14 Best Ways To Use Canned Salmon

Canned food can have a bit of a bad reputation. Opening a can — whether it's fish, meat, or veg — is never quite the same as grilling up from fresh salmon, pulling a honey-basted ham out of the oven, or chopping veg fresh from the farmer's market. But canned foods definitely have their place in our busy, 21st century world, especially if you know the best ways to use them.

What do we mean by that? For starters, we're talking about dishes that are going to make the most out of the texture of canned fish. While it's not something you might serve up in the same way as, say, fresh grilled salmon, there are incredibly delicious uses for it.

We're also talking about making the choice between salmon packed in water and salmon packed in oil, and here's a good rule of thumb: Choose the varieties that use water. Why? Not only is the oil-packed salmon higher in fat, but some of the omega-3 fatty acids — one of the reasons you might be wanting to add more salmon to your diet — will be drained into the oil that it's packed in. When you drain it, you're draining out some of the good stuff. You'll also avoid that inevitably oily texture that can ruin even the best dish, and these ideas? You're going to want to keep a few cans of salmon on hand for those days when you want something quick, easy, and tasty. 

Pan-fry up some salmon croquettes/patties

Buy a nice piece of fresh salmon from the fishmonger or the grocery store and you're not going to want to turn that into something like salmon patties. But salmon patties are pretty tasty, and according to Mashed, they're actually a Depression-era food dating back to a time when families needed to make their precious pennies go as far as they could. One of the ways to do that was to opt for using mass-produced canned goods, including salmon.

The canned salmon you'll get today is undoubtedly better than what it was decades ago, and there's a ton of ways to elevate this old necessity into a new go-to. Add fresh lemon and thyme, reach for the Dijon mustard, and pro tip? A little Old Bay seasoning will go a long way into turning sort of plain salmon patties into a flavorful delight.

These come together just as easily as your favorite hamburger, just mix your ingredients and pan-fry until brown. While they're frying, whip up a crème fraiche or sour cream-based sauce, and serve. Whether you turn this idea into burger-sized patties or finger-food-sized bites, that golden brown exterior means you'll never look at canned salmon in the same way again.

Think outside the box with a sushi bake

Love sushi? Hate the fact that the easiest way to get it is to either go in or order out? You can definitely solve that problem with a sushi bake recipe.

The idea of baking and sushi might seem at odds with itself, but it's a pretty brilliant way to make the whole family happy — including anyone who cringes at the idea of raw fish. The flavors sushi lovers look for are all there, but it'll also be a win with the biggest skeptics. Bonus? It's a great way to use up some leftovers and easier than you might think. And, since the salmon is shredded, opting for the canned stuff is a great substitute to make an easy dish even easier.

It's so simple it's brilliant: A layer of salmon cooked with some flavorful sauces, all on top of a layer of tightly formed sushi rice. That rice means you can slice a piece like a lasagna and slide it onto a plate, where you can add things like green onions and serve along with nori. If you're looking for a light meal on one of those summer nights where food seems like too much, this might be your new go-to.

Great creative with your pasta

If there's one thing that you always keep on hand, it should be pasta. Whichever your go-to variety is, it's a wonderfully versatile base that lends itself to pretty much anything. And yes, that includes canned salmon.

Well-drained flakes of canned salmon make a delicious topping to a light but tasty pasta dish, especially when it's finishing off an herb-filled salmon fettuccine recipe. Salmon already goes brilliantly with the garlic and parsley, and when it's tossed into the pan at the last minute and coated with oil, it's just downright delicious.

While smoked salmon might be (predictably) name-checked for a smoked salmon pasta dish, there's no reason not to substitute canned salmon — especially if you're in a pinch. With cherry tomatoes, red chilies, garlic, and a dash of brightness from lemon, this dish is easy enough to make for yourself but fancy enough to share with guests.

Mix up your grilling routine with some salmon burgers

It's admittedly tough to get into a rut when summertime comes and the grill comes out. There are a million and one ways to make and serve up a juicy beef burger grilled over charcoal flames (we counted), but there's also nothing wrong with something different, too. Maybe you're too busy to hit the grocery store? Maybe you're looking to downsize what's in the pantry. Reach for the canned salmon and make some delicious salmon burgers instead of beef burgers.

Canned salmon is perfect for this since you're going to want something that's the texture of ground beef. Hold the whole thing together with the wonderfully versatile panko breadcrumbs, add flavors like dill, lemon, parsley, and capers, and either grill them like you would a burger or grab a non-stick pan and fire up the stove.

The sky's the limit as far as serving: Dress up your burger buns with mayo and relish or whip up a quick tartar sauce. Delicious!

