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sardine fritters

Sardine Cakes (Air Fryer Sardine Fritters Recipe)

Summer Yule
Learn how to make sardine cakes! These sardine fritters are a low-oil healthy version of typical fried sardines. Low carb, keto, gluten-free!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Calories 108 kcal


  • 1 lb. canned sardines 454 grams (I use sardines with the bones packed in olive oil)
  • ¼ cup pork panko
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dill weed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper about 3.5 ounces (99 grams)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • cooking oil spray (non-aerosol)

Optional garnishes:

  • 2 tablespoons chipotle lime mayo
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • lemon wedges


  • Drain the sardines and put them into a medium-sized bowl. Mash them well with the back of a fork. 
  • Prep your ingredients by thinly slicing the scallion and chopping the bell pepper into ¼-inch dice (0.6 cm). Mix the panko, garlic powder, black pepper, dill, lemon zest, scallion, red pepper, egg, and capers into the sardines. 
  • Shape the sardine mixture into 10 patties. Do not try to make larger sardine cakes- they will crumble! My sardine patties were each about 2½-inches (6 cm) in diameter.

To air fry sardine cakes:

  • Spray your air fryer tray or air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Gently put the sardine patties in a single layer on the tray. (You will probably have to cook them in batches.)
  • Using a silicone pastry brush, brush the tops of the sardine cakes with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If you have an air fryer oven, place the tray in the top rack position. 
  • Air fry for 12 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Then carefully flip the patties over and air fry an additional 6-8 minutes. 
  • Let the patties rest for 5 minutes before drizzling with thinned chipotle mayo and sprinkling with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve the lemon wedges on the side.

To cook sardine cakes on stovetop:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Cook five patties in the pan at a time. They will take 4-5 minutes per side. Take care in flipping them; they are a bit fragile.
  • When you are ready to cook the final five patties, add an additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Again you want to cook the patties for 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Let the sardine fish cakes rest for 5 minutes after pan frying and garnish as you would for the air fried version.


This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). I’m giving you the nutrition information per sardine cake, but I'd have about 3 for a main dish. If you serve three people, there will be one sardine cake left for your family members to fight over. ;)
Each sardine cake gives you 10 grams of filling protein for about 100 calories. To make a lower calorie (level 1) meal, serve these with low oil non-starchy veggies.
Another way to make this a lighter meal is to air fry the sardines rather than pan fry them. You can use a lot less oil when you air fry, 3 tablespoons less here. 
The extra added oil from pan frying adds about 36 calories to each sardine cake. That may not seem like much, but if you have 3 sardine fritters, the air fried version cuts over 100 calories from the meal. The little things can add up!
For a higher calorie (level 3) meal, you can pan fry the sardine fritters on the stovetop. Pile on the starchy veggies and grains for your side dishes. You could also enjoy a salad with a high fat dressing, or non-starchy veggies roasted in a generous amount of fat.
Nutrition information is for one sardine cake made in the air fryer. Nutrition information does not include any optional garnishes, such as chipotle mayo, scallions or sesame seeds. Pan frying adds 36 calories per sardine patty.


Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 9.6gFat: 7.5gSaturated Fat: 2gFiber: 0.3gVitamin A: 7% DVVitamin C: 21.5% DVCalcium: 6.9% DVIron: 4.8% DV
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