Tuna Cakes with Scallions and Lemon

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Fish and chips-type meals like this fella just shout summertime to me.

sunshine and ocean and breeze and sand in my sandwich and unmentionables

May’s end means I’m as close as close can be to putting on a neon bathing suit and pretending to be on Mayflower Beach in Cape Cod.

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But Seattle doesn’t deserve that.

She prefers skinny jeans, thick framed glasses, and hats. Hats hats hats.

Oh. And scarves. She loves scarves.

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She doesn’t love me nearly as much when I’m dropping all r’s and greasing myself to high heaven in preparation for the sunburn of my life.

She doesn’t know what she’s missing either. couscous 203

I went to Alki Beach in West Seattle last weekend.

And loved that shoreline. The beach is beautiful- pebbly with grainy, salted air and positively postcard views of the city. It wasn’t warm enough to swim, but I hear it’s never truly warm enough to swim.

I wore sandals nonetheless.

I walked to a beachside happy hour and ordered the only appropriate things a girl can order when she’s desperately seeking summer: a house margarita- frosty, limey, and rimmed with salt-  and a plate of fried calamari. My friend Camille squeezed lime furiously over all the rings and I, for my part, pierced each one with my fork before [triple-nope, quadruple] dipping into the creamiest aioli.

I loved that shoreline even more, then.

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I’m keeping the beach feel alive with this dinner. Tuna cakes with crispy French fries.

They’re bright and lemony and tender. Perfect for fresh-feeling and easy summertime fare on any night of the week. The couscous adds texture and much appreciated heft.

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This recipe riffs on another favorite of mine: lemon garlic tuna burgers. They’re wildly flavorful, and even better, a rather cheap meal to make. Be sure to pair the cakes with tartar sauce…and French fries.

Tuna Cakes with Scallions and Lemon - an easy appetizer using canned tuna!

Tuna Cakes with Scallions and Lemon

Makes: 8 Servings

Serving Size: 1 Tuna Cake with about 2 teaspoons Tartar Sauce

Calories per serving: 96

Fat per serving: 4g

Super flavorful and light tuna cakes with a quick and easy tartar sauce!


    For the tartar sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • For the tuna cakes:
  • 2 6-ounce cans solid white tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 cup cooked couscous
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons low fat sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and relish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well with your hands. Shape into 8 small patties. Place on the prepared baking sheet and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Bake until dry looking and slightly puffed, 18 to 20 minutes.
  4. Let the cakes cool slightly and dollop the top of each with a spoonful of tartar sauce.

Nutrition Information & Notes:

Nutrition Information: Calories 96, Fat 4g, Carb 7g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 1g, Protein 9g




51 thoughts on “Tuna Cakes with Scallions and Lemon

  1. Ana Maria

    Fabulous. Those look super duper delicious, and I’m definitely jealous of your beach trip! I love the West Coast shoreline, it’s so very wild…
    I’m also jealous of your ability to just throw on a bikini like you’re 5 years old and don’t have any lumps to worry about. Alas!
    One day…

  2. Johnny

    These look like winners! They would also go great with those Tater Tots! We tried those this weekend and they where fantastic!

    You in a bikini would please the Seatle crowd a whole lot better than this beached whale!! You’d look great in a burlap sack! :)

  3. Riss

    Mmmm this looks delish. And something you can eat when it’s viciously hot (as it often is in Atlanta) without feeling yucky and heavy afterward!

  4. Evan

    I love the addition of couscous as opposed to breadcrumbs in this recipe; it’s softer and probably lets the flavors shine far brighter.

    To gild the lily, imagine adding a bit of lemon zest to the mix! Oh, how lovely.

  5. Cindy

    Gosh I have been craving the salty sea air lately. I just want to go, slap on a Moo Moo(how does one spell that?) and let JJ get sand in every nook and cranny he posesses.

    fun stuff.

    I have to make your tuna cakes. HAVE TO. I MUST.

    I have enjoyed my share of neon orange nail polish but never had the nerve to wear a neon suit.

    brave woman! :)


  6. LizAshlee

    I use to make tuna cakes religiously! Travis and I ate them at least 4 nights a week. Luckily, we have expanded our horizons since & now have quite a variety. I use to make them with oats but this recipe sounds great. I love the idea of using quinoa…can’t wait to try and will definitely be checking out the tuna burgers.

