Move over tuna sandwiches, air fryer tuna burgers are where it's at when it comes to packing the ultimate lunch box. Super easy to make, and they can also be meal prepped ahead of time, these little tuna patties are cooked in the air fryer and bound to become your new favorite lunchbox main. Plus they are less stinky than tuna sandwiches which is always a win for the kid that loves tuna but doesn't want the stinky lunchbox (I ALWAYS had the stinky lunchbox so this comes from the heart).
🍔 Homemade Air Fryer Tuna Burgers
These zesty little tuna patties are packed with flavor and perfect for making up some loaded tuna burgers for lunch throughout the week.
They go great in little slider buns, or in full-size buns, and are great for changing things up during the week.
They can also be prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge for about 3-5 days, or in the freezer for a couple of months, making them a must in your meal-prepping roster.
I love using this recipe as a base, changing it up, and adding whatever fresh herbs I have growing in the garden at the time (green onions are a fav).
If I have lots of cilantro then I will make a more Asian-style burger with some cucumbers and red onions pickled in rice wine vinegar, and if I have lots of basil or parsley then I will do a regular burger loaded with lettuce, tomato, and red onions.
🧂 Ingredients You Need
With only a couple more ingredients than what you would need to make up a tuna sandwich, these tuna burgers are super easy.
You will need:
- hamburger buns: choose depending on who you are feeding. For the kids, I choose the mini sliders and make my tuna patties about half the size, for the adults, or if planning on serving these as a main meal, I would use a regular-sized bun
- canned tuna packed in water: you are going to want to drain this and squeeze it until it is really dry. Not doing this will make the burgers harder to hold together. Do not use tuna in oil as it will make the burgers too oily and they won't hold together as well
- eggs: medium-sized
- Italian seasoning: this can be found with the other herbs and spices in the store
- onion powder
- panko breadcrumbs: these can be found with the other breadcrumbs, or in the Asian section of most well-stocked grocery stores. They are different than regular breadcrumbs and make a huge difference to the texture of the burger, so be sure to seek them out
- mayonnaise: this is going to be used in the tuna burger pattie, and also as a spread on the hamburger, so choose the type of mayo you like
- spring onions/green onions: this is an optional ingredient but it really elevates the flavor of the burger
- lettuce leaves: use what you have or grab some iceberg or butter lettuce. I have also used baby spinach in a bind and it worked really well
- tomatoes: whatever type you like to include in your burger. Beefsteak is a good option as you can get massive slices that will be the same size as the pattie, but just add a couple more slices of tomato if yours is on the smaller side
- red onion: to me, this is an absolutely essential ingredient when making a burger, but obviously don't add it if you or whoever you are serving doesn't like raw onion. I know if I put it in my 5-year-old's burger she would gag and refuse the whole thing...
And of course, you will also need some salt and pepper to season the burgers, and whatever other ingredients you want to add to your burger creation.
📋 How To Make Tuna Burgers
These are so easy I could totally send you out to make a big batch with a couple of simple instructions and they would work out perfectly every time.
Simply mix all of the ingredients for the tuna burgers together in a large bowl.
Mix well until everything is well combined.
If making big burgers then divide the mixture into 4 and shape them into 4 patties resembling a burger.
If you want small burgers to be used in sliders, then simply divide the mixture into 8 before shaping them into patties.
Pop the shaped patties onto a tray and pop them into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
This is an important step to ensure the patties hold together when they are cooking in the air fryer.
TIP: spray the basket of the air fryer with some cooking oil of choice to prevent the tuna burgers from sticking.
Cook in the preheated air fryer for about 12 minutes and you are good to go.
💭 Important Teaching Tips
Be sure to spray the basket of the air fryer before popping the tuna burgers in there, otherwise, you risk them sticking and making a big mess.
I use fractionated cooking oil, but any cooking oil of choice will work.
If you are prepping the tuna patties to use throughout the week, then be sure to let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge.
They will last about 3-5 days in the fridge if stored correctly.
If you would like to store them for longer then simply transfer them to a freezer-friendly container and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Tip: freeze the cooked and cooled patties in a single layer in the fridge. Once frozen then you can transfer them to a freezer-friendly container or a large Ziploc bag. This prevents them from sticking to each other.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
For the kid's lunches, I make mini tuna burgers and serve them in sliders with some lettuce, onion, mayo, and tomato and a fun skewer on top to hold everything together.
For myself or my hubby, I will use a regular-sized burger bun and serve the same way with a little sriracha added to make more of a spicy tuna burger.
Other suggestions for serving:
- with a side of salad and a creamy dressing to keep it lighter and lower in carbs;
- on their own with a dipping sauce for a simple appetizer or snack;
- with some quinoa or rice (why not try this lemon garlic butter quinoa and spinach).
👪 Frequently Asked Questions
Putting them into the freezer for about 20 minutes before cooking them in the air fryer will help them to hold together.
Uncooked patties will last for about 2 days in the fridge if stored correctly. Cooked patties will last for about 3-5 days in the fridge.
You can extend the life of the tuna patties by storing them in the freezer and simply cooking them in the air fryer from frozen, or reheating them in the air fryer until hot the whole way through.
Air Fryer Tuna Patties (Using Canned Tuna)
- 12 ounce (95grams) can of tuna in spring water drained and squeezed dry
- 1 ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 spring onion white and light green part, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- optional: finely chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or basil
Assembling the Burger
- 4 hamburger buns (or 8 mini buns)
- 1 tomato sliced
- 1 red onion sliced thin
- lettuce leaves butter, gem or iceberg
- Dijon mustard and more mayonnaise to spread
- In a medium bowl, mix the tuna, breadcrumbs, eggs, spring onion, mayonnaise, and seasonings until well combined.12 ounce (95grams) can of tuna in spring water, 1 ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs, 2 medium eggs, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, optional: finely chopped herbs like parsley, chives, or basil, 1 spring onion
- Form the mixture into four balls and flatten them into patties similar to a regular burger pattie.
- Place the patties on a lined plate or small baking tray and put into the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until slightly firm.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (205C).
- When the patties feel slightly firm, spray the air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray (I use fractionated coconut oil). Place the patties in the basket of the air fryer and cook for 12 minutes or until golden brown. You may have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Once cooked, serve the tuna patties on the buns topped with red onion, tomato, lettuce, mayo, and mustard.4 hamburger buns, 1 tomato, 1 red onion, lettuce leaves, Dijon mustard and more mayonnaise
- Storing: allow cooked patties to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3-5 days. Cooled patties can be stored in the freezer for about 2 months and simply thawed and crisped up in the air fryer before serving.
- Nutritional information: the nutritional information here is for the tuna patties only. Not for the burger ingredients.
- Dry/Wet mixture: if your mixture is too dry then add another egg. If it is too wet then add more tuna or more panko breadcrumbs.
- Additions: feel free to add any extra herbs you have in the fridge or garden, Parsley, chives, basil, spring onions, etc all work well in this mix.
- Batch cooking: You may have to cook the patties in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer. My air fryer has two tiers so I tend to do two tuna patties on each layer.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.