Use canned salmon for a hearty bowl of soup

We've all been there. When the weather turns into a particular kind of cold, we've all had that feeling that we've got a chill from the inside out. There's only one remedy for that: a piping-hot bowl of soup. The good news is that there are nearly infinite varieties of soup, and one perfect for a cold winter meal is fish chowder.

And no, we're not talking about clam chowder, either — we're talking about this Nordic fish chowder recipe that's creamy, buttery, and filled with fish. While cod might be traditional, the great thing about soups like this is that there's no way to go wrong here. Canned salmon makes a perfectly acceptable substitution to stir in alongside the fennel, shallots, and (we prefer) white wine.

While no one does wintertime comfort food quite like Scandinavian cuisine, they're not the only players in the game. Canned salmon is a great addition to other types of fish chowders, too, like this decadent fish chowder that contains not only fish but also potatoes, bacon, and peas. While, again, cod is the more traditional fish, there's nothing that says you can't mix things up with salmon!

Serve up this delicacy for something completely different

If you've never heard of salmon coulibiac, that's completely fine and not entirely surprising. According to Mashed, this Russian delicacy can be traced back to the powers-that-be in France, Germany, and Russia, and while there are a few different versions of it, the basics are that it is salmon — and some other ingredients — wrapped in a pastry crust.

It's not only a hit in France and Russia, as it was also one of the favorite foods of Britain's Prince Phillip. While we doubt his personal chefs were using canned salmon for his meals and instead served up the fresh fish he caught himself, well, not everyone can be that hoity-toity. For those who don't have staff making sure dinner's on the table when we're hungry, canned salmon works just fine!

One of the most popular versions of this dish combines the salmon with rice, mushrooms, and spinach, wrapping the whole thing in an elaborate pastry crust. Sure, it might be a little time-consuming, but you just have to treat yourself every so often. Pro tip? Make everyone their own pastry pocket, serve on those fancy plates you don't use nearly often enough, and pinkies up!

Switch up a tuna casserole

Tuna casserole has been a favorite standby for decades. It's been around for so long that it might seem like a charming piece of Americana today, but that doesn't mean it's not a great meal for those nights when you want to just pop something in the oven and forget about it.

There are also many ways to dress this up, so it's not just your grandmother's tuna casserole and one of those ways is to ditch the tuna for canned salmon. While that will work with almost any standard recipe, it's particularly good with a recipe that adds other things that already work with salmon.

Like what? This Dilly Tuna Casserole leans heavily on dill and Dijon mustard while adding texture and crunch with crispy fried onions. Add in some veg — while the recipe calls for peas, we'll venture out on a limb and say you're not going to go wrong with green beans, either — and you'll have a one-pan meal that's not only going to be a crowd-pleaser, but it'll keep those dirty dishes to a minimum. Everyone's happy!

Salmon is for brunch, too, with these frittatas

A salmon dish might seem like the sort of thing you only turn to when dinner time rolls around, but that doesn't have to be the case. Break out that canned salmon and use it as one of a handful of ingredients in a delicious brunch quiche or frittata, and if you're going to be skipping lunch, you can know that this will see you right through the afternoon.

Frittatas and quiches are closely related but not precisely the same: A frittata is more like an omelet, while a quiche (which has a crust) is more dairy-based and has a creamier texture. Those differences aside, the principles are the same — and we're here for it.

They're both incredibly versatile and a great way to use up some leftovers — especially when you're adding canned salmon to the mix and making it a whole new meal! Opt for things like broccoli, peas, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and even slices of zucchini, and honestly, you're not going to be going wrong with adding some red chili flakes, either. Whether you go for the crustless frittata or a pie-like quiche, adding canned salmon will make this a filling and guilt-free meal ... cocktails, optional.

Snack on some salmon dip for a healthy, between-meals option

Snacks are life, right? Right. They're also the stuff of pitfalls and guilt trips if you're trying to make healthier choices, but it doesn't have to be that way. Salmon dip is a great option for a quick and easy snack that isn't going to ruin your dinner — or make you feel like you failed at making better choices.

Sure, you can buy salmon dip at the store, but it's so easy to make at home you should definitely give it a go. The basics are canned salmon and a to-your-own-taste mix of cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Mix in a food processor, then season to whatever flavor profile your heart desires. Add some heat with chilis; add some fresh dill and lemon; add an extra kick of flavor with some capers. You can even go even farther outside of the box with things like horseradish, curry seasoning, or even some Old Bay. 

