Tuna Cutlets: the Recipe for a Tasty and Easy Main Course!

Total time: 35 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist

Tuna Cutlets are a very tasty and simple fish-based main course. The dough resembles that of classic meatballs, in which canned tuna replaces the minced meat; to these, once white bread, eggs and chopped parsley are added, the classic cutulets are formed, flattened and with a slightly oval shape, they are coated in a rich breading and then fried in plenty of extra virgin olive oil.

The result is a golden dish, crunchy and soft on the inside, perfect for any lunch or dinner, ready to conquer adults and children alike. You can also make smaller meatballs or croquettes, then serve them as a tasty finger food, during an aperitif with friends, accompanying them with a yogurt sauce, mustard or simple mayonnaise. You can fry them, cook them in a pan with a little oil, in the oven or in the air fryer for an even lighter version.

What are Tuna Cutlets?

Tuna cutlets are a savory dish consisting of a mixture of drained tuna, bread, eggs, and seasonings such as parsley, salt, and pepper, shaped into patties, coated in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and fried until golden brown. These cutlets are reminiscent of other breaded and fried fish dishes found worldwide. The dish is likely inspired by the rich tradition of making cutlets from various meats, particularly in Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines, where fish cutlets are a common street food. These culinary traditions, blending seafood with spices and frying techniques, have led to the widespread appeal of tuna cutlets, making them a popular choice for quick, flavorful meals.

Tips and Variations

If the mixture seems too loose or sticky, add more bread or breadcrumbs to create a firmer consistency, making it easier to form cutlets.

– Consider adding grated cheese (such as Parmesan) or minced garlic to the mixture for an extra savory punch. A splash of lemon juice or zest can also provide a bright, tangy contrast to the richness of the tuna.

Serve the cutlets with a side of tartar sauce, aioli, or a squeeze of fresh lemon for added flavor. A simple green salad or roasted vegetables make a balanced side dish.

– Swap the parsley for other fresh herbs such as dill, cilantro, or basil, providing unique flavor profiles.

– Substitute the tuna with other canned fish, such as salmon or mackerel, for a different flavor. You can also use cooked, shredded chicken for a poultry variation.

– Mix in some chili flakes or diced jalapeños to the cutlet mixture for a spicy kick. Alternatively, add a pinch of smoked paprika or cayenne for subtle heat.

– Make the dish gluten-free by using gluten-free bread, flour, and breadcrumbs. Ensure all ingredients are labeled gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination.

– Replace the tuna with mashed chickpeas or lentils, and use a flax or chia egg substitute. Coat the cutlets in a mixture of ground nuts or seeds instead of breadcrumbs for a crunchy exterior.

More Tuna Recipes You'll Love

Tuna Sala

Tuna Melt Sandwich

Avocado Tuna Melt Bites

Tuna and Spinach Patties

Tuna Stuffed Zucchini 

Can I Make These Ahead of Time?

Yes, tuna cutlets can be made ahead of time. Prepare the mixture, shape it into patties, coat them in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Alternatively, they can be frozen, either cooked or uncooked, for longer storage. If frozen uncooked, ensure they're thoroughly thawed before frying or baking. This makes tuna cutlets convenient for meal planning and quick cooking.

Can I Cook These in The Oven or the Air Fryer?

Yes, tuna cutlets can be made in the oven or air fryer for a healthier option. For the oven, place the prepared cutlets on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through. In the air fryer, preheat it to 180°C (350°F), arrange the cutlets in a single layer, and cook for about 10-12 minutes, turning them halfway through, until crispy and golden. This method reduces oil use while maintaining a crispy texture.

Can I Use Fresh Tuna Instead of Canned One?

Yes, fresh tuna can be used instead of canned tuna for tuna cutlets, offering a richer flavor and firmer texture. To prepare, cook the fresh tuna fillets thoroughly by grilling, baking, or searing them until fully cooked and opaque. Once cooled, flake the tuna into small pieces, breaking it apart with a fork or by hand. Use these flakes in place of the canned tuna, following the same steps in the original recipe. The rest of the recipe remains unchanged, allowing you to create delicious tuna cutlets with fresh ingredients.

How to Store Tuna Cutlets

Raw Tuna Cutlets can be stored in the refrigerator, in a special airtight container for a maximum of 1 day before cooking them. Once cooked, they can be kept for 2 days and can be reheated for a few minutes in the oven, pan, microwave or air fryer.

Find out how to prepare Tuna Cutlets by following our step-by-step recipe and advice.


For the cutlets
60 grams
Well drained canned tuna
300 grams
to taste
to taste
to taste
For the breading
as much as you need
as much as you need
as much as you need
For frying
Oil for frying
as much as you need

How to Prepare Tuna Cutlets

In a bowl add the sliced bread, dried canned tuna, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.

With a spatula, mix the ingredients to combine them well.

Once the ingredients have melted together, take the mixture with your hands and shape it until you obtain the oval-shaped form of the cutlets. You should be able to get 6 cutlets.

Pass them in the flour.

Then pass them into the eggs, helping yourself with two forks.

Finally, pass the cutlets in the breadcrumbs and coat them well.

Transfer the cutlets to the pan with the frying oil, and fry on both sides until they are golden-brown.

Serve them all together on a serving plate while still warm. Enjoy!

Every dish has a story
Find out more on Cookist social networks
api url views