Fishing for sandwiches

Would you call this a salmon burger or a salmon cake sandwich?

Read Time: 7 minutes

What is this sandwich?

Well, that’s tricky. I would call this a salmon cake sandwich in much the same way someone would say, “crab cake sandwich.” But I’ve also seen recipes like mine and they call it a salmon burger. When I asked my wife, she felt like a salmon burger would have a much finer minced or ground texture to the salmon, whereas my recipe is just roughly chopped into small pieces. So, I’m calling this main part of this sandwich a salmon cake.

No matter what you call it, this salmon sandwich has great texture and flavor and isn’t very difficult to get on a plate.

Salmon croquettes

I grew up loving what my mom called salmon croquettes. They were made with canned salmon with all-purpose flour and other seasonings that were sauteed in a little oil until they became tasty little crunchy 3-ish-inch disks that she would serve with a sprinkle of vinegar and eat alongside sides like garden-grown veggies or mashed potatoes. We never actually turned these into the ingredients inside of a sandwich, but I have been thinking about doing that recently.

These salmon cakes that I’m making for this sandwich are different from the salmon croquette recipe that my mom made since this is a thicker “cake” instead of a smaller and crispier fritter. They taste different, but they remind me of meals from my youth. Let’s make them. First, we need some bread.

Multi-seed sandwich bun

This week I am introducing a new sandwich bun recipe, which puts us well over 10 sandwich or burger bun recipes for this site. That’s a whole lot of buns, but this recipe differs from all the others because there’s a whole lot of seeds and oats in this recipe. Those seeds and oats add a ton of interest and make these buns very enjoyable in taste and texture.

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you will undoubtedly know that occasionally I’m using sandwich blog posts to test bread recipes. It’s easy to come up with something like a sauce recipe that everyone can recreate with almost no issue, but bread recipes are quite a bit more complicated and require multiple batches.

This is one of the recipes that I was testing when I made these salmon sandwiches, but I have tweaked the final recipe by the time this blog post goes live. So, the buns in these photos aren’t actually the final recipe, but I made them for a final time a couple of days ago and have now nailed down all the details.

This is a shaped bun that still has another hour of rising time before baking.

Basically, these buns are a white bun that has been kneaded together with rolled oats and several different seeds to give them a super interesting texture and visual appearance in the final bun.

After I shape the buns, I do press them down a little to encourage the proper bun shape.
An hour later and in a darker, more romantically lit kitchen, they had risen to almost their full potential.

You can make a version of these buns with a pre-combined blend of grains and seeds like King Arthur Baking’s harvest grains blend. I have bought and used their blend for dough recipes like the one I am making here, and it works well but I wanted to head over to my local store and see if I could recreate my own version of a blend similar to theirs and that is what I did in this bun recipe.

There are three important grains or seeds in my version of this blend and honestly, you could just buy those, and they would be enough to turn a regular white bun into something a bit more texturally interesting. Those three ingredients are rolled oats, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds. The oats and the sunflower seeds are the textures you will notice most heavily when chewing the buns, and the poppy seeds are very visible in the final buns, so I feel they are pretty important for the aesthetics.

The other seeds I used were sesame seeds and flax seeds. Those two don’t seem to me to be quite as important and they could be left out if you can’t find the flax seeds (sesame seeds should be very easy to find).

Remember when I told you that these were an early test batch of this recipe? I have since changed to an egg wash before adding rolled oats.
The final recipe will have a shinier bun with more oats that stick to the top due to the egg wash.

In my original batch of these buns, I attempted to use just water painted on top of these buns to get some rolled oats to stick during the baking process. This works. But it only works for about half of the oats; the rest will fall off soon after touching or slicing. It’s only possible to secure the oats with an egg wash which is typically a whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water. This is what I do in my final recipe, but as has been covered up to this point, these buns you see here are the original recipes so some of the buns have good oat stickage and others do not.

Interior crumb shot. The oats and sunflower seeds really pull their weight in this bun.
2 hours and 50 minutes
Multi-seeded sandwich buns

The addition of various seeds and rolled oats adds a great deal of texture and excitement to this sandwich roll.

Get Recipe

At this point, we would normally continue making this sandwich, but first, a slight intermission discussing what to do with leftover ingredients from our multi-seed sandwich bun.

Intermission recipe: cranberry granola

The problem with buying a bunch of bulk seeds and oats to use in bread is that you’re probably going to end up with a lot left over. I did. So, I whipped up this recipe using two of the main ingredients in my multi-seed sandwich buns.

As I said earlier, the rolled oats and sunflower seeds are the primary ingredients in the multi-seed sandwich buns that I have been testing, so I bought more than I needed to make these buns. Therefore, I had plenty of excess on my hands to either throw out or use. I chose to buy some dried cranberries and turn the excess into breakfast.

I like snacking on granola straight out of the container, but it’s also a great topping for yogurt or oatmeal.

A whole sheet pan full of sweet and nutty cranberry granola.
30 minutes
Cranberry granola

Crunchy and slightly sweet, this granola is great sprinkled on top of yogurt or on its own as a snack. There are a couple of comments about substitutions in the notes section below.

Get Recipe

And now, back to our regularly scheduled sandwich broadcast in progress.

Tartar sauce

I made all of these salmon sandwiches with tartar sauce, and I think that’s a great option. But you could also use a remoulade sauce if you’d prefer. I think this sandwich would also work with a Thousand Island dressing as well. But for me, it just made sense to use tartar sauce since that’s what you usually see with a crab cake sandwich or even just a crab cake platter.

Here’s my wife’s tartar sauce recipe that we serve when we cook fried shrimp or fish sandwiches. It works great on a salmon cake sandwich.

