15 Canned Sardine Tips For A Better Snack

Canned sardines have earned their place as a pantry staple because of their convenience and affordability, but a tin of sardines is more than a neatly packed snack at a low price point. It's a medley of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D all wrapped up in an easy-to-open tin that's safe to use for up to three years. Naturally, with all those essential nutrients packed in a can, the salty fish snack also boasts a bunch of health benefits and has been found to guard against heart disease.


Couple that with the fact that a can of sardines contains 22.6 grams of protein and you've got a winning ingredient worth stocking in your kitchen and incorporating into your meal plan. But eating them straight out of the tin might not be your idea of a good time and sardines often run the risk of being too plain. Like other canned foods, sardines have great potential to be used in all sorts of dishes and delicacies. With the help of a little inspiration, you might find that canned sardines become your go-to ingredient for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

1. Give pizzas a salty boost

This crowd-pleaser is known for more terrestrial toppings, so when you think of pizza you probably think of pizza's BFF, pepperoni. Tinned fish is an unusual choice when it comes to pizza toppings, but, like pepperoni, it's rich and fatty, so it's not surprising that it works well on a tasty pizza base.


Unlike pepperoni, which is brimming with artery-clogging cholesterol, sardines will bring some healthy omega-3 fatty acids to your favorite dough-based meal, consequently giving your heart a health boost without compromising on flavor.

There are countless pizza topping combos to explore that star canned sardines, but using the salty swimmers alongside thinly sliced onion, sweet peppers, garlic, crushed red pepper, and fresh arugula is a great starting point that makes for a delectable pizza you won't forget. Drain and pat them dry to avoid a soggy pizza base and arrange your halved sardines in a radial pattern for the perfect fish-to-pizza ratio in every bite.

Don't be afraid to play with flavor combinations to find your favorite way of using sardines on pizza. The versatility of canned fish is one of the reasons they're such a popular pantry ingredient. So whether you opt for more classic flavor profiles or modern fusion palettes, sardines will work equally well on either.


2. Whip up an easy sandwich filling

If you're on the hunt for a work-day sandwich that won't leave you with a mid-afternoon energy slump, the humble sardine ought to be on your shopping list. Simply shred your canned sardines in a bowl and add mayo, capers, chopped celery, diced red onions, and finish with a spritz of lemon. Spread it on a slice of your favorite bread and top it with some extra greens like some crisp romaine lettuce before closing your sandwich and voila, you've created a well-balanced protein-rich meal that will leave you satisfied until home time.


The key here is to shred the sardines and finely chop your other ingredients for a perfectly balanced blend of flavors in every bite. If you're hankering for some extra crunch, toast your sandwich on a griddle pan for a crispy finishing touch. As a bonus, this filling is easy to mix together ahead of time so all you have to do to prep for lunch is slap the filling between a couple of bread slices and you're good to go.

3. Get fancy with puff pastry

Nothing makes a memorable dinner party quite like a show-stopping canapé and these easy canned sardine puff pastry bites will surely wow your guests. Simply roll out a sheet of ready-to-bake puff pastry and cut it into bite-sized squares. Top it with tomato puree, chopped or shredded canned sardines, garlic, chopped onion, and capers. Then give it a quick egg wash and bake for 15 minutes or until delightfully crisp and golden. If you're feeling adventurous, modify the way you cut your puff pastry, opting for strips instead of squares, and roll them up with the filling for salty, scrumptious, sardine pinwheels.


These delicious sardine pastry bites make dinner party prep quick and simple. The rich flavor of the sardines is ideal to whet your guests' appetites and when paired with puff pastry, they're great at showing off your culinary flair. You can prep these appetizers in advance and pop them in the oven as your guests arrive to serve them warm and minimize your time in the kitchen to mingle instead.

4. Create a smokey paté

If you're a lover of paté or smokey flavors, this might become your new favorite way to eat tinned sardines. Not only is it rich with smokey umami flavor, but it's quick, easy, and nutritious. Whether you love sardines and crackers as a snack for one or you're looking for an affordable yet show-stopping addition to your next cheese board, this way to use a humble can of sardines will be one you want to keep in your back pocket.


To make a smokey sardine paté, combine smoked sardines with cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Consider adding fresh herbs like parsley or dill for a touch of green and extra flavor. Season to taste and serve with bread, crackers, and crudités. For an eclectic plating idea you won't need to wash up, just serve the paté in the sardine tin.

