Pilchard fishcakes recipe

(261 ratings)

Pilchard fishcakes are a flavour-packed lunch or party food that makes the most of a British ingredient. Pilchards are cheap to buy and full of healthy fats.

pilchard fishcakes
  • healthy
  • healthy
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories425 Kcal21%
Fat21.5 g31%
Saturated Fat5.5 g28%
Carbohydrates13.5 g5%

Pilchard fishcakes are quick and simple to prepare, using a very lovely but under appreciated type of fish.

They make the perfect light lunch - brilliant on summer weekends if you have guests over. Alternatively, they're a good starter - either as a single fishcake, or serve in miniature more like a canapé. Pilchards are great oily fish, packed with omega=3 fatty acids which are essential for brain health and happiness. You can buy them fresh or canned and they're so versatile. Eat them in salads or toss them into tomato pasta sauces. Or just crush them onto toast for a light lunch. Fishcakes are usually made from tuna, salmon or cod, but these make a lovely change. 


  • 450g potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 400g can pilchards in tomato sauce
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Half a bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 60g panko breadcrumbs
  • oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce:

  • 45g crème fraiche
  • 45g mayo
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce from the pilchard can
  • Juice of half a lemon, plus extra lemon wedges, to serve




  1. Steam the potatoes for 20 mins or until cooked through, then when still warm, roughly mash the cooked potatoes with a fork in a large bowl.
  2. Drain the tinned pilchards, reserving 3tbsp of the tomato sauce for the dipping sauce, then mix the fish into the potato with lemon zest and juice, herbs, and onion and stir until well combined. Form the mixture into either large fishcakes or small croquettes. Dip in beaten egg then in breadcrumbs to coat.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the fishcakes for 3-4 mins on either side, until golden.
  4. To make the dipping sauce, combine crème fraiche, mayo and sauce from the pilchard can. Serve with the fishcakes while they’re hot, with lemon wedges on the side.

Top tip for making pilchard fishcakes

Add some spice to the fishcakes with a finely chopped green or red chilli.

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