Looking for a delicious way to use inexpensive canned tuna? This recipe for tuna patties without breadcrumbs uses ground flaxseed and is packed with healthy ingredients. Ready in just 15 minutes, these will become one of your "back pocket" recipes.
Want to save this?
Enter your email below and you'll get it straight to your inbox. Plus you'll get easy new recipes, gardening tips & more every week!
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
One of my favorite ways to use inexpensive canned seafood is to make it into patties (like salmon patties with ground flaxseed) - they are delicious, healthy and low carb (especially with the added flax instead of breadcrumbs), and terrific by themselves, with any salad, or as a sandwich.
So when I was thinking of ways to use the cans of tuna in the pantry (don't we always have some?) without resorting to typical tuna salad again (though this salad in the summer with tuna and fresh tomatoes rises above everything!) or tuna casserole (not a favorite), I wondered:
Can you make tuna patties without breadcrumbs?
Yes, you can! In fact, you can just leave out the breadcrumbs in traditional recipes and the egg will hold them together.
They are a bit different in consistency, though, and I wanted to add in the Omega-3's from the flax, so I created a recipe similar to the salmon patties by adding the ground flaxseed as a binder in place of traditional breadcrumbs.
I also always leave out the mayonnaise, as I feel it overtakes the seafood flavor when making patties.
This recipe uses the bright flavor of lemon with a bit of mustard, some vegetables, spices, and an egg to create a tuna patty that is just about perfect!
Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with bits of onion and pepper. We've had them as the protein topping salads, inside pita bread and alongside pasta.
It's such a great way to use canned tuna that is not only a cheap source of protein, but the cans also store for a long time, making it a good protein option to keep in storage.
Is canned tuna healthy?
Canned tuna is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fat and calories, and a good source of protein and vitamin B12. It's one of the best food sources of vitamin D and contains iron, B6, potassium, and more. (Source)
What about mercury? Which canned tuna has the least mercury?
There's no doubt that canned tuna contains mercury (as do many other foods) but there is a safe amount, considered to be 1 part per million (ppm) of mercury per week. To stay within this choose seafood low in mercury and eat it at only one or two meals a week.
Tuna labeled "chunk white" is usually made from smaller skipjack or yellowfin tuna and has the LEAST amount of mercury.
Canned tuna with the MOST mercury is any type of albacore ("solid" or "chunk white") and ALL white canned tuna is albacore.
Here's a good article from Consumer Reports that goes into more detail and summarizes that it's okay - and beneficial - for kids and adults to eat a certain amount of tuna a week, but if you're pregnant it's best to just avoid canned tuna of all kinds.
Tuna Patties with Flaxseed Recipe
- Canned chunk light tuna (this is the Safe Catch brand recommended by Consumer Reports and this is one of the cheaper brands also recommended.
- Ground flaxseed (either brown or golden)
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Chopped green onion or shallot
- Diced sweet peppers, fresh or roasted
- salt and pepper
- Oil for frying
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, optional
- Parmesan, feta, or other cheese, optional
1. Flake the drained tuna from the can into a small bowl and then add all the other ingredients and mix well (I love recipes like this, don't you?).
2. Set the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes to help the patties hold together and let the flax absorb the moisture.
NOTE: After mixing this up, I realized that because I used a shallot I was missing anything green, so I added a tablespoon of dried parsley which you may notice in the following pictures. (Did you know that dried parsley can have up to 17 times the antioxidant content of fresh? Since learning this, I try to add it to more things!)
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and use a medium cookie scoop (around 2 tablespoons) to portion out the tuna mixture into the hot oil, using the back of the scoop to flatten into patties.
Note: I used more than 2 tablespoons of oil here, as you can see - do what I say and not what I do, as I had a lot leftover.
Alternatively, you can make four larger patties using a 1/4 cup measure.
4. Cook the patties for 3-4 minutes total, flipping halfway through when you see they are browning.
If making larger patties, the total time will be about 5-7 minutes.
5. Remove the first batch of patties to a plate and continue with the second batch (you should have 8 smaller patties).
If making four larger patties, you can cook them in one batch.
That's it! In about 15 minutes you can have a main dish of healthy, inexpensive, simple tuna patties that are a step above plain old tuna salad.
Tuna Patties Without Breadcrumbs FAQs
Green salad with a maple balsamic vinaigrette is a favorite side dish - here are a few other ideas:
-Baked Tasty Rice
-Roasted or Garlic Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
-Coleslaw: Bacon Caesar Slaw, Spicy Cumin Lime Coleslaw Recipe or Shaved Cabbage Salad with Creamy Feta Vinaigrette
-Simple Corn, Pepper and Onion Saute
-Easy Vegetable Barley Pilaf Recipe
-Fast 5 Ingredient Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe
You can also serve them on a whole wheat bun or other bread as a sandwich.
Cooked tuna patties will store in the fridge about 5 days. You can freeze them for longer storage, up to 6 months (they freeze great) and pull out just what you need, heating in a toaster oven to thaw and crisp.
The whole point of the ground flax is to increase the nutrition of the tuna while lowering the carbs, but if you don't have it go ahead and use breadcrumbs or even crushed crackers. Another option to keep it lower carb is to add almond meal instead of the ground flax. All these would use the same 3 tablespoons.
That said, you can just leave the flaxseed out - the egg will do the job of holding the patties together.
While I haven't tried this, I think you could easily take one of the tablespoons of ground flax from the recipe and let it sit with 3 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes (the typical flax-egg replacement ratio). Add it and the remaining flax to the ingredients and proceed as written.
Tuna Patties without Breadcrumbs Recipe (Gluten Free, Paleo, Keto)
- frying pan
- 1 6-ounce can chunk light tuna, water or oil - drained
- 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed brown or golden
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion or shallot
- 2 tablespoons finely diced sweet pepper, fresh or roasted
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoon Sriracha or other hot sauce, optional
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese or other cheese, optional
- 2 tablespoons avocado, sunflower or other heat tolerant oil
- Flake the drained tuna into a small to medium bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients that you are using (except for the cooking oil) and mix well. Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to let the flax absorb the moisture.
- Heat the oil in a fry pan until simmering over medium heat (or adjusted to your cooktop). Use a medium (2 tablespoon) sized cookie scoop* to portion the patties directly into the frying pan, using the back of the scoop to flatten each patty.
- Cook the patties 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through when you see it starting to brown underneath. Cook until both sides are golden brown and then remove to a platter and repeat with any remaining tuna mixture.
- Serve warm or reheat in a toaster oven.