5. Take peanuts to the next level

Sardines and peanuts may not be something you think of as a pair quite like cheese and crackers, but this is sure to change your mind. Peanuts are a classic snack for game day watch parties and pub gatherings just as much as they're a lunchbox favorite and this hack packs even more nutrition into this timeless crunchy snack, elevating it with salty, zesty, and toasty flavors you can enjoy on any occasion.


Chop or shred the canned sardines and toss them with peanuts, unpeeled garlic cloves, peanut oil, and crushed chili until evenly coated. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and roast at 400 F for 50 minutes, tossing halfway. When your new snack cools, toss it with lime zest, kosher salt, and sugar. Customize the ingredients for your preferred ratio and you've got a custom salty snack with a hit of sourness and sweetness.

6. Make fishcakes to grab and go

Fishcakes are always great to keep in the fridge as a snack or to have with salad for lunch or dinner and using sardines as the base for your fishcakes makes them budget-friendly and easy to whip together. Using mostly pantry staples, fishcakes are also an accessible way to ramp up your omega-3 fatty acid consumption, and when they're perfectly crisp and golden, they feel more like a treat than a nutritious fish snack.


Mash a couple of boiled potatoes and combine them with shredded tinned sardines, spring onions, dill, flour, garlic, lemon zest, and a cup of panko crumbs. Season to taste then add one beaten egg. Shape the mixture into small cakes, coat in more panko crumbs, and fry until golden for the perfect level of crunch. This works great as a twist to dill and tuna patties.

For an extra burst of flavor, try adding some sriracha mayo as a dipping sauce on the side. Simply combine mayonnaise, sriracha, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and serve alongside your fishcakes in a dipping pot or drizzled on top.

7. Make a 10-minute sardine pasta

If you're anything like us you're always on the hunt for another pasta recipe to shake up weeknight dinners and at-home date nights. Once again, the humble can of sardines is an easy way to elevate your go-to pasta recipes.


Whether you want to add some nutrition to a tomatoey pasta sauce or champion sardines with Mediterranean flavors, sardine pasta dishes are quick and convenient. They're also a great way to use both the sardines and the oil they come in for a strong, deep flavor and minimal waste.

For a sardine marinara sauce, heat the oil from the tin in a pan, add chili, garlic, tomato purée, and the sardines. Just like that, you have a scrumptious sauce to go with spaghetti. For more Mediterranean flavors, heat the oil from the tin and add shallots, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, and salt. Add the sardines and break them down. Add lemon juice and capers and the sauce is complete. Toss with cooked pasta and top with extra lemon and chili flakes to taste.


8. Infuse them with herbs for a unique cracker topping

If you love crackers, this is another sardine hack to keep in mind for when you're feeling snacky. Sardines and crackers as a combo is by no means revolutionary, but with a simple addition to any old can of sardines, you can transform the flavors and create a totally bespoke herbal infusion.


Simply crack open the sardine tin and add the herbs of your choice. Sprigs of rosemary, capers, lemon slices, garlic, jalapeños, and chili flakes all work well. Broil in the can for a few minutes and serve with your favorite crackers, melba toast, or French canape bread.

Sardines on crackers is a classic for good reason. The texture of the fish contrasts beautifully with that of the cracker, it's a quick and convenient snack, and the crackers really champion the flavor of the sardines. Now, with whatever herbs you like or have handy in your cabinets, you can add some extra oomph to this already great combo.

9. Make a club sandwich with a twist

If you're hankering for a satiating lunchtime sandwich, the good old club sandwich is a winner. Usually made with bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and cooked chicken or turkey, a club sandwich is a BLT with some extra protein. You can shake it up even further by swapping out the poultry for some sardines. Like the bacon, the sardines add a hit of salt and fattiness that works perfectly with the freshness of the lettuce and tomato and the creaminess of the mayo.


For a more Italian twist to a club sandwich, add arugula and sundried tomatoes or sundried tomato pesto to your toppings of canned sardines and cooked bacon. Elevate this sandwich with a drizzle of balsamic glaze if you like or a few slices of ripe avocado for a creamy, buttery finish. A lunch sandwich has never been more gourmet yet simple.

10. Use in a warming sardine sambal

A sambal is a condiment usually comprised of chili peppers and commonly used in South Indian, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisine. Used to compliment curries, stir-fries, and rice dishes, sambals are packed with rich flavors to add to your food as you like. As you can imagine, the versatile sardine can be put to good use in a sambal just as much as in a sandwich or on crackers.


