25 Best Sardine Recipes (Canned and Fresh)

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Are you on the hunt for sardine recipes that can be whipped up in a flash for a hearty and wholesome meal (at any time of day!)? These nutritious picks are loaded with protein and healthy omega-3s that’ll keep you full and satisfied for hours.

You might already be a huge fan of salmon and cod (I mean, who isn’t?!).

But you could just be sleeping on one of the richest and most delicious sources of omega-3s out there.

That’s right – it’s the humble sardine!

It goes without saying that sardines are delicious on toast and sandwiches.

But they’re equally incredible mashed up into a tomato pasta or served with a simple Tuscan salad.

In short, these versatile sardine recipes are about to change your weekly meal plan for the better!

Why are sardines so good for you?

Sardines are incredibly healthy as they’re high in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamin B12 (source).

Not only do these nutrients keep you healthy, but they’ll also give you a solid boost of energy!

On top of that, they’re low in calories and are a great source of protein.

How To Choose The Best Canned Sardines

Okay, so you’re in the store, eyeing those canned sardines. How do you pick the healthiest ones?

Here’s your go-to guide:

  • Opt for Spring Water: First things first, try to find sardines packed in spring water. This helps you avoid those pro-inflammatory oils that aren’t great for your health.
  • Sardines in Oil: Sardines in oil contain more fat and, therefore, are not as healthy. But if it’s your only option, go for the ones in extra virgin olive oil. It’s a healthier oil rich in monosaturated fat. Also, remove as much excess oil as you can before preparing your recipe.
  • Salt Content Matters: Check out the label for any added salt. Brands that say ‘No Salt Added’ are a great choice to keep your sodium-potassium balance in check.
  • Rinse Away Extra Salt: Can’t find a ‘No Salt Added’ version? Just grab sardines packed in spring water and give them a rinse at home. Pour them into a colander, rinse them with cold water, and shake them around a bit to wash off some of that salt.

How To Choose The Best Fresh Sardines

If you’re looking to pick up some fresh and top-quality sardines, just stick to a few basic rules. These are pretty much what you’d follow for any fresh fish purchase, and they’re easy to remember:

  • Eyes: You want them to be bright, lively, and kind of popping out. That’s a good sign they’re fresh.
  • Smell: You’re looking for a subtle smell here. If they smell too fishy or overly sweet or kind of like ammonia, that’s a no-go.
  • Pressing: Gently press the flesh. It should feel firm and taut, not mushy or limp.
  • Gills: Lastly, take a peek at the gills. They should be a nice, vibrant red and look moist, not dry or discolored.

And a little tip from me – steer clear of any fish that have swollen or soft bellies or ones with eyes that look dull or sunken. Those aren’t the freshest picks in the bunch.

When To Buy Fresh Sardines

Although you can find sardines any time of the year, the best time to catch them is during the warmer seasons, from May to October.

During these months, sardines have more fat, which makes their flavor more intense and delicious.

Are Sardines Sustainable?

Yes, sardines can be sustainable, but you need to know which ones to buy.

Seafood Watch gives you a good idea of what to look for.

In summary, opt for Pacific sardines certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Avoid Atlantic sardines from the Mediterranean region (yes, even the delicious Portuguese sardines!) and Brazilian sardines, as there’s too much overfishing in these areas.

By choosing sustainable sardines, you can enjoy your meals knowing you are making the best choice for the planet.

25 Best Sardine Recipes

Canned Sardines

A plate of mediterranean sardine pasta topped with sardines, pine nuts, and chopped dill.

Mediterranean Sardine Pasta

Struggling to shell out for a flight to Sicily? 
The dills, sardines, and flavors in this indulgent pasta will transport you there!
Inspired by the original "Pasta con le sarde" recipe, this easy alternative made with canned sardines comes together in minutes but is incredibly flavorful and savory.

Brunch Bagel with Sardines

Jazz up a classic breakfast sandwich by switching out scrambled eggs with gloriously salty sardines!
This brunch bagel is slathered with whipped cream cheese and gets its crunch from cucumbers and red onion.
But the perfectly crisp sardines are the star of the show as they beautifully balance the cream cheese!
A pile of sardine fish cakes.

Mini Sardine Fish Cakes

Some of the best sardine recipes are the simplest, and this chili-infused gem fits that description.
All you need are spices, breadcrumbs, Greek yogurt (for moisture!), and eggs to pull everything together!
Fisherman's eggs with sardines in individual iron cast pans.

