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If you’re lucky enough to have leftover cooked fish like cod, halibut, or salmon, fish cakes are a great way to enjoy it! These Cod Fish Cakes are crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful in the center. Fancy enough for date night or a dinner party, but easy enough for a weeknight.

cod fish cakes served on a white plate

Baked cod fillets are a great option for busy weeknights. If you bake enough to have leftovers, you’ll have just what you need to make this fish cakes recipe. You can even combine the ingredients the day before you plan to pan fry them.  The extra time in the refrigerator just melds the flavors and makes the patties easier to form.

Ingredients You Need to Make Cod Fish Cakes

  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Regular breadcrumbs will work in a pinch, but the fish cakes won’t be quite as crispy.
  • Cooked Fish: Leftover cooked cod or other firm white fish. Leftover cooked salmon would also work well.
  • Sour Cream: ideally full fat
  • Eggs: large or extra large eggs
  • Celery: tender, crispy inner ribs are best for this recipe
  • Capers: ideally non-pereil (the smallest version of capers) 
  • Green Onion: or fresh chives
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Lemon Wedges for serving (optional)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
inside of cod fish cakes

How do you keep fish cakes from falling apart?

The fish cake mixture will look and feel very wet, but don’t worry I have a few tips to ensure that they stay together. 

  1. Use forks to flake your leftover fish into small pieces (smaller flakes hold together better when forming the cakes). 
  2. Have a clean plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready before you form your fish cakes.
  3. Be gentle when forming them and take care to coat all sides thoroughly with panko breadcrumbs before transferring to the prepared sheet or plate.
  4. When you transfer the fish cakes to the skillet, make sure that the oil is hot and that each cake has space all the way around for even browning. 
  5. Before attempting to flip the cakes, press down firmly on the top and sides to set their form. Then gently flip. Don’t worry if a fish fragment or two falls off, you can use your spatula to press it back into the cake.

What goes with fish cakes?

On busy weeknights when I want a light meal that I can put together in a few minutes, I often bake cod fillets (like this Parmesan Baked Cod). And I almost always bake extra to make these fish cakes the next day (or the day after). 

Cod is such a versatile fish, you can sear it, bake it, grill it, or add it to chowders or curries. And if you end up with leftover cooked fish, this easy fish cake recipe is the perfect way to use them. Leftover halibut or salmon (like this Slow Roasted Salmon) also work well in this recipe.

How to Make Cod Fish Cakes

Flake cooked fish into small pieces in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, eggs, celery, capers, green onions, salt, and pepper.

flaking cooked fish and fish cake ingredients in a bowl
stirring fish cake ingredients

Form fish mixture into 8 equal patties and coat each on all sides with panko breadcrumbs.

forming cod fish cakes
cod fish cakes coated in panko breadcrumbs

Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry fish cakes in two batches, until crisp and golden brown on both sides. (Keep first batch warm in a 250˚F oven on a platter while you cook the second batch.) Serve hot with lemon wedges.

pan frying cod fish cakes

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Cod Fish Cakes

5 from 19 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 167
Servings: 8 fish cakes
Cod works great for these fish cakes, but any firm white fish or salmon will work well too.


  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound cooked cod or other firm white fish like halibut
  • 1/4 cup whole milk sour cream
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 rib celery very finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped capers
  • 1 minced green onion or fresh chives
  • large pinch of kosher salt
  • several grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil for frying, divided
  • fresh lemon wedges optional


  • Preheat oven-safe serving platter in 250˚F oven.
  • Set out one large, clean plate or platter and one medium plate. Pour panko breadcrumbs onto medium plate.
  • Place cooked fish into a large bowl and flake into small pieces with a fork. Add sour cream, egg, celery, capers, green onion, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Scoop out 1/8 of the mixture and use your hands to gently pack into a patty. Place on plate with panko crumbs and gently coat all sides with crumbs; transfer to platter. Repeat with remaining mixture.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Place 4 fish cakes in skillet and cook until crumbs are crisp and golden brown, pressing down gently with spatula to compress; about 5 minutes per side (turn gently). Transfer cooked fish cakes to warm platter. Repeat process with remaining oil and fish cakes.
  • Serve fish cakes hot with lemon wedges if desired.


  1. You can make the fish cake mixture up to one day before you plan to form and pan fry the fish cakes.
  2. This recipe works well with cod and halibut, but is also great for leftover salmon.
  3. If you’d like a dipping sauce, I recommend either this spicy, Louisiana-style Remoulade sauce or French Remoulade Sauce, which is closer to tartar sauce.


Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 287mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 164IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

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

Leave a comment & rate the recipe below!

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  1. Tracy P, says:

    5 stars
    They were so delicious! I followed the instructions exactly and they came out moist and perfectly cooked – even with GF breadcrumbs! My husband and I politely shared the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. It was tough to share 😉 but we managed.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      What a sweet note, Tracy. I’m so glad that you and your husband enjoyed these!

  2. Patsy Halle says:

    Great recipe I have made these delicious fish cakes a few times and my husband and I both love them

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s wonderful to hear, Patsy! Thank you for coming back to let me know.

  3. Neil Southerington says:

    Have leftover fish just cooked. if i follow the recipe can i then freeze the cakes for next week?

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Neil! Yes, absolutely.

  4. Brenda says:

    so, sorry. I just perused the comments and found my answer to the oven baked vs pan fry.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      No worries, Brenda!