To whip up your own sardine sambal, heat the oil from the tin in a pan and sauté one chopped onion, some garlic, and ginger, before adding a can of tomatoes, chili powder, and curry powder to taste. Add ¼ cup of water and as many sardines as you prefer for taste and texture. Squeeze over some lime juice at the end and enjoy. Serve with poppadoms or alongside your main dish to compliment it and add some extra depth of flavor.

11. Serve with sticky sauce and rice

If you're getting tired of sardines, all you need to do is shake up the flavor profile you use them in. Exploring Asian flavor combinations with Japanese ingredients in your next sardine snack is a fantastic way to do just that. Sardines work fantastically well as the protein in the characteristically balanced sweet, sour, and umami flavors of Japanese cooking.


For this quick and easy Japanese-inspired sardine rice bowl, mix ½ a tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and grated ginger. Bring that to the boil, add the drained sardines, and simmer until the sauce thickens. Serve on a bed of steamed white rice and top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onion for a celebration of refreshing Asian flavors.

You could serve this as is or incorporate more vegetables for some crunchy texture, fiber, and added nutrition. Julienned carrots and cucumbers work well with the savory sardines and aromatic sauce, and they're quick and easy to prepare.

12. Elevate your potato side dish

If you're looking for a tasty potato dish to take to your next party or serve alongside a roast, look no further! Roast potatoes are a perfect compliment for many a main dish at dinner parties, but they could be considered just a little too simple and plain. These crispy and golden sardine roast potatoes are delicious, unique, and easy to make. In other words, they're the perfect side dish. The next time you want a side dish that everyone will take note of, just add canned sardines.


Simply roast baby potatoes until perfectly crispy and toss with chopped tinned sardines, capers, and a generous grating of parmesan for a unique twist on roast potatoes. This hack also adds an extra hit of nutrition, making roast potatoes an unlikely snack that is equal parts scrumptious and balanced. It also keeps well in the fridge and served as a cold potato salad perfect for work lunches.

13. Use as a base for a shaved salad

Sardines work great as a protein in salads and sandwiches because of their unique salty flavor, excellent protein content, and smooth fatty quality. They're an obvious choice for something hearty like a Caesar salad, with crisp romaine lettuce, boiled eggs, lemon juice, croutons, garlic, parmesan, dijon mustard, and black pepper, but for an unexpected refreshing sardine summer salad, follow these steps.


Set your sardines on a plate or serving platter in a radial pattern as the base of your salad and top them with shaved radish and cucumber – a mandoline is ideal for this but if you don't have one handy, thinly sliced by hand will do. Add sprigs of fresh mint and dill and squeeze over some lemon juice for even more freshness. Enjoy this light salad on its own for a refreshing summer lunch or al fresco among other summery dishes and the perfect margarita.

14. Give your breakfast a protein boost

Sardines on toast have untold possibilities when it comes to ingredient combos and snack flavors and breakfast is no exception. When it comes to breakfast, sardines are another option for protein and fats to create a well-balanced first meal of the day. They might not be the protein you typically reach for at breakfast time, but with the convenience of tinned sardines, that might just change.


Top your avocado toast with tinned sardines and add dill and pumpkin seeds for some extra taste and crunch. If you use sardines and avocado as a base, you can dress your toast up or down as you please, with tomato slices, egg, seeds, feta, and olive oil, depending on what you feel like.

However you choose to enjoy them, adding canned sardines to avocado toast is a great way to get some extra omega-3 fatty acids in. Say goodbye to fish oil supplements and that unwanted aftertaste.

15. Create a simple savory crumble

When you think of a crumble you probably think of a classic apple crisp, but crumbles can be savory too. The crunchy baked topping works equally well with the salty quality characteristic of sardines as it does with the sweet and spiced softness of cooked apples. A sardine crumble is also easy to make for one person or in one-person portions for a dinner party using the tin as an eclectic ramekin.


To try your hand at a savory sardine crisp, drain the can of sardines, setting the oil aside for even more flavor later. Shred the sardines with a fork and return to the tin with the oil. Combine traditional crumble ingredients with a few of your favorite herbs and crumble the mixture on top of the tin. Bake for 15 minutes, serve with a side salad, and you've got a deliciously salty dinner for one.