Turn leftover cooked salmon into elegant crispy salmon cakes with lemon zest, capers and light tartar sauce made with Greek yogurt. They’re ready in less than a half hour!

A sheet pan with salmon cakes, lemon wedges and tartar sauce

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Dairy Farm Families of New England. I was compensated for my time. All opinions expressed here are my own. 

Now that we’re into the second month of the year, I am really hitting my stride planning ahead with protein for the week. As you know, I have been working on getting more protein into my diet at every meal– not just at dinner time.

I’ve gotten in the habit of buying a little more than I need for dinner, so I can end up with left-overs for my lunch or to pack for Jase. This keeps him away from take-out (and those over-sized cookies or bags of chips) and he’s already down 10 pounds!

I have overdone it a couple times, and ended up with more leftovers than I really wanted. But it is a work in progress.

Speaking of leftovers. These salmon cakes are made with leftovers. Leftover salmon that is! Salmon is a family favorite source of protein around here, and it’s also an easy way to get essential Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet. Plus these cakes also have Greek yogurt in them, which is another convenient source of protein and a refrigerator staple in our family. We enjoy Greek yogurt for snacks, breakfasts, in smoothies and I love to use as an ingredient to make recipes seem creamy and comforting.

I’m not sure that these salmon cakes qualify as part of the comfort-food makeover series I have been doing lately. Not because they aren’t a healthier make-over but because I am not sure salmon cakes really are considered comfort-food. What do you think? Leave me a comment below.

Either way- they are healthier- thanks to a few swaps I’ve made- and trust me, nobody will know the difference, taste-wise. But as far as the nutrients go- these are way better.

A black plate with a salmon cake

5 Ways to Make Salmon Cakes More Healthy

Bind Salmon Cakes with Greek Yogurt instead of Mayo:

Usually salmon cakes are made with mayonnaise mixed with salmon and dried bread crumbs. I used Greek Yogurt instead of mayonnaise- for a fraction of the calories. This swap alone saved 258 calories (64 cal per serving.) Plus using Greek yogurt in the cakes (and tartar sauce) gives me an extra 4 grams of protein per serving.

Use Fresh Breadcrumbs:

Standard salmon cakes call for dry breadcrumbs. This only causes the cakes to dry out- thus requiring more mayonnaise. Instead I used 2 slices of fresh sourdough bread that I processed in my food processor to make fresh bread crumbs. They add body to the cakes- so they hold together well- and the taste of the sourdough is very nice with the salmon.

Add Flavor with Lower Calorie Ingredients:

I added lemon zest, capers, shallot and celery seed to the salmon mixture to boost the flavor- all for very little additional calories.

Bake instead of Frying:

To cook the salmon cakes, I formed the salmon mixture into patties, then I cooked them in a non-stick skillet over medium heat in only 1 tablespoon oil. As you can see in the photos, they still get a great browned exterior- without a lot of frying oil. Just cook the cakes 4 at a time, and then allow them to finish cooking through, all together on a sheet pan in a hot oven.

Lighten Up Tartar with Greek Yogurt:

Another big calorie saving comes in the tartar sauce. I swapped 1/3 cup mayo for the Greek yogurt and I added in extra flavor from whole-grain mustard and fresh dill in addition to the requisite relish. It’s tangy and the perfect foil for the richness of the cakes.

A stack of Lemon Caper Salmon Cakes on a black plate with a sprig of dill

Make Ahead Tips For These Salmon Cakes

Make Sauce Ahead:

The Tartar Sauce Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Simply cover and refrigerate. Stir well before serving.

To Reheat:

These healthy salmon cakes are best when made fresh, but they can be reheated. To do so, simply bake them in a 350 degree oven on a greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes or so until they’re sizzling hot. 

Freeze Salmon Cakes:

If you’re wondering if you can freeze these salmon cakes, the good news is you can! Note that they won’t be quite as moist though. To freeze them. Lay them on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once they are solid, transfer them to a large resealable bag. Press the air out of the bag and then seal it shut. They can be frozen for 8 weeks. Bake them at 325 degrees F on a cookie sheet straight from frozen until they are sizzling hot (about 25 minutes.)

