Gluten Free Wild Salmon Cakes


August 14, 2017

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The very first time I am developing a new recipe I never have high hopes for the outcome. Usually something has to be tweaked, or it is a total flop and I have to start from scratch, but then there are times when the stars seem to align and I get an amazing winner on the very first try – these salmon cakes were one of those rare times.

Try and imagine the perfect mix between a salmon burger and a crab cake. That is exactly what these salmon cakes are like. I wanted to avoid needing to use any gluten free breading or bread crumbs, and wanted to keep the mixture really focused on the salmon, but capable of binding well together…if you have much experience with gluten free cooking/baking you will know that the fact I was able to nail this combination on the first try was a mere miracle.

For the salmon cakes I opted to pan-sear them on the stove in a little avocado oil, which gave them a deliciously crunchy exterior and a softer, perfectly cooked center. Personally, avocado oil is my favorite oil to cook with because it is filled with healthy fats, and has a very high smoke point, which makes it the perfect oil to use when cooking on higher heats. You also could easily bake these salmon cakes in the oven if you wanted something with a little less oil, or if you just wanted to be able to throw them in the oven and forget about them.

While we are on the subject of salmon, we should also talk about where you are getting your salmon from, which is probably the most important step to this recipe. My favorite resource where I always love to send people for more information on sustainably sourced fish is to the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch. This incredible institute does amazing work to help consumers choose seafood that has been fished, or farmed in a way that has the least impact on the planet. If we hope to be eating seafood for decades to come this matters so much. I love that they also have an app, which can make purchasing seafood while out so much easier. They also have an incredible resource on their website that allows you to search for the most sustainable seafood by the state you live in.

salmon cakes

Salmon is a fish that should almost always be purchased wild caught. There are some salmon farms in Maine that have gotten the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch approval, but that is about it. Just so we are clear, salmon that comes from the Atlantic is always going to be farm-raised as Atlantic salmon was overfished and is virtually extinct. It’s also worth noting that most farmed raised salmon needs to be injected with various artificial colorings to give it that rich pink/orange color.

Next time you are at the supermarket look at the difference between the color of the wild and farmed salmon…you will see a difference. This is because the salmon’s color is based entirely on its diet, and like us…we are what we eat. Farmed raised salmon are fed a diet that is not native to the fish, while wild salmon feed on smaller fish, which fed on algae. Algae is what contains all those amazing omega-3 fatty acids that make salmon such a healthy, fatty fish, and also help to give it their wonderfully rich color. So for both the environment and for our bodies, wild caught salmon is the way to go.

Now let’s get to this recipe.

gluten free salmon cakes

gluten free wild salmon cakes

makes approximately eight cakes // serves four

  • 1 lb salmon (chopped into pieces)

  • 1/2 cup corn meal

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

  • 1/2 cup cooked, mashed acorn squash

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1 tsp curry powder

  • 2 tablespoons capers

  • 1 lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (for cooking)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

  • Cut acorn squash in half, scoop seeds out and discard.

  • Lay acorn squash face up on a baking pan, and spray with coconut oil or drizzle with avocado oil.

  • Bake acorn squash at 400 for 45 minutes.

  • While acorn squash is cooking, chop salmon into small pieces, removing any bones. Also chop chives, and garlic and combine in one medium bowl.

  • Add corn meal, eggs, salt, pepper, curry powder, capers, and lemon juice to bowl and mix well.

  • Once acorn squash is soft, remove from oven, scoop out of skin, and add to salmon mixture. Mix all ingredients together well.

  • Over medium heat add avocado oil to pan and allow to heat up. Next, take ~1/3 cup of salmon mixture, form into loose ball in hands and place in warmed skillet.

  • Flip once the bottom begins to brown (roughly 2-3 minutes), and cook on the other side (again roughly 2-3 minutes)

  • Serve over a lettuce salad with tahini dressing.

Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN

Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN

Megan is a maternal-child health dietitian and mom of two. With nearly a decade of experience working in maternal-child nutrition both domestically and abroad, Megan is passionate about supporting mothers and their little ones through pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond.

Megan especially loves helping to nourish families with simple, delicious recipes that both children and adults will enjoy. All of the recipes at MADRE are gluten free, and focused on celebrating food culture, seasonality, and supporting the nutritional needs of growing children, mothers, and families.

Megan holds a MS in Nutrition and MPH in Global Health from Tufts University, and received her dietetic license (RDN) from Brigham and Women's Hospital. She has advanced training in pediatric nutrition and baby led weaning, and is currently working towards becoming a certified lactation consultant.

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Meet Meg

Mom of two girls under two, and registered dietitian specializing in prenatal, postpartum, and infant wellness. My passion for supporting moms and babies began more than a decade ago, but nothing made me more committed to helping moms and babies thrive than going through my own pregnancy and postpartum journey.

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