How to Eat Canned Sardines? – 10 Tasty Ways to Enjoy Them

Marria Beklavac By Marria Beklavac

They may smell fishy but don’t sleep on this super nutritional gem. Canned sardines are abundant in protein, vitamins, and minerals, so here is a list of the best ways to enjoy them properly!

Canned sardines are real-life savers when you need to fix something quickly, just toss them on the toast or crackers and call it a day. But also, they can be the main characters if you serve them with pasta, pita bread, or on top of the pizza! Sardines pair flawlessly with various ingredients from sweet and spicy sauces to fresh and pickled vegetables.

I truly didn’t know canned sardines could be so versatile, that’s why I listed 10 amazing ideas for you to try out, as well! Of course, I had to sprinkle some fabulous pairings on the side, so you can see what works the best for your palate! 

10. Over the Toast

Nicely crisped, buttery toast is a perfect base to lay canned sardines on top. They are pretty soft, so you can smash them with a fork and spread them evenly. 

Choose any bread you prefer, from simple toast to homemade sourdough, but one of the best pairings is most definitely rye bread with seeds. Its texture will enhance the mild flavor of fish.

To skyrocket the protein count, serve them with eggs. Simple omelet, over-easy sunny side up, or soft-boiled eggs are the best, especially when yolk and fish collide into one delicious bite!

Heirloom rainbow tomatoes are the best thing to pair with canned sardines on the toast. Just trickle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top.

Also, a staple avocado toast is amazing with the fish and freshly juiced lemon. Don’t sleep on fresh herbs, too, as they elevate the taste of sardines so much. Go for parsley, rosemary, cilantro, coriander, or tarragon.

9. On a Cracker

This one is an all-time classic! Sardines pair with simple, salty crackers flawlessly, but if you want to spice things up, serve them with some sauce. Find some ideas below!

When preparing sardines on crackers for appetizers, here are some ideas to make them a party hit! Merry them with pickles or something acidic – pickled peppers or red onions. Even a drizzle of fresh lemon juice will do the job.

If you don’t mind chopping, serve the sardines and crackers with pico de gallo or fresh herbs, like cilantro, chives, parsley, dill… Spring onions and kimchi are also a great idea! Options are endless!

On the other hand, you can make a sardine dip. Start with choosing the creamy component; opt for créme fraîche, cream cheese, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. Dice the vegetables and herbs very finely: shallots, chili pepper, and herbs you like. Add spices and mix – that’s it!

Sardine paté is a huge hit, as well. Pair them with sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and some hot sauce for a touch of spiciness. You can also try mixing them in a hummus for an oriental note.

8. Air-Fried

Crispy sardines bring a whole new dimension of flavor! They are quick and simple to make, just toss them in some flour and egg wash.

Corn flour, bread crumbs, or crushed salty pretzels come in handy for that additional crunch. It’s best to keep the spices simple salt and pepper only, plus some heat from chili flakes.

Fry them between 5-10 minutes at 300 ° F (150 °C) in the air fryer, depending on its strength. 

If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t worry. You can deep fry them regularly, just a few minutes in hot oil, until they are golden brown. Also, remember to arrange them on a kitchen towel so it can soak up the extra oil, otherwise they will come out too greasy.

For oven-baked sardines, arrange them on baking paper and spray them with olive oil. Bake them for a maximum of 10 minutes, until they are golden brown.

7. In a Salad

When it comes to salads, you can treat canned sardines as any other canned fish. The same combinations you would use for tuna salad, for example, will work here, too.

One of the most popular sardine salads is certainly Mediterranean white bean. It marries cherry tomatoes, spring onion, white beans, canned sardines, and fresh herbs. An ideal dressing for this is citrus and mustard-based.

The fish goes finely with leafy greens and crispy veggies, like cucumber and bell peppers. Potato salad with sardines is something you MUST try, because it is amazing, especially with capers. 

Greek salad with sardines is a rhapsody of flavors! Pair them with crispy cucumber, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and chickpeas. For a finishing touch, add some crumbled feta on top.

For an Asian twist on sardine salad, go all in with spices! Opt for ginger, chili peppers, soya sauce, and lemongrass.

Lastly, here is one more idea for a super-nutritious salad. To make this, choose sardines in olive oil and pair them with celery, beet, radish, and mustard-based dressing. Yum!  