A close up of salmon cakes on a sheet pan from a three quarter overhead view

What To Serve With Salmon Cakes

  1. A Light Salad: I love to make salmon cakes and serve them with a light green salad for a lighter dinner. This Chopped Winter Salad will always be my favorite salad in the colder season. I love all the crunchy goodies in it! 
  2. Hearty Salad: For a more substantial salad to serve with your Salmon Cakes try this Spinach Salad with Bacon and Eggs. It’s a suggestion a reader made and we love the way they taste together! 
  3. Springtime Menu: In the spring this Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette is a great accompaniment to these Salmon Cakes. 
  4. Salmon Cakes for Entertaining: A fancier menu for entertaining idea would be to serve these salmon cakes with Potato,Parsnip and Leek Gratin and Spinach Salad with radishes and drizzled with Greek Yogurt Horseradish Ranch Dressing. 

Questions:

Do you intentionally make leftovers for lunches?

Would you consider Salmon Cakes a comfort food?

For information about the dairy farm families of New England, school nutrition, and health and wellness topics, please visit New England Dairy & Food Council and Must Be the Milk.

A blue and white dish with a few salmon cakes on it. They have a dollop of greek yogurt hollandaise on them and a sprinkle of dill

Thanks so much for reading. If you make these Lemon Caper Salmon Cakes, please come back and leave a review and rating. I appreciate it! 

Happy Cooking!!

~Katie

Print
Lemon Caper Salmon Cakes with Light Tartar Sauce

Salmon Cakes

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Method: Stove-Top and Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Turn left-over cooked salmon into elegant crispy salmon cakes with lemon zest, capers and light tartar sauce made with Greek yogurt. They’re ready in less than a half hour!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white
  • 2/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt, divided
  • Zest from 1 lemon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt, dived
  • Generous pinch celery seed
  • 2 slices sourdough bread, crusts removed (3.5 ounces)
  • 1 pound cooked* boneless, skinless salmon, preferably sustainably sourced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped capers
  • 3 teaspoons organic canola oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons relish
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain or Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk egg white, 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, zest, ¼ teaspoon salt and celery seed in a large bowl.
  3. Process bread in food processor until it forms coarse crumbs.
  4. Flake the salmon into small pieces.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs, the salmon, shallot and capers to the Greek yogurt mixture and stir thoroughly to work the salmon into the binders and it becomes a consistent texture that can be formed into cakes.
  6. Form the salmon mixture into 8 even cakes. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook four salmon cakes until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and brown on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the salmon patties to the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Add the remaining teaspoon oil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook the remaining 4 patties until browned on both sides, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the patties to the baking sheet.
  8. Bake the salmon cakes until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, lemon juice, the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, mayonnaise, dill, relish, mustard and pepper in a small bowl.
  10. Serve the salmon cakes with the light tartar.

Notes

Tip* To Cook the salmon, bake on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan at 450 degreed F convection until cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes, depending on thickness of the salmon filet. Let cool before proceeding.

To zest a lemon, wash the lemon, then remove only the outer yellow part of the skin with a rasp-style grater or microplane grater. If you do not have one, you can peel a few wide strips of lemon peel (do not take any of the bitter white pith) and then finely mince the skin with a chef’s knife. A hand held zester works too of course!

The Tartar sauce can be made up to three days ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator. Stir well before serving.

To reheat the salmon cakes. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay salmon cakes out on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until sizzling hot.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cakes 2 tablespoons sauce
  • Calories: 276
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Fiber: 3
  • Protein: 27
Turn left-over cooked salmon into elegant crispy salmon cakes with lemon zest, capers and light tartar sauce made with Greek yogurt. They\'re ready in less than a half hour! #salmoncakes #salmon #healthy #dinner