Recipe Card
10 minutes
Tartar sauce

Citrus and pickle juice provide a nice zing to this creamy sauce. Great on almost any seafood based sandwich.

Get Recipe

Salmon cake

These are very similar to a crab cake. You chop up some fresh salmon and incorporate binders such as mayonnaise, egg, and panko breadcrumbs but there are also flavorings and seasonings such as sauteed onion, garlic, and herbs.

I tried this recipe once without the egg and it worked, but the salmon cake was much more likely to break and crumble when flipped or handled after cooking. If you are eating salmon cakes on their own, a bit of crumbling isn’t terrible, but the egg does help to bind everything together for a sandwich.

Form the salmon cake mixture and refrigerate until ready to form the patties.

This recipe uses a half pound of salmon and should make 4 salmon cakes that are sized to fit a sandwich bun. You can make the salmon mixture and keep it in the fridge overnight. This means that if you want to make 2 salmon cakes on the first night, you can simply shape a second batch from the mix on the second night. Because this is fish though, I wouldn’t suggest keeping the uncooked patties or salmon cake mixture for much longer than a couple of days.

Forming the patty

Just like burger patties, I like to form these salmon cakes on parchment paper so that they can be easily formed and moved to the skillet or griddle for cooking. Just make sure you form the patty a slight bit larger than the circumference of your bun because there will be a little shrinkage. The salmon patty will not shrink as much as a ground beef or turkey patty, but it does tighten a little.

Once you have the patty formed, you can season the exterior if you want, but you should add about half a teaspoon of panko breadcrumbs on the top of the patty which will end up hitting the hot oil and cooking surface first. These breadcrumbs will ensure that the exterior of the salmon cake will be a little bit crunchy to offset the soft interior.

I like to form these salmon patties on parchment, and I will often size them up next to the bun to make sure I’m making them the correct size.
Once the patties are lightly coated with more panko on top and pan-fried, the exterior gets nice and crispy.

Sear the patty in a little bit of olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes per side over medium heat. You want the panko to crisp up and brown before flipping and cooking the second side. Once these are done, I like to place them on a paper towel-lined plate first before I build the sandwich. This ensures the bottom of your salmon cake isn’t too greasy from the oil in the pan.

Salmon cake sandwich

Below are a bunch of photos and the recipe for my salmon cake sandwich. As for toppings, I tried a few different things and suggest you use anything you might put on a burger or crab cake sandwich. I used pickled onions, tomato, and lettuce and changed it up for each iteration, but they all had tartar sauce.

Tangy tartar sauce really works well here but you could use mayonnaise or a remoulade sauce.
I believe that most burger toppings would work well. Pickles or even pickled jalapenos would complement the tartar sauce.
Whether this is a salmon burger or a salmon cake sandwich, one thing for sure is that it is good.
Some of my buns in the initial testing phase did not get a sprinkling of oats on top. I think they look much more interesting and indicative of what is inside when they have visible rolled oats.
Salmon cake sandwich view printable page for this recipe

This salmon cake sandwich includes a slightly crispy but still really soft salmon patty that's perfectly ready for some tartar sauce and a bun. Bring your favorite toppings to round out the flavors.



salmon cake mixture
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 onion, finely diced
  • pinch of salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 pound fresh salmon
  • 14 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 whole egg
  • 14 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch of Old Bay seasoning
Salmon cake cooking
  • salmon cake mixture (formed into 4 patties)
  • 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs (for sprinkling on at cook time)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sandwich assembly
  • 4 sandwich buns split and toasted
  • 4 cooked salmon cakes
  • 4 tablespoons tartar sauce
  • lettuce, tomato slices, pickles (optional toppings)


Salmon cake mixture: add a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium pan over medium-high heat. 

Once the oil is shimmering, add diced onion to the pan and top it with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they are softened. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the onions are softened, add the capers and cook another 2 minutes. 

While the onions and capers are cooking remove the skin from your salmon (if needed) and with a knife, chop the salmon into small pieces around a quarter inch in size. Add the salmon to a large bowl and wait for the onions and capers to cool.

Once the onions and capers have cooled for 10 minutes or so, add them to the bowl with the salmon. 

Add mayonnaise, egg, panko breadcrumbs, garlic, Dijon mustard, and Old Bay seasoning to the bowl with the salmon, onions, and capers. Stir everything well to combine. Store this salmon cake mixture in a sealed container in the fridge until it is ready to be used. 

Salmon cake cooking: once you are ready for sandwiching, add a large pan over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan while it is heating up.

Separate your salmon cake mixture into four parts. On top of parchment paper, you can form each part of the salmon mixture into four patties that are between a half inch and 3/4ths of an inch thick. Try to make patties that are about the width of your bun. 

Sprinkle the top of each formed salmon cake patty with a good sprinkling of panko breadcrumbs and flip each cake into the olive-oiled pan, panko crumbs side down.

Sprinkle more panko on the top side of each cake in the pan and cook the first side of the salmon cake for 3 to 4 minutes before flipping. 

Once flipped cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes on the second side or until both sides are browned and slightly crunchy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to rest while you prepare the rest of your sandwich.

Sandwich assembly: slice and toast your bun if desired.

Add some tartar sauce to the bottom of your bun and top with lettuce (if using). Place a cooked salmon cake on top of the lettuce.

Add more tartar sauce on top of the salmon cake and top with pickles or tomato slices or whatever you choose to use as toppings.

Top each sandwich with the top bun and serve. 

This sandwich had pickled Vidalia onions.
We’re rapidly leaving tomato season, but if you can find a fresh one, it works well here.

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