Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce


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In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to make Scott something that I knew he would love and that would be his kind of food.

Nothing screams his-kind-of-food louder than salmon.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Except these salmon cakes are a wee bit different than the bagels and lox he grew up eating.

First, there’s beans and corn and although Scott is not a bean fan, they were in the can with the corn so into the salmon cakes they went. He said the beans were fine because they were small. Okay, I’ll go with that.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

And rather than breadcrumbs I used Fritos. Definitely not traditional but Scott loved it.

I had leftover Fritos after making the Chips and Cheese Chili Casserole and because I never keep breadcrumbs on hand, I figured the corn chips could do double-duty as seasoned breadcrumbs.

Fritos, corn in a can, and pink salmon

And they worked perfectly. If you don’t have Fritos, you could try corn chips or Doritos. Using breadcrumbs would of course work, too, but isn’t as fun.

Not to mention, you don’t get to clean out the random end-of-the-bag-of-chips-scraps that linger and clutter your cabinets.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

I served these cakes on a bed of “fluffy lettuce” as five year old Skylar calls it, aka alfalfa sprouts.

The dipping sauce made with sour cream, lemon juice, and chili powder has a slight kick but overall is cool and creamy and the hot cakes went for a nice cool bath in it.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Let’s make salmon cakes:

Place Fritos in a mixing bowl and chop-chop with a wooden spoon. Not worthy of dirtying the food processor. Or use the grab-a-fistful-squeeze-and-crush-into-crumbs method.

Chipped fritos in a mixing bowl

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, add the salmon, corn and bean medley, season, and stir.

Combine the wet salmon mixture with the dry crumbs and stir.

ingredients mixed in green bowl

Form five patties or four larger ones.

Pan-sear them for a few minutes on each side with butter and moments later your house will reek of fish but that’s okay because your husband will be grateful.

Patties of Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Scott likes his food well-browned and although I prefer things lighter, these were for him so I made sure to make them nice and golden.

With salmon cakes (or crab or tuna cakes), a well-done and crisper exterior is a nice contrast to the softer interior. The same could be said for cookies, but I like those on the under-baked side, too.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Scott loved the flavor of these between the Southwestern seasonings layered with corn and corn chips. And he got over the beans.

And no, for the record, you cannot taste the Fritos in them. In this application, Fritos are simply well-seasoned breadcrumbs or cornbread-breadcrumbs.

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

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Yield: 4

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

These easy salmon cakes use corn chips to add flavors and bind them together in place of breadcrumbs, keeping the salmon cakes naturally gluten-free. It’s a fast and easy recipe to make and can be served as appetizers or as an entree. Packed with flavor, texture, and the creamy zingy sauce is a perfect complement to the fish.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes 

  • 2 cups Fritos
  • 1 large egg
  • 6-ounce can salmon (or from a foil-pack; freshly prepared salmon is not necessary for this recipe but can be used if desired – or substitute crab or tuna)
  • 1/2 cup southwestern style corn medley with black beans and bell peppers, or similar
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or similar such as Mrs. Dash blend, 21 Salute)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch chili or cayenne powder, optional and to taste
  • salt and pepper, optional and to taste (note: there is plenty of salt in the chips and salmon)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons+ butter, for frying

Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or mayonnaise, Greek-style yogurt, or doctor up tartar sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch chili powder or cayenne powder, optional and to taste (or use Old Bay, Mrs. Dash, 21 Salute if you don’t like heat)
  • pinch salt and pepper, optional and to taste


  1. Corn Chip-Crusted Southwestern Salmon Cakes – In a medium mixing bowl, add the Fritos, and with a wooden spoon or your hands, crush them into pebble-sized pieces (not a job worthy of dirtying a food processor).
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, crack the egg and beat it lightly with a fork.
  3. Add the salmon, break it apart gently with the fork, and stir to combine.
  4. Fold in the corn, seasonings, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the crushed chips, flour, and stir to combine.
  6. Form 5 patties of equal size, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, or four larger patties.
  7. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter to a large non-stick skillet and over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  8. To the melted butter, add the salmon cakes, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on first side. Flip and add an additional tablespoon or two of butter if needed so second side browns nicely.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on second side, or until cakes are golden. Allow cakes to cool and rest for a few minutes before serving. I served my cakes over a bed of alfalfa sprouts. Leftover cakes can be stored airtight in the fridge  for up to 3 days and either served cold or reheated gently on the stovetop or microwave.While cakes cool, make the sauce.
  9. Creamy Lemon Chili Sauce – Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir, seasoning to taste.
  10. Drizzle on top salmon cakes or serve on the side. Extra sauce will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 319Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 351mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 17g

