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Wild Alaskan Salmon Cakes

Some foods are inarguably healthy. And wild salmon is one of ‘em.

It’s a rich source of omega-3 fats, astaxanthin (a potent antioxidant), protein, and a variety of minerals. (That’s one of the reasons I feature wild Alaskan salmon as a food to emphasize in Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.)

But despite these benefits, it hasn’t always had a place in my diet.

Growing up, I felt like salmon tasted too fishy. And later, it seemed like a costly splurge for a meal I was pretty much guaranteed NOT to enjoy.

(It’s hard to spend money on healthy food that doesn’t taste good, right?! You may feel that way about certain vegetables.)

Luckily, I gave salmon a second chance.

If you can get your hands on freshly-caught (or flash-frozen) wild Alaskan salmon, you’re in for a gourmet treat.

Up in Alaska, where the rivers quite literally burst with salmon throughout the summer, it’s not unusual to have salmon on the menu a few times each week.

(I know, I know. Hard life, right? But if you want to know what it’s really like to eat clean in a rural area, read this.)

Really though. I was just joking with some friends about how it’s normal to show up at a potluck to find an array of smoked salmon, salmon dip, and salmon cakes (all wild-caught and local, of course). But if someone brings fresh fruit, it’s demolished in minutes.

Value is all relative.

Salmon cakes are a go-to to use up the season’s bounty, but I’ve noticed that most recipes call for flour, breadcrumbs, or crushed-up crackers.

Since I eat wheat-free due to food sensitivities (and minimal grains), I’ve improvised here by using mashed potato as the binder. If you eat a very low-carb diet, you may opt to leave this out, just be aware that your salmon cakes may not hold together as well.

[Random sidenote – I’ve seen some salmon cake recipes suggest you puree the fish in a blender or food processor. Unless you like fish cakes with the texture of baby food, DO NOT DO THAT!

Flaked fish = good. Pureed fish = disgusting.

Don’t ruin a good thing (and create a mess to clean up) by following that terrible advice.]

Wild Alaskan Salmon Cakes

yield 12 -14 salmon cakes, depending on size

  • 2 lb wild Alaskan salmon (sockeye “red” salmon or coho “silver” salmon, cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, minced (red, orange or yellow for best color)
  • 3 green onions, minced (green and white parts)
  • 3-4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 2 eggs (ideally from pasture-raised hens)
  • coconut oil for cooking


  1. In a small pot of salted, boiling water, cook potato until easily pierced with a fork. Drain water. Mash until smooth. Let cool.
  2. Once potatoes are cooled, place all ingredients in a large bowl. (Double check that any bones have been removed from salmon.)
  3. With very clean hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients. Form into patties and set aside (place in refrigerator unless cooking right away).
  4. Heat 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Fry the cakes for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown. You may need to add additional coconut oil with each batch.
  6. Serve with coleslaw, salad, or vegetables, and homemade tartar sauce.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: Even if you don’t have the luxury of living in Alaska or have access to quality fresh or frozen salmon, you can easily substitute canned wild Alaskan salmon - or any other type of fish - in this recipe. Halibut and cod work extremely well in this recipe.

ANOTHER NOTE: This is a great way to use up leftover salmon or other fish.

paleo wild alaskan salmon cakes

wild alaskan salmon cakes, grain-free

A few good reasons to splurge & make wild Alaskan salmon cakes:

  • Think smarter. Just 3 ounces (about one wild Alaskan salmon cake) boasts 1200mg of omega-3 fats, including a good amount of brain-nourishing DHA.
  • Protect your skin. That’s because salmon has a ton of the antioxidant, astaxanthin, which may reduce UVA damage from the sun. It’s like sunscreen from the inside-out.
  • Boost your vision. Astaxanthin may reduce eye strain, fatigue, and even help prevent macular degeneration.
  • Calm inflammation. The combination of omega-3s and astaxanthin is an inflammation-fighting duo, making it a great choice for a post-workout meal.

And if you want the most benefits, opt for Sockeye salmon (also called “red” salmon), which has the highest levels of astaxanthin.

Until next week,


PS – Wondering what’s in the side dishes?  I followed a similar recipe to this one for the coleslaw (just sub purple cabbage). And the baby broccoli was prepared in the same manner as these pan-seared Brussels sprouts.

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. This looks like something I might try. I’m not a big seafood fan and I’m very picky about fish. I do however like Salmon. I have had it grilled a few times and also tried salmon cakes I think at Red Lobster and I liked them. My husband would be so excited if I made these. He is deprived of seafood he would say. Thanks for the recipe!

    • I hope these are a hit in your house, Katie. 🙂

  2. Love this! I’m always looking for interesting recipes and I’m a huge fan of sefood, I have some salmon in my fridge now!

    • Just in time! Let me know how they turn out, Angela.

  3. These look DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for a grain-free option!

  4. These look awesome!! Can I freeze them? Wanting to do a whole bunch of meal prep this weekend and have them on hand for week day meals if possible 🙂 Oh yes – and will sweet potato work?
    (Thanks for all the awesomeness!)

    • Yes they can be frozen and reheated.

  5. I made a few modifications because I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store. I used a sweet potato instead of russet. Subbed celery for the peppers. I only had two medium sized eggs left in the fridge so I baked the cakes for 10 minutes at 375 degrees because I tried the cast iron and my cakes were falling apart. Probably needed more egg or could have added flax egg? I tasted the first batch and they were soo yummy! I’m sure the oven ones will be tasty too. Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. Excited to try these! Do you think it would be okay to fry the cakes in the bacon grease, instead of coconut oil?

  7. So, cook the salmon twice? In the ingredient list it says salmon, cooked then fried after combining all ingredients. I’ve got fresh fish and would love to try this. Could I just forgo the first cook and fry a little longer? So happy I found your site. I’m a first time mom in nesting mode!

    • The fish needs to be cooked so it can be flaked apart to blend into the other ingredients of the salmon cakes. Enjoy a meal of fresh fish and make a little extra, then use the leftovers in this recipe.

      If you’re using canned fish, it’s already cooked, so can go straight into the recipe.

  8. Is there a substitute for the bacon? We don’t eat pork. I’d love to make this for my postpartum freezer stock!

    • Hi Maya, I’m not sure how old your comment is, but I wanted to share that we often make these without bacon (we eat bacon, we just don’t always have it on hand or the extra time to cook it up) and just add extra salt. You can add extra of other flavor ingredients too, like lemon zest, but without the bacon we feel like they need more salt even if we add nothing else.

  9. Hi,

    I’m looking forward to making this recipe. Just wondering if you could tell me how long I could freeze these for?


  10. Mine were falling apart

  11. These were awesome. I doubled the potato but everything else was the same. And I used some bacon grease with the coconut oil to pan fry

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