2 Ways To Eat Sardines – A Fish With Potential

Last Update: November 20, 2023

Want to know a secret ingredient that’s paleo-approved, Whole30-friendly, nutritious (hello, protein and omega-3s), and keeps in the pantry indefinitely? Sardines! These tiny fish are small, but offer big potential in the kitchen. Want to know how to serve sardines? Here we will explain 2 ways to eat them!

What are Sardines?

Sardines are small, oily fish that are packed with nutrients and can be a great addition to any diet. They’re a healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Sardines have a milder flavor than similar small fish (such as anchovies), and they can add a slightly fishy flavor to many dishes.

Many people are unsure of the best ways to eat sardines, especially if they are using canned or tinned sardines. Fortunately, there are a variety of canned sardine recipes that are easy, affordable, and delicious. Here are some ideas:

  • Sandwiches. A classic sardine sandwich is always a good option. Simply combine canned sardines with mayonnaise, lemon juice, and your favorite sandwich fixings like lettuce and tomato.
  • Salads. Sardines can be added to a variety of salads, including Greek salads, Caesar salads, and Nicoise salads.
  • Pastas. Whether you blend them into a sauce or simply use them as a topping, sardines make a great addition to many pasta dishes.
  • Charcuterie. Sardines are commonly used in a variety of snack and appetizer recipes. You’ll often see them served alongside crusty bread, olives, and cheese on a charcuterie board.

In today’s installment of Prep School, Chef Megan Mitchell is sharing two affordable and easy recipes that make canned sardines the star. Are sardines healthy? Yes! “Let’s get real about sardines. They’re a nutritional powerhouse with protein and omega-3s, so you’re getting great nutrients. Another bonus: they’re shelf stable and affordable.”

Pasta Puttanesca


When you’re trying new ingredients for the first time, a great approach is using a base recipe everyone loves. Pasta is the perfect vehicle for sardines, especially when paired with juicy tomatoes, briny olives and capers, and plenty of garlic. Wild Planet sources its Pacific sardines along the Japanese coast, and its skinless, boneless sardines come from the coast of Morocco. Both varieties offer nutrients like protein, calcium, and iron. If you want ideas of how to eat canned sardines, you can try this!

Yield: 6 servings
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes


1 pound Thrive Market Organic Linguine Pasta
Thrive Market Organic Ground Pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Wild Planet Non-GMO Wild Pacific Sardines in Water
½ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Crushed Red Peppers
1 (28-ounce) can Thrive Market Organic Crushed Tomatoes
⅔ cup Thrive Market Organic Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Non-Pareil Capers, drained
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Oregano
5 ounces arugula (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season liberally with salt. Cook the pasta per package directions, or until al dente.

Make the sauce while the pasta cooks. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, sardines, and chili flakes. Use a wooden spoon to mash everything into the oil; cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and the sardines have broken down.

Reduce heat to medium low and carefully pour in the canned tomatoes (watch for splattering!), followed by the olives, capers, and oregano. Stir the sauce and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Simmer 10 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, remove the linguine with tongs and add it straight to the sauce; toss. If it’s a little dry, add pasta cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time. Off heat, stir in arugula (if using) until just wilted. How do you serve sardines? Well, you serve immediately!

Garlic and Herb Sardines


Just add toast. This philosophy might be one of the best ways to eat sardines, especially when it involves only 10 minutes of prep. And when it comes to sustainability, sardines are a top pick. Their short lifespan means this fish has less time to accumulate mercury, and they reproduce quickly so there’s plenty to go around. This appetizer is ready to party, and with ingredients like melted butter, garlic, and lemon coating each fillet, it’s bound to make some sardine believers out of your friends and family.

Yield: 4 servings
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes


2 tins Wild Planet Non-GMO Wild Pacific Sardines in Water (about 8 to 10 sardines)
3 tablespoon unsalted grass-fed butter
2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane zester
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste
Thrive Market Organic Black Pepper, to taste
Pinch Thrive Market Organic Crushed Red Peppers, optional
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Toasted bread or crackers, for serving, optional


Drain and rinse the sardines and pat dry. Place on a sheet pan or oven-proof baking dish. Add the butter and garlic cloves to a small stockpot; warm until butter has melted. Off heat, add the panko, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt, crushed red pepper, and chili flakes (if using); stir.

Turn broiler on high heat and pour the butter mixture over the sardines; broil for 5 minutes, or until golden, bubbly, and lightly charred. Remove from heat and squeeze the zested lemon over the top and sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot with toasted bread or crackers.

These are only two of the best ways to eat sardines (in our opinion), but there are many more recipes out there! And if you are wondering how to eat sardines or anchovies, for the first time, you can start with these easy ideas and experiment with more recipes.

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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