Mom’s Salmon Patties


I make these patties the way my mother used to make her “salmon” patties, which were actually mackerel.  Mother didn’t have the money for the expensive salmon and I think mackerel was about 10 cents per can back in the 1940s.  Although I loved her version and didn’t have a very big food budget when I married, I always made the patties with salmon and used her method of adding only crackers, onions and seasoning to the mix, no egg (my mother used as few eggs as possible in every dish).  My family prefers them this way and they are never as crispy on the outside and moist on the inside as when they are fried in Crisco. 


  • 1 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • One 14-15 oz. can Alaskan pink salmon
  • 12 saltine crackers, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crisco for frying

In a small skillet, heat oil and saute onions on low heat until they are soft. 

Drain salmon and remove any bones.  Place salmon in a bowl and add the sauteed onions.  Add the crushed saltines and a grind or two of black pepper.  The saltines add enough salt for our taste.  Mix together and form into 6 patties.  The mixture should hold together but still be slightly moist. 

Melt Crisco in a large skillet and add the patties, browning/cooking about 5 minutes on each side. 

We always serve the salmon patties with macaroni & cheese and scalloped tomatoes.


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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

30 thoughts on “Mom’s Salmon Patties”

  1. I love airports as well 🙂

    I had never even thought of using cracker crubs in fish cakes. I have always just used fresh breadcrumbs. I like the idea though. I’ll give it a try. I’m guessing Aussie Ritz or Jatz crackers are kind of the same as the ones in the US – kind of small and round, little bit salty and you have them with dips and cheese?

    It always intrigues me when I read about maccaroni cheese being used as a side dish in the US. In the UK and OZ it is almost always THE main dish. Like a light meal, maybe with salad or something. I love learning about how other folks eat – thank you Lillian 🙂

    1. no dude its saltine crackers lol. and mac & cheese is a side dish because here in America we eat meat as a main dish. That’s whatsup.

  2. You made me think of mother, who used the same basic ingredients for her Salmon Patties.

    A few years ago, I began to vary the receipe and came up with this–as soon as I post this I’m heading for the kitchen to make a batch of Salmon Patties ala OldMack.

    14 oz can of Pink Alaskan Salmon
    1/2 cup of plain bread crumbs
    2 eggs
    4 tablespoons of Olive oil
    1/4 teaspoon each of the following spices:
    Garlic powder
    Dill weed (ground)
    Cilantro (fresh or dried flakes)

    Mix ingredients in a large bowl, make patties and fry in Crisco.

    I serve with slices of fresh lime; a few drops will do it. I also like Tabasco on my patties when I eat them cold.

    1. thats gross yo. cold with tabasco? and garlic and cilantro and cumin? i can understand the dillweed. Bread crumbs = no lol

      1. Thank you for letting me know. My mother would have been so proud to think that someone liked her recipe. Lillian

  3. That is the same recipe that my Mother used, jack mackeral was cheaper than salmon, she used to say..she rolled her patties in cornmeal before frying. So good, thank you for the reminder.

  4. Thanks, you sure took me back to the 50s and even 60s when my Mother use to make the mackerel(sp) also.
    My Mom passed away and I have used every recipe I can find to try and repeat. Hers was just delicious. So crispy on the outside and didn’t fall apart like most of mine have. You may have solved my problem.

  5. Thank you Lillian, I have made up my mind as to what I will fix here in a few minutes to ring in the new year, Salmon Patties it is!, I will go with the taters and the mac and cheese too…..God Bless, Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks for the memories. Funny thing is- when my mother was making these salmon patties in the 60’s she also served homemade macaroni and cheese with them every single time! I just can’t recall whether it was saltines or Ritz crackers she used but I’m guessing Ritz because she used to crush some of those into the mac and cheese. My mother only used the more expensive red salmon because of the stronger flavor and that upgrade was truly one of their few financial “indulgences!”