Easy Fisherman’s Eggs

These fisherman’s eggs will give you bundles of energy alongside a delicious detox smoothie in the morning!
The protein-rich eggs and sardines will keep you full for hours, while the peppery arugula and chili flakes spice things up.
Oh, and you can’t go wrong with mushrooms, red onion, and cherry tomatoes for extra vitamins!
Mediterranean sardine salad in a serving plate.

Mediterranean Sardine Salad

This canned sardine recipe is a dream when you want a 15-minute meal loaded with veggies.
The white beans and sardines add protein to the mix, but it’s the zingy parsley that adds a burst of freshness!
Although the ingredient list here is simple, the mustard and Aleppo pepper in the dressing seriously elevate this tasty lunch!
Sardine pate in a bowl with cucumber slices on a plate.

Tasty Sardine Pate

If you’re looking for a pescetarian-friendly alternative to classic pork pate, this sardine recipe is a game-changer.
It’s low-carb and keto-friendly, is ready in 10 minutes, and contains just 5 ingredients for fuss-free prep!
Spanish omelette in a pan ready to be served.

Spanish Omelette

Cycle your healthy egg muffins with a hearty Spanish omelet with onions, cherry tomatoes, and sardines!
The potatoes bulk out this dish, and the fluffy eggs pair perfectly with the salty sardines.
Plus, this dish is packed with protein, calcium, and omega-3s to keep your heart and muscles fighting fit!
Sardines on toast on a white plate.

Sardines on Toast

When you need a super speedy appetizer that’ll impress your guests, sardines on toast is always a solid option.
For starters, the toasted garlic bread has a glorious crunch.
Then you have the tangy capers, sardines, fresh basil leaves, and ripe tomatoes that bring in fresh summer flavors!
Greek pita with sardines on a bed of vegetables.

Greek Pita With Sardines

Fancy a change from hummus? 
I’ve got the only recipe you’ll need to quell that craving for Mediterranean grub!
These refreshing sardine pitas are smothered with creamy tzatziki and topped with bell pepper, greens, and kalamata olives!
Serve it with a simple Greek salad with lettuce for the perfect Greek feast!
Fish meatballs on a tray.

Fish Meatballs with Sardines

Bowlfuls of hearty pasta have never looked so good with these quick, easy, and crispy fish meatballs!
They’re made with mashed sardines, Panko breadcrumbs, plain yogurt, and a handful of simple spices.
The quick tomato sauce in this sardine recipe is a must, but you can lighten things up with spiralized veggies!
Sardine pizza on a wood board.

French Pissaladière with Sardines

This delicious onion flatbread is an amazing alternative to classic wood-fired (or frozen!) pizzas.
This variation is loaded with simple ingredients like olives, anchovies, and onions that complement the hearty sardines.
Just beware of the serious onion breath you’ll need to deal with for a couple of hours afterward (worth it!).
Nicoise Salad with sardines in a bowl.

Nicoise Salad With Sardines

I’m all for turning classics on their head, and this Niçoise salad does just that by switching tuna for sardines!
Sweet potatoes bring tons of Vitamin A, while eggs and leafy greens boost the protein factor.
Oh, and you don’t want to miss the sun-dried tomato dressing that’s made with just a hint of chili!
Instant Pot Pesto Pasta With Sardines

Instant Pot Pesto Pasta With Sardines

When Meal Prep Monday rolls around, you might be looking for a one-pot recipe that stores well.
This high-protein delight is brimming with nutrients (like omega-3s!) and takes just 15 minutes to whip up.
The pine nuts in the pesto add depth of flavor, but I adore the freshness of the tomato with each bite!
Sardine toast with peppers on a white plate.

Sardine and Roasted Pepper Toasts

Forget tomato-topped bruschetta. These Portuguese-inspired roasted pepper toasts are about to steal your heart.
The smooth and sweet roasted peppers contrast perfectly with the crunchy red onion.
But it’s the toasty garlic bread and olive oil sardines that make this the best healthy lunch around!
Tex Mex zucchini boats with sardines.

Tex Mex Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I get that chili and cornbread are amazing comfort foods. 
But these healthy zucchini boats are just as good (I swear!).
Not only do they give you a decent dose of protein, fiber, and Omega-3s with each bite, but they’re so cheesy.
If you’re still not convinced, they contain enough veggies to make reaching that 5-a-day a breeze!
Sardine fried rice in a bowl on the table.

Sardine Fried Rice

Is there anything tastier than savory fried rice with crunchy veggies and a load of umami soy sauce?
This is one of my all-time favorite sardine recipes as it’s ready in minutes and stores incredibly well in the fridge.
Just sauté the veggies and sardines, and you’ll have a dish that rivals the best Chinese takeout!
Beans and greens with sardines in a serving dish.

