Healthy Tuna Patties Recipe

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These healthy tuna patties are a delicious switch for dinner tonight and they’re made with a clean eating recipe!

Tuna patties are a remarkably easy and simple dish to throw together. They make a wonderfully light meal on a hot summer evening. The flavors are light and delicious and you can serve them with any sauces you prefer.

A stack of theseClean Eating Tuna Patties sits on a white plate topped with fresh herbs, chopped red onion and some bright yellow lemon wedges.

They make a wonderful high-protein meal or snack the whole family will love! You can even serve them with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or mix in some old bay seasoning. Just make sure to read the ingredients because some brands may have unwanted ingredients.

Tuna Patties Recipe Tips

  • Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the patty into the skillet and then use a fork to gently press it down to a flatter form.
  • If you prefer to bake these instead of frying them, simply scoop the patties onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 F.

If Your Tuna Patties Fall Apart

If your patties fall apart in the pan, there could be one of a few things that are causing it.

  1. The tuna was not drained well enough. You want to get all of the water removed or it will cause problems.
  2. Temperature and humidity can vary from kitchen to kitchen, for many different reasons. The fix could be as simple as adding one more egg. Three eggs worked fine for me, but it’s possible that some people may need to use four eggs. So if the first patty falls apart, just stir in an extra egg with the remaining tuna and try again.
  3. The size of the tuna chunks – very large chunks will not hold together as well as smaller chunks. If you find the chunks of tuna are on the larger side, simply put the tuna in a small bowl and mash it a bit with a fork until the pieces are much smaller.
  4. The heat of your pan – While you don’t want to cook these on high heat, you do want to put them in a very hot pan so the egg cooks immediately and holds everything together. So get the pan nice and hot, then reduce the heat to medium heat and cook.
  5. You can add a binder if you wish – Good binders can be almond flour, oat flour, or whole grain cracker crumbs (Panko makes a whole wheat version of bread crumbs). Start with 1 tablespoon. You can add more, but don’t go overboard.

Dietary Needs

These are great for a low-carb or keto eating plan. They are also low glycemic, gluten-free, and paleo.

What To Serve With Tuna Patties

Tuna patties are pretty versatile. Anything you would generally serve with fish will work here. I love sweet potatoes or even sweet potato fries (for more of a “fish-n-chips” type of dish). Rice or quinoa and vegetables are always a great option, as is a simple, green salad.

Can You Make Healthy Tuna Patties In An Air Fryer?

You can! Line your air fryer basket or tray with parchment paper and cook these at 360 F. for 10 minutes.

IMPORTANT: If you opt to air fry these, you will want to do 2 important things.

1. Preheat your air fryer, if it has that function.

2. Definitely use one of the binders mentioned above. And for this, I would start at 2 tbsp.

About Tuna Patty Ingredients

Water-packed, canned tuna  – Make sure to get the water-packed tuna, not oil-packed. No added salt is best.

Large eggs – These do best if used at room temperature, but it’s not as important as it would be in baking. I’ve made these with cold eggs as well and they do just fine.

Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed or bottled with no sugar added.

Red onion – Chop these really well. If you have a different color onion on hand, feel free to use it. But purple onions have a sweetness that works really well here.

Dried parsley – If you prefer to use fresh parsley, use 1 tbsp. and mince it really fine.

Dried dill – Again, you can use fresh if you prefer. Use 1 full tsp. for that, and mince well.

Garlic powder – If you prefer fresh garlic, I highly recommend mincing it and sautéing it first before adding it to this recipe. If you go that route, use 2 medium garlic cloves and mice well.

Oil  – This is as needed for cooking. Use any oil you have on hand. Lightly flavored oils will taste best here.

More Optional Topping Ideas

  • Green onions
  • Shallots
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs
  • Fresh chives
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh basil
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh lime or lemon wedges

How To Make Healthy Tuna Patties

Ingredients for these clean eating tuna patties put together in a mixing bowl, ready to mix for forming the patties.

Stir everything together in a medium mixing bowl until well combined.

Formed raw tuna patties sit on a white plate, ready to be cooked.

Form small patties with the tuna mixture, with your hands (about 1½ inches in diameter).

Two clean eating tuna patties cooking in a skillet as one gets flipped over with a metal spatula.

Cook in a skillet using a heart-healthy oil.

Freshly cooked, clean eating tuna patties sit on a plate with a lemon wedge, ready to eat.

Top your tuna cakes with fresh, chopped onion, fresh parsley, and serve with a lemon wedge. Top these with a little kosher salt or pink Himalayan salt. A little black pepper is good too.

