Someone holding up a tray of cooked salt cod fish cakes.
5 from 1 vote

Traditional Newfoundland Salt Cod Fish Cakes (Mom-in-Law's Recipe)

These Traditional Newfoundland Salt Cod Fish Cakes are made with some simple ingredients like salt cod, potato, onion, savoury and flour.  They are a tasty, iconic dish of Newfoundland. Comforting and delicious, they hit the spot every time!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian, Newfoundland
Keyword traditional Newfoundland recipe, easy fish cake recipe, salt cod recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Soaking Time of Fish 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 38 minutes
Servings 36 fish cakes (approximately)
Author Dawn Coombs


  • 1.5 lbs salt fish pieces
  • 3-3.5 lb potato
  • 1 onion -minced
  • 2 tbsp dried savoury -or thyme or marjoram
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour -approximately (divided)
  • vegetable or canola oil -as needed for frying fish cakes


  • Soak salt fish pieces 12-24 hours in a bowl of cold water (draining and changing water once or twice during that time - see text above/notes below).  Boil pieces for 15-20 minutes. Drain. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin and all bones, shred fish with your hands (checking again for bones and discarding) and lay fish to one side in separate bowl.
  • Meanwhile, boil potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and let cool slightly. Roughly mash.
  • To pot of mashed potatoes, add onion, savoury, pepper, salt fish and about 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. Stir to combine. Don't over mash.
  • Using a standard ice cream scoop, form salt fish cakes. Pat down to form a patty. Lightly dredge in a bowl of flour, shaking off excess.
  • Preheat oven to 200 F to keep fish cakes warm (as you will be working in batches).  On the stove top using a cast iron pan on medium heat add 2-3 tablespoons of oil.  
  • Place about 4-5 fish cakes in pan, cooking about 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.  Once done, place on a baking sheet in preheated oven to keep warm.  Add more oil to pan, as necessary, and continue cooking fish cakes.
  • Delicious with mustard pickles and a drizzle of molasses. Enjoy!


  • Cook time listed (8 minutes) is for frying one batch of fish cakes.  To cook all batches, it will take approximately an hour or so.
  • Because the salt level of salt fish can vary, your soak and boil time will be anywhere from 12-24 hours soak time and 15-20 minutes boil time.  Plus, everyone's preference for salt varies.  Soak, and boil to what suits you.
  • Keep in mind that there is no more salt added to this recipe.  So, if your salt cod is just a tad salty after preparing, that is ok because it will be combined with the mashed potatoes.
  • Different parts of the cod fish may have more or less bones than other parts. Ensure that all bones are removed before proceeding with making the salt fish cakes.
  • Besides the flour to dredge the salt cod fish cakes, about a heaping tablespoon is used to bind them.  Just use enough until it comes together.
  • Don't overwork your potatoes or salt fish cake mixture. You don't want to make your potatoes 'gummy'.
  • Use your grocery's scale to weigh the quantity of potatoes you need for this recipe (if you don't have a scale at home).
  • Ensure the pan is on medium heat.  You don't want the temperature too low that the fish cakes soak up all the oil immediately, but you don't want the temperature too high that the flour burns. You want a decent about of oil in the pan (about 2-3 tbsp per batch).
  • Don't overcrowd your pan when cooking the fish cakes. Work in batches.
  • For recipe variations, see text above.
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