Greens and Beans with Sardines

Simple cannellini beans get a major boost with olive oil sardines and olives in this bright summer recipe!
The kale adds an impressive amount of Vitamin A, C, and K here, while the sardines bring Vitamin D.
You can eat the salad as-is (with some spicy red pepper flakes!) for a light dinner.
But I love mopping up the juices with a French baguette!
Brazilia sardine pie on a table.

Easy Brazilian Sardine Pie

There’s no need for a bumper rodizio grill with this rich and salty Brazilian pie in town!
This is one of the sardine recipes that requires a bit of time in the oven, but most of the prep work is mixing.
The onion and tomato make it satisfying enough for the whole family (and hiding the veggies for kiddos is EASY!).
Spicy sardine sandwich on the table.

Spicy Sardine Salad Sandwich

I'm always looking for new healthy sandwiches, and this juicy (and spicy!) sardine recipe is a total winner.
This sandwich tastes like an elevated variation on old-school tuna salad, but the capers really add a kick.
Plus, you get a burst of freshness from the lemon juice and parsley that’ll make every bite a pleasure!
Canned sardines in tomato sauce in a metal tin.

Canned Sardines In Tomato Sauce

When I need a low-calorie lunch that doesn’t disappoint on the flavor front, this tangy delight is my go-to!
It’s made with a few pantry staples, crushed garlic (for a savory kick!), and some bread to serve.
Eat them on their own or add your marinated sardines to pizzas, sandwiches, salads, or pasta!
Stuffed sweet peppers with sardines in an iron cast pan.

Sardine Stuffed Mini Peppers

Skip the calorific melted cheese and ground meat by replacing them with Panko crumbs and sardines!
The baked and blistered peppers are beautifully light, putting those savory sardines center stage!
And hey, they’re certainly a pretty appetizer to have at any summer BBQ or garden party this year.

Best Fresh Sardine Recipes

Grilled sardines on a metal plate ready to be served.

Easy Grilled Sardines

Tasty sardine recipes don’t need to be a labor of love.
And to prove it, this light and delicious dish is ready in 10 minutes and is crunchy, juicy, and packed with omega-3s.
The sardines are next-level, but the punchy herb-based gremolata sauce takes things to new heights!
Italian crusted sardines in a white plate.

Italian Crusted Sardines

If you’re not 100% sold on sardines, why not coat them in Italian breadcrumbs and a bunch of pecorino cheese?
The lemon, garlic, herbs, and capers instantly lift the rich fish, and the hot pan makes things uber crispy.
Serve this sardine recipe with a bunch of toasted bread and you’ll feel like you’ve teleported to the Med!
Air fryer sardines in a plate.

Air fryer sardines

I’ve been known to air fry everything, and these garlic and chili sardines have been my latest healthy obsession.
Not only are they ready in just 20 minutes, but the air fryer gives them a ridiculously crispy exterior.
And the best part is, they won’t dry out and always come out moist and juicy!
Hands holding fried sardines with a bowl filled with chermoula sauce on the side.

Moroccan Fried Sardines

Fried sardines that are uber-crispy and served with an herby and zesty chermoula and tartare sauce?
Well, that’s one way to spice up a boring weeknight dinner!
The paprika, cumin, and turmeric add plenty of flavor to the fish
But it’s the amazing crunchy texture that’ll make this sardine recipe a staple in your meal prep binder.


How do I make sardines less fishy?

I get it. Sardines have a distinctive fishy flavor that many people (especially kids) dislike. 

But they are so good for you! Try these tips to eat more!

One of my favorite ways to mask their fishy taste is to add something acidic and tangy, such as lemon juice or a dash of vinegar. 

And adding garlic and plenty of fresh herbs helps to convert even the more skeptical sardines’ haters.

Can you eat sardines straight out of the can?

Yes! Canned sardines are pre-cooked and ready to eat. They are a perfect protein-packed healthy snack or meal straight from the can.

How long can you keep canned sardines after opening?

Once opened, you should consume canned sardines within two days. Store them in the fridge to keep them at their best.

Is it safe to eat the bones in canned sardines?

Yes, the bones in canned sardines are soft enough to eat and an excellent calcium source.

25 Best Sardine Recipes (Canned and Fresh)

Are you on the hunt for sardine recipes that can be whipped up in a flash for a hearty and wholesome meal (at any time of day!)? These nutritious picks are loaded with protein and healthy omega-3s that’ll keep you full and satisfied for hours.
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Author: Sara Trezzi


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