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Easy Tuna Patties

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Cracking open a fresh can of tuna and getting a whiff of the briny aroma is enough to make anyone hungry. Yet tuna on its own can be a bit dull and lacking. With just a handful of supermarket staples, you can transform that plain canned tuna into the star of a scrumptious, protein-packed meal – easy tuna patties.
These crispy golden patties are made by combining tender chunks of tuna with grated onion, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The preparation takes just minutes. Simply drain and flake the tuna into a mixing bowl. Add the grated onion, allowing its sweetness to permeate the fish. Next, crack an egg or two into the bowl, lending richness and binding the mixture. Toss in some breadcrumbs to soak up moisture and give crispness when fried. Finally, sprinkle in seasoning like garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley for an aromatic flavor boost.
Mix everything together by hand, feeling the ingredients come together under the pressure of your fingers. Shape the mixture into round patties about an inch thick. The texture should be moist but hold together, with speckles of tuna interlaced with onions and breadcrumbs. Lay the patties in a hot skillet with olive oil and let fry for 2-3 minutes per side as they turn beautifully golden brown and crunchy on the outside while staying moist inside. The smell rising from the skillet is an intoxicating perfume of olive oil mingling with cooking onions and tuna.
Serve these fabulous fried patties between sesame buns or slider rolls. Or plate them over fresh greens for a satisfying salad. However you choose to use them, these easy tuna patties make the humble can of tuna the star player on any table!

What type of tuna works best?
For these patties, I recommend using tuna packed in oil or water – they both work well. Oil-packed has more flavor, while water-packed is lower in calories. Avoid flavored tuna, which can compete with the seasoning we add.

Can I freeze the uncooked patties?
Absolutely! Forming the patties ahead of time saves you even more time down the road. Just place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment, freeze until solid, then transfer to a resealable bag. When ready to cook, no need to thaw. Fry frozen patties 1-2 minutes longer per side.

What’s the best way to get the patties crispy?
The key is to completely dry the tuna before mixing, and really squeeze out all moisture when forming the cakes. Then don’t press with the spatula while pan-frying. Let them brown untouched so the crust develops and crisps up nicely.

How can I make these patties more family-friendly?
Kids and picky eaters love a fun shape and dipping sauce! For my little ones, I often shape the mix into rounds or fish shapes using cookie cutters. Tartar sauce or barbecue sauce make excellent dipping options.

What’s the healthiest way to serve tuna patties?
For a balanced meal, I love serving these protein-packed patties on a fresh salad of crisp greens and vegetables. The heart-healthy fats in the tuna and fiber from produce make it very nutritious. They’re also delicious tucked in a whole grain bun.

Can I prepare and cook the patties ahead of time?
You sure can! Form patties up to 24 hours before cooking and refrigerate on a parchment-lined plate. To serve, reheat baked or pan fried until hot. For grab-and-go breakfasts, individually wrap cooled, cooked patties and freeze up to 3 months.

What should I do if my patties fall apart?
No worries, it happens! Be sure to drain the tuna well and firmly pack the patties so they hold their shape. Quickly dab any crumbles into the patties with a paper towel. If needed, beat an egg white and gently fold in – this acts like an edible “glue” to bind the cakes.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 16 minutes


  • 2 cans (5 ounces or 142 grams each) unseasoned water-packed tuna, drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄2 cup (60 grams) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons (20 grams) thinly sliced green onion
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. First things first, we need to open both 5oz cans of tuna and thoroughly drain them. I like to drain my tuna in a fine mesh colander because it really allows all of that excess liquid to escape. You don’t want your patties becoming a soggy, mushy mess, so make sure to press out any moisture with the back of a spoon. Once drained, transfer your flaked tuna to a medium bowl and break it up into smaller chunks using a fork.
  2. In a separate small bowl, crack 1 large egg and whisk lightly with a fork, just until blended. We’ll add this to our tuna shortly to act as a binder. The egg helps the patties hold their shape and stay tender. Now for the fun part – our dry mixture! To the bowl of tuna, add 1⁄2 cup of panko breadcrumbs along with the green onion, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and black pepper. I love infusing savory, aromatic spices right into my patties for maximum flavor.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold everything together, ensuring the seasonings and crumbs are evenly dispersed throughout the moist tuna flakes. Here is where you want to really mash and mix the ingredients until fully incorporated. I like to use my clean hands for this step to feel when the consistency is right. Lightly shape the mixture into four equal-sized patties, compacting them tightly between your palms. Place the shaped patties on a plate lined with parchment paper.
  4. When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Gently add your patties and fry untouched for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown with crispy edges. Be careful not to move them around or press with the spatula too much initially. Let that lovely crust develop. Transfer the cooked tuna cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess grease. Allow to cool just briefly before serving so you don’t burn your mouth!
  5. These tuna patties pair perfectly with a fresh garden salad, some crusty bread for dipping, or tucked into a whole wheat bun for a satisfying sandwich. However you choose to enjoy them, get ready for mouthwatering flavor in every tasty bite!

Cooking Tips:

  • Make sure the tuna is dried well so the patties hold together.
  • Use stale breadcrumbs rather than fresh for added crispness.
  • Adding an egg keeps the patties moist and binds the ingredients.
  • Form patties firmly and evenly for perfect pan frying.
  • Don’t press down with the spatula while cooking so they brown properly.
  • Try serving with tangy mayo or spicy Sriracha for dipping!

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  1. Debra Miller Mullis Mansfield

    5 stars
    It all looks good

  2. Pamela Baumgartner

    5 stars
    My mom always made tuna “burgers” for us at lunchtime with baked beans on the side. We ate them on buns with her homemade tartar sauce. She always used corn flake crumbs instead of bread crumbs and fried them in vegetable oil.

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