How to Eat Sardines for A Nutrition-Packed Meal

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If you’ve recently organized your kitchen cupboards and pantries, chances are you’ve discovered a can of sardines hiding in the back of a shelf. Sardines, sometimes seen as a low-cost fish choice, are really a very healthy and carb-free protein source rich in omega 3s, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and a variety of other critical elements.

If you haven’t had sardines yet, they have a meatier texture than anchovies, albeit not as meaty as tuna fish. Sardines may have a strong, yeah, I’ll admit it, fishy taste, but if you like fish and shellfish, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t appreciate sardines.

In this video, I show you how to consume sardines in a variety of ways, including toast or crackers, pan frying, salads, curries, and more. I also show you how to create a fast canned sardine spaghetti meal that takes around 10 minutes to prepare.

All About Sardines

How to Eat Sardines for A Nutrition-Packed Meal

Sardines (Sardinia pilchardus) are a kind of fish in the Clupidae family. Sardines are also known as pilchards in the United States, and sardines may also refer to little herrings. There are 21 distinct types of fish in the sardine group, and any of them are marketed commercially as sardines.

Sardines are larger than anchovies and may grow to be just about 8 inches long. They are called after Sardinia, an Italian island where they were most likely discovered in abundance.

Pilchards may also be found in the Atlantic and Pacific seas, while commercial fishing for sardines is now outlawed in the Pacific, and there are prohibitions and quotas in other regions of the globe owing to overfishing. Sardines are not only caught for food, but they are also utilized as bigger fish bait and fish food, and sardine oil is used in the production of linoleum, varnish, and paint.

Sardines are oily fish that graze on plankton. Sardines naturally have lower levels of mercury and other toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) due to their plankton diet and tiny size when compared to other species of fish such as tuna.

The Difference Between Canned and Fresh Sardines

Fresh sardines are popular in Mediterranean cooking, but they may be difficult to get. If you can find fresh or frozen sardines, grilling them whole with a salt, olive oil, and lemon juice marinade, or just salt, is a simple way to enjoy them at their finest.

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Sauce marinara. They may also be found in flavored oils or mustard. If you like sardines in oil, those packed in olive oil are a better alternative than those packed in soybean oil, and you may drain the oil and rinse the sardines under the tap before serving if you prefer.Sardines are often canned in oil, spring water, or tomato sauce.

Purchasing sardines in water or tomato sauce significantly reduces fat content; nonetheless, sardines are a calorie-rich meal (about 190 calories per can of plain sardines), so you may want to consume them only rarely if on a low-calorie diet.

The biggest benefit of canned sardines over fresh is that all of the labor has been done for you. Sardines are cleansed, the heads and tails are removed, and they are either steam cooked or deep fried when they arrive to the cannery. They are canned after they have been cooked. Because the last significant sardine cannery in the United States closed in 2010, the majority of sardines now originate from Morocco.

Sardines in cans have a long shelf life and should be kept someplace cool and dry. Turn the can over from time to time to ensure that the liquid is evenly dispersed over the fish. Any unused sardines should be refrigerated once they have been opened.

We may credit Napoleon Bonaparte for the creation of tinned sardines. He pioneered the canning of sardines, the first canned seafood, to feed his people!

Packed with Nutrition

Sardines are a healthy protein source since their caloric content is evenly balanced between protein and fat.

Sardines’ overall fat composition is largely made up of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Unless you purchase canned sardines with added additives, they don’t have any carbohydrates. They do not produce blood sugar spikes and crashes since they have no glycemic index (GI).

Sardines provide around 61% of our Daily Value (DV) of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These omega-3 fatty acids have been associated to decrease blood pressure and a lower risk of blood clots because they act as anti-inflammatories, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Consuming around 8 oz of various seafoods per week results in an average daily intake of 250 milligrams of EPA and DHA, a level related with a lower risk of cardiac mortality in both people with and without underlying cardiovascular disease.

These polyunsaturated fats (or PUFAs) have also been related to some brain protection. Although further study is required, studies have suggested a relationship between decreasing blood levels of specific PUFAs and cognitive deterioration. One analysis of previous literature found that blood EPA and DHA levels were considerably lower in dementia patients. Lower PUFA levels have also been seen in those with some kinds of Parkinson’s disease.

Sardines are also a good source of vitamin B12, with around 338% of our daily need. A sufficient supply of vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood cells as well as nerve cell and brain function. B12 also aids in the absorption of folic acid, which aids in energy release. Inadequate vitamin B12 consumption may result in mental symptoms or even irreparable damage to the brain and nerve system, as well as anemia and an increased risk of infection.

Vitamin B12 is also connected to heart health since it helps regulate homocysteine levels. Too much homocysteine may harm the artery walls, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis.

