You might be thinking salmon from a can? Not on the grill? Yes, these air fryer canned salmon burgers will really surprise you in many ways. And they will help you “eat more fish” no matter what meal plan you are following.
We’re trying to stay as close as possible to the widely lauded Mediterranean Diet – plenty of fruits and vegetables, red meat sparingly, lots of fish, lots of olive oil, whole grains and legumes. This is a great weeknight option and it doesn’t have any processed ingredients like pre-made salmon burgers.
Though the air fryer isn’t a requirement here. They’re just as good on the griddle/skillet, cooked in a little bit of butter and oil. If you’re on the fence about getting an air fryer, check out my Cosori Air Fryer review for tips and insights
Make Salmon Burgers with Canned Salmon
Salmon burgers, are something I’ve bought fresh at the fish market many times and never considered making. I assumed it would involve cooking a lot of salmon first before making the burgers.
Historically, I never would have considered canned salmon, as that brought back childhood memories of other unappealing items. Like bitter canned asparagus or mushy canned green beans. Even canned tuna fish is unappealing to me.
But it turns out there is high quality canned salmon available. The brand that I found we liked best is Wild Planet and their wild sockeye salmon. In the finished product, you will find it very hard to tell good canned salmon from using a piece of chilled cooked salmon.
However, any canned salmon, including pink salmon, will work great here. Pink salmon has the advantage that it comes in larger cans and is more economical. Whatever you go with, look for salmon that’s de-boned and de-skinned to make your prep easier.
Ingredients for Canned Salmon Burgers
The core of the recipe is (of course) the canned salmon, eggs and the bread crumbs (or oatmeal….read on….). The eggs are the binder and will hold the salmon and other flavorful ingredients together. But if you stop there, and don’t add in something like bread crumbs, you’ll be left with a very dense, dry burger that could be a salmon RX Bar.
This is where the bread crumbs, panko, oatmeal or rice come in. They help to lighten up the overall texture and act as a carrier for moisture. Too much and it’ll be crumbly. To little and it’ll be dense and chewy. You can tell when you’re mixing it in if you have the right balance as the “batter” will be slightly wet and sticky rather than dry to the touch.
Over at Bon Appetit, they have a helpful article about making meatballs that explains much of this in even more detail.
If you are cutting carbs, looking to avoid refined white flour, have gluten issues, etc. then you can substitute old fashioned oats 1:1 in the recipe. Just pulse them in a food processor for 15-30 seconds to turn them into a flour before using.
Keep in mind that when you switch from breadcrumbs, you’ll lose that crispy, golden exterior. If you’re more focused on a healthy meal vs. an instagram-ready plate, that shouldn’t matter.
Next choose ingredients that bring flavor and texture. Onions are a great choice. White onions are a little too sharp, so go with milder red onion or a sweeter yellow onion. Then, you’ve gotta add the garlic.
Round out the mix with vegetables that bring complementary flavor as well as some crunchy texture. This is where I like red peppers and celery.
Finally, add fresh herbs to round it all out. Great partners to salmon are dill, parsley, basil, chives and thyme.
Forming and Cooking the Burgers
Here’s some extra information, and helpful tips, for making any sort of homemade burger
- Get a plate ready that’s large enough to hold all of the canned salmon burgers and can also fit into your refrigerator if you’ll be chilling them ahead of time.
- Spray the plate lightly with a non-stick cooking spray. This will make it easier to slide them off later as well as get them ready to meet the cooking surface. I do this over the sink so I don’t slick up my counters or floor.
What to Put on Top of Salmon Burgers
Rather than going for a jarred tarter sauce, which I find to both too salty and too sweet, I ended up making a simple one with ingredients I had on hand:
- About a cup of mayo
- 1 teaspoon of capers, roughly chopped
- Squirt of lemon juice
- Couple of pickle slices, roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
Mix those up, adjust as needed, and you’ve got a quick homemade tartar sauce!
Canned Salmon? Air Fryer? Yes to both! Make these awesome salmon burgers with a caper aioli in 30 minutes or less
- 2 6 Oz Cans Wild Sockeye Salmon (deskinned & deboned)
- 3/4 Cup Panko (or bread crumbs)
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic (less if you're not big into garlic)
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Red Pepper
- 1 Stalk Celery, Chopped
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Herbs (such as a mix of dill, parsley and chives)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Drain the salmon in a colander and pick through just to make sure there aren't any bones
In a large mixing bowl, break up the salmon with a fork until it looks uniformly crumbled
Add the remaining ingredients and mix together very well
Portion into six equal amounts, roll each into a ball before pressing onto an oiled plate. Time permitting, chill for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld and to firm up before cooking
Slide the salmon burgers, oiled side down, into a preheated air fryer basket and spray the top with olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes at 380 degrees, turning over halfway.
Using the skillet? Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway