Salmon Burgers with Tartar Sauce

If you love burgers but are looking for lighter options, why not forego beef in favor of salmon?

With the arrival of summer around the corner, cooks will be looking for a barbecue dish that will make my guests happy and satisfied, and these salmon burgers will do the trick.

Look for fresh salmon with some fat streaked through it; that makes for a moist burger.

Buy farm-raised salmon only if you have a trustworthy fishmonger who knows the origin and farm of his fish.

Coarsely chop half of the salmon and then add it to the ground ingredients before forming into a burger. The chopped salmon pieces offer moistness to the mixture.

Remember that salmon cooks quickly; you just want to cook the fish until it is done in the center. If you don't have access to a barbecue, you can saute the burgers instead.

The shallot, mustard, lemon and dill in the burgers bring out the salmon flavor. The mayonnaise and breadcrumbs bind everything together. The tartar sauce can be lightened up by using light sour cream and light mayonnaise. If you can find capers packed in salt, you'll appreciate their big flavor profile. Rinse them well before using.

This recipe doubles and triples easily. Just grind the ingredients in batches. You can make these up and refrigerate them 4 hours before serving.

I like to serve coleslaw dressed with lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs to accompany these fish cakes. (Better yet, place a big tablespoon of the slaw on top of the burger and cover with the top.) A Chardonnay with lots of fruit flavors and plenty of body is a good match for the firm-fleshed salmon and a creamy tartar sauce. Similarly, a crisp, dry Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc will pick up on the cucumbers and dill, and cut through the creamy texture quite well. Enjoy.

Serve this recipe as a delicious appetizer by dividing the burger mixture into 24 small patties.

Cook all the patties in 3 tablespoons of olive oil heated in a large skillet; cook for 2 minutes on each side until just cooked through and golden brown.

In a preheated oven at 350 F, warm 24 mini pita pockets. Trim off the top 1/3 of the pita pockets. Spoon 1 teaspoon of tartar sauce into the pocket, place a patty in each and garnish with a small amount of coleslaw. Arrange on a large platter and serve with cocktail napkins.

Salmon Burgers with Tartar Sauce Recipe

Serves 4


  • Tartar sauce
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cucumber
  • 1 pound salmon, filleted and skinned, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, for sauteing
  • 4 Brioche or Hamburger buns
  • 4 crisp lettuce leaves
  • 1 thinly sliced red onion

Recipe Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the tartar sauce until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

2. In a food processor, coarsely chop half of the salmon and set aside. Combine all the remaining burger ingredients and pulse until well combined. Add the reserved chopped salmon and pulse just to combine.

3. Form into 4 equal patties.

4. Preheat the barbecue for medium-high heat grilling. Cook the burgers 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until just cooked through the center and golden brown. Alternately, heat the olive oil in a large saute or grill pan. Place the burgers in the pan and saute for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until just cooked through the center.

5. Put a lettuce leaf and a slice of red onion on the bottom bun; or a tablespoon of favorite coleslaw. Place the burger on top. Garnish with a dollop of tartar sauce. Put the top on and serve.


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