These crispy fried tuna patties have been a huge hit in my family my entire life. Modifying my mother's recipe, I bring you these easy tuna patties that are not only easy to make but wonderfully frugal.
This recipe for tuna patties is based on my own mother's recipe. The only changes I've personally made to it was adding in the seasonings and measuring the ingredients out. We grew up eating them plain with just flour, egg, and tuna. The mixture was always eye-balled to see if it looked right.
We would eat fried tuna patties and boxed mac and cheese as our family's "poor meal." It was our go-to frugal meal for when we couldn't afford much but wanted something tasty and filling. It's also a dish that I continue to make because it's comforting.
I've always gotten my husband hooked on these crispy tuna patties so now when I do make them, I have to make large batches so everyone can get their fill.
Inside every crispy shell is a soft and tender tuna patties that aren't overly fishy. It's a combination of flavor, crunch, and softness in every bite that has you going back for more.
Why This Recipe Works
- Simple ingredients. We just need some tuna, flour, egg, and seasonings to bring this dish together.
- Frugal. Canned tuna is a very cheap protein which makes this dish one of the most affordable recipes I can think of. Serve yours up with some mac and cheese and have yourself a cheap dinner that everyone can enjoy.
- A different way to use up canned tuna. If you're like me, you often find yourself with more canned food than you know what to do with and plain tuna sandwiches can get a bit boring, so having unique ways to use it up is always nice.
Canned tuna- You will need some canned tuna for this recipe. I prefer the ones canned in water. I have not tested this recipe with tuna that is canned in oil.
Eggs- These are the binding agents in the recipe so that the patties stay formed and together.
Flour- For thickening the tuna mixture into a paste that holds it shape well, use some all purpose flour.
Seasonings- You will need onion powder, salt, and black pepper for added flavor.
Oil- You will need some oil for frying. You'll want your pan to be about an inch deep with oil.
For the exact amounts needed, please see the recipe card below.
🍽 Equipment Needed
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Check out how to make tuna patties with these simple step-by-step instructions:
Heat a pan with about 1-3 inches of oil until it's hot enough for frying.
Drain your canned tuna and add it to a small mixing bowl. Add in your eggs.
Mix until well combined and no egg white streaks remain.
Add in the flour, salt, pepper and onion powder.
Mix until no flour streaks remain.
Scoop ¼ cup of the mixture into the pan and use the backside of two forks to gently press down on the patties. You should be able to fit about 3 or 4 per pan. Leave room for them to spread.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.
Remove to a paper towel lined plate and repeat until all patties have been cooked.
🍴 Recipe Tips
We've grown up eating this fried canned tuna so you can imagine how many different ways they were made, eaten, or presented over the years.
My mother loves hers with spicy mustard and dill pickle slices over the top. I like mine with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. My kids like theirs plain as-is (but made mini-sized).
The best thing about these simple tuna patties is that they are very forgiving. If you add in a little too much flour or egg it's not the end of the world. Getting the ratio right can be a little tricky at first but you want it to be sort of like a thick white paste.
The more the mixture can "stick" together, the more it's going to hold the shape in the pan.
You'll also need to press down on the tops of the patties with two forks, much like you would with a peanut butter cookie before baking. It's a good way to flatten it out for even baking, and it gives it a unique shape that will crisp up nicely.
If you didn't give your patties a good flour to egg ratio then the paste that holds them together will not work. You want the blend to be somewhat whiter in color and to be able to form a ball without breaking.
We always enjoy ours with a side of macaroni and cheese but other options can include turning them into a simple burger pattie or serving them alongside a salad. Even eating them alone can be a tasty snack.
More great side dish recipes to try
- Easy Salsa Rice
- Slow Cooker Cabbage with Bacon
- Browned Butter Garlic and Thyme Purple Mashed Potatoes
- Chicken Cream Cheese Crescent Bombs
Crispy Fried Tuna Patties
- 3 cans (5oz) Tuna in water, drained ($2.34)
- 3 large Eggs ($0.24)
- ½ cup All purpose flour ($0.04)
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder ($0.10)
- ½ teaspoon Salt ($0.05)
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper ($0.02)
- Oil for frying (canola works great)
- Heat a large pan of oil until it's hot enough for frying. You want about 1-3 inches of depth.
- In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well mixed.
- Scoop the mixture into ¼ cup sized scoops and carefully drop about 3 or 4 into your pan. Make sure they have room to grow.
- Using the backside of two forks and press down gently onto each patty to flatten them out into a disc of uniform thickness- or close to it.
- Fry until crisp on the bottom and edges, flip and repeat until other side is golden and crisp as well.
- Remove fried tuna patties and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain grease.
- Repeat until all patties have been made. Makes about 8 patties.
- Serve warm.