This recipe for Salmon Burgers is the meal-time equivalent of an award show sweep. Made almost entirely with fresh salmon without added breadcrumbs or eggs, these burgers let the salmon design the set, choreograph the score, and steal the show all at once.
My gripe with most fresh salmon burger recipes is that they use binders (like breadcrumbs or mayo) to hold the fish together. You lose the purity of the salmon’s fresh flavor, which is likely what drew you to this salmon burger recipe in the first place.
Sometimes, when I want an extra fast, healthy, budget-friendly meal, I’ll go the canned salmon route, as with this Salmon Patty Recipe. When I’m using canned salmon, I don’t mind some breadcrumbs.
I also have an INCREDIBLE recipe for Salmon Quinoa Cakes in my upcoming cookbook. Be sure to check it out!
When I am bothering to purchase FRESH salmon, however, I really want it to be all about the fish.
Usually, we cook fresh salmon whole (this Baked Salmon in Foil is my go-to) but for a change of pace, I decided to see if I could take that salmon fillet and turn it into the best-ever salmon burgers.
It worked! Instead of breadcrumbs, eggs, or mayo, this recipe (like my Shrimp Burger) uses a prep trick and a touch of Greek yogurt to bind the salmon.
These burgers are light, tender, and moist, and the taste truly is all about the salmon itself.
Rich in Omega-3s and Vitamin B, salmon burgers are healthy and light alternatives to add to your burger repertoire.
Our burger playlist consists of mostly lean proteins, often with healthy ingredients to bind them (thank you, Avocado Burger with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce and Avocado Tuna Cakes), which we love making at home. The use of avocado IN these patties helps avoid unnecessary binding ingredients that subtract from the flavor of the star protein, just like Greek yogurt does in these salmon burgers.
The Secret to Make Salmon Burgers from Scratch
While burger patties with more customary meats (like these yummy Italian Turkey Burgers) hold together easily for cooking or grilling, salmon is much more unruly.
Yet adding breadcrumbs and eggs to bind the salmon into a patty can substantially dilute the ratio of salmon and result in a dry, dense, bread-heavy patty.
Another method of making salmon burgers—blending salmon in the food processor to prepare a patty—invariably leads to an unenjoyable pasty, gooey texture.
Instead, the key technique to this blockbuster salmon performance is to finely mince the salmon with a knife!
Dicing the salmon into especially small cubes and combining them with two tablespoons of Greek yogurt creates a patty that is substantial in texture, yet also moist, fresh, and flavorful because the patty remains mostly fish.
So, trust that you can make this perfect salmon burger from scratch rather than look to buy a salmon patty from a store.
How to Make Salmon Burgers
An overlooked companion flavor to salmon is ginger. Ginger adds great balance to almost any fish. Ginger all-out stars in this Soy Ginger Salmon, while the ginger in these salmon burgers is more complementary than robust.
- Salmon. The base of our burgers. The tiny, diced pieces of salmon become exceptionally tender and flaky as they’re cooked, creating a scrumptious texture.
- Greek Yogurt. Our all-important sneaky binding agent. Not only is Greek yogurt a tasty, tangy way to hold our burgers together, but it also gives them an extra dose of protein.
- Lemon Juice. A squeeze of lemon juice brightens everything up and helps these burgers taste their best.
- Herbs + Spices. Herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, or a mix will work perfectly here and add a touch of freshness. I also incorporated ginger, black pepper, and salt for added flavor.
- Dice the salmon into VERY small pieces.
- Combine the burger ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Create four patties from the burger mixture, squeezing until they hold together. Refrigerate the patties for at least 15 minutes, or until you’re ready to cook.
- Prepare the sauce.
- Cook the patties with oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side.
- Serve as desired with sauce, and DIG IN!
Want to make these salmon burgers on the grill instead? See the “How to Cook Salmon Burgers on the Grill” section below.
The Best Salmon Burger Sauce
I recommend pairing the two tablespoons of Greek yogurt binding the salmon patty with a perfect herby Greek yogurt sauce!
A bit of vinegar, diced herbs (e.g. cilantro, parsley, or dill), and garlic powder mixed together make an easy, yet impeccable sauce for salmon burgers that adds even more moisture.
Though tartar sauce is the sauce most people instinctively seek for fish burgers, using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise keeps this recipe light and bright.
Salmon Burger Toppings
- Grilled Pineapple. Care to elevate this salmon burger recipe to a tropical paradise? Add grilled pineapple! Just as in these Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Pineapple, a pineapple caramelizes on the grill and adds some sweetness that transports this recipe AND you to the beach.
