The key to a great fish cake is the quality of the fish used, as well as limiting the ”filler” to allow the mild flavor of the fish to shine through. The problem however is that the filler is often what holds the fish cakes together. Baking the fish cakes instead helps them stay together, and gives you a lighter taste. I coated these with panko, which you need to exclude if you are making a low carb version. Dip these cakes in the Southern Comeback Sauce and you have the start of a classic Southern dinner!
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What Kind of Fish is Best to Use?
I used crabmeat from cans (must be lump crab meat however) and frozen cod in the recipe below.
I have also made it with catfish and tilapia, but it is best if you use whitefish that can be easily shredded (tilapia was a bit difficult to chop into small pieces). You could also chop up uncooked shrimp after taking the tails off.
Whatever mix of you use, make sure the total comes to 2 pounds. Anything less, the patties will be too watery and might not stay together. Any more than 2 pounds and they could turn out dry.
Ingredients & Substitutions:
For the recipe below I used lump crab meat and frozen cod. I have also made it with catfish and crab as well as with tilapia and crab. The tilapia was the most difficult fish to work with as it was impossible to shred and difficult to chop into small pieces.
I have also substituted chives, fresh herbs and parsley for the green onions, and substituted capers for the cornichon pickles.
Illustrated Step by Step (with panko):
These are the basic steps, no matter what kind of fish you decide to use.
Here is a visual summary of the recipe steps. For details and ingredient amounts, see the recipe card below:
Baked fish cakes are easy, quick, healthy and delicious. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, it can be low carb compliant also.
Southern Comeback Sauce
This classic dipping sauce is extremely quick and easy and is a standard to serve in the South with deep fried, battered seafood. I’ve also made an awesome hush puppies dish and used the comeback sauce as a dip.
Comeback Sauce is a mayonnaise-based and tastes similar to Thousand Island dressing (but not as sweet).
My recipe for Southern Comeback Sauce is included in the Notes section of the Recipe Card, along with a classic tartar sauce.
Another great dipping sauce is this Old Bay Remoulade sauce included in the hush puppies recipe. Just make sure you don’t leave out a dipping sauce, or you won’t be asked to “comeback”!
Last but not least, try this tomato butter as a topping or dip for crab cakes!
Make a Fish Cake Sandwich
Fish patties are perfect for making sandwiches. You can easily freeze them and when you’re craving a fish sandwich, simply slather a bun or toasted bread with mayonnaise (or the Southern Comeback Sauce), and top it with a thick slice of tomato and the fish cake. Great any time of the day!
Southern Dessert to Serve with Fish Cakes
My favorite Southern comfort food/dessert is a creamy, sweet old-fashioned banana pudding (with Nilla wafers). No meringue in my version, so it’s really quite simple. Just know that there are plenty of carbs and sugar in this dessert, so save it for cheat days.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The most common way of making fish cakes is to saute them in a skillet with some oil. This method is fine, but you need to have enough filler to keep them together, especially when turning them over. Baking them on a sheet pan doesn’t require breading and they are not moved around until they have set up. They stay together much better when baked.
Yes. If you don’t live in an area where fresh seafood is readily available, frozen fish is just fine. Even when you see it “fresh” at the grocery store, it is often flash frozen and then thawed. Just make sure it is thawed thoroughly before shredding it with the knife.
It is better if you don’t. It is too easy to get it over-blended and that will make your cakes taste very dry. The best cakes have a range of sizes to the pieces, which you can achieve by just using a knife to chop some of the filet and shred some of it.
The first thing I make sure of is to have a good dipping sauce. There are many to choose from (I’ve listed 2 in the Notes section of the Recipe Card).
I also like to serve a green vegetable. Green vegetables, such as chopped broccoli, asparagus, sautéed spinach, is both visually appealing next to the fish cakes, with complementary flavors as well. You could also use bright orange carrots. Just stay away from mashed white vegetables or cauliflower as the colors, flavors and textures are not robust enough.
Sautéed Fish Cakes vs Baked
Of course the answer to which is better between sauteed and baked fish cakes is that it depends on your taste preferences. If you are leading any kind of a low carb or slow carb lifestyle, or if you need to be gluten free, these baked fish cakes are sure to please without all the carbs.
See this post to learn more about the similarities and differences between Low Carb, Slow Carb and Keto diets.
They tend to be a little lighter as they do not soak up any oil. For a tasty version of sauteed fish cakes, this recipe for Spicy Fish Cakes with Panko has excellent flavor and texture.
**FYI: If you want to see all of our fish and seafood recipes, take a look at this fish and seafood category
If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below and any comments others might find helpful. It means a lot to me when you try my recipes, and I’d love to know how it goes.
Baked Fish Cakes with Comeback Sauce
- 1 pound skinless fish filets shredded or finely chopped (any white fish without skin)
- 1 pound canned crab meat lump crab meat
- 1 large egg lightly beaten with a whisk
- ¾ cup thick mayonnaise not olive oil based mayonnaise
- ¼ cup sour cream thick, not light
- 2 tablespoons mustard I used Dijon
- 3 tablespoons chopped scallions or chives or herbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt adjust amount to your own taste
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley optional
- ¼ cup cornichon pickles or capers
- ¾ cup panko or breading optional
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.Shred the white fish filets with a knife or with forks and mix together with the crab. If you chop the white fish, chop it finely. Set the bowl aside.1 pound skinless fish filets, 1 pound canned crab meat
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayo, sour cream and mustard. Add the chopped scallions or chives, the salt and pepper and parsley (if using) and stir all together. Can also add chopped cornichon pickles or capers at this point.Add the fish mixture to the mayonnaise mixture and stir together gently but thoroughly. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour (or more).1 large egg, 3/4 cup thick mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons mustard, 3 tablespoons chopped scallions, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1/4 cup cornichon pickles
- Remove from refrigerator and gather a handful of mixture and lightly form into a small ball. The bowl should make about 15 – 20 patties. The patties will be loosely held together and may seem too moist. Just make them a bit smaller if they won’t stay together for you.Place the fish ball on the baking sheet and gently flatten a bit. Coat generously with panko. (Leave off the panko if you are making the low carb version).
- Bake the fish cakes for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven (400 F preheated). Do not turn them. They should be a pale light brown on top.Remove them from the oven and turn your oven to broil. Move your oven rack to the broil position. Place the sheet pan back in under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes to brown the tops. Watch carefully so as not to burn.2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 3/4 cup panko or breading
- Remove from the oven, let them sit for a few minutes and then serve with lemon wedges and a dipping sauce. (Recipe for dipping sauce is in the Notes section).I served it with asparagus but peas or greens would be a great accompaniment.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup chile sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestshire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 onion, finely minced
- 4 cornichons, finely minced (can substitute pickles or capers)
- 2 teaspoons mustard (can substitute 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced herbs (chives or tarragon are my favorites)
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