Let’s Make Cajun Salmon Burgers
Give heart-healthy salmon the deluxe treatment with custom-made patties, a crispy panko coating, and spicy aioli. Follow our easy tips for success!
Article, recipe, and photos by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes, Cooks with Soul
When it comes to burgers, I go absolutely nuts for them. I would eat burgers every day of the week if I could. Krysten and I have created several different types of burgers over the years. We have made crispy edged beef smash burgers, surf and turf burgers, and chicken and feta Greek-style burgers. Going into the new year we decided we were going to work a little harder on eating healthier and wanted to find ways to keep with our Cooks with Soul theme. This Cajun Salmon Burgers recipe checks both of those boxes and is totally delicious, besides.
The recipe may look deluxe, but I assure you that it is very easy. Follow along as we take you step by step on the journey to making your new favorite burger.
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How to make Cajun Salmon Burgers step by step
No matter what you are cooking, paying attention to the details will guarantee you put out a top-notch product every single time.
1. Make the spicy aioli
Whenever I make a sauce or condiment for a burger, I always put it together first. Most times I try to make this spicy aioli a day in advance to allow the flavors to really meld, but if you are pressed for time, you can make it while the burger patties are resting in the fridge. My spicy mayo is super simple to make and really packs flavor. A little bit of mayo (I like Duke’s), Crystal hot sauce or your favorite, fresh lime juice, and cayenne come together in a small bowl to make an outstanding sauce that can be used for more than just burgers.
2. Gather your burger ingredients
The first thing you always want to focus on is freshness, especially when it comes to seafood. We like to purchase our salmon fillet from the local fish market or a grocery store with a good fish department.
Sticking with the Cajun flavor profile I decided to add in some fresh red, green, and yellow bell peppers and diced red onion. This mix of vegetables is the basis of the Holy Trinity in Cajun food (minus the celery), and the flavor profile works great with salmon.
Normally I am a meat and cheese type of guy when it comes to my burgers, but for this one, I had to top it off with some peppery arugula and some nice thin-sliced tomato. The spicy aioli that is slathered all over the toasted sesame seed buns takes these burgers over the top.
I always like to make sure to prep my ingredients before I start the actual cooking. There is nothing worse than trying to bounce back and forth between prepping and cooking your meal. Taking a few minutes to prep everything lets you focus and put out the best product you can.
3. Skin the salmon if needed
When choosing the salmon for this recipe, ask your fishmonger for a center-cut fillet if possible. It’s a more even thickness than end-cut fillets. Go with skinless, but if it’s not available, removing skin from salmon is easy with a nice sharp boning/fillet knife. Just lift the skin back from an edge of the fish and start sliding the knife back and forth in little strokes between the fish and the skin, angling the knife blade upward to ensure you are taking only skin and not meat.
4. Saute the vegetables
Once my ingredients are assembled, I jump right into sauteing the vegetables for the salmon burgers. I want these to be nice and soft so that they mesh perfectly with the tender salmon.
5. Grind and dice the salmon for perfect texture
When I make hamburgers, I prefer to grind my own meat, as it lets me control the lean meat-to-fat ratio and also gives me the flexibility to play around with different cuts of beef. For these Cajun Salmon Burgers, I followed that same train of thought and they came out amazing.
I have seen salmon burgers done a few different ways and most of them require a grinder. I am a big fan of kitchen gadgets, but this time I decided to go with a regular food processor — and test out my knife skills a little, too.
To get that “burger” texture you want to make sure that you leave some diced chunks of salmon when you combine your ingredients together. This will give you the right toothiness in every bite.
I whirl up the rest of the boneless skinless salmon in a food processor with a little mustard, mayonnaise, and lemon to make a thick paste that will hold the chunks of salmon and the sauteed vegetables together.
6. Shape and coat the salmon patties
Now that you are ready to form your patties, you want to follow the same rule of thumb as when using ground beef. For best texture, don’t overwork the salmon mixture when combining the ground salmon with the diced fish, sauteed vegetables, and Cajun spice.
For shaping my patties, I like to use a 4-inch burger ring (or 4-inch round cookie cutter) so that I can get neat edges and that perfect meat-to-bun ratio.
To get the crispy crust that you would from a smash burger or cast-iron burger I like to coat the patties in panko breadcrumbs.
7. Cook the burgers until golden
After letting these burgers set up in the fridge for a bit (you can prep them up to 1 hour ahead) you want to cook them over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan with a neutral oil (I like grapeseed oil). These burgers cook up quickly, maybe 4-6 minutes per side.
When they are nice and golden brown it's time to build the perfect salmon burger.
Get the recipe
The main thing that stands out to me when it comes to this delicious burger is the texture. Normally when I do beef or chicken burgers, I like to do a coarse grind on them, and with this salmon burger I can achieve that same texture. Add in the spiciness from the Cajun seasoning and the mayo and the earthiness from the arugula, and it’s hard to believe that this is a healthy meal. Serve up this burger with some oven-roasted sweet potato fries and you have a complete meal that is packed with flavor.
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Explore more of America’s favorite fish
High in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is one of our favorite good-for-you foods. We've got plenty more helpings of articles and recipes to help you get maximum enjoyment out of every luscious bite.