And honestly, we're here for this one as a dinner in itself. Break open the pack of pita chips, heat up some breadsticks, slice up some raw veggies, and put it all on a plate: Who says that can't be dinner? Then, just park yourself in front of the television and snack away — dinner's never been so much fun.

Try this carb-happy version of salmon cakes

Salmon cakes are delicious, and there are a ton of ways to dress them up into something unique. They're perfect for those days when you want something filling but not too heavy, but what if you're looking for something a little more substantial? What if you've got some carb cravings going on but still want a healthy option? This recipe for rye-and-salmon cakes is so good that we decided it deserves a shout-out.

This version starts with that distinctive rye flavor and turns a few slices into breadcrumbs. There's another curveball thrown in here, too, and that's the addition of cannellini beans. Add in the texture of the mashed beans, the flavor of the rye, and everything that the salmon brings, and this heavy-hitting meal becomes filling enough for a hearty dinner, especially when served alongside your favorite veg ... and perhaps a few slices of that rye bread for good measure. Finish the whole thing with a mayo-and-mustard dill sauce, and it might be a new Friday night favorite.

Salmon pie? Absolutely!

Fish pie might make certain family members drag their feet a bit, but once they try it, they might just change their tune. Canned salmon is a brilliant protein for a light and healthy pie, and this is another incredibly versatile idea. Have some Bisquick in the pantry or some shortcrust in the freezer? There's your base!

The idea of a pie might come with some preconceived notions of a crust, but that doesn't always have to be true. Canned salmon can also be used as a protein substitute in a version of shepherd's or cottage pie: Layer the salmon into a pie dish, and instead of brown gravy, whip up a quick cheese sauce. Add a layer of mashed potatoes to the top (and this is a great way to use up any leftover mashed potatoes that might take up space in the fridge), and bake. Sprinkle with shredded cheese at the end of the bake for a crust that's got all that brown, crispy, cheesy goodness, and dinner's ready in a shockingly short amount of time. Complaints? Who complains when there's cheese sauce involved? No one, that's who!

Impress with a delightfully vintage pate

Uh-oh! Did you just remember that you have a potluck going on at work tomorrow? Totally forgot to go shopping for it? Don't worry! Those tins of canned salmon that you keep in the pantry have your back!

This is also the perfect time to dig out those cake molds that have been taking up space in the closet, and if you don't have any of those, a regular bowl will do. Line it with plastic wrap to make removal easy, then just whip together a simple pate using your canned salmon, some cream cheese, seasonings of your choice, and your food processor. Fill your mold, leave it in the fridge overnight, then the following day, serve it with pita chips, breadsticks, crackers, or whatever else you happen to have that's handy for dipping. It's vintage, sure, but vintage is all the rage, right? And who knows, it might be such a big hit that it'll give you a reason to collect those molds after all.

Tuna salad? That's so yesterday

Tuna salad sandwiches are a great lunch, but why stop there? Reach for the canned salmon, and mix things with salmon salad sandwiches. Your favorite tuna salad recipe will still work as the flavor profile will still suit salmon, and it's a simple yet delicious alternative to often salt-filled cold cuts. Besides, who doesn't love the crunch of that raw red onion against the backdrop of that flaked fish?

There's no need to stop with the same old, especially if you already opt to go the salmon route instead of tuna. You can make many simple additions to turn this sandwich into something even more delicious: Replace some of the mayo with the creaminess of an avocado, and of course, the salmon will lend itself perfectly to the addition of dill or lemon pepper. Sprinkle on some hot sauce, or even add some jalapeno peppers. Don't forget the shallots, and again, because this is salmon we're talking about, does anything go better than a sprinkling of lemon zest? We thought not!

Get creative with wraps

Trying to come up with some lunch ideas that are light on carbs? Canned tuna has you covered there, too, because not only does it make a great sandwich, but it makes a great wrap, too!

Tortillas are one way to go, and while they might seem like a lighter, better option than bread, this is where reading the nutrition labels comes in handy. It's easy to pick up wraps that are every bit as filling as bread but choose wisely, and a wrap filled with fresh, raw veg and some salmon salad is a great lunch option.

But there's another go-to here, too. Canned salmon is phenomenal in a lettuce wrap ... as long as you choose that lettuce wisely. Pro tip? Look no further than Bibb lettuce, a type of lettuce that's not only the right shape for a little pocket full of tasty goodness, but it's not going to rip like many other types of lettuce. It's also important to make sure you drain your canned salmon really, really well before making this one. No one wants to bite into a watery lettuce wrap and have the whole thing slime out of the bottom. That said, don't forget the dill spread, the onions, and just a spritz of lemon for some delicious lunch wraps.