How To Store Tuna Patties

If you have extras or need to make these ahead of time (you can make them up to 2 days in advance), store them in an air-tight container and keep them in the fridge. Make sure they all get eaten by day 3. Fish has a very short shelf life before it can make you sick. 3 days is the max time they should spend in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Tuna Patties?

You can! You’ll need to cook them first, but once cooked, they will freeze for up to 3 months.

To do this, cook the patties according to the recipe. Place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place them, uncovered, in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. Once frozen, transfer them to an air-tight container and return them to the freezer.

Thawing And Reheating

To thaw, let them sit in the fridge overnight.

To reheat, simply place them into a warm pan with a light spritz of oil and flip them frequently until warm.

You can also microwave them, 30 seconds at a time until they are just warm. Do not overdo it in the microwave because they will get dry and rubbery fast.

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Clean Eating Tuna Patties on a white plate with lemon wedge

Healthy Tuna Patties

These easy-to-make tuna patties make a perfect lunch or dinner for a busy day. Enjoy with a squeeze of lemon!
4.19 from 76 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 patties
Calories: 54kcal
Author: Tiffany McCauley



  • 15 oz. water packed tuna (no added salt, water drained well)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • ½ tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • oil (for cooking)


  • Stir everything together in a medium mixing bowl until well combined.
    Ingredients for these clean eating tuna patties put together in a mixing bowl, ready to mix for forming the patties.
  • Form small patties with your hands (about 1½ inches in diameter).
    Formed raw tuna patties sit on a white plate, ready to be cooked.
  • Cook in a skillet using a heart healthy oil.
    Two clean eating tuna patties cooking in a skillet as one gets flipped over with a metal spatula.
  • Top with fresh, chopped onion, fresh parsley and serve with a lemon wedge.
    Freshly cooked, clean eating tuna patties sit on a plate with a lemon wedge, ready to eat.


Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Serving: 1pattie | Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 113mg | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Website | + posts

I'm Tiffany, a writer for MSN and the AP Newswire, a cookbook author, digital publisher, food lover, and mom. I create healthy, clean eating recipes for everyday living.

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  1. 5 stars
    I am a college student who loves to cook and these were such a filling dinner for me! And I even have extras for lunch tomorrow. Awesome recipe!!

  2. Hi, can someone tell me if you can make this dish with just using egg whites or psyllium husks as a binder as I’m allergic to egg yolk.

    Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Marley – I haven’t tried it, so I couldn’t say. I’m sorry. You could always cut the recipe in half to experiment.

  3. 5 stars
    I found these were very wet and I drained the tuna extremely well. I added some bread crumbs and they were much better. Not as healthy with the bread crumbs but worked well. Delicious too.

    1. Bev – If the bread crumbs were clean, then you’re fine! 🙂 (Panko makes good whole wheat bread crumbs) Glad it all worked out!

  4. They fall apart on me, plus they stick to the pan like glue, even though I am using plenty of butter.

    What am I doing wrong (maybe too high heat)???

    Signed, a clueless single guy.

    1. Perry – I would reduce the heat and maybe add another egg. Also, be sure you are draining the tuna really, really well. Water will contribute to them falling apart. Let me know how it goes.

  5. Do you just eat these by themselves? Or do you eat them on bread? Sounds delicious but I’m clueless as to how to eat them 😛

    1. Brandi – I think most folks eat them by themselves, but they would be good on bread as well. Though you may want to make them a little bigger for a sandwich.

  6. 5 stars
    These were AMAZING!!!
    I added almond meal to bind them together more because the mizture seemed quiet runny.
    Definately a recipe to keep:-)


  7. 4 stars
    Made these tonight, were runny for me too, but added a handful of oats! Great recipe!!

  8. These sound delicious. Would they be okay to freeze?

    1. Amber – I’m sure it would be fine. (Haven’t tried it, but there’s no reason it wouldn’t freeze well)

  9. Mine are falling apart.

    1. Flora – A few people have said that. I’ll make the recipe again and see what needs adjusting. Sorry about that!

  10. 5 stars
    Found this 20 minutes ago. Now I’m eating yummy tuna patties. I cooked them in batches, they did fall apart while flipping them the first time. The second ones I just squeezed the extra juice out while forming the patties, this helped keep them nice and compacted. I Also turned the heat up a bit so they’d cook up the moment they hit the oil. They are yummy. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Casey Redafak says:

    5 stars
    Super excited to try this recipe tonight as I was looking for something to cook with wild rice!!! Read some of the posts about the tuna issues, please ignore them! Everyone knows that we just sometimes need to “substitute” to fit our own plans. However, I was looking through my shelves and found that Wild Planet’s wild albacore tuna has tuna and sea salt. No other ingredients listed. Also can-lining is BPA free and they use smaller wild -caught fish which apparently has less accumulated mercury. The cheers to you for posting a recipe (that even I can follow) with items I can actually find at the store. Love your site- CHEERS!

