Appetizers

Mini Salmon Cakes With Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

Minimal ingredients with maximum flavor! These mini salmon cakes with basil pesto vinaigrette make the perfect appetizer or meal. Sprinkled in sesame seasoning and lightly fried in coconut oil, these little gems are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

I have been making salmon cakes for years! My parents spent 3 months in a quaint little town on northern Vancouver Island every year and always brought home an abundance of fresh salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp, mostly salmon tho. Yes! We were spoiled.

Mom’s perfect solution for leftover salmon was salmon cakes; pop them in the freezer for an easy meal! Fast forward, and today I switched up the recipe that makes these little gems even better! Instead of leftover salmon (because the days of a freezer full of fresh fish are over…horrible, I know!)

Fast forward, and today, I now grind up raw salmon and make the cakes, and wow, what a difference. The raw salmon really absorbs whatever herbs and spices you add, and they are incredibly moist because you are not cooking already-cooked salmon.

The basil pesto vinaigrette is so delicious; once you try this, you’ll want to put it on everything! Plus, it’s super versatile. Scroll down to see my favorite ways to use these mini salmon cakes and the vinaigrette!

Ingredient Notes, And Substitutions

ingredients for mini salmon cakes
ingredients for basil pesto vinaigrette

Salmon ~ as I always say, fresh is best, but canned salmon is perfect too, and of course, use that leftover salmon if you have it! Use this recipe to substitute to make crab, fish, or shrimp cakes.

Herbs ~ basil is sweet and slightly spicy. The mint is optional and adds a cool fresh taste. Other herbs that pair well are cilantro, parsley, tarragon, and dill.

Green onions & lemon ~ green onions add a nice mild onion flavor. You can substitute red or white onion or shallots. Lemon adds brightness without tasting acidic and will reduce the intensity of the flavor of salmon.

Bread crumbs and eggs ~ Are binders and hold everything together. Panko is an excellent substitute for bread crumbs; mayonnaise can replace an egg.

Basil pesto vinaigrette ~opps… these cashews didn’t make the photo shoot, lol. I used basil and cilantro for the herbs. A great substitute for cilantro is parsley or mint. Get crazy and do a combo! I love the cashews!

It creates a creamy texture and sweet, subtle flavor. This “dressing” is a versatile blend of pesto sauce and vinaigrette. You’ll want to use it on everything!

Delicious Ideas To Serve Mini Salmon Cakes

  • Serve up a salad! My fave is a salad bowl with quinoa, pickled pink onions, cucumber, and radishes. Thin the pesto vinaigrette with a little balsamic or lemon juice for the perfect dressing!
  • Appetizers. These will disappear fast, and even the fussy fish eater will love them! Serve alongside a few crispy veggies and the basil pesto vinaigrette for the dipping sauce. Or set each cake on a sliced cucumber with a dollop of pesto for an elegant and fun presentation.
  • Make them a main. Simply form them into larger cakes/ patties. Serve with a side salad and rice.
  • Play with the pesto vinaigrette! Add a touch of your favorite ranch or blue cheese dressing and use it on sanwhiches or burgers! Or use it on pizza.
mini salmon cakes served on a salad with basil pesto vinaigrette.

Success Tips, Make Ahead & Storage Tips For Perfect Salmon Cakes

  • Don’t overcook! The fish will continue to cook once you remove it from the heat. You can bake them; however, you may not get them crispy outside without drying them out. The BEST way is to use a little coconut oil or avocado oil. (not olive oil). It only takes a few minutes on each side to cook up perfectly.
  • Don’t skip adding the egg and bread crumbs. It’s what holds the cakes together; otherwise, they will fall apart.
  • Once the salmon cakes are fried, place them on a baking rack versus a paper towel, where they can become soggy.
  • Make Ahead. The mini salmon cakes are best served right away, but you can make them ahead to serve later. Cook and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Or make the mixture up the day before.
  • Make ahead and freeze raw. This is my favorite. Make the mini cakes, wrap them individually in plastic wrap, and place them in a storage bag- freeze for up to one month.
  • The pesto vinaigrette can be made in advance and stored in a jar topped with a little olive oil to preserve herbs. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. To freeze, spoon pesto into ice cube trays with a few drops of olive oil. Once frozen, remove and keep it in a storage bag. A great way to use your fresh basil and have it handy when you need it later!
salmon cakes stack on cucumber slices

