Canned Pilchard Fish Cakes

Canned Pilchard Fishcakes - Baked Not Fried Collage showing baking tray and plated fishcakes with salad and lemon wedges

These canned pilchard fish cakes are baked not fried, and only use four ingredients.

Plate of canned pilchard fish cakes with salad, garnish and lemon wedges

We’re often being told that we should eat more oily fish – the NHS recommends eating oily fish every week. It can, in all honesty, be a hard thing to make appetising as an everyday meal, and fresh fish can be expensive. The supermarkets mostly seem to stock salmon and white fish – and it’s easy to get bored of eating salmon all the time.

This simple old fashioned recipe uses tinned pilchards. It’s based on my Granny’s own recipe – though she mixed in fried onion instead of chives, and fried the fishcakes rather than baking them. I’ve modernised the recipe slightly – baking, and adding fresh herbs instead of fried onions, makes the recipe not only lower fat, but also easier and less demanding to make.

Baking Tray of Canned Pilchard Fishcakes

I found that using fresh chives for these canned pilchard fish cakes added a freshness to the fish that made all the difference – but if you’re watching the pennies  you can skip them, or use dried instead. These made a satisfying supper for two and a little one when served with a substantial salad, but would be just as good as a starter, or with good old chips. I find by baking the potatoes instead of mashing the fishcakes are firmer. If you have leftover potato, though, this meal can be made in under half an hour.

5 from 7 votes
Plate of canned pilchard fish cakes with salad, garnish and lemon wedges
canned pilchard fish cakes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins

An elegant, easy fish cake made from tinned pilchards

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: British
Servings: 3
Calories: 392 kcal
Author: Lizzie
  • Plenty of mashed potato - leftover is fine. I made it fresh from 4 baking potatoes
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • 1 400 g tin of pilchards in tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • butter margarine or oil for greasing
  1. If you don't have leftover mash, start by washing and stabbing your potatoes and putting them in the microwave until they are cooked. Then scoop the insides out and mash.

  2. Next, mash your fish. I prefer to take out the bones from the middle of the fish but this is optional. Snip the chives into small pieces and mix them into the fish, along with the potatoes. Beat the egg and mix it in well.
  3. Find two baking trays with reliable non stick - or give them a very good greasing. Blob handfuls of mixture onto the tray and press them down with a fork. Keep them quite small as the finished cakes are quite soft. I made 18 fairly small fishcakes from this mixture. If you want to make them bigger try adding an extra egg.
  4. Cook them on gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes, until hot all the way through and golden brown on the top.
  5. We served them with a fresh green salad with a lemon dressing- but chips would be good too!


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