    Have a lovely day!


  7. Gina

    What a creative recipe (going on my “to-try” list!) Can you believe I still haven’t made it to Alki after 2 years…Mickey doesn’t believe me that there is an actual beach in Seattle! I’m going to make it happen this year:) P.s. I don’t think I will ever understand the thick framed glasses trend!

  8. sara

    Eek! Do not get into that water. I repeat, do not get into that water! I’m from the Pacific NW, and our first rule is that the water is strictly for looks :)

  9. Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment

    The sun itself makes me long for the Cape — both Bourne and boats (my boyfriend’s family has a house there), and Harwich and the Sandpiper and little girl summers. And the Vineyard. Oh, the Vineyard… those tuna cake remind me of the Vineyard! Hoping to get down there soon. :)

  10. Stacy

    opinion please – would quinoa work instead of couscous? I have quinoa in the pantry but not couscous and these look good. THANKS (you are my favorite Blog and my folder of recipe printouts is mostly you!)

  11. Sam

    Those look delicious and relatively simple to make (a must for this cooking newbie). You also have me craving home made french fries like nobody’s business!

    Would quinoa work in place of couscous? I have a giant Costco bag of quinoa in the pantry just dying to be used up.

  12. Bee

    Mmm these do look summery and fun! I’m leery of canned tuna, but I probably should learn to love since once I’m finally out of my parents’ house I’ll have to constrict my food budget a ton. Also: how do you make baked fries that aren’t horribly burnt or hopelessly soggy? I’ve yet to be able to accomplish this…

  13. maggie

    we’ve been doing a lot of re-blogging of your recipes lately… or planned re-blogging at least :)
    i am making these treats tomorrow and was wondering what kind of sauce you have over the cakes? and if i could get the recipe or link to a good one!
    lastly… i’m using red potatoes for my ff… i have a recipe already but was wondering what your method was?

  14. Pingback: Foodwhirl | Tuna Cakes with Scallions and Lemon

  15. Shannon

    Andrea, what did I do wrong? Mine came out gooey and didn’t hold very well. They were really wet still even after baking. I used Large eggs, do you think I should try medium sized ones next time?

  16. Nette @ This Dusty House

    I made these last night, substituting out the couscous for quinoa – it’s what I had in the house – and they were DELICIOUS. I doubled the recipe because we had a couple guys over for dinner with large appetites and they were gobbled right down. I paired them with some baked potato slices and a huge salad – the perfect meal.

    Andie, I found this recipe yesterday, and ended up hooked into your blog. Love it, your writing, your stories, your philosophy about food, and your recipes!

    1. admin

      Hey Diane!
      It’s just a homemade tartar sauce that I mixed up with full fat sour cream and sweet pickle relish :)


  17. africangie

    Great recipe, Andie! I doubled it (I like to cook in batches), and substituted half of the couscous with fine bulgur wheat, just to add some fiber. My husband and I really enjoyed them. I’ll have to try the same recipe with fresh fish next time (since I live by the ocean where fish is abundant). Thanks!

  18. Cherie

    Your blog is so inspiring! I’m pretty sure I’m addicted to your recipes, so I finally found the nerve to try out my skills in the kitchen. I made these on “workout” date night! Amazing! Can’t wait to try more :)

  19. Jamie

    Can you make these with any other kinds of onions or do u have to make them with green onions? Would it mess up the flavor if i used vidalias or sweet reds?

    1. Yami

      It works great with red onions, just don’t do what I almost did and forget the eggs. Also, for those who don’t like tartar sauce, it works well with a basil lemon butter sauce :)

  20. Karen Kotzen

    I like the fact that you cook with regular ingredients instead of nonfat!
    Lots of luck with your blog. You have a new follower. I found you on Pinterest.

  21. Julie

    I made these tuna cakes today and they were AMAZING! A fantastic recipe, thank you! I also read your book a few days ago and read it in a matter of hours because I couldn’t put it down!


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