How To Make Mini Salmon Cakes With Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

Here is a quick run-through; the full recipe and ingredients are in the printable recipe card below.

For the mini salmon cakes

  1. Rinse and pat dry the salmon. Sprinkle the sesame seasoning blend on a small plate, and set aside.
  2. Add salmon to the food processor and pulse until the salmon is in small pieces. Don’t over-mix or puree it! Alternatively, you can chop it.
  3. Add the chopped salmon, egg, green onions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until ingredients are just combined, then stir the bread crumbs. Form the salmon into 2-inch cakes, about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Press or sprinkle the cakes into the seasoning blend. Add coconut oil to a skillet (enough to cover the bottom of the skillet). Turn heat to medium-high. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by adding a pinch of breadcrumbs. If it bubbles and sizzles, you’re good to go.
  5. Fry the cakes for about 3 minutes, flip, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. They should be golden brown. Transfer the salmon cakes to a baking rack. I prefer this method instead a paper towel, where they can become soggy. Let cool slightly, and serve them over a salad or as an appetizer alongside the basil pesto vinaigrette.
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Mini Salmon Cakes With Basil Pesto Vinaigrette


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  • Author: Teri Wallingford
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1216 1x

Description

Minimal ingredients with maximum flavor! These mini salmon cakes with basil pesto vinaigrette make the perfect appetizer or meal. Sprinkled in sesame seasoning and lightly fried in coconut oil, these little gems are crispy and tender on the inside. 


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the mini salmon cakes   *SEE NOTES BELOW

  • 10 ounces of fresh salmon, about 1 cup chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup bread crumbs (panko crumbs ok)
  • sesame seasoning blend. I use everything bagel seasoning. See notes below

For the basil pesto vinaigrette

  • 1 cup packed basil
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion or shallot
  • 1/3 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar ( white or apple cider ok)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1/2 pepper


Instructions

Equipment needed. Food processor or blender, skillet

For the mini salmon cakes

  1. Sprinkle the sesame seasoning blend on a small plate, and set aside. Rinse and pat dry the salmon, and cut into 2-inch cubes. 
  2. Add salmon to the food processor and pulse until the salmon is in small pieces. Alternatively, you can chop by and don’t over-mix or puree it!
  3. Add the chopped salmon, egg, green onions, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until ingredients are just combined, then stir the bread crumbs.
  4. Form the salmon into 2-inch cakes, about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Press or sprinkle the cakes into the seasoning blend.
  5. Add coconut oil to a skillet (enough to cover the bottom of the skillet). Turn heat to medium-high. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by adding a pinch of breadcrumbs. If it bubbles and sizzles, you’re good to go. Fry the cakes for about 3 minutes, flip, and fry for another 2-3 minutes. They should be golden brown.
  6. Transfer the salmon cakes to a baking rack. I prefer this method instead a paper towel, where they can become soggy. Let cool slightly, and serve them over a salad or as an appetizer alongside the basil pesto vinaigrette.

Notes

* If you have more than 10 ounces of salmon- not to worry! I always make a double batch and freeze extra for a quick meal or appetizers for last-minute guests.

**Everything bagel seasoning is salty. Use sparingly or omit if you are salt sensitive. You can substitute a blend of white and black sesame seeds instead. 

*** You may need to adjust the bread crumbs. I start with the 1/4 cup and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. If the mixture holds together when forming- there is no need to add the remaining. If not, add the remaining.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Fried
  • Cuisine: American

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