Salmon Burgers with Lemon Dill Sauce

4.82 from 98 votes
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Salmon burgers don’t have to be tasteless and dried out. I have tips for making flavorful patties using a special ingredient that locks in moisture. Plus, I have a quick and easy lemon dill sauce that complements the fish.

Grilled salmon burgers with lemon dill sauce.

When grilling season hits, these healthy salmon burgers are the first to get thrown on the barbecue. However, you don’t need to wait until the weather is warm. You can cook these burger patties on the stovetop to enjoy all year round. When I’m not making my juicy grilled hamburgers, this lighter seafood option is a satisfying alternative.

A food processor quickly transforms fresh salmon fillets into mouth-watering patties. Adding breadcrumbs binds the ingredients together and ensures moist burgers. Each bite has little bursts of flavor from the herbs and tangy add-ins. Add a creamy lemon dill sauce and desired toppings for the ultimate seafood sandwich.

Fish selection

Sliced salmon, mustard, shallots, capers and fresh dill in a food processor.

Different types of salmon can be used in the salmon burger recipe. Atlantic, Scottish, or Alaskan king salmon are excellent choices to use for the patty. They are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and their fat content keeps the cakes moist. Their tackiness, when broken down, helps with binding. Wild salmon can be used but will be leaner and slightly drier in texture.

There are additional nutritional benefits from eating salmon, like protein and essential fatty acids that promote healthy joints, skin, and heart. Plus, B vitamins for energy, vitamin D, and the minerals selenium and phosphorus.

How to make salmon burgers

Use skinless salmon fillets and cut them into smaller chunks. This size makes it easier to break down. I use a food processor to coarsely chop and mix the patty ingredients for quick preparation and minimal mess. Adding tangy Dijon mustard, capers, crunchy shallots, fresh dill, salt, and pepper enhances the fish’s mild flavor.

You can also make these patties in a countertop blender. Although, it requires more stirring between pulses to get all of the pieces of salmon to break down. I like to keep various chunks in the mix for texture so as not to make the puree entirely smooth.

Bread crumbs lock in moisture

I’m a big fan of incorporating homemade bread crumbs into ground protein. When combined with the salmon mixture, it absorbs moisture. This technique creates a starchy paste called a panade. As the fish cooks, the starches swell and form a gel-like matrix, locking in the juices instead of being lost to the hot grill or pan. 

The panade holds the patties together whole, preventing them from drying out. The bread also prevents the cakes from drastically shrinking, like beef burgers often do.

Form the patties

Four lightly seasoned salmon patties on a sheet pan ready to be grilled.

The recipe yields hearty salmon burgers, about 7 ounces in size. Divide the mixture into four equal portions, then shape into ¾-inch thick rounds. Make them about 4 inches wide, fitting perfectly in standard-size buns. You can flatten them more, but keep an eye on cooking time. 

I like to briefly refrigerate the patties while preparing the sauce so that the fat in the fish firms up; 15 to 30 minutes is ideal. This step makes it easier to transfer onto the cooking surface. If meal prepping, they can be placed on parchment paper lined sheet pans, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Barbecue vs. stovetop

Grilling: The barbecue grill sends intense radiant heat from the bottom heating element to the grates, encouraging browning when in contact with the salmon. Use medium heat to prevent overcooking. Close the lid for a consistent hot air environment, similar to the oven.

Stovetop: Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat to cook the fish thoroughly. The pan temperature will be scorching, but it loses a lot of warmth with no lid. I use a grill pan to look similar to barbecuing, but it lacks that smokey taste. Cast iron or nonstick pan also works well for a crisp surface but will not leave dark char marks. Make sure to use 1 tablespoon of olive oil on flat pans.

How to cook salmon burgers

Salmon patties with dark grill lines on a table with avocado, onions, bibb lettuce and tomato.

The burgers can be cooked on the barbeque or the stovetop. No matter the method, brush olive oil on both sides of the patties before cooking for additional insurance to prevent sticking.

Cook for 2 to 4 minutes per side, flipping over once the surface is golden brown or char marks form. The salmon patty is done cooking when the internal temperature reaches about 130ºF (54ºC). This prevents the fish from becoming dry.

Lemon dill sauce

A creamy citrus herb sauce complements the salty flavor of the salmon. Fresh dill, sliced basil, minced shallots, lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon mustard, and spicy cayenne pepper are added to a creamy mayonnaise base. Spread it on the bottom toasted bun to prevent the bread from getting soggy due to the heat of the salmon.

Build your burger

There’s no need to rest the salmon patties like with red meat. You can enjoy them right away. I prefer sturdy burger buns like brioche, which also adds a gourmet taste to the rich egg bread. Toast the buns, then add the lemon dill sauce. Customize the burger toppings like crisp butter leaf lettuce, sliced red onions, creamy avocado, and ripe tomatoes.

Flavor variations

This recipe for salmon burgers is easy to customize! Try these exciting ways to switch up the flavor of each meal:

  • Spicy: Sprinkle the patties with cajun seasoning or use my burger seasoning and add some chili powder or cayenne. Add freshly chopped jalapenos or canned chilies to the patties for a fiery kick.
  • Teriyaki: Glaze the patties with teriyaki sauce and top with grilled pineapple slices.
  • Barbecue: Layer on some homemade barbecue sauce to the salmon burger, or even top with crispy onion rings.
  • Meditteranean: Add freshly chopped herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley. Minced olives, sundried tomatoes, and feta cheese deliver sweet, briny, and tangy flavors.
  • Thai: Add some yellow, green, or red curry paste to the salmon patties. Add a splash of coconut milk, chopped basil, and lime zest. Top with my crunchy Thai salad with peanut sauce, or serve on the side.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

How do you keep salmon patties from falling apart?

