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Why You Should Try Sardines

For seafood lovers out there, there’s a tiny fish packed with flavour and brimming with health benefits: the sardine! This humble catch might be small, but it deserves a starring role in your kitchen. Whether you’re looking for a protein boost, a heart-healthy option, or simply a delicious new taste sensation, sardines are a fantastic choice. Let’s explore everything you need to know about this mighty little fish and you will understand why we think it’s a real gem.

What are Sardines?

Sardines (Sardina pilchardus) are small, schooling fish belonging to the Clupeidae family, which also includes herring and sprats. Found in temperate and subtropical waters around the world, including the coasts of the UK, sardines typically reach lengths of 12-20 cm and weigh 100 grams each. They have a sleek, silvery body with a blueish or greenish back. These filter feeders play a vital role in the marine ecosystem, consuming plankton and small crustaceans.


In the UK, the most commonly available sardines are Atlantic sardines, caught in the Celtic Sea and the North Sea. These are the ones you’ll typically find in supermarkets often labelled as “sardines” or “pilchards” (the terms are sometimes used interchangeably).

The Cornish sardine industry contributes significantly to the national supply and even exports. They are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council for sustainably, using small ring net vessels and adhering to quotas based on scientific advice. These sardines are known for their high quality and freshness, and are often canned or processed into delicious products enjoyed in the UK and overseas. Check out the Cornish sardines available in our shop.

What Do Sardines Taste Like?

Sardines offer a unique flavour profile that can vary depending on how they’re prepared. Fresh sardines have a milder, slightly fishy and briny taste, but less fishy than an anchovy. It is an oily fish and the flesh has a soft, flaky texture. Tinned sardines, on the other hand, can be richer and saltier due to smoking and pre-cooking before packing in oil (often olive oil or sunflower oil), and has a softer texture than fresh sardines. While fresh gives you more versatility in terms of cooking and flavours, canned sardines are definitely convenient to use.

The small bones in sardines are soft and calcium-rich, and can be eaten whole without any danger. For those who prefer a boneless option, look for skinless and boneless sardines, often packed in olive oil.

Are Sardines Healthy?

Absolutely! Sardines are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Here’s a rundown of their impressive health profile:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Sardines are brimming with omega-3s, crucial for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation.
  • Vitamin D: Essential for bone health and immune function, Vitamin D is often deficient in many people. Sardines offer a delicious way to boost your intake.
  • Vitamin B12: Vital for energy production and nervous system function.
  • Protein: Sardines are a great source of lean protein, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Calcium: Important for strong bones and teeth.
  • Iron: Sardines can help prevent anaemia by providing a good source of iron.

With this impressive array of nutrients, it’s no wonder sardines are considered a “superfood.”  Are sardines healthy to eat every day? While sardines offer a wealth of benefits, moderation is key. Especially with the tinned variety, sodium levels tend to be on the higher side.

How Do You Prepare Sardines?

Tinned sardines are already cleaned and cooked so nearly no preparation is needed. A truly convenient protein that you can just incorporate to a dressing or other components of a dish.

For fresh sardines, you have the option to scale, gut and remove the head or fillet as with any other fish. But you also have the option to just cook and serve the fish whole. Given its size, you can safely eat the whole fish and some prefer to leave the scales, bones and guts in and go straight to cooking as is.

How Do You Cook Sardines? 

Sardines are a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in countless ways. Let’s start off with a few quick and flavourful tinned sardine recipes and finish off with some mouthwatering fresh sardine dishes.

Tinned Sardine Recipes:

  • Sardine and Avocado Wrap: Fill a whole wheat wrap with tinned sardines, mashed avocado, lettuce, and tomato slices. Roll up and enjoy as a quick and nutritious lunch.
  • Sardine Pasta Puttanesca: Cook spaghetti and toss with a sauce made from tinned sardines, olives, capers, chili flakes, garlic, and canned tomatoes. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
  • Sardine Caesar Salad: Add tinned sardines to a classic Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing. Serve as a satisfying main dish salad.
  • Sardine and Tomato Tart: Spread puff pastry with tomato paste and top with sliced tomatoes, tinned sardines, olives, capers and other fresh herbs. Bake until golden and serve warm.
  • Sardine Stuffed Peppers: Mix tinned sardines with cooked rice or bread crumbs, chopped vegetables, and spices. Stuff the mixture into halved bell peppers and bake until tender.

Fresh Sardine Recipes:

  • Grilled Sardines with Lemon and Garlic: Marinate fresh sardines in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and fresh herbs like parsley or thyme. Grill until cooked through and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Catalan-Style Sardines: Shallow fry fresh sardines with light flour coating and dress with a rich tomato sauce flavoured with paprika, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. 
  • Stuffed Sardines: Fill butterflied fresh sardines with a mixture of breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Bake until golden and crispy.
  • Sardine Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes: Toss cooked pasta with sautéed cherry tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes, and fresh basil. Add grilled fresh sardines and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
  • Pan-Fried Sardines with Herbed Butter: Coat fresh sardines in seasoned flour and pan-fry until golden brown. Serve with a dollop of herb-infused butter on top.
  • Sardine Fish Cakes: Flake cooked fresh sardines and mix with mashed potatoes, chopped spring onions, and grated cheese. Shape into patties, coat with breadcrumbs, and fry until crispy.
  • Sardine Pâté: Blend cooked fresh sardines with cream cheese, lemon juice, capers, and fresh herbs until smooth. Serve as a spread on crusty bread or crackers.
  • Sardine on Toast: Toast slices of bread and top with fillets of sardine seasoned with salt and topped with a salad cream and tomato dressing. Serve with watercress, cucumber and radish as garnish.

Where To Buy Fresh Sardines?

Sardines are a delicious, nutritious, and versatile fish that offer a wealth of health benefits.  Why not give some fresh sardines a try? 

We deliver anywhere in the UK

Fresh Whole Sardines

Cornish Frozen Sardines

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