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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    1. It’s 2 cups before crushing. Basically two heaping handfuls. You need enough to bind together the wet salmon and egg, which may be a little more or less than 2 cups. Use your best judgment given how moist or dry things are looking.

  1. I saved this recipe last year and have been meaning to try it forever. I finally made it last night and we loved it! I used a fresh salmon filet that I quickly baked instead of the canned, and we didn’t have any sprouts so I served mine over a bed of baby arugula dressed very lightly in a simple lemon vinaigrette. Delicious! Thanks for sharing such a creative and easy recipe!

    1. Thanks for trying these and writing back! It’s a really unique recipe for me (not just b/c the recipe itself is unique) because I don’t do that many savory/dinner recipes compared to sweets and almost none with fish/shellfish so it’s nice to hear positive feedback on this recipe. Glad you enjoyed them!

  2. Avery, those are brilliant fishkakes! I love your presentation on a yellow plate…
    My husband looked at it and said he wants it too… :) I haven’t made fish cakes in two years, there’s no much fish here to begin with. I tell my husband and son to go fishing some day, but they consider it a joke. I am serious, men! :) Anyway, yes, I do (did) many fishcakes, I love it myself, cod fishcakes are my favorite! As of favorite food for my men, yes, I do cook every day something that they would eat, and sometimes I cook only for them meat dishes. Meat doesn’t attract me at all, but I cook it to make my men happy.

    1. I wish I had been making the bday sprinkles cake from Milkbar but salmon cakes prevailed.

  3. Wow.
    I can’t even think of anything else to say about how good those salmon cakes look. Holy moly! :)

  4. All this seafood looks great – I wish my hubby didn’t hate all seafood! The salmon cakes look delish! :)

    1. I was just thinking…now this is Marla food. But you probably use high-end salmon in all your stuff. I used…TJs :)

  5. Perfectly cost effective meal that also looks amazingly fun to eat – you’re awesome!!

  6. Averie, these look so great! My husband is way more of a lover of salmon than I am but these have all the flavors he loves. I will definitely be making these for him soon. Great recipe!!

  7. Ohh, these look amazing! I love salmon but eat it very rarely, would love to whip these up!

  8. This looks awesome! I am always looking for good recipes for canned salmon because it’s cheap, and it’s Alaskan (so low mercury and PCB’s). This is a great twist on a cake that I bet we’ll love.

    Definitely will be trying this.

  9. Yummmy!! I love crab cakes – have never tried with salmon. Great idea, I bet Scott was in heaven. How lucky he is to have you cook for him al the time :D

  10. I am always cooking things for my husband and my boys that I do not eat myself. Tonight, for example, I made steamed tilapia and baby shrimp, with homemade guacamole, vegan sour cream, flat bread, shredded cabbage and pinto peans cooked with brown rice. They wrapped all of that in flat bread and me? I had a HUGE salad! I love it, though. We all want to be happy at the dinner table and different meals works great for us. I LOVE to feed my family things they love!

    Those salmon patties look so delicious! Love how easy they look to make! Hope Scott had a lovely Father’s Day! :-)

  11. We eat salmon about 2 times a week and I’ve never actually bought it from a can to make patties with. These look delicious! Fish in a can always weirds me out a bit but I think I can get over it to make something like this.

    1. Well girl, in a recipe like this..honestly…I see no reason to buy fresh fish, cook it, then smash it all down. I mean if I had Ina Garten’s budget or time-table, sure. But I don’t. lol Knowing how you eat, I bet you’d really like these..canned fish and all!