Add a starchy component like traditional or panko breadcrumbs or crushed crackers to the salmon patty mixture. When hydrated and cooked, the starches in the bread gel together, preventing the salmon patties from crumbly apart.

What is the white stuff coming out of the salmon burger?

When cooking salmon, you might see white-colored coagulated protein that is semi-solid on the sides. This is a natural liquid from the fish called albumin, similar to the consistency of egg whites. It’s safe to eat! This happens less in a salmon patty as all of the ingredients are processed together, compared to whole salmon pieces.

What kind of cheese goes with salmon?

Havarti, swiss, gouda, mozzarella, soft-ripened cheese brie, or crumbly and tangy feta or queso fresco. Use a cheese that complements the salmon and does not overpower the taste.

Grilled salmon burger with on a cutting board with a tooth pick holding the sandwich together.

Recipe Science

How long to cook the fish patties

Timing is crucial, as fish does not need additional time to rest and does not experience carryover cooking to the extent of beef. Therefore cook until the surface develops golden brown sear marks and the internal temperature reaches about 130ºF (54ºC). Fish can overcook quickly, so don’t leave it on the grill or pan once it reaches the doneness temperature. The entire process only takes about 6 to 8 minutes.

Salmon Burgers with Lemon Dill Sauce

Healthy salmon burgers grilled to perfection and served with a homemade lemon dill sauce.
4.82 from 98 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

Salmon Patties

  • 1 ½ pound salmon fillet, skinless
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs

Lemon Dill Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons sliced basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Burger Fixings

  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 8 slices red onion
  • 4 pieces butter leaf lettuce, or iceberg

Instructions 

Salmon Patties

  • Cut the Salmon Fillet – If still attached, remove the skin from the fish. Cut the salmon fillet into 1-inch pieces. Trim off and discard any grey areas from beneath the fillet.
  • Make the Patties – In a food processor or blender, add salmon cubes, dijon mustard, shallots, capers, dill, salt, and pepper. Pulse and scrape down sides until coarsely ground. There should be some small chunks and not overly pureed.
  • Make a Panade – Transfer the salmon mixture to a medium-sized bowl.  Add the breadcrumbs, mix with a spatula until combined.
  • Form the Patties – Evenly divide the salmon mixture into four portions, about 7 ounces each. Shape into 4-inch wide patties, about 3/4-inch thick. Lightly brush each side of the patties with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Lemon Dill Sauce

  • Make the Lemon Dill Sauce – In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, shallots, basil, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper.

Cook the Burgers

  • Cook on the Stovetop Heat a grill pan, large cast iron, or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Evenly grease the surface of the pan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add patties. Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 130ºF (54ºC), about 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Cook on the Barbecue Heat grill over medium heat. Clean and oil the grill grates. Once hot, add the patties. Cover and cook until char marks appear, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, cover, and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 130ºF (54ºC), about 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Toast the Buns – Right before serving, grill the buns cut-side down. Heat until toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add Burger Toppings – Add about 1 tablespoon of lemon dill sauce to each toasted bottom bun. Top with a salmon patty, avocado, tomato, onion, and lettuce.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Make-ahead: The salmon patties can be formed and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator 2 days before cooking.
  • Storing: Cover and store cooked patties for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Refrigerate the lemon dill sauce for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the microwave on high power in 30-second intervals until warmed through. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 344kcal (17%)Carbohydrates 29g (10%)Protein 34g (68%)Fat 9g (14%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 111mg (37%)Sodium 593mg (25%)Potassium 98mg (3%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 250IU (5%)Vitamin C 2.5mg (3%)Calcium 100mg (10%)Iron 2.3mg (13%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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34 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Barbara says

    Hi Jessica, May I know which brand food processor that you use? I just don’t seem to buy the right one and it’s frustrating when they don’t get the job done! Thank you for sharing it, regards Barbara

  2. Maria Terry says

    I used the Lemon Dill sauce recipe as an accompaniment to some pan seared wild sockeye salmon. It was delicious. I will try the burgers soon.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I will have to try the lemon dill sauce on seafood as well, thanks for sharing your experience, Maria!

  3. Irene Miura says

    I made these tonight. I love how you use fresh salmon. I love this salmon burger! Great recipe and I will be making them again. Super easy and fast.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback, Irene! I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the salmon burger recipe.

  4. Monty Peck says

    Hey there Jessica,
    I was raised in North Texas in the 1950s, back when people did not count calories. Everyone in my family is skinny and live a long time no matter what we eat. My mom’s recipes were never measured as you do now.
    She used canned salmon as that was all you could buy. Her salmon was made from salmon, eggs, fresh from the cow cream, bread crumbs, and black pepper
    The eggs and the cream kept them from drying out, but they were baked in the oven instead of fried.

    I had a friend who shared his grandmother’s recipe for meatballs. She was from a small village in Italy and I have never heard of anything like it.
    Mix up whatever you usually make for the meat but make it a little juicier than normal and mold it around boiled small egg yolks. You won’t believe how they taste.

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