Crispy Potato Fish Cakes with Cod

5 from 7 votes
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This is my favourite fish cake recipe – something very Atlantic-Canadian (my roots!). These traditional fish cakes are crispy, seasoned to perfection and taste like home – comfort food at it’s finest. Learn how to make the most delicious cod fish cakes with cod and potato, why your fish cakes fall apart and how to prevent it with this wonderful homemade recipe.

A quick and delicious potato fish cake recipe. Great with fresh or canned fish, and a tasty way to use up leftover mashed potato. 

This recipe works with salt cod, fresh fish, fresh salmon, any white fish, even cans of tuna or salmon – the possibilities are endless.

Look no further on how to make easy potato fish cakes with tartar sauce from scratch.

spices on cod

In the maritime provinces, fish cakes are traditionally made with salt cod, which was a dietary staple of our grandparents’ generation and earlier.

Salting fish at sea was common practice before refrigeration and flash freezing were options.

cooked shredded cod with spices

I do like salt cod but it’s not easy to find everywhere, and I prefer fresh fish.

You can sub in fresh salmon if you like or any white fish you commonly find in your location.

You can even swap in two cans of tuna or salmon – in fact most of the fish cakes I ate as a child were from tinned fish. Made that way, they are an inexpensive last-minute meal made from pantry staples.

adding mashed potato to the cod flakes

A crisp, golden exterior belies a soft, mashed-potato centre with buttery chunks of cod and bright shards of green onion. Here’s my favourite recipe for Mashed Potatoes.

I typically serve fish cakes on a bed of lemon- and olive oil-dressed greens, with lots of this quick, tangy tartar sauce.

Or, you know, with nothing but ketchup.

adding the remaining ingredients to the cod mixture for potato fish cakes
Potato Fish Cakes with Cod getting fried

Fish cakes are my favourite way to make use of leftover mashed potatoes post holiday meal. If your potatoes have cream or milk added, you might just need to add a handful of breadcrumbs to the mixture until it is easy to handle and shape.

golden brown crispy Potato Fish Cakes with Cod

If any fish cakes are left, tuck them into pita bread for lunchboxes the next day with lettuce and mayo.

Crispy Potato Fish Cakes with mayo
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5 from 7 votes

Crispy Potato Fish Cakes with Cod

A quick and delicious potato fish cake recipe. Great with fresh or canned fish, and a tasty way to use up leftover mashed potato. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 tbsp + 5 tbsp vegetable oil divided
  • 1 lb boneless cod filet
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups mashed potato leftover, or just microwave 2 potatoes skin-on
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 green onion white and green parts, minced
  • up to 1 cup fresh bread crumbs I grate a frozen bun on a box grater
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour

For tartar sauce:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tbsp brined capers
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion white and green parts, minced
  • Salt to taste
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  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cod, season with salt and pepper; cook until just barely opaque and flakey – better to ever-so-slightly undercook the fish than overcook it at this stage, as you’ll be cooking it again in the cakes.
  • Transfer to a bowl and break into large flakes with your hands. Add mashed potato, egg, green onion and enough bread crumbs so that the mixture holds a patty shape (if using leftover mash with milk or other liquid added, you’ll definitely need the whole cup of crumbs). Use your hands or a big spoon to work everything together until well-combined.
  • Place flour on a shallow plate. Form potato mixture into 16 equal patties between the palms of your hands, dredging both sides in the flour and transferring to a baking sheet as you go. Refrigerate fish cakes 20 minutes to firm up.
  • Wipe out the fish skillet and return to medium heat; add remaining oil. When shimmering hot, add several fish cakes – you’ll need to cook them in a few batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. Serve with tartar sauce.

To make tartar sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, whisking together with a fork. Season with salt to taste.



Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 17g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 374mg | Potassium: 860mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 359IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Rich Furber says:

    Loved this when growing up. Mom used to use cod fish that came in a wooden box. Great with baked beans. Thanks for posting.

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Love that it brings back childhood memories.

  2. Harris Feinstein says:

    I’ve been searching the web for a recipe that was like the one my late mother made, and then I found yours, can’t wait to make it!

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:


      1. Patsy LeRoux says:

        Supper tonight.

        1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

          Excellent choice!

  3. williamsound says:

    5 stars
    Made these tonight on a whim & they turned out perfectly. Used frozen & thawed cod filets, blitzed saltines instead of bread crumbs & fried in coconut oil. I omitted the salt because I used saltines. The flour dredge made them perfectly crisp & not greasy at all – even after holding in the toaster oven until they were all done frying. Very happy to have found this keeper of a recipe & thank you very much for posting. 5 stars!

  4. Carlin says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious! I used fresh dill in the cakes and served them on top of a green salad. Perfect dinner.

  5. Colleen says:

    Do you have to soak the fish? I remember my mom soaking I think to remove some of the salt.

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      This is not salt cod, so no! It’s just a filet thawed from frozen. If you use salt cod, you do need to remove some salt. I think you’d have to do a google search on how to do that, I’ve personally never tried. 🙂

      1. Patrick Robberson says:

        Just soak overnight in cold water in the refrigerator. Rinse off in the morning and I usually put it back in some water in the fridge till I cook it. Very easy

  6. Malice Alyce says:

    5 stars
    This is the BEST fish I’ve ever eaten, and I love fish. I left out the flour and didn’t refrigerate the patties, just put them directly into oil after breading them with Panko bread crumbs. They are heaven !

  7. Graham Chivers says:

    Can the fish cakes be frozen

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Yes, they freeze beautifully after cooking. Bake them at 350 to reheat.

      1. Kevin Henderson says:

        5 stars
        How long would you bake them
        for to reheat?

        1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

          I’d reheat them at 350 for about 15 minutes. The internal temp should reach 165ºF.

  8. Cheryl McQuarrie says:

    This is the closes of potatoes, fish cakes that my mother-in-law made

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Yay! Comfort food right?

  9. DrJLA says:

    5 stars
    My family loved this recipe! Thanks for sharing. Another one to add to our family favorites!

  10. Lynnefab says:

    5 stars
    Made these today
    In a word delish