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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Yield: 4

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

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

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.


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

Related Recipes

Chips and Cheese Chili Casserole (vegetarian/vegan, GF) – This recipe is why I had leftover Fritos

Pan-seared easy fish and seafood recipes:

Pan Seared  Caribbean Citrus Mahi Mahi with Brown Rice Noodles

Pan Seared Lemon Pepper Grouper with Sweet Dipping Sauce

Szechuan Shrimp Stir Fry with Fried Rice