Did you know that a can of high-quality fish can easily elevate your meal, reduce your prep time, and help you stretch your grocery budget? And if you think we’re just talking tuna, there’s a lot more to canned fish than the chicken of the sea. (Nothing against tuna—we love it!—but don’t overlook less popular options like herring and sardines.) From favorite member products to new recipes to try, keep reading for our canned fish coverage.
What Is Canned Fish?
How does fish go from ocean to can? Once caught, the fish is processed quickly, steamed to perfection, vacuum-sealed in an airtight container (like those famous tin cans), and heated after canning. Canning as a preservation method is nothing new, and it gives canned fish a shelf life of roughly one to five years. Talk about a pantry powerhouse!
Filled with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, canned fish is a great way to work added health benefits into your meals. Not to mention that—since canned fish comes cooked and ready to eat, you don’t need to worry about thawing your fish—this ingredient a winner when it comes to easy weeknight meals or quick lunches.
Best Canned Fish Brands and Products
No need to go on a deep dive through your grocery store. With high standards for quality and sustainability, we’ve taste-tested our way through the best canned fish on the market. You’ll love all of these pantry-ready options.
The team at Wild Planet is pretty wild about quality. Instead of promoting FAD fishing (electronically pulling marine life into large, football field–sized nets), the company uses one pole to catch one fish. If another species happens to be caught, it’s sent straight back to the ocean. Yes, it’s a more labor-intensive process, but to a sustainable brand, the low levels of bycatch are worth it.
Wild Plant uses smaller tuna to reduce the amount of potential mercury exposure, so this fish is completely safe to eat. It’s super versatile and packed with a hint of sea salt (and that’s it).
“This was the best can of tuna I've had in a very long time! Added chopped celery, onion, apple, salt & pepper, and fresh lemon juice! Mix well in avocado mayo and you've got yourself some good eats there.”
There’s no shortage of mackerel in the North Pacific. These skinless, boneless fillets are a great stand-in for tuna, especially if you’re branching out to new canned fish options. With 13 grams of protein per serving, mackerel will help keep you fueled, too.
“Mackerel is one of the best fishes to eat. I love it in a salad topped with olive oil and coconut aminos. I always have a few cans in my pantry.”
Captains of Safe Catch vessels use spotters or sonars to help detect when a school of skipjack tuna is swimming by—no bait required! Similar to Wild Planet, it’s a FAD-free option that reduces bycatch to roughly 0.3 percent. The company also uses proprietary technology to test every single fish for mercury to eliminate consumer worries about toxicity.
All the tuna in this can meets Safe Catch’s strict quality standards and has been tested for mercury so you can make your meals with peace of mind. It’s perfect for easy lunches (there’s no shame in tuna and crackers on repeat!) or tossing in salads.
“My husband doesn't care that it's sustainably produced or good for you. He just flat out says it's the best-tasting tuna he's had, and to keep getting more from Thrive Market.”
Hand-picked and tested for mercury before packing, these salmon steaks retain essential omega-3 oils and are slow-cooked for maximum flavor. Bonus: You get 14 grams of protein per serving!
“These are great to have on hand for weekend lunches. Mix up with some mayo and toss in salad or eat with crackers!”
We know you’ll be hooked on Thrive Market’s canned seafood. Our line of tuna, salmon, and sardines are all wild-caught, non-GMO, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, and dolphin- and turtle-safe. Like other leading sustainable brands, we don’t use nets, which helps reduce bycatch.
Sardines deserve a spot in every pantry. Keep a few tins on hand, and you’ll always have good-for-you protein ready to go! In addition to providing vitamins, healthy fats, and protein, these little fillets (which are sustainably caught, kosher, and gluten-free) bring big umami flavor to any dish. Or try them atop your favorite crackers!
“So glad to see sardines with the bones in. They are extremely soft, so there is no chewing involved, and they are absolutely delicious as they are—perfect on toast or in a salad. Thank you so much for these. They will always be on my shopping list.”
Crown Prince has been perfecting the art of canned seafood since 1948 and remains a family-owned business. Dedicated to corporate sustainability, the company established a plan in 2012 to reduce its environmental impact and improve its recycling practices over the long-term.
These skinless, boneless Moroccan sardines have a firm texture and mild flavor. Packed in water, each an provides 23 grams of protein, plus calcium and iron.