  7. Lillian,

    Thank you so much for the salmon recipe. I have been looking for one that was close to my grandma’s and this is it. My grannie also used mackerel but it’s still the same.

    I will be making this for my family tomorrow so that can see what wonderful food reallky is.

    Oh, but I will cook in olive oil and not Crisco.

  8. me and my husband mike was just sitting here thinking about salmon patties, now i do know what to put with the patties, we live down in hackberry, la and we eat seafood, salmon patties arethe best.


  9. This is my mackerel Patty recipe:

    1 15 OZ can of mackerel
    1 egg
    12 to 15 crackers
    Olive oil, Crisco, or Vegetable oil
    Cornmeal(For an extra added Treat)

    Mix Mackerel, egg, crackers, pepper, and onion in a mixing bowl. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. cook for about 5 min on each side or to your preference.

    Serve with:

    Mac & Cheese
    Potatoes any way u like
    Tomato Slices

  10. Salmon cakes, fried potatoes with onions, and some sweet kernel corn. A delicious but light meal. I came to your web site because I could not find a good recipe that didn’t use eggs. I am not a fan of saltine crackers but I’m gonna try the breadcrumbs and a little milk to see if that will help hold them together.

    1. Your side dishes sound even better than mine. I’m a big fan of fried potatoes and onions. I’m sure the breadcrumbs and milk will work fine. Lillian

  11. had a hard time figuring out how to write back to you, quilt32 – it wasnt on my blog and Verizon had a do-not-reply attached to it. then i noticed your post about salmon patties; I make mine the way my mother did, too, but SHE used one can of salmon to feed 7 people and her patties were skimpy. Bob & I loved them big and thick so I always used 2 cans of salmon, a sleeve of crushed crackers, some finely diced onion (or dried onion reconstituted with some salmon juice) & egg and dried dill and just added s&p as they were frying – but I fry mine in a teflon skillet without any oil added. Did I ever tell you my salmon patty story and Point Arena?

  12. enjoyed reading all the comments posted on your blog, Lillian, I miss salmon patties, have not made them since Bob passed away–but I do have a can of salmon on hand…I will have to make them when I feel up to eating some salmon patty sandwiches–or when someone from my family comes to visit.

    1. RE using mackerel instead of salmon–some years ago, I found canned mackerel at a really good price and bought a bunch of cans which I used the way I would canned salmon to make salmon patties. wasnt crazy about it but it was a good substitute and I live on a tight fixed income so bargains are always being watched for. Lillian, now I am thinking of making salmon patties today or tomorrow–I’ve had them on my mind for a while & its overcast this morning with a storm on the way, the kind of weather that makes you think of comfort foods.

      1. I normally make my salmon dinner (including macaroni and cheese plus scalloped tomatoes) every Friday during Lent for my two daughters, so I’m really tired of it by Easter. This past Sunday, though, I couldn’t think of anything else for dinner and they were delighted – it’s one of their favorite meals.

        I liked mackerel as a child because I didn’t know any better – I like salmon the best. Lillian

      2. Holy Mackeral, Lillian! My mother could have been using mackeral to make “salmon” patties and no one would have known the difference. But you know when you open a can of salmon and there are all those little bones that look like teeth? I thought they WERE teeth when I was a little girl. ha ha!

      3. That’s really funny about the salmon “teeth” I could see how a child would think that. My mother always ground up all the “teeth” and used them in her patties, which I understand is very good for you, but I can’t stand to do it. I grind them up and give them to my old dog who just loves to see me get the salmon can out. Lillian

  13. and here I have been throwing out those bones & never thought to grind them up. I bet its a good source of calcium for the dogs. I’ve been thinking of making salmon patties all week but last night made a big skillet full of chili. We had a cold and rainy day–even got sleet–and it was a night for chili; mine is a cross between Cincinnati and California chilies. I do use a little spice from Skyline’s chili powder but one packet lasts me a long time. This morning we have a bright sunshine.

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