These crispy pan-fried salmon bites are a delicious way to transform canned salmon. They go great on top of a salad, served as an appetizer with dipping sauce or made into a meal with veggies and rice.

Crispy salmon bites on cutting board with dipping sauce.
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If you’re like me and hoard cans of tuna, salmon and sardines in the pantry for easy lunches but then get sick of the typical “salad” you’d make with said canned fish, this salmon bite recipe is for you.

After one too many boring lunches, I got the idea to “panko-fy” and pan-fry some canned salmon into these deliciously golden brown salmon bites.

The result was something way more interesting and tastebud pleasing that any tuna salad (even this delicious Waldorf tuna salad) or salmon salad could ever hope to be.

Dijon mustard, mayo, garlic, red onion and dill bring a ton of flavor to each bite and the crunchy exterior is textural heaven in your mouth.

And while these salmon bites turned into lunch for me, they’re actually very versatile and would make a great appetizer or dinner as well.

Pan-fried salmon bites on parchment paper and cutting board.

Featured ingredients to make crispy salmon bites

Canned salmon – I love canned salmon for how easy it makes getting healthy omega-3s into your diet. Along with at least one dinner a week of wild Sockeye salmon, fitting in one salmon based lunch a week is a priority for me. Canned pink salmon makes it easy to do this and is an easy and affordable base to these salmon bites.

Dijon mustard – Along with mayo, Dijon mustard acts both as a wet binder for the ingredients and a wonderful way to add flavor to the bites.

Garlic & onion – Another way to add great flavor by using freshly minced garlic and onion. Since these ingredients are used raw and not pre-cooked, it’s best to use fresh garlic for better taste.

Spices – Dill, cayenne, salt and pepper add loads of flavor to this recipe.

Dry binders – Both almond flour and panko breadcrumbs are used to bind the salmon bites together. The recipe can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free panko.

EVOO – Since these salmon bites are pan-fried, it’s important to use a good quality oil. Another higher smoke point oil like avocado would also work well.

How to make salmon bites

Combine all the ingredients except the panko breadcrumbs and the olive oil in a large bowl.

Mix together until well combined and form into small patties. Place the patties on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes. This will help them firm up a bit and make it easier to pan-fry without falling apart.

Place the panko breadcrumbs on a small plate. Gently press the patties in the breadcrumbs until all sides are coated.

Place enough olive oil in a skillet to lightly cover the bottom of the pan over medium-high heat.

Once hot, add the salmon bites to the pan. Work in batches if necessary so that the pan is not overcrowded and you have enough room to flip them over.

Pan-fry until golden brown on the bottom then flip and repeat on the other side. Transfer the cooked salmon bites to a paper towel lined plate to drain any excess oil and repeat until all the patties are cooked.

Serve immediately while hot.

Dipping a salmon bite in yogurt sauce.

Can I air fry salmon bites?

This recipe could definitely be made in the air fryer if preferred. To do so, follow the directions as written. Once the salmon bites are rolled in the panko breadcrumbs, place into the air fryer and spritz with an olive oil spray to lightly coat the outside of each. It’s a very similar approach to this popcorn shrimp recipe which is normally baked too but can also be made in the air fryer.

Air fry until golden brown at 400°F. If using a basket air fryer, flip the bites half way through. If using an oven model, rotate the trays. Total cook time will be about 8-12 minutes depending on your air fryer.

This air fryer salmon bite recipe is a great option as well. It uses fresh salmon and marinates bite-sized pieces in a delicious garlic, ginger and soy sauce.

Helpful tips

  • Try this recipe using canned tuna, chicken or even crab if preferred. Just swap out the salmon and leave everything else in the recipe the same.
  • If serving over a salad or as an appetizer, make a quick yogurt/dill dip or dressing to go along with the salmon bites.
  • If you need to reheat any leftovers, do so in a toaster oven or air fryer for the crispiest result.

