What Do Sardines Taste Like? [Definitive Guide]

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Sardines are eaten far less than other fish such as salmon and cod. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should pass them by. Given how healthy they are, they could make an excellent addition to your diet.

This article will cover what sardines taste like and common questions around their taste.

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What Do Sardines Taste Like?

When cooked properly, sardines are pretty un-fishy.

Sardines’ tender flesh makes it enjoyable and chewy without being flaky. And while they do have a strong smell, their taste is even stronger. 

Furthermore, the raw variety has a much different profile flavour than the canned ones. Although, you can still somehow tell you are eating the same oily fish. 

Boiled sardines are soft and tender, and can be bland without any seasoning. Use your favourite spices to create a more colourful dish. You can also sprinkle some freshly ground pepper or lemon. 

When grilled, sardines are truly delicious. They have a smoky flavour that unleashes several other hidden flavours. 

If you consider fresh sardines too fishy, try the canned version. Or you can consider using a marinade first. 

Soak the fish in a bit of ginger, soy sauce, wine with salt and sugar. The marinade will brine the fish and combat most of the fishiness. 

Canned Sardines vs Fresh Sardines Taste

Canned sardines have a different taste when compared to fresh sardines.

The canned variety of oily fish typically tastes fishy. They also have a heavier taste than the more tender fresh fish. 

Canned sardines also come with a lot of oil. They are literally preserved in them.

Fresh ones, on the other hand, are less oily. Although canned sardines are oilier than the raw sardines, they are still healthy. 

Herring vs Sardines Taste

Both herrings and sardines are oily fish. The smaller they are, the less concentrated their flavour, and the more delicate their texture is.

Their oil is the source of their flavour. It is rich in healthy omega fatty acids.

They both have large, loosely attached and shiny scales. They are bony fish.

The main difference between them is, the European sardine is slightly meatier and plumper than the Atlantic Herring.

Sardines vs Anchovies Taste

Sardines are larger than anchovies. They can grow up to 20 cm —7.9 inches— in length.

Anchovies grow to about 15 cm —6 inches— or less. Anchovies have reddish-grey flesh because of the curing they undergo.

Sardines, on the other hand, have white flesh. They’re usually recognisable by their lower jaw, which protrudes slightly.

Some people think anchovies and sardines taste the same, but that isn’t correct.

Both types of fish have entirely different tastes because of the processes they go through.

Anchovies have a dominant flavour. They’re dried in salt while curing, which gives them a more intense, umami flavour.

They are then tinned with olive oil, which adds to their dynamic taste.

Although sardines are larger, they have a lighter and less prominent flavour than anchovies.

How to Make Sardines Taste Good

There are numerous ways to make sardines taste even better than they already do. If you’re looking for ideas, try the following:

Grill your sardines! One of the best ways to make your sardines taste good is to grill them. You could wrap them in grape or fig leaves, splash them with olive oil and grill on charcoal with lemon.

The result will outshine every other seafood. If you use this method, you’ll need to get rid of the bones.

The best way to do that is to butterfly the sardines. After you butterfly the fish