- Arugula. Its peppery notes can stand up to the flavorful salmon burger patty.
- Tomato. A thick slice of juicy tomato is my favorite for pairing with the burger sauce.
How to Cook Salmon Burgers on the Grill
As this Grilled Salmon in Foil can attest, salmon is delish prepared on the grill too. Here’s how to cook these salmon burgers on the grill:
- Heat the grill to medium high (about 400 degrees F).
- Just before adding the patties to the grill, oil the grill thoroughly.
- Cook the salmon burgers for 4-5 minutes per side. Flip them only once if possible. Work quickly but gently so the burgers don’t fall apart.
**If you want to 100% safeguard against the burgers sticking or falling through the grates, you can lay a piece of aluminum foil down on the grill, coat it with nonstick spray, and then grill the burgers on the foil instead.**
How to Know When Salmon Burgers are Done
No matter which method you use to cook the salmon burgers, the best way to tell if they are done is by using an instant read thermometer.
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of your burger. When the salmon burger reaches 145 degrees F, it is done.
- If you don’t have a thermometer, check that your burger is lightly crisp on the outside and that the meat inside is pink and flaky. It should not still look raw.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Assemble your patties up to 1 day in advance, storing them in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. You can also prepare your sauce up to 1 day in advance and store it in a separate airtight storage container in the refrigerator.
- To Store. Refrigerate burgers and sauce separately in airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Very gently reheat burgers in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat. I also like to splash a bit of water into the skillet, then cover it to help the burgers steam.
- To Freeze. Individually wrap cooked or uncooked burgers, and freeze them in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating or cooking.
Other Delicious Burger Recipes
- Chipotle Sweet Potato Turkey Burgers is another quick and easy hit with its lean ground turkey, shredded sweet potatoes, and smoky chipotle spices.
- Green Chile Chicken Burgers use canned green chiles for instant flavor and moisture, without fuss.
- Super Food Black Bean Vegan Burger has a smoky profile while being packed with nutrition.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Nonstick Skillet. This set is an investment, but it works like a dream.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A foolproof way to determine when you’re salmon is ready.
- Mixing Bowls. This set has a size to prepare your patties and one to prepare your sauce.
FOR THE BURGERS:
- 1 ¼ pounds salmon fillets skin and pinbones removed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, or a mix
- 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus additional as needed
FOR THE SAUCE:
- ¾ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, or a mix
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Buns or lettuce cups
- Arugula optional
- Sliced tomato optional
- Place the salmon in a cutting board and cut crosswise into very thin, ¼-inch strips. Now, take a second pass at cutting, going over the pieces in the opposite direction so that you cut the strips into a dice. Continue cutting the salmon until the pieces are very small, about 1/8- to 1/4-inch each. (Be patient. Moist, tender patties will be your reward.)
- Transfer the salmon to a large mixing bowl. Add the herbs, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, ginger, and black pepper. With a fork, mix to combine.
- Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. With your hands, compact each portion into a patty that is about 1-inch thick. They might not hold together at first, but keep squeezing. Place the patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet or large plate. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
- While the burgers chill, prepare the sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, vinegar, herbs, garlic powder, and salt. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ tablespoon oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, gently lower the salmon patties onto it. Cook on the first side until crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Gently flip burgers and cook on the second side until crisp and the burgers register 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 4 minutes more.
- Serve the burgers immediately (on buns or inside of lettuce cups), topped with lots of the sauce and a sliced tomato if you like.
- TO GRILL: Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees F). Just before grilling the burgers, oil the grill VERY well. Add the burgers and cook as directed in Step 5, being careful just to flip them once if possible. If you want to 100% safeguard against the burgers sticking, you can grill them on a piece of aluminum foil coated with nonstick spray. Toast the buns on the grill if desired.
- If you’d like to toast the buns, you can do so either on the grill, in your skillet after you are finished cooking the burgers (cover them with foil to keep them hot), or place them cut-side up on a baking sheet and toast in the oven under your broiler for 30 seconds to 1 minute (watch VERY CAREFULLY).
- TO MAKE AHEAD: Assemble your patties up to 1 day in advance, storing them in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. You can also prepare your sauce up to 1 day in advance and store it in a separate airtight storage container in the refrigerator.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate burgers and sauce separately in airtight storage containers for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Very gently reheat burgers in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat. I also like to splash a bit of water into the skillet, then cover it to help the burgers steam.
- TO FREEZE: Individually wrap burgers, and freeze them in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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