• March 12, 2014

    Crispy Potato Fish Cakes with Cod


    I’m sharing my favourite fish cake recipe today – 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.

    close up of homemade fish cakes made with cod and leftover potato

    In the maritime provinces, fish cakes are traditionally made with salt cod, which was a dietary staple of our grandparent’s generation and earlier, when salting fish at sea was common practice before refrigeration and flash freezing were options.

    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.

    A crisp, golden exterior belies a soft, mashed-potato centre with buttery chunks of cod and bright shards of green onion. 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.

    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.

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

    crispy potato and cod fish cakes on a plate


    Crispy Potato Fish Cakes with Cod

    A quick and delicious potato fish cake recipe. Great with fresh or canned cod, and a tasty way to use up leftover mashed potato. 
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 35 minutes
    Course: Appetizer
    Cuisine: American
    Servings: 4
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    • 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
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour

    For tartar sauce:

    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 tbsp brined capers
    • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
    • 1 green onion white and green parts, minced
    • Salt to taste


    • 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.
    Tried this recipe?tag @foodess



    Hi, I'm Jenn! I'm in the Foodess kitchen making a spectacular mess + something delicious, in roughly equal parts. Join me for seasonal baking punctuated by globally-inspired comfort recipes and (healthy-ish) dinspiration, plus with lots of tips and resources. So happy that you're here!

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    Made these today
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