Easy Fish Cakes

Crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, easy fish cakes that the whole family will love! A simple step-by-step recipe that’s delicious served with tartare sauce and salad for a meat-free midweek dinner.

Two crispy golden fish cakes stacked with a dollop of tartare sauce on top

Everyone loves fish cakes… and this classic recipe made with mashed potato, sour cream, lemon zest and chives is going to leave you drooling!

Perfect for a wholesome main meal, a freezer-friendly family dinner or an easy snack for kids and toddlers (simply make into mini fish cakes!), this recipe will be put on high rotation in your house in no time!

Why You’re Going To Love This Recipe

  • meat-free – this is a fantastic meat-free dinner that the entire family will enjoy!
  • kid-friendly – even the fussiest little eaters will love these simple fish cakes. Using white fish means that they have a mild flavour – making them perfect for little ones that aren’t too keen on seafood.
  • high protein & low fat – white fish is renowned for being a healthy option that is high in protein and low in fat.
  • freezer meal – these fish cakes can be prepped ahead of time and frozen for up to 3 months – perfect for a quick and easy midweek dinner!
  • delicious flavour – the combination of white fish, mashed potato, sour cream and chives is enough to leave you drooling (and coming back for seconds!)
  • midweek dinner – these fish cakes are perfect served with a side salad and tartare sauce or aioli for a simple family dinner.
  • budget-friendly – unlike other varieties of seafood that can be expensive, you can always find a white fish on special at the deli section of your supermarket. There’s no need to buy an expensive type of fish for this recipe.
Two golden fried fish cakes with tartare sauce on a plate with a salad in the background

What You Need

Note: scroll to my easy fish cakes recipe card at the bottom for ingredient quantities and the full detailed method.

  • mashed potato – the mashed potato is the key ingredient for holding the fish cakes together. Therefore, I recommend boiling the potatoes and then draining well and mashing with a fork. There’s no need to add milk to the potatoes as we want the mash to be quite thick.
  • white fish – you can use any type of white fish you like. Here’s a few of my favourite options: flounder, ling, flake, haddock, snapper and cod. The fish is cooked in milk and water on the stovetop to ensure it stays beautifully moist.
  • egg
  • butter
  • chives – use finely chopped fresh or dried chives
  • lemon zest – this gives the fish cakes a lovely light citrus flavour
  • sour cream – the ultimate creamy and moist filling of the fish cakes is thanks to the sour cream!
  • salt and black pepper – to season
  • panko breadcrumbs – the fish cakes are coated in panko crumbs before pan-frying for a deliciously crunchy outside coating. Alternatively you can substitute the panko crumbs with regular breadcrumbs.
The ingredients for homemade fish cakes in individual bowls.

How To Make Fish Cakes

Note: scroll to my easy fish cakes recipe card at the bottom for ingredient quantities and the full detailed method.

Cooking The Potatoes

Boil the potato chunks until soft. Drain thoroughly then mash with a fork.

TIP: Do not add milk to the potato when mashing as it’s important for the mash to stay thick to help the fish cakes hold their shape.

A collage of four steps showing chunks of potato being chopped, boiled, drained and mashed.

Cooking The Fish

This foolproof method of cooking fish on the stove-top will leave you with perfectly moist cooked fish.

Place the fish in a single layer in a large frying pan. Add milk and water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes before removing from the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes (to finish cooking), then remove from liquid.

TIP: Once cooked, roughly break up the fish into large pieces.

A collage showing white fish being cooked in a frying pan with milk and water.

Coating The Fish Patties

Once the fish cake ingredients have been mixed together and chilled, form the mixture into 8 equal sized large patties (or 16 mini patties).

Coat in panko crumbs and chill in the fridge.

TIP: Chilling the fish cakes will help them to retain their shape when cooked.

A collage showing how to make homemade fish cakes from scratch by mixing, shaping into patties and crumbing.

Frying

Heat vegetable oil (or olive oil) in a frying pan and pan-fry the fish cakes for 5 minutes on either side or until golden brown and cooked through.

Storing, Reheating & Freezing

Storing – cooked fish cakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Reheating – fish cakes can be reheated in the oven or microwave. Reheating in the oven will retain that beautiful crunchy outside, whereas using the microwave will make the fish cakes soft/soggy on the outside (the oven is the way to go!)

Freezing – the fish cakes mixture can be prepared up to the chilling step (before frying) and frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Place sheets of baking paper between each layer of fish cakes to stop them sticking together.

Defrosting – remove the fish cakes from the freezer and allow to defrost in the fridge (preferably overnight) before cooking.

A knife and fork on a plate, with cut golden fish cakes and a dollop of aioli on top.

Recipe Tips & FAQ

Can I substitute the white fish?

Yes absolutely! You can use salmon or tuna (cooked or tinned) if you prefer.