Sardines include vitamin D and phosphorus, which assist preserve bone health, which is particularly important during the winter months when some of us do not receive enough sun exposure to enable our bodies to produce vitamin D. Calcium is also important for bone health, and sardines are a wonderful dietary option for people who require additional calcium in their diet, such as pregnant women or those who are lactose or dairy intolerant. Sardines supply 35% of our daily calcium intake in one container.

They also include selenium, vitamin B2 and B3, iodine, copper, and choline.

Safety of Sardines

Every week, I eat fish. At the age of two, children should drink 1 oz, increasing to 4 oz by the age of eleven.According to the current Dietary Guidelines, people should consume at least 8 oz of seafood per week on a 2,000 calorie diet. Sardines are on the FDA’s Best Choices list, which recommends eating 2 to 3 servings of fish each week.

Because sardines contain less mercury, they are appropriate for younger children, women of reproductive age, and people who are pregnant or nursing, all of whom should consume 8 to 12 oz of reduced mercury seafood per week, according to the Dietary Guidelines. DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in seafood, has been related to better baby health outcomes.

Sardine cans, like other canned goods, may contain bisphenol A or BPA. Despite evidence indicating that BPA in can linings might contaminate the food within, can linings are often made using BPA. In 2017, the Center for Environmental Health released their most current BPA and can research.

Sardines should be avoided if you have gout or renal issues since they might induce uric acid buildup in the body. Sardines in cans can also be heavy in salt, and at roughly 131 milligrams of cholesterol per may, they may be best as an occasional treat for persons with high cholesterol levels.

Ideas for How to Eat Canned Sardines

This section provides an overview of several ways to consume sardines, ranging from simple snacks to delectable supper options. Continue reading to find out more and to make my fast canned sardine spaghetti meal.

Sardines on Toast

Yes, it seems easy, and it is. Slices of thick toasted crusty bread go well with tinned sardines in oil, tomato, or other tastes. Simply top with a few leaves, salt and pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

You can also prepare a fast and simple sardine pate for toast by combining a can of sardines with 3.5 oz of Greek yoghurt, 3.5 oz of cottage cheese, and the juice of a quarter lemon in a food processor.

Sardines on Crackers

For a protein-rich snack, mix canned sardines with crackers and a little cheese. Try them with sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of Italian herbs, or just drizzle them with lemon juice (and olive oil if canned in water).

Sardine Salad

Sardines complement cooked eggs on a green salad. They also go nicely with onions, chives, and scallions.

Pan Fried Sardines

You may cover the sardines in batter and fry them in the oil that you drained from the can, topped up with extra oil if necessary, if you drain the oil from a can of sardines and prepare a basic batter coating (such as using flour, egg, and soy sauce or a beer batter).

It should only take around five minutes to brown all sides of the sardines this way.

As a snack, serve with butter and lemon, or add to a spicy salad, chickpea, parsley, and lemon salad, or chickpea, cucumber, and feta salad for a midweek treat.


You may add tinned sardines in oil to pasta recipes directly in the pan. Sardines, being an oily fish, pair well with lemon and tomato-based sauces in pasta dishes. For a fusion touch, season sardines with chile, coriander, and lime.

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Cut up some canned sardines and add them to the pizza before it goes into the oven to provide some additional protein. It’ll also be a nice contrast from anchovies!


Try sautéing some garlic, shallots, and a tablespoon of Thai red curry paste in some oil before adding a can of drained sardines. After the sauce has thickened for a few minutes, add a little coconut cream and you have an extra fast curry ready to serve!

Straight from The Can

It should be noted that this is not for everyone, but if you need a protein boost, just consume sardines right from the can!

Warm canned sardines by putting the open can under the broiler for about a minute.

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Tutorial on How to Make Quick Canned Sardine Spaghetti

I chose this recipe because you are likely to have all of the items in your cupboard. It’s also fast and simple to make, and if you don’t like the flavor of oily fish, the garlic and herbs in this meal may help to cut through some of the fishiness of the sardines.

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

This is a fast supper for one; increase the amounts for a meal for two.

Kitchen Tools Needed for Quick Canned Sardine Spaghetti

  • Chefs knife For cutting the onion with
  • Cutting board To protect the countertop
  • Garlic chopper If you don’t have a mincer, smash the clove with your palm and the flat of the knife.
  • In a skillet, cook the sardines and sauce.
  • Sauce pan For cooking the spaghetti in
  • spoon made of wood The most appropriate for your pan typeSpatula
  • Measuring spoon For measuring out the herbs

Ingredients for Quick Canned Sardine Spaghetti

  • One can of sardines in tomato sauce

Pro tip: If you use canned sardines in oil or water, add a can of chopped tomatoes to the skillet with the sardines to add the tomato basis to the sauce.