  12. Yum!! Mine fell apart a little, I expected it to be much worse. I did add a tsp of coconut flour and this browned it nicely and bound it together better. Super quick & easy. Two were very filling. I don’t see the problem with this either…wild caught tuna, no salt added, bpa free can and no ingredients other than tuna… Could definitely do worse.

    1. Bekah – That’s an interesting tip. Never would have thought to put flour in there. I’ll try that next time I make them. Thanks!

  13. 5 stars
    I made these for lunch today. They were amazing! I had to make adjustments-no lemon or lemon juice-so I just left it out. My 13 yr old dislikes onions so I sliced up six radishes to get a bit of crunch and texture. Other than that though-no changes. I had no problems with it falling apart because I had my pan hot before I started. Thank you for the recipe!

  14. My mom made these all the time when I was younger. She called them Tuna Croquettes. I haven’t made them in ages, but have been thinking about them. They are quick and easy which is so key.

    1. Laurie – Yes, that’s a wonderful aspect of a recipe like this. I make them for lunch often for that reason. 🙂

  15. YES!!!! I have been wanting Tuna Patties (my mom use to make salmon patties all the time). I’m about to fry them up, a little worried it’s runny but I’m hoping that from the comments, it will turn out great! SO EXCITED FOR THIS!

  16. 5 stars
    Saw your recipe on Yummly when searching for mackeral patties. Thanks for sharing it was very good. I started thinking I had everything I needed. Had mackeral on hand so used it vice tuna. Couldn’t find my dry parsley so I added fresh cilantro in its place. My lemons turned out to be limes so that went in too. I have no idea what “clean eating” means so when my mix was a bit loose I added in panko crumbs to help bind the patties. I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure and form my patties and just pressed down a bit with the spatula after dropping patties into tghe oil. I realize I changed as much as I followed but your recipe was a great inspiration. THANK YOU!

  17. I make tuna patties quite often in the oven – I’ve never actually thought of frying them. I just put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and they come out after 15-20 min, perfectly done and zero oil!

    1. Jolene – That’s great if you want to avoid the oil (I don’t, but some people do). 🙂

  18. Is it possible to air fry this?

    1. Iris – Yes! Though I haven’t tried it yet myself. I would use parchment in the basket to help keep everything together.

  19. Did you serve anything with this for a side? I want to try it for dinner but I can’t think of a side to serve with!

    1. Jaime – Pretty much any veggies will work. Brown rice even. I served mine with a big salad.

  20. Alexandra says:

    So good!! I’m cooking these right now and just sampled one. Took heed to the comments and adjusted the recipe: Used 2 cans of tuna, 3 eggs, 1 heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast and 1 heaping tablespoon of flaxseed (for a binder so the mix doesn’t fall apart), omitted lemon juice and onions, and used trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute instead of parsley (no parsley on hand). I seperated the mix into 12 balls and, in addition, rolled them in polenta so they could be fried and crunchy (sorry if polenta is not paleo..). I preheated my pan in the oven and proceeded to cook the balls on med low on the stovetop flattening them once placing them in the pan. Tasty lil 2 in x 1/2 in fried tuna patties that are not falling apart!! I will be freezing these for Monday’s dinner:) thanks so much for the delicious recipe!!

  21. Very good added 1 tea old Bay seasoning sqeazed out a little before making patties stayed together nicely made sauce for top 2 tea plain yogurt 1/2 tea dill 1/2 tea lemon salt and pepper for taste enough for 4 patties thanks for recipe

  22. Absolutely loved this recipe — it made a bunch so I have lunch for the whole week. Thanks!

  23. Too runny! made it into a scramble which was great, but I would love to make patties at some point! Any chance someone can post a pre-cooked picture so i know what consistency i’m aiming for? I’m looking for a simpler solution than Alexandra’s recipe change. Thank you!

    1. Turell – Did you drain the tuna really well? It is a tiny bit runny, but definitely not a lot. Can you try forming them in the pan perhaps? You could try adding bread crumbs to soak up some of the liquid.

  24. Christina says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe… I am looking for Whole 30 approved recipes and this one was wonderful! Was worried they wouldn’t hold together but they were perfect!

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