Flakey tender fish mixed with leftover mashed potatoes coated and air fried to a crisp golden brown perfection. These crispy fish cakes are such a simple seafood recipe and yet so satisfying. They make a delicious, easy dinner and this brain food is packed with lean protein, and it’s got a delightful blend of savory, tangy flavors and crispy texture to boot.

Overhead shot of platter of golden brown crispy fried fish patties garnished with lemon wedges and minced herbs.

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This recipe was developed for the Idaho Potato Council. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

History of Fish Cakes

Historically, as way to use up leftover cooked fish, fish cakes are a staple in a variety of cultures across the world (from Norway to Canada to the Philippines), particularly amongst communities that live beside bodies of water. For this particular fish cake recipe, we pulled from the classic pub feeling of fish and chips in a modern twist on the classic British version.

While cod was originally the primary fish used in fish patties, any readily available fish will do, including haddock, whiting, or even oily/non-white fish like salmon. Different cultures prepare their fish patties differently–for example, in the Americas, they’re traditionally pan-fried, whereas Asian fish cakes are more likely to be boiled in soups or noodle dishes.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This is one of the quickest, most versatile fish cake recipes out there. Throwing these cakes in the air fryer couldn’t be easier, and the perfect combination of simple ingredients gives them a classic, nostalgic flavor and exterior crunch!

Air Fryer Cod makes a delicious meal on their own or paired with any number of sides. Weeknight dinners and last minute-get togethers will be elevated by this universal favorite. Not to mention, you can use leftover mashed potatoes to make these quickly. And the pork panko breading adds a whole new layer of sophistication. If you’re a huge fan of all things seafood, this easy recipe is a great way to indulge your cravings.

Ingredients for recipe on a board.

Fish Cakes Ingredients

  • White fish fillets, thawed and patted dry – i.e. cod, halibut, flounder, hoki, sea bass all have good flavor
  • Mashed potatoes – leftover mashed potatoes work great for this. Alternatively, 8 oz Idahoan buttery homestyle mashed potatoes flakes, cooked as directed on the package 
  • Sour cream 
  • Salt – we always use kosher salt when cooking
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh Chives 
  • Girl Carnivore Over Easy Spice Blend or your favorite herbaceous Italian spice blend  
  • Eggs 
  • Pork panko or traditional panko breading 

How to Make Fish Cakes

Cook the fish

Start by preheating your air fryer to 375 degrees F and lining the wire baking rack with parchment paper.  Season the flaky white fish filets with salt and pepper to taste and place them on the wire rack.

Let the fish fry for about 10-12 minutes (or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and flakes easily with a fork). Carefully remove the tray for the air fryer and let the fried fish cool for five minutes.

Form the patties

To a large bowl, add the mashed potatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper, chives, and eggs. Flake the fish, add it to the same bowl, and mix everything to combine. 

Place the panko breadcrumbs in a separate shallow bowl. Using your hands, form your fish mixture into fish cakes (around 20 2 ½ to 3-inch cakes) and then pat each cake in the panko. Make sure you gently pat the fish cakes to coat them on all sides.

Then, arrange the fish cakes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow them to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the fish cakes

Preheat your air fryer to 425 degrees F. Arrange your chilled fish cakes in the wire basket of the air fryer. Cook your fish cakes until they’re heated through and golden brown on the outside (this should take about 15-20 minutes).

Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges, and enjoy!

Patties on platter ready to be fried.

Leftovers & Reheating

Any leftover fish pattes should last in an airtight container in your fridge for one to two days. You can also freeze them for up to three months.

You can reheat these fish cakes in the oven (350 degrees F), on the stove, or in the air fryer. If you’ve frozen them, you should allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge first.

Hand breaking open a fish cake to show flaky fish and potato filling.

What to Serve with Fish Cakes

These fish cakes are delicious as a standalone meal or with a simple side of salad or rice. They also work with beef tallow french fries or sweet potato fries (as “fish and chips”). These patties pair well with green vegetables like green beans, asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Close up of crispy golden air fried fish cake sprinkled with minced fresh parsley.

Recipe FAqs


Yes, fish patties are generally good for you. Now, depending on how you cook them and the fish to potato ratio, we’re not throwing out a blanket statement that fish patties are healthy. As with all foods, moderation is everything.
They’re packed with protein, and their abundant omega-3 fatty acids make them excellent “brain food.” They’re can be low in calories and fat but loaded with vitamins like D and B12. Not to mention, they promote healthy heart function!


The key to making sure fish cakes don’t fall apart is limiting the moisture. Make sure your mashed potatoes are relatively dry and leave some lumps to provide texture. It’s also important to use a proper egg ratio–this recipe calls for two eggs per 20 cakes.
If the fish cake mixture feels too moist, add some panko, about 1/3 cup at a time, and mix until it holds together when you form patties.

Overhead image of hand dipping fish cake into tartar sauce.


We hope you enjoyed this fish cake recipe! It’s such a quick, easy, and versatile meal. If you tried and liked it, rate the recipe and let us know in the comments! How do you serve your fish cakes? Do you make them for any particular occasion, or just as a mid-week treat?

Air Fryer Fish Cakes

5 from 15 votes
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total: 21 minutes
Servings: 10
These homemade fish cakes are the perfect way to indulge your seafood craving. Quick and easy, they’re the perfect combination of fresh fish and all your favorite bold-flavored toppings.


  • 1 lbs white fish fillets thawed and patted dry
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes cooled (alternatively 8 oz Idahoan buttery homestyle mashed potatoes flakes, cooked as directed on the package)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Chives
  • 1 tablespoon Girl carnivore over easy spice blend or Italian Spice blend
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 cups pork panko or traditional panko breading


Cook the fish

  • Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F and line the wire baking rack with parchment paper.
  • Season the fish with a hint of salt and pepper and place in the wire rack.
  • Cook the fish in the preheated air fryer for 10 to 12 minutes until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, and flakes easily with a fork.
  • Carefully remove the tray from the air fryer and allow it the fish cool for 5 minutes.

Make the fish cakes

  • Meanwhile, add the mashed potatoes, sour cream, salt, pepper, chives, and eggs to a large bowl.
  • Flake the fish and add it to the bowl.
  • Mix to combine.
  • Place the panko in a shallow bowl.
  • Form the mixture into 20 2 ½ to 3” fish cakes and place each onto into the panko mixture, patting gently and flipping to coat all sides.
  • Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Air Fry the Fish Cakes

  • When ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 425F.
  • Arrange the fish cakes in the wire basket of the air fryer.
  • Cook until golden brown on the outside and the fishcakes are heated through, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Remove the fish cakes from the air fryer and allow them to cool 5 minutes before serving.


  • Serve with tartare sauce and lemon wedges.



We used hoki for this recipe, but you could use any white fish. Cod, halibut, or flounder. 

Oven Baked Fish Cakes:

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can cook these in the oven.
Prepare the fish cakes as directed up until the air fryer stage. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line the fish patties on a wire rack set over a foil-lined baking sheet. 
Bake the fish cakes for 20 to 25 minutes until heated through and golden brown on the outside. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. 
Nutritional Calculations do not include low-carb ingredient substitutions and may not reflect appropriate calculations. 

Pan-fried Fish Cakes: 

Pan fry these fish cakes in a preheated skillet with canola oil. Fry 5 to 7 minutes per side until golden. Carefully remove them from the pan and let them rest on a paper towel lined plate 3 to 5 minutes before serving. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 146kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 377mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 113IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: english
Author: Kita Roberts

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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