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Tinned Mackerel Fish Cakes with Capers

Tinned mackerel fish cakes loaded with parsley & capers and a crisp breadcrumb coating go a long way to prove that canned fish isn’t rubbish!

Preparing these fishcakes takes a while but it is very easy and all of the preparation can be done in advance. Once the preparation is complete it takes less than 10 minutes to cook them.

Tinned mackerel fish cakes with homemade tartar sauce.

Canned or Tinned Mackerel Patties

I have always had a thing for fish cakes, it kinda goes all the way back to my school days… but also fish cakes were the only fish that was considered affordable from the chippy when I was growing up.

Now I have a confession, those fish cakes were rubbish, but I have plenty of examples that I genuinely adore.

I have everything from classic and indulgent smoked haddock fish cakes to spicy Thai tuna fish cakes and some delicious fresh salmon fish cakes to some marvellous fennel and chive crab cakes.

My latest offering fish cake offering uses tinned mackerel and they are stunning.

The idea came from a pasta dish in a Gordon Ramsey cookbook and he was extolling the virtues of good quality tinned fish and mackerel in particular.

The oily fish is glorious with the sharp capers that I pair them with and loads of fresh parsley lightens everything up.

Mashed potato holds everything together before they are coated in a crispy crumb… which I think must be fried in butter.

I do have suggestions for air frying and oven baking them too for those of you watching your waistline!

Overhead close-up tinned mackerel fish cakes with homemade tartar sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make these fish cakes in advance?

Yes, you can prepare the fish cakes and then chill them for up to 2-3 days before cooking them.

Can I freeze these fish cakes?

Yes, once you have your patties breadcrumbed place them in the fridge to firm up for at least 10-15 minutes. Then sandwich a piece of baking parchment between them before popping them in a bag and freezing them.

I cook frozen fish cakes by frying them on one side until golden, then flip them and transfer them to an oven at 180°C or 350°F for 15-20 minutes.

Can I cook these in the oven or air fryer?

You can, although they will never get the same crisp golden crumb as they do when you cook them in butter.

To oven bake them cook them at 180°C or 350°F for 12-15 minutes, to air fry them cook them for 10-12 minutes at 170°C or 340°F.

Can I use leftover mashed potato?

First of all… leftover mashed potato??? That really does not compute for me!

Secondly yes, but with a caveat, the more indulgent your mash the less good it is in this recipe because the dairy content in the mash can make everything too soft and squidgy.

If you are going to use dairy-rich mashed potato then I would use tinned mackerel in spring water rather than in oil.

Close-up tinned mackerel fish cakes with homemade tartar sauce.

Serving Suggestions

I have served my tinned mackerel fish cakes with some homemade tartar sauce and roasted tenderstem broccoli in these pictures.

If you want a warm sauce then a simple parsley sauce would be absolutely perfect.

Creamed leeks are also an awesome side to serve with fish cakes and the subtle onion flavour is perfect with oily fish too.

A nice salad works incredibly well with these crispy golden treats, my pickled fennel salad with lentils would work really well and my samphire and pea salad would be genius too.

Tinned mackerel fish cakes with homemade tartare sauce and roasted tenderstem broccoli.
Yield: 2 Servings

Tinned Mackerel Fish Cakes Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Canned or Tinned Mackerel is at the heart of these seriously indulgent and insanely recipe, forget the nasty 'industrial' fish cakes of your youth these are sublime and so very simple!


  • 350g (2½ Cups) Potato
  • Salt for Boiling Potatoes plus Extra if Required
  • 2 X 125g (4oz) Tins Mackerel in Olive Oil
  • 50g (¼ Cup) Capers
  • 20g (⅓-½ Cup) Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 4 Tbsp Plain Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 50g (½ Cup) Dried Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 50g (3 Tbsp) Butter


  1. Peel the potato and chop it into 2cm (¾) cubes, then boil them in a 20cm or 8" saucepan of salted water (1 use 1 teaspoon of salt in a pan this size) until cooked which should take 12-15 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes and let them steam dry for a minute or two then mash or rice them into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the tins of mackerel, flake the flesh, and add the flesh to the mashed potatoes.
  4. Roughly chop the capers and add the to the potato mix.
  5. Finely chop the parsley and add them to the potato mix, then give everything a stir, have a taste and add salt if required.
  6. Form 4 fish cakes from the potato mix and transfer to the fridge to firm up for 10 minutes. This fish cakes will weigh around 125g or 4oz.
  7. Place the flour in one bowl, and the egg in another and lightly beat it, then place the breadcrumbs in a final bowl.
  8. Lightly crush the fennel seeds, add them to the flour and mix through.
  9. Dip the firmed-up fish cakes into the flour first, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs, then place them back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  10. Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the cooking oil followed by the butter 1 tablespoon of the butter.
  11. When the butter begins to foam, add the fish cakes and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Flip the fish, add the remaining butter and cook for a final 2-3 minutes basting the patties as you go.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 843Total Fat: 52gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 203mgSodium: 1487mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 31g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Alison Cary

Sunday 17th of December 2023

For those of us trying to add more oily fish into our meals, this recipe is perfect. I’m going to try these out on my grandchildren for a omega-3 brain booster!

Brian Jones

Monday 18th of December 2023

I loved fishcakes when I was growing up... hopefully your grandkids do too :)

S Carl

Saturday 4th of March 2023

It seems shrinkflation has hit tinned fish since I couldn't find a 5 oz tin. Made this recipe with a 4.05 oz and it was great. Subbed out the fennel seed for cumin and it was delicious and super easy to make.

Brian Jones

Monday 6th of March 2023

Glad you enjoyed it, I'm gonna have to revisit many of my recipes, I am not sure whether it is UK tins shrinking or there being different size tins available where I used to live in Central Europe.


Thursday 20th of October 2022

Hello, love the sound of this, but what does "3. Rice the potato when warm..." mean? I'm no expert so not sure if its some cooking term I've never heard of or a typo!

Brian Jones

Saturday 5th of November 2022

Hi Betty, sorry it has taken a while to respond to you, I had taken some time out to deal with a family illness.

I've updated the recipe to make my intentions clearer, thanks for pointing out that it was not as clear as it could be. I use a potato ricer to make mashed potato and have for years, I think that they make the best mash, I've updated to say mash or rice and then mentioned a potato ricer :)

I hope that helps.

Thanks again.



Thursday 25th of August 2022

Thanks for the wonderful recipe! I swapped the capers for olives as I didn't have any and they turned out fabulous! I plan to make extra for the freezer next time, they were very popular:)

Brian Jones

Sunday 11th of September 2022

You are more than welcome Elle, thank you for taking the time to tell me that you enjoyed them!


Wednesday 9th of February 2022

Very nice easy recipe, I didn't have capers or parsley and used gluten free breadcrumbs but they still turned out lovely. Will do this one again.

Brian Jones

Thursday 17th of February 2022

So glad you enjoyed it Helen, these are my favourite fishcakes :)

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