“Compared to another popular brand, I find the taste of the Crown Prince sardines to be less fishy and a bit milder. I eat sardines because they are a good source of omega-3s, and enjoy them added to a salad.”
Since 1917, Bar Harbor has been sourcing pristine seafood from the coast of Maine. Its offerings have a distinct New England flair and are made in small batches—packed and canned mostly by hand.
Seasoned with cracked pepper and filled with protein and omega-3s, this herring is a tuna alternative you’ll love to help keep hunger at bay. It was caught in the icy waters off the Gulf of Maine.
“This is some of the very best-tasting canned seafood that my husband and I have ever had. Great quality, a hint of black pepper, and no added chemicals. Bar Harbor seems to be an excellent company … everything we have tried of theirs has been top-notch.”
8 Creative Ways to Use Canned Fish
Tuna salad is just one thing you can do with canned fish. Here are a few other ideas to enhance your meals with this pantry staple:
- Flake salmon into a frittata
- Make lighter burgers using tuna or salmon
- Whip up healthier nachos with tuna or salmon as a topper
- Include canned fish in stuffed pepper filling
- Mix things up for taco night with meaty salmon
- Top a thick slab of toast with mashed sardines or mackerel
- Try sardines in a lettuce wrap with fresh veggies
- Whip a pâté or mousse that’s perfect for parties
14 Canned Fish Recipes
Tuna recipes are always go-to, but we’ve got tasty, easy ideas for salmon and sardines, too.
Delicious Canned Tuna Recipes
Tuna is popular for a reason, and these recipes prove how versatile a can can be.
Switch up taco night with canned tuna. That’s right! These fish tacos sizzle with Tex-Mex flavors like garlic powder, paprika, and chili powder.
You’ll love these meaty tuna cakes, but it’s the spicy remoulade sauce that really makes them pop. Made with mayo, capers, parsley, cayenne, and grainy mustard, it just might become your new favorite condiment.
Indian spices add real flair to an otherwise ordinary tuna salad. Try it stuffed into lettuce leaves, or serve it with crunchy crackers.
Taking tuna melts to new heights is easy when you have a lineup of crusty bread, gooey cheese, tangy Dijon-style mustard, and briny cornichons.
No more boring lunches! Add south-of-the-border flavor to this tuna salad with cilantro, lime, and, for extra heat, a serrano chili.
We’re happy to hand over this Paleo-friendly recipe that’s a fun way to experiment with making sushi at home. Water-packed tuna stands in for raw steak, and wasabi paste and coconut aminos add extra umami flavor to every bite.
Elegant Canned Salmon Recipes
There’s nothing wrong with a fresh fillet of salmon, but canned is a great, affordable option, especially for hectic weeknights.
This elegant lunch starts with a can of wild Alaskan salmon that’s mixed with mayo, bell peppers, shallot, and parsley.
Lighten up your next burger night with this ocean-inspired patty made with paprika, cumin, cayenne, and chunks of non-GMO salmon. The summer salsa adds bright and creamy notes thanks to avocado, green onion, and lime.
Try this sushi stack the next time you want to get creative in the kitchen. There are a handful of ingredients to wrangle, but most of them are pantry staples you probably have on hand, like mayo, coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seeds.
Healthy Sardine & Anchovy Recipes Recipes
Think you don’t like sardines? These recipes will make you think again.
This gluten-free pizza uses cassava flour for the dough, then gets baked with caramelized onions and sardines. A handful of arugula and a squeeze of lemon finishes the pie.
This modern appetizer marries fresh ingredients like lemon and thyme, plus oil-packed sardines and golden ghee. It comes together in a food processor and makes a perfect party snack.
Put a spin on a restaurant-worthy Caesar with sardines instead of the classic anchovies. They add complex flavor to the creamy dressing that’s tossed with crisp romaine lettuce, salty parmesan cheese, and toasted panko breadcrumbs.
Enjoy this gluten-free Mediterranean pasta any night of the week. Green olives, capers, and citrus elevate canned sardines for an easy dish that’s ready in under 30 minutes.
Light and refreshing, this salad uses the whole lemon to add brightness to your plate. Sardines, shaved fennel, and a tangy vinaigrette make it an ideal side dish or even a main course.