6. With Pasta

Pasta Con le Sarde is a Sicilian staple dish and for a good reason! It also includes fennel, anchovies, pine nuts, and raisins. What makes it stand out is a sprinkle of saffron in white wine sauce, turning it into a 5-star meal. 

Toasted bread crumbs on the top add the missing crunch, rounding the whole taste experience. You can also add sardines to your usual pasta dishes, like lemon or tomato pasta, they will pair impeccably.

Make the dish with fresh lemon and capers or with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. The best pasta variety for this is definitely spaghetti.

Other fine toppings to pair with are olives, greeny leaves, fresh herbs, spinach, and Parmigiano. 

5. In a Sauce

Let’s start strong with spicy mango sauce! Surprisingly, these two work out very well together. You can serve them air-fried with a dipping sauce on the side or coated in sauce for a warm meal option.

Next is smoked paprika sauce you can make with roasted red peppers and spices. This one is simple, yet enhances the fishy taste of sardines, just like tomato sauce

Mustard is a fine choice here, as well as sriracha, habanero, or Tabasco sauce. For a less spicy taste profile, go for mayonnaise, hummus, mashed avocado, or even cream cheese.

Serve it with toasted sourdough bread or bagels on the side. 

4. With Pita Bread

Let’s take a gourmet walk to Greece! This is one of the best-canned fish combinations, hands up! 

Make a bed of pita bread and smear a generous amount of tzatziki sauce. You can top it with any vegetables you like but don’t skip cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and red onion. 

Of course, you can’t make anything Greek without black olives and capers, so add them here, as well!

You can definitely swap tzatziki for hummus, to get a nuttier taste, but add some carrot for a touch of crispiness. 

The next option is Green Goddess pita bread with sardines, where you combine spinach, loads of fresh herbs, and a famous Green dressing. For this, use as much green veggies as you can, and don’t forget sprouts! 

3. In Paella

One of the top three dishes that come from Spain is Arroz con Sardinas en Conserva or rice with canned sardines. This is something quick and easy to fix up, but yet traditional and homey.

The rice is unbelievably aromatic due to saffron and smoked Spanish paprika, plus loads of vegetables in the recipe. The presentation of this dish is spectacular! It is served in a huge pan with the sardines arranged on the bed of rice and veggies. 

The flavor is superb, deep, and rich, that’s why paellas are real crowd-pleasers!

You probably can’t call this paella, but you can swap rice for chickpeas. The prep process is the same, but the taste is so buttery and nutty.

2. Sautéed

If you have sardines in tomato sauce stored in your pantry, here is the idea to make them the main course! This is a Philipino recipe originally called Ginisang sardines, and it’s awesome! 

Sauté the veggies in a pan – onion, garlic, bell peppers, tomato, and chili peppers are staples. At the very end, add sardines in tomato sauce and top it with fresh herbs and fresh lemon wedges. 

It is pretty spicy, though, as it has loads of garlic, soy sauce, and habaneros in the recipe. As a side dish, go for rice, chickpeas, or bulgur. 

If you fancy a less piquant dish, just use fresh or dried herbs instead. This combination is amazing with boiled potatoes!

1. On a Pizza 

This is your sign to make sardine pizza! It doesn’t require many different ingredients, as the flavor of sardines is strong enough. 

You can pair them with veggie pizza, or keep it extra simple, and top the dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and optionally red onion.

Fresh tomatoes, zucchini, red peppers, spinach, olives, and arugula are all top-tier ingredients for garnishing

There is one more pizza variety worth mentioning – French Pissaladière. It has a rather specific flavor, so if you’re not a huge sardine fan, skip it. 

Let’s talk about the ingredient fusion here. There is no the usual tomato sauce on the pizza dough, but bechamel sauce mixed with finely diced black olives.

Instead of fresh vegetables, caramelize onions with honey until almost stringy for the topping. At the end, just add canned sardines and mozzarella slices. You must admit, this is one unique blend!

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By Marria Beklavac Owner
Hey there! I'm Marria Beklavac, a barista by trade and a cook by heart. My culinary journey started at 12, inspired by my grandpa, who first introduced me to the wonders of cooking. His passion sparked mine, leading me to a life where each meal is an adventure. In Terra's Kitchen, I blend my love for coffee with my zeal for cooking to share my culinary exploits with you. This blog is my space to share the joys, discoveries, and lessons from my kitchen to yours. Welcome aboard – let's cook up some magic together!