Air Fryer Buffalo Tuna Cakes

Air Fryer Buffalo Tuna Cakes

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These buffalo tuna cakes transform packaged or canned tuna into cheesy, crispy cakes with 17 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbs, and 170 calories each. They come together in about 20 minutes and reheat great for a meal prep snack.

It’s a super easy recipe so I’ll cover a few ingredient substitutions and drop a few options for dips below. And you’ll find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. 

Step 1: Mix tuna with breadcrumbs, shredded cheese, spices, buffalo or hot sauce, and an egg. 

tuna, breadcrumbs, parmesan, cheddar, buffalo sauce, spices, and an egg in a mixing bowl

The recipe calls for two packs of albacore white tuna for a total of 5.2 ounces. If you have a 5-ounce can of tuna in water, that should work just fine. 

As for the cheese, I would keep the parmesan in at all costs. But you could swap the cheddar for another soft cheese like monterey jack or mozzarella. 

For the buffalo sauce, I used Frank’s RedHot like in my buffalo chicken mac and cheese and pressure cooker buffalo chicken. I’m sure you could use any hot sauce you have on hand, though. 

And finally, if you need a gluten free or lower carb substitute for breadcrumbs, you could use crushed pork rinds or store bought gluten free breadcrumbs. 

Step 2: Form the tuna cakes.

tuna cakes mixture in 4 pieces before forming and air frying

You can eyeball this step but for perfectly even tuna cakes, weigh each piece out. The entire batch should weigh around 350 grams for a total of four 88-gram tuna cakes. 

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, I bet you could use a large spoon or scoop to make each ball and flatten them with a rubber spatula before transferring to the air fryer. Though they are really easy to handle and form by hand! 

Step 3: Air fry (or bake) at 400ºF for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. 

tuna cakes in the Ninja Foodi air fryer basket before cooking

I used my trust 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for air frying. Different air fryers may require minor time/temp adjustments. I always recommend starting on the lower end of a time range and checking on them to avoid burning. You can extend as needed. 

If you don’t have an air fryer, I’ve found my oven comes pretty close for most air fried recipes in terms of temp and time guidelines. I’d throw your tuna cakes on a baking sheet and start with the 400ºF for 10-12 and extend if necessary. 

When I Dip You Dip We Dip

air fried buffalo tuna cake on a plate with Greek yogurt dip on top

I made a few different dips when testing this recipe. All of them used fat free Greek yogurt as a base.

The easiest dip is just a simple yogurt + buffalo sauce mixture. I’d use a 4:1 Greek yogurt to buffalo sauce ratio (1/4 C yogurt to 1 tablespoon sauce should do it). You can always add more sauce. I also have a buffalo ranch dip in my buffalo ground chicken bites recipe.

To add a bit of freshness via the dip, you could play around with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, a pinch of lemon zest, parsley flakes, and a pinch of salt and black pepper. 

And depending on who you ask, blue cheese is always a safe bet when pairing with buffalo. I didn’t make a blue cheese dip, but you can find light blue cheese dressings in most stores these days. 

Okay, that should cover ingredient swaps and notes for dips. If you have any additional questions, leave a comment below the recipe card. Enjoy! 

air fried buffalo tuna cake on a plate with Greek yogurt dip on top

Air Fryer Buffalo Tuna Cakes

Yield: 4 Tuna Cakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A 20-minute recipe for cheesy, crispy buffalo tuna patties.

Ingredients

  • 2 packets (2.6 oz each) Low Sodium Albacore White Tuna in Water
  • 1/4 C (60g) Breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz (28g) Freshly Shredded Parmesan
  • 1 oz (28g) Freshly Shredded Cheddar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Buffalo Sauce (or hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

Instructions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Split the mixture into four 88-gram pieces. Use your hands to form patties with each piece and place in an air fryer* basket.
  3. Air fry at 400ºF for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes

*I used a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for air frying.

Each tuna cake has 4 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).

Nutrition facts are for tuna cakes only, no dip.

For Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauces

Mix 1/4 C (56g) fat free Greek yogurt with one of the following:

  • 1 Tbsp (15g) buffalo sauce
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) buffalo sauce + 1 Tbsp (15g) light mayo + 1/2 tsp ranch seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) lemon juice + pinch of lemon zest, black pepper, and salt

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Tuna Cakes Serving Size: 1 Tuna Cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 17g

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20 thoughts on “Air Fryer Buffalo Tuna Cakes”

  • Could you use buffalo tuna packets instead of normal and reduce the amount of buffalo sauce used? Or is the sauce a binder?

    • Great question. I wondered the same thing. I’m sure it would work fine. You’d probably need to add another liquid ingredient in place of the buffalo sauce. Or you might even be able to reduce the breadcrumbs by a tablespoon or two to account for the lost sauce. Let me know if you try it before me!

      • You definitely need liquid if you lose the sauce. Tried without the sauce just to see… yep, kinda dry. Much better with added liquid.
        Also- Mason, lemon pepper flavored tuna with a bit of lemon juice for the win. Any tips on making a Greek-yogurt horseradish sauce?

        • Good to know on the liquid. Thanks for sharing! I’d probably wanna cheat and use a prepared horseradish sauce with the yogurt and some salt/pepper if needed. Though I’m sure there are some recipes for horseradish sauce out there where you may be able to sub some Greek yogurt in.

  • These Buffalo Tuna Cakes were so easy to make and are delicious! I run home for lunch every day and they are quick enough to make fresh or even great prepped ahead of time. These are a definite add to my lunch go-it’s now!

  • These are so yummy and easy to make! I didn’t have shredded Parmesan so I used grated and they still turned out well. I also don’t have an air fryer so baked it following Masons tip (400 for 10 minutes) and it was cooked perfectly. I served mine over a big salad with bolt house ranch. Super filling!

  • I’m obsessed with these!(I added a little sriracha for more heat). Easy to make and taste sooo good! I made extras to have for lunch the next couple days! 5 stars, no doubt about it!

  • What a unique recipe! I love how affordable canned tuna is but I definitely get tired of tuna salad. I have never seen a recipe that elevates canned tuna to a sort of crab cake which usually is the most expensive dish on most menus. I think this is perfect for a work snack or meal with a side salad or even rice?

    For a full meal, what kind of carb would you pair it with?

  • Just tried this recipe this evening. Easy instructions to follow. Used my ninja as well and the crisp after 10 minutes was perfect. Enjoyed a different way to use tuna and it was so simple to make. Also had all the ingredients already so that was a plus during this quarantine time!

  • I meal prepped these and they are soooo good! I grew up loving when my granny made deep fried salmon patties. These remind me of them!! Also I didn’t have bread crumbs so I crush my favorite crackers and mixed them in! It worked for me! I loved dipping these in mustard too 😋

  • Made these yesterday and they are delicious!! Modifications were Texas Pete hot sauce instead of Buffalo sauce bc I didn’t have any. They were amazing. Will be making them again.

  • This was a wonderful dish. I exchanged the breadcrumbs for pork rinds to increase protein level. The buffalo sauce flavor is perfect amount. It was easy to make and assemble. I did put it on broil for 3 mintes to give a little crisp on top.

  • I am not a huge tuna fan but this converted me! Soo Good! I didn’t have an egg so used some olive oil and a little extra cheddar as a binder, worked great.

  • Do NOT sleep on these! So simple and quick and delicious! Followed recipe as is other than substituting shredded mozzarella for parmesan. Baked them in the oven on 400 for 12 minutes and they came out perfect. These are a great quick meal.

  • These tuna cakes are a game changer! I like the occasional tuna salad sandwich but I’ll be making these from now on. We enjoyed them with the Greek yogurt dipping sauce that has the ranch seasoning.

  • These are truly delicious!!!! I recommend using the recipe to make two large patties, instead of 4 tiny ones. I also flattened mine out significantly more than you did for a crispier crunch! Love!

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