I'm a terrible cook. I knew I could add mashed potatoes to bind canned tuna + mixed veg in order to make a patty that I would then bake on an oiled pan, but I added too much; the consistency is like chocolate-chip cookie dough. I cooked two of them in my toaster oven for about an hour on the lowest heat, hoping to dry them out w-o burning them; it helped, but not enough.

I thought about making thin mini-patties and deep-frying them, but it's too hot for that. And, I assume that I can add panko or crushed saltines -- but I'd be glad for advice from people who can cook. Oh, and I don't use eggs.

(Even though this tuna "dough" is weird, I can't throw it away; I just can't waste food. Worst-case scenario: I'll spread it thin on crackers, like a weird terrine.) Thank you.

  • My mom used to make ‘tuna boats’ which was tuna salad on a bread roll, topped with cheese and then baked. It used mayonnaise as a binder instead of potato, but I suspect it would work with your mixture, too.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 20 at 21:28
  • Thank you, Joe. I'd thought about spreading a thin layer on bread and adding cheese, sort of a variation on a tuna melt but starchier. Best wishes.
    – DWDW
    Commented Jun 21 at 14:26
  • 4
    The bottom line is that "dry soaks up wet", and vice versa.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 21 at 17:04
  • I’m honestly struggling with the combination of potatoes and tuna but that might be a personal preference thing. Either way crackers would absorb moisture. I might try Ritz crackers just because they’d add a nice buttery flavor but that could make things weirder—not sure. What seasonings have you used in the patty?
    – bob
    Commented Jun 23 at 16:39

5 Answers 5


Potato flakes would work, but it’s not something that everyone has on hand.

Breadcrumbs would work (such as your panko). They’re pretty common for helping to bind up crab cakes in Maryland.

If someone else has this issue in the future:

If you have some relatively dry bread and a food processor, you can make your own. (Fresh bread will help some x but not as much as dryer bread; you can try drying the breadcrumbs in a low oven). Crackers or even an unsweetened breakfast cereal crushed up can work as well, but those could throw off the flavor and salt levels.

I would avoid mixing flour in directly, as you need to make sure it cooks fully in case of Listeria, but I would consider coating the patties in flour and letting them sit for a little bit before cooking (so moisture has a chance to get pulled into the flour). But this might end up a little gummy if you don’t cook it hot enough. It would be fine for shallow or deep frying, but might not be great for baking.

If you have time, you could also bake your flour first, then mix it into the patties. (This is used in some recipes for making safe raw cookie dough)

You could make smaller patties (maybe even more appetizer sized bits) when holding together is an issue. This also gives you more surface area in the oven to dry out.

  • Thank you very much for these excellent suggestions + useful info, and best wishes.
    – DWDW
    Commented Jun 21 at 14:25
  • You can also toast some bread in the toaster to crisp it up so you don't have to heat up the oven. Commented Jun 23 at 13:19

Instant mashed potato flakes. More details in my answer to https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/9525/304 . The "plain" or "original" flakes are harder to get these days, with many stores only having "herb and garlic" or similar flavours, but I have had success buying them online.

  • They're readily purchasable in the UK. Flavoured ones are pretty rare, although they do have one with a built in cheese flavour.
    – Richard
    Commented Jun 22 at 12:26

How about adding matzah meal? It is essentially pre-cooked flour, and is often used to bind canned fish rissoles together (see for example this recipe).


Wheat flour is a reasonable thickener.

However, I recommend that you not eat wheat flour in a raw state.

Please, only mix flour into your tuna & potato patties if you intend to cook the patties in a frying pan or oven, or somthing like that.

Any dry edible pulverized plant matter will work as a thickener for your tuna & potato patties provided that the plant matter have a pleasant flavor or unnoticeable bland flavor.

  • 1
    Thank you v much for these excellent suggestions. And, I have a lot of oat flour, which I ground from rolled oats. Thanks again, and best wishes,
    – DWDW
    Commented Jun 21 at 14:24
  • You can bake wheat flour to reduce the listeria risk. I don’t know how far you would have to cook it to eliminate the ‘raw flour’ taste: bakingkneads.com/how-to-heat-treat-flour-at-home
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 22 at 13:01
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Maca
  • Oatmeal
  • Powdered Nuts or nut butter (like almond butter)
  • Or maybe something like ground flax seed

If you're like me and get a little squirrely in the kitchen from time to time, I would probably end up trying something like a premixed Pancake batter that you already have a taste for or get a variation of Cheerios, like Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon, and crush it up til it's acceptable add it to the batter and let it sit in the fridge for a couple minutes.

For anyone who does use eggs adding salt to the scrambled egg that you add to the batter will absorb extra moisture and keep the egg moist when cooked. This is more pronounced/noticeable the longer it sits with the salt added. (For extra Pancake Points: that last bit about the Cheerios is one of two secret ingredients for textbook pancakery by the way. Eggs + plain (or a desert style hummus + {(optional)} Maca + favourite flour to desired texture {(Coconut, tapioca, etc etc)}+ {(secret 1)} crushed Cheerios + {(secret 2)} Jelly [about as much you put on a single PB&J per 2 servings of pancakes].)

Yes, I know you're not asking about pancakes. But what are pancakes and what are patties? That is the real question. Regardless all this is still viable as most of them worked for me with salmon patties. (I end up with mushy patties without one or two from the above list too.)

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