Do I need to chill the mixture before frying?

Chilling the mixture helps the fish cakes to hold their shape when pan-fried.

How will I know if my fish cakes are cooked?

The cooking time will depend on the size of your fish cakes and on how long the mixture has been chilled for. I recommend cooking for 5 minutes on either side, until golden brown. You will know that they’re cooked when you insert a knife into the middle of the filling and it comes out hot.

Can I use leftover fish for this recipe?

Sure thing! If you have leftover cooked white fish from dinner the night before, you can use it in this recipe. Simply skip the step of cooking the fish.

A forkful of fish cakes on a plate with tartare sauce on ttop.

Serving Suggestions

These easy fish cakes are delicious on their own as a light lunch, snack or party food appetiser, or you can make them into a whole meal by serving with one of the following options:

Two golden pan-fried fish cakes on a plate topped with a spoonful of tartare sauce.

More Quick & Easy Family Dinner Recipes

As a busy mum, I am always on the lookout for simple dinner recipes that don’t take long to prepare, are freezer-friendly and get the tick of approval from everyone in the house!

Here’s my Top 5 Family Dinner Recipes:

Browse my entire collection of family dinner recipes here.

A forkful of a fish cake with tartare sauce.

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Two golden pan-fried fish cakes on a plate.

Easy Fish Cakes

Crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside easy fish cakes that the whole family will love! A simple step-by-step recipe that's delicious served with tartare sauce and salad for a vegetarian midweek dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: western
Keyword: fish cakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 serves
Calories: 170kcal

Ingredients

  • 400 g potatoes approximately 2 large
  • 450 g white fish see notes
  • 150 ml milk
  • 150 ml water
  • 1 egg approximately 55g
  • 30 g (2tbs) butter softened
  • 1 tbs chives fresh or dried, chopped
  • grated lemon zest of 1 lemon
  • 45 g (3 tbs) sour cream
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 cups panko crumbs for crumbing
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Peel and chop the potatoes into even-sized chunks. Place into a saucepan, cover with water and boil for 15 minutes or until a fork can easily press through the potato.
  • Drain the water off the potatoes, mash with a fork and set aside.
  • Lay the pieces of fish in a large frying pan. Pour over the milk and water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
    Lower the heat to a simmer and continue simmering for 5 minutes.
    Remove the pan from the heat and set aside (covered) for 10 minutes (the fish will continue to cook during this time).
    Gently remove the cooked fish and break into large pieces.
  • In a large bowl, place the mashed potato, fish pieces, egg, butter, chives, lemon zest, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix together with a spoon until completely combined and the fish has flaked into smaller pieces.
  • Place the mixture into the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Form the mixture into 8 equal sized patties. Flatten them slightly with your hands.
  • Coat the fish patties in the panko crumbs and place onto a plate. Chill in the fridge for a further 15 minutes (minimum). You can chill them for up to 1 day ahead if you like.
  • Heat 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. In batches, cook the fish cakes for 5 minutes on either side or until golden and crisp.
  • Serve with tartare sauce and salad.

Notes

RECIPE NOTES & TIPS
Ingredients Info:
  • mashed potato – the mashed potato is the key ingredient for holding the fish cakes together. Therefore, I recommend boiling the potatoes and then draining well and mashing with a fork. There’s no need to add milk to the potatoes as we want the mash to be quite thick.
  • white fish – you can use any type of white fish you like. Here’s a few of my favourite options: flounder, ling, flake, haddock, snapper and cod.
  • chives – use finely chopped fresh or dried chives
  • lemon zest – this gives the fish cakes a lovely light citrus flavour
  • sour cream – the ultimate creamy and moist filling of the fish cakes is thanks to the sour cream!
  • panko crumbs – the fish cakes are coated in panko crumbs before pan-frying for a deliciously crunchy outside coating. You can substitute panko crumbs for regular breadcrumbs if you prefer.
 
More Recipe Tips:
Chilling the mixture – helps the patties to hold their shape when pan-fried.
Cooking the fish cakes – The cooking time will depend on the size of your fish cakes and on how long the mixture has been chilled for. I recommend cooking for 5 minutes on either side, until golden brown. You will know that they’re cooked when you insert a knife into the middle of the filling and it comes out hot.
Storing – cooked fish cakes can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Reheating – fish cakes can be reheated in the oven or microwave. Reheating in the oven will retain that beautiful crunchy outside, whereas using the microwave will make the fish cakes soft/soggy on the outside (the oven is the way to go!)
Freezing – the fish cakes mixture can be prepared up to the chilling step (before frying) and frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Place sheets of baking paper between each layer of fish cakes to stop them sticking together.
Defrosting – remove the fish cakes from the freezer and allow to defrost in the fridge (preferably overnight) before cooking.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 187mg | Potassium: 240mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1mg
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