Luckily for sardines, bigger isn’t always better. These tiny but mighty fish are packed with nutritional goodness and full of complex flavor. Unlike anchovies, their teeny counterparts, sardines have a far milder, rounder, less "fishy" flavor. Briny and complex, these little guys pack a delicious punch of salty, savory bite when used in a dish properly. The best canned sardines are even incredible alone, or when simply topped on toast, served with lemon and fresh herbs.
Additionally, sardines in a can are a sustainable source of protein for pescatarians, keto fans, and foodies looking for a punchy new ingredient. They’re rich in calcium, iron, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. But, unlike larger species, sardines don’t contain high levels of contaminants like mercury that could compromise your health.
If it’s been a while (or forever) since you enjoyed sardines, now is the time to get on board and check out our list of the best canned sardines. In the kitchen, the boldness of sardines pairs perfectly with a variety of foods and delivers convenient nutrition that your body will thank you for. Sardines are a staple in pantries around the world, because nothing beats cracking a can to elevate a recipe, leaving your dinner guests asking for your secret ingredient. Whether you eat them on their own, tossed in a salad, or use them to add a bit of deliciously briny umami to your dish, sardines are a nutritional no-brainer — and they're even cheaper than tuna.
King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines
Lightly smoked and packed with flavor, the King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines are wild caught in Norway and preserved in olive oil for a lovely flavor. They're perfect over pasta or served simply with crackers. These hand-packed cans include two layers of the finest brisling sardines to enhance all your favorite recipes.
Wild Planet Wild Sardines
Sustainably caught in the North Pacific, Wild Planet Wild Sardines are certified organic and verified non-GMO. Packed in extra virgin olive oil and lightly smoked, these scale-free sardines boast naturally stronger flavors. They’re meaty and firm, making a nutritious snack that’s savory and high in fatty acids.
Crown Prince Skinless & Boneless Sardines
Best in olive oil
Experience the delicate flavors of sardines in pure olive oil with the Crown Prince Skinless & Boneless Sardines. Crown Prince uses cold-pressed extra virgin
Santo Amaro European Wild Sardines in Tomato Sauce
Best in tomato sauce
For a ready-to-enjoy snack that’s filled with natural flavors, reach for the Santo Amaro European Wild Sardines in Tomato Sauce. These bone-in delicacies offer added calcium and treat your taste buds with all-natural tomato sauce that's essentially a meal in a can.
Brunswick Wild Caught Sardine Fillets
Best in water
Sardine purists will love the clean flavors of the Brunswick Wild Caught Sardine Fillets. Packaged in pure spring water and nothing more, these versatile sardines don’t include any salt or preservatives. They’re perfect for keto, and a tasty must-have for your paleo pantry. Add your own ingredients to create savory recipes or eat alone for a nutritious bite.
Matiz Sardines Variety Pack
Best variety pack
Can’t get enough of sardines? Enjoy your favorite snack in every flavor with the Matiz Sardines Variety Pack. This box of 10 includes four cans in olive oil, two with spicy pepper, two with lemon, and two with sweet pepper. Find your favorite and satisfy your craving with these sustainably-fished snacks that protect fragile biological life cycles on the coasts of Galicia. Bone-in, these exquisite treats are packed in premium Spanish
MW Polar Smoked Brisling Sardines
Best in a jar
For discerning shoppers who like to check out the merchandise (and prefer resealable packaging), the MW Polar Smoked Brisling Sardines are just a twist away. They’re handpicked and wood smoked for a distinctive flavor that gives your get-togethers a worldly flair. And with their elegant jars, you never have to worry about BPA with these healthy sardines.
Crown Prince One Layer Brisling Sardines in Mustard
Best in mustard
Creamy and smooth, the Crown Prince One Layer Brisling Sardines in Mustard feature bold flavors that combine to give your taste buds a spicy, smoky treat. They’re a favorite among those who find natural sardines too strong on their own. Hand packed and sustainably wild caught, these Scottish brisling sardines are an easy snack and the perfect party appetizer.
Ocean Prince Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce
Best in hot sauce
Get your fix of zesty seasoning with the Ocean Prince Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce. These spicy treats give your mouth all the hotness you love with the healthy benefits of sardines. They’re hand packed and wild caught to offer the texture and appearance you love with a boost of fiery flavor.
Nuri Portuguese Sardines
Get a taste of the old world with the imported flavors of Nuri Portuguese Sardines. Perfect for when you have company, these artisanal sardines are bursting with flavors thanks to their unique method of vapor pre-cooking. Wild caught and all-natural, these exclusive sardines are available in limited amounts each year. Every can is hand wrapped with the distinctive Nuri vintage design, making them a refined gift for anyone who appreciates gourmet foods.
Sardines are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. When eaten with the bones in, sardines provide about 30% of your daily calcium intake (here are more calcium-rich foods, while we're on the topic).
Sardines are an easy snack that you can eat straight out of the can or over toast. You can also prepare them with mustard, mix them in a salad, toss them with your favorite pasta, or sauté them in garlic and oil. Try your favorite cracker for cheese with canned sardines in place of cheddar or Swiss. All in all, it's tough to go wrong.
Unlike larger fish, sardines don’t contain high levels of mercury. Because they’re small and only feed on plankton, sardines are also low in toxins and heavy metals.
That's a matter of taste, really. We like the flavor and texture olive oil imparts. On top of that, the oil tends to mix well with the other juices and spices involved, making for a great dipping sauce for some bread or crackers as you're finishing off the can.
With nutrients packed in like – well, like sardines in a can – adding this fish to your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health. While you're at it, pair seafood and wine for a truly memorable experience. And thanks to their delicious flavor and versatility, it’s easy to reach for a can and give your body a nutritious snack that satisfies the taste buds.
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