  • Dried spaghetti (linguine is also OK) Alternatively, if you have some fresh spaghetti, you may use that. One serving is about 2 oz of dry spaghetti or the equal diameter of a quarter.
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed (avoid chopping unless you can do it very finely since it will only be cooking for a few minutes)
  • yellow onion
  • Pinch ofchili flakes
  • Pinch ofpaprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and so on). Fresh herbs may be used, but since this just cooks for a few minutes, they may not give enough flavor.
  • Saltandblack pepperto taste
  • Olive oil To saut the onions with
  • Freshlemon juice Just a squeeze is fine

For the garnish

  • Freshparsley
  • A littleparmesanor other hard cheese if you like

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Begin heating the pasta and prepare the onion:Cook the dry spaghetti in a pot with water according to the package directions. If you are using fresh pasta, do not start it yet.

Prepare your onions for sautéing by finely chopping them on a cutting board.

At the same time, heat up some olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic after the oil is heated enough.

Step 2: Stir in the spices (crushed garlic, chili flakes, herbs, salt, and black pepper) until completely combined and the onion is coated.

Cook for two to three minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are caramelized and softened, or until desired.

Step 3: Add sardines: If using fresh pasta, cook it immediately in boiling water.

Reduce the heat under the fry pan to low and add the sardines to the skillet. With a spatula, carefully break up the sardines and combine them with the onions.

Simmer for one to two minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add a splash of lemon juice, and stir one more.

Step 4: To serve, strain the pasta and mix it with the sardines.

Plate and top with fresh parsley and a dusting of parmesan or another hard cheese, if desired.


I hope you liked my step-by-step guide on eating sardines using tinned sardine pasta. I like cooking this recipe on occasion since it is simple to prepare and I generally have all of the ingredients on hand.

If you liked this lesson and learning about the many different ways to consume sardines, please share it with your friends. Please leave any comments or share your favorite sardine recipes in the comments section.


How do you eat packed sardines?

Straight from the can.
On a high note.
Put some mustard on that cracker.
Combine it with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper…
Sauté in oil, garlic, onions, and tomato with lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
Toss some into a salad.
Place some in a spaghetti dish.
Of course, right from the can.

What’s the healthiest way to eat sardines?

Sardine Recipes (Without Gagging)
With a squirt of fresh lemon juice, straight from the can.
On healthier crackers with a little amount of cheese.
With homemade or avocado oil Caesar dressing on a Caesar salad.
With a squeeze of fresh lemon, mashed with half an avocado.

Can you eat sardines as a meal?

Sardines are traditionally served with a cracker, fork, and a splash of spicy sauce or lemon juice. To limit the culinary applications of this canned fish to just that is to sell sardines short. Sardines are incredibly flexible, working well as a simple snack, hefty lunch, or elegant supper.

Are sardines nutritionally complete?

Sardines may be tiny, but they are rich in protein and low in saturated fat and calories, making them an excellent supplement to a healthy diet. They also include a variety of vitamins and minerals.

What’s the best way to eat canned sardines?

You may consume tinned sardines as is. You should probably drain the liquid that comes with them. You may simply add oil, mayonnaise, spicy sauce, mustard, or other spices; toss them into a salad; or grill them with onions and garlic to lock in more flavor.

Can you eat canned sardines straight from the can?

Sardines are canned in a tin can with water, oil, tomato juice, and other liquids. You may eat them straight from the can, with onions or peppers on top, or with condiments like mustard, mayo, or spicy sauce. The heads are usually removed, but you’ll be eating the skin and bones.

Are canned sardines better in water or oil?

When it comes to sardines, there are many possibilities, but the finest are packed in olive oil. Sardines packed with water will not have the same deep flavor and may taste a little waterlogged. Oil, on the other hand, seals in the taste of the fish and makes each sardine super-moist.

Should you eat sardine skin and bones?

Sardines with bones and skin are very excellent and look great on top of a salad or dish. P.S. Both the bones and the skin are delicious. Those little bones also provide calcium!

Is it OK to eat canned sardines every day?

Sardines are strong in protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids (which have been linked to heart health advantages), and high in vitamins (particularly D and B12) and minerals (such as calcium). Sardines packed in oil, on the other hand, are heavy in salt and cholesterol and should not be consumed on a regular basis.

How many times can I eat sardines in a week?

Sardines should be at the top of your list if you want to add more fish to your diet in a healthy and tasty manner. Sardines, like any other meal, should be consumed in moderation—two to three times per week is a safe and healthy amount.

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