  12. These look sooooo good! Salmon is a favorite of mine–in any form. I’ve made both salmon and crab cakes before but it has been a while. Love the addition of the corn and bean medley–great idea! Cookie cups turned out perfectly and I froze the avocado mousse so it was more like ice cream. Good stuff! I love trying your recipes–they are always winners!!

    1. If you like salmon, this is for you then! Easy, inexpensive, flavorful.

      Glad the cookie cups turned out perfectly AND frozen choc avo mousse is a fave of mine. It’s richer than any ice cream! We love it like that.

      And thanks for the kind words about my recipes and for trying SO MANY things!

  13. oh those look delicious! i love how you can see the corn and beans popping through! and fritos!! yes please! thanks for sharing!

  14. I haven’t ever had or made salmon or tuna cakes, although I have had crab cakes (at a restaurant) and wasn’t a fan of them. I think I would prefer salmon or tuna cakes.

    1. it’s amazing to me how many restaurants serve horrible (IMO) fish and fish-related food. No flavor, over/undercooked, rubbery, bland, boring. Try them at another place…or just make your own! Salmon or crab or tuna or whatever you like but knowing you, I think you got a dud of a meal b/c when they’re good, crab cakes are divine.

  15. I’ve never actually had salmon before…but after seeing your salmon cakes I may have to go out and buy some!

  16. I love the overhead photo of the cakes on sprouts – my kind of meal, right there. And I used to love Fritos! If anyone would get all healthy on my and mock my Fritos, I would point out that they only have THREE ingredients, all of which are pronounceable. Not healthy, mind you, but better than Doritos.

    I’ve been loving my newfound love of seafood. I’ve made my crab cakes several times, and several ways. My favorite is with Old Bay seasoning. Something about it just tastes great with seasfood!

    1. thanks for the reminder on your cakes…they look so good! I prefer crab to salmon cakes and have these fond Carolinas memories of them…washed down with tons to drink :)

      And 3 ingredients…ya know I didnt even know that but it’s a good factoid!

  17. Love the Fritos in here, great idea! I like to make tuna cakes and add chopped bell peppers, scallions, Dijon mustard, and a handful of mixed herbs (usually basil, parlsey, and thyme). I pan fry them and serve over salad. Quick, delicious, and economical!

    1. I actually forgot to add Dijon in these (and I had some in the fridge, too)…next time :)

  18. I made the mistake of reading this post right at lunchtime—these looks sooooo good.

  19. Obviously don’t eat salmon, but I bet the flavors would work nicely for a bean burger too. And just looking at the photos always makes me smile. I don’t care what it is!

    1. The flavors would be perfect for a bean burger..just need to add more breadcrumbs or Fritos to bind it so it’s not falling apart on you and I think you’re there!

  20. Looks lovely! Another blogger asked what our significant other’s favourite meal is the other day. I didn’t know, so I asked my husband and apparently he doesn’t have a favourite food or meal (that made me feel much better that I didn’t know!).

    Hope you had a great father’s day!

  21. Corn + beans + salmon + fritos!?!?!? I love ALL of those foods but never thought to throw them all together! And with salmons cakes, crab cakes etc.. I, too, prefer a CRISPY outside and a soft =, creamy inside. That’s the PERFECT way to cook any kind of fishy cake. And it’s nice to see that the salmon can come from a convenient can! And that these don’t have any mayo in them… I’m not a fan of mayo.

    Fluffy lettuce! I’m cracking up. Skylar is so cute :)

    1. Glad you love this one and you don’t like mayo? Okay on a sandwich or as a dip, it is key for me…but I don’t eat too many sandwiches lately (other than PB & J)…haha!

      1. no I don’t like mayo! Unless the taste is heavily covered up in dips like crab dip or cheesy spinach/artichoke dip lol. I don’t like it on sandwiches!

  22. I don’t care if these are “super classy” items or not. Those salmon cakes (and all the rest of the seafood here) look amazing. I am going to try the mahi-mahi.

    1. Thanks, Eliot! My point exactly…you can make great tasting food that looks pretty and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Keep me posted if you try the mahi!

  23. I have made Aubrey meatloaf a few times because he LOVES it, even though it completely grosses me out. I haven’t done it in a really long time though. He’s definitely eating less meat now.