Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes

These easy to make, gluten-free fish cakes are really delicious, versatile and not overly fishy! They can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen.

We were on holiday recently and after a particularly long and delightful, but rather strenuous, hill walk neither of us had the energy to go out to find a pub to eat in. I knew we had a few things in the fridge as I had come semi-prepared and so decided to make fish cakes. Unfortunately I had no gluten-free flour so had to make do with coating them in oats. It worked, but was pleased to try the recipe again on return from holiday and refine and improve it with the addition of gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Rest assured though, if you find yourself in a tight spot and are flour-less and breadcrumb-less, making the cakes and simply egging and coating in gluten-free porridge oats works pretty well.

You can use any flavour smoked mackerel for these fish cakes. I tend to use the peppered ones as we really like them and it gives a bit of zing without being too fierce! Leftover mashed potato works well, though I confess there rarely is any leftover mash in our house...

Gluten-Free Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes

Moreish, delicious gluten-free smoked mackerel fish cakes....yum.


To make 10 good size fish cakes:

You can easily halve this recipe if you want to make a smaller amount but they do freeze well. I usually serve 2 per person for a main meal.

  • 500g unpeeled potatoes
  • 300g/1 pack smoked mackerel
  • 1 red onion or 4 spring onions
  • 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • 20g/large knob of butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g gluten-free plain flour
  • 150g gluten-free breadcrumbs (see note below)


  • Peel, chop and boil the potatoes in salted water for around 20 minutes until cooked.
  • Drain and mash with the butter.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Allow to cool for a little while before adding the other ingredients. The cooler the potato is, the easier it will be to make the fish cakes.
  • Skin and flake the mackerel into a food processor bowl, carefully removing all the bones.
  • Add the red onion or spring onion, finely chopped.
  • Add the horseradish to the bowl and blend in the food processor to make a smooth mixture.
  • Add the mixture to the potato and stir well. I don't food process the mash as I find it goes a funny texture if you do so I prefer to stir in the mash to the mixture at the end.
  • Taste your mixture and add seasoning or more horseradish as required.
  • Divide the mixture into 10 equal portions and form into round fish cake shapes.
  • Put the flour onto a plate.
  • Break the eggs into a bowl and beat gently.
  • Put the breadcrumbs onto a second plate.
  • Take each fish cake and coat in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
  • Put the fish cakes onto a flat baking tray or plate and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking or freeze at this point (see note below).
  • To cook from chilled, fry in a little oil for until golden brown on each side and heated through. I find this takes around 5-10 minutes. You will need to turn the fish cakes several times to ensure that they don't burn.
  • To cook from frozen, place the fish cakes on a baking tray and brush with oil. Cook in a preheated oven at 210°C/190°C fan/425°F/gas mark 7 for around 25-30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Turn halfway through cooking.

Other fish works well too in these fish cakes. Simply cook the fish of your choice - cod, haddock, salmon - and use in place of the smoked mackerel. You may want to alter your seasoning slightly. For example you could make salmon and dill fish cakes or smoked haddock and turmeric.

To freeze the fish cakes open freeze on a baking tray until they are frozen. Once frozen individually, store in a container of your choice.

I like to keep breadcrumbs in the freezer ready for any recipes I choose to make. I usually use the crusts or odd leftover pieces of gluten-free bread or rolls and simply whizz them up in the food processor until they are fine breadcrumbs. I then store in the freezer and use from frozen. I do find just occasionally if I let them defrost before use they can be a little soggy. If this is case I simply spread onto a baking tray and heat in the oven for a few minutes until they are dried out.