Salmon Patties! They’ve got to have mashed potatoes with them. Sounds like a good recipe. I also made a salmon loaf that my family liked.
    I always took the bones out, never thought about the food value in them.
    Bonnie, my mom, used to tell about earlier advertising that one company used for canned salmon that said “guaranteed not to turn pink in the can”. Now you know salmon is supposed to be pink…..guess the truth in advertising has never been what you could call a high level of honesty!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I am having salmon patties tonite! We make ours using the whole can of salmon and juice, egg, onion, but use crumbled saltines instead of the flour. Enough to make them stick together like BRuth described. Definitely a staple at our house. Thanks for sharing. Yum-O!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Hey B. Ruth- I knew the first time I read one of your posts that you could cook! I love salmon patties cooked that way.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I love salmon patties! I remember crunching on those round bones but usually take them out now. Mom said they were good for ya. I take out the skin too. I usually just add egg, onion,a little lemon juice and some rosemary to mine. I love them with peas and mashed taters.
    Patty H.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

    To be honest, I haven’t made salmon patties since the price went up. I will usually substitute tuna for the salmon and make as above.
    Great recipe and interesting side notes. Thanks for sharing, B. Ruth and Tipper!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I remember salmon patties, too, but I don’t know how mom made them. My father would not eat mixed up food like this, but after my parents were divorced, we lived on patties, meatloaf and casseroles. Sounds yummy to me, I will probably try it soon.

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