How to Make Patties from Anything and Everything

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Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties on a Cast-Iron Griddle

I read an article by a woman trying to get a recipe for the pattiesĀ  her European-born grandmother would make. The grandmother started by removing a covered plate of cooked zucchini from the refrigerator. The granddaughter tried to get down exact quantities with no success. The granddaughter just knew that the dish was delicious. She didn’t know that there was no set recipe and they were different each time.

Here is my guide to making patties. You can use fresh ingredients or pre-cooked. The basics are eggs, a filler like flour, breadcrumbs or oats, and flavorful meat, fish, vegetables, milk or cheese. The patties need to hold together.

Your food processor or blender, even a hand blender, is useful here, especially if you are trying to hide leftovers. My kids don’t notice things they usually refuse, like beans. Of course you can always chop by hand and stir.


All ingredients are optional except for the eggs and flour, along with either fish, meat or vegetables.

  1. Start with a dry food processor.
  2. (Add fresh parsley, dill or coriander and chop until fine.)
  3. (Peel and cut an onion in half. Chop until fine. You can add celery, pepper, carrot, or other crisp vegetables at this point.)
  4. (Add fresh or cooked zucchini, mushrooms, cooked beans, rice, hard cheese or other soft foods.)
  5. (Add raw or cooked meat or fish, including tuna.)
  6. Add eggs. A pound of meat requires one egg. Patties with tuna or a high percentage of vegetables will need more, even up to one egg per can of tuna.
  7. Add flour, oats, breadcrumbs, cracked wheat, or cornmeal. Start with two or three tablespoons. If it’s too liquidy, add more.
  8. (Add seasonings. Possibilities including salt (take into account salt already included), soy or Tamari sauce, pepper, paprika, mustard, catsup, tomato paste, dried herbs, or pan drippings. Don’t overdo it. If you used the herbs you will need little seasoning.)
  9. (Add additional liquid if the mixture seems too dry to hold together. Milk or cooking liquid can work.)
  10. Process until well-mixed. Use the off-on or pulse setting unless you want it very mushy.
  11. Form into patties and fry or bake. Use a non-stick or cast-iron pan to use less oil, or bake. If you fry make sure to start with a very hot pan; test to see if a drop of batter sizzles. You can make them in the microwave, but the onions will take a long time to soften unless you chopped them very fine.
  12. Variation: Press the mixture into a casserole dish and bake until brown on the top. You can top with a layer of tomato paste like a meatloaf. Or you could add a layer of cheese.

Don’t be afraid to experiment, and let us know how it turns out. Please post comments and questions.

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  1. My kids like these kinds of foods. Though not with zucchini.

    Comment on 7: our usual binder is matza meal.

  2. For a while when we would use the juicer Jay would make veggie patties out of the solids left in the machine (the ones the juicer instructions say to throw out). They were pretty good and fairly healthy but had a tendency to be dry without a lot of “something” added.

  3. We’re down with patties in this house. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. I found this website to be great for “loaves” ..similar in theory

  5. let me share one of our faves:

    salt and pepper

  6. I love homemade veggie burgers, but I am a renegade and use neither eggs nor flour šŸ˜‰ One of my favourite burgers is made from mushrooms, courgette (zucchini), wheat germ & oats, and uses tahini & arrowroot to bind.

  7. Very nice that you wrote this as a basic recipe so that anyone can adapt it with the ingredients at hand. I think curry powder or curry paste might be nice as a seasoning for these, or perhaps some zehug or other hot pepper sauce or condiment as an accompaniment.

  8. Thanks for adding the “bionote” to my comment, Hannah. I also like Felicity’s formula of combining vegetables with wheat germ, oats and tahini – sounds tasty and creative as well as healthy.

    I too would have assumed, as you wrote, Hannah, that everything is optional except eggs and flour, but Felicity’s recipe illustrates that even they are optional, which is interesting for the definition of a patty. In Indian vegetarian restaurants, where eggs are not used, they make all sorts of dishes that we assume have to be bound with eggs, and come up with eggless ways to prepare them.

  9. You’re right, Faye. I’ve used soy flour as a substitute, but I didn’t like the taste. A good idea for a post!

  10. Indian cooks often use chickpea flour as a binder. In fact, the first time I tasted pakoras – sort of batter-fried vegetables – I thought they tasted like vegetables embedded in falafel! There probably was cumin and perhaps other “falafel seasonings” too.

  11. Faye, that sounds tastier than soy. I visited a store yesterday that sold Ethiopian products, and he showed me a chickpea powder with spices. I asked whether it was for felafel, and he said no, for sauces.


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