I made this perfect salmon loaf with a can of Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon. It turned out lovely and tasted great. A real family pleaser and an easy recipe to make even on busy weeknights.
MaryJo has made an old fashioned salmon loaf recipe for us in the past, but not for a long time.
She always made it like her mom used to make and I took the basics of that recipe and added a few of my own touches.
Ingredients You Will Need
First, you will need a can of salmon. You will usually find it in 14.5 ounce size. Open the canned salmon and save the salmon liquid in a small bowl.
Try to get the salmon to slide out of the can in one piece if you can.
Place it on a large plate. The salmon will have a fairly distinct center and this is where you will find the backbone.
Remove all of those little hourglass-shaped pieces and any larger bones.
And the salmon will have some dark skin that should be removed as best you can. Then put the salmon into a large mixing bowl.
I have also used fresh salmon to make a delicious salmon loaf. Measure out 1 pound of salmon on a kitchen scale.
Then, feel along the middle of the salmon to see if there are any pin bones. These can be pulled out with tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Here is a video showing you how to do this.
Cut the salmon into 3 or 4 pieces and fry the salmon in a skillet with a little olive oil on medium heat.
Cook the salmon for around 2 minutes then turn and cook the second side for 2 minutes. The salmon should be rare and red in the middle. If you have thinner filets, cook them for less time.
Place the cooked salmon on a plate and allow it to cool slightly. Then use a fork to break it up into small pieces. Proceed to use the salmon just as the recipe states.
The remaining ingredients are an onion, celery rib, butter, saltine crackers, half and half, large eggs, lemon juice, dried dill weed, Worcestershire sauce, sriracha sauce, anchovy paste, salt, black pepper, and Crisco or cooking spray.
The anchovy paste is optional, but it creates a lot of savory umami.
Making A Perfect Salmon Loaf
When I first started making salmon loaves they tasted great but would fall apart when I cut into them. I knew I had to improve on this.
First, I figured that the vegetables were chopped too coarsely. To fix that is easy…just chop them up smaller.
Then, I read that having a little more oil in the mixture helps to hold the meat together. I used 2 tablespoons of butter to sauté and soften the vegetables.
The softened vegetables ensured that they would mix in well with the salmon and subsequently, cut easily.
Secondly, soak the cracker crumbs before they are mixed in. It makes sense that dry crumbs could leave dry spots that wouldn’t hold together well once baked.
Soak the crumbs in the liquid from the salmon can for extra salmon flavor along with the half and half. (You may substitute whole milk for half and half).
To crumble the crackers, you can place them into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and use a pastry roller to crush them. Otherwise, a small food processor can be used, or just crumble them as fine as you can with your hands.
Thirdly, break up the salmon well so it mixes with the other ingredients.
To combine salmon, I used a pastry cutter. A fork would work too, just take the time to get the salmon separated into small pieces.
The photo below shows the mixed ingredients and the salmon is like a thick batter.
Preparing The Loaf Pan
Finally, I used Crisco to grease the 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pan rather than cooking spray.
It made the salmon loaf fall right out onto the platter. The first time, I used cooking spray and had some of the crust stuck to the pan.
I wouldn’t recommend using butter since it may burn.
Also, to ensure that the loaf cuts well and holds together, press the salmon mixture into the prepared pan so there are no air pockets.
Baking The Salmon Loaf
For this simple recipe, all the ingredients get mixed in a large bowl. Then place the salmon mixture into a greased loaf pan and press it into the corners well.
Put the loaf pan into a preheated 350° F oven for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Then turn the finished loaf onto a serving platter.
Baking Results Of The Salmon Loaf
I find this the perfect recipe for a savory salmon loaf. The exterior had a really nicely browned crust.
Best of all, the loaf held together beautifully when cut. Serve the salmon loaf with creamed peas or white sauce and lemon wedges on the side.
Steamed broccoli would be the perfect veggie to go with the salmon.
Leftover salmon loaf makes a great sandwich.
White Dill Cream Sauce
If you’d like to make a dill sauce, make a roux with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.
Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, add a pinch of salt and black pepper, and around 2 teaspoons of dried dill or a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill.
This is a dish that the whole family will enjoy and it’s packed with protein, healthy fatty acids, and vitamins D and B12.
A can of Chicken of the Sea salmon cost me $4.50. This is a bargain for such a great-tasting meal. Give it a try.
The printable recipe card is below.
Perfect Salmon Loaf
- 1 14.5 oz . can salmon, *see notes Or fresh salmon...see blog post instructions
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 large celery rib , finely chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 25 saltine crackers , (1 cup crumbs)
- 1/4 cup half and half Substitute whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp dried dill weed
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce
- 2 tsp anchovy paste , optional but it adds a lot of umami to enhance the flavor
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Crisco or cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Open the salmon can, pour the liquid into a small bowl and place the salmon onto a large plate. Separate the salmon to locate the larger backbone pieces and larger bones. Remove them along with the dark colored skin on the salmon.
- Place the salmon into a large mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or fork to break up the salmon into very small pieces.
- Crumble the saltine crackers by hand or in a food processor or in a gallon ziplock bag using a rolling pin and place in the small bowl with the juice from the canned salmon and add the half and half to fully soak the crumbs.
- Saute the onion and celery in a skillet with the butter until slightly softened 3 minutes and add to the salmon.
- Add the soaked cracker crumbs to the salmon and toss with a spoon or spatula until combined well.
- Crack the eggs into the small bowl you used for the crumbs and beat together with a fork and add to the salmon mixture.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Grease a 4" by 8" loaf pan with Crisco, (recommended), or spray well with cooking oil.
- Add1/3 of the salmon into the pan and pack it well into the corners
- Add the remaining salmon and pack it well.
- Place in the oven for 45 mins and the internal temperature is 160°F.
- Remove from the oven, rest for 5 minutes, then turn over onto a serving platter.
- Serve with dill white sauce.
- Keep leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Freeze leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic wrap then placed into a freezer bag for 3 months.
- Canned salmon is also available in 5-ounce tins much like tuna and the bones and skin have been removed. 3 of these cans would also work.
This recipe post was updated on August 26, 2023.