What to serve with salmon bites

Because this recipe is so versatile, the salmon bites make just as good of a dinner as they do an appetizer.

Serve them with rice and vegetables for an easy dinner or turn them into a loaded salad with a base of baby greens and toppings such as pickled shallots, pepitas, nuts, dried fruit, cucumbers, etc.

Make a bowl of it! Bowl meals are just more fun, right? Create a bowl with the salmon bites, rice and chopped raw veggies like tomatoes and cucumber.

A yogurt dill dressing or this creamy 3 herb dressing would be great on either the salad or the bowl.

You can also turn these into a taco filling. Salmon bite tacos would go perfectly with a simple pico de gallo and some chopped avocado slices. Prefer fresh salmon in your tacos? Try these blackened salmon tacos instead.

Salmon bites on a white plate with yogurt dill sauce dolloped on top.

Is canned salmon good for you?

I think a lot of people balk at the idea of canned salmon and think it’s somehow inferior to the filets you see behind the fish counter.

The reality though is it’s not. I learned all about this during my trip to Cordova, Alaska for Copper River Salmon.

Wild pink salmon is what’s typically used for canned salmon. It’s the most prevalent wild salmon (and the laziest I learned because they spawn right at the mouth of the river where it meets the ocean versus swimming upstream like most salmon). This makes them the easiest to catch and why they’re used for canning.

Each wild salmon variety has a slightly different nutrition profile as they’re all a bit different in fat content, etc. but pink canned salmon is still a very healthy and nutritious choice when it comes to eating salmon. Not to mention, the most affordable way to get wild salmon in your diet.

More salmon recipes to try

This salmon spinach risotto also uses canned salmon in an unique way you probably would never think of.

If you want some ideas for an actual filet of salmon, try this tart cherry glazed salmon or, wrap salmon in bacon, pan-sear it in a skillet and then bake it off in the oven. That’s the recipe I use when I’m going for an impressive yet incredibly simple weeknight dinner meal.

Gimme all the wild salmon!

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4.71 from 95 votes

Crispy Salmon Bites

Servings: 2 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Crispy salmon bites on cutting board with dipping sauce.
These crispy pan fried salmon bites are a delicious way to eat canned salmon. Packed with heart healthy omegas and paired with a refreshing dipping sauce.


  • 6 ounces canned wild salmon, drained
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, minced
  • 1/2 small green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, use GF if needed
  • extra virgin olive oil for pan frying


  • Combine all ingredients except panko breadcrumbs and olive oil in a medium bowl and mash together.
  • Form into small patties, place on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Pour panko breadcrumbs onto a small plate and coat patties on all sides.
  • Heat a pan to medium-high and drizzle enough olive oil to almost coat the pan.
  • Place patties in pan (I did 2 batches to not crowd the pan) and pan-fry for about 2 minutes per side until golden.
  • Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil and repeat with remaining patties adding olive oil as needed.
  • Serve immediately. They go great on top of a salad with a yogurt & dill dipping sauce/dressing.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 479kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 29gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 682mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4g

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

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American

Watch the web story – How To Make Crispy Pan-Fried Salmon Bites.

Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 3 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly and cooked one piece as a test. I found that it was too wet/soft. I added bread crumbs and an egg yolk to the mix (thinking of meatloaf) and then they firmed up to a nicer texture. I shaped them into little bite-sized balls. I cooked in a basket-style air fryer at 400 for about 10 minutes. People liked them. I like that it came together with ingredients that I had in the house.

    1. Sorry to have missed the original comment/question – yes, I’m sure they would work in an air fryer!

  2. These look delicious but would they be good eaten cold,as I have packed lunch at work and would make a nice change from ham ?

    1. They definitely could be. If you’re someone that doesn’t mind cold food, go for it!

  3. 5 stars
    I had actually never purchased canned salmon before I decided to make this recipe and now I feel like I need to stock up so I’m prepared to make these tasty little bites any time I want. They are so delicious! Thanks for a great recipe!