Tuna Patties

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Yesterday was Christmas and I have more ham than I know what to do with so don’t be surprised to see some posts about ham this and ham that in the near future. I already have ideas of making a ham tetrazzini and other various “ham surprise” casseroles. In the meantime, we’re just going to pile our plates with leftover ham slices, scoops of green bean casserole, and mountains of mac and cheese.

Instead, let’s go back to September when I decided I needed to try out some new dishes on the boy. Much like some of the other retro foods of my childhood (such as Sloppy Joes and SpaghettiOs), I realized he’s never had a tuna patty, which was a staple growing up at my house. Inexpensive and tasty, tuna patties would show up at dinner at least once a month, particularly because they were so easy to make. And we loved them.

I found a recipe on Simply Recipes that I modified a little to make use of what I had in the pantry. Win-win. Dump a couple cans of drained tuna (reserve some of the liquid…you’ll need it) in a large bowl along with Dijon mustard, white bread pieces, lemon zest, lemon juice, reserved tuna liquid, parsley, and onions. Mix it up and then add some salt and pepper to taste. Don’t do what I did and throw your egg in before tasting it. Fortunately it all turned out good.

Tuna Patties

This is a very forgiving recipe so if you don’t have Dijon mustard, use yellow mustard. No white bread? Use wheat. No red onions? Use another kind of onion, like white or green. In fact, the recipe called for fresh chives, not onions. Right, like I have fresh chives laying around. I could have thrown in dried chives, like the ones we’d put on our baked potatoes growing up, but that’s beside the point. This is a good time to use up your pantry ingredients and still come out ahead. And if you accidentally throw out the tuna water, plain tap water is just fine.

Form into patties like you would hamburgers. You don’t have to, but chill them for an hour so they are easier to flip when you cook them.

Tuna Patties

Heat up some olive oil and butter in a skillet. Cook on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes. The nice thing is that the tuna is already cooked so most of the work is done for you. You just want them golden brown.

Tuna Patties

We ate them plain with a little lemon squeezed on them, but these would made really good sliders on Hawaiian rolls. The verdict? My husband thought they were great. We probably haven’t had a tuna patty in a couple of decades (yes, I’m old). My son wasn’t as impressed. What is up with his generation?! Maybe we’ll try them on rolls next time.

Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties

Servings 4


  • 10 ounces tuna packed in water save some of the water
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup white bread torn into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon reserved tuna water
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onions
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter


  • Drain the liquid from the tuna cans and reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, and onions. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix in the egg.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 parts. With each part, form into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place onto a wax paper lined tray and chill for an hour.
  • Heat the olive oil and a little butter in a cast iron or stick-free skillet on medium high. Gently place the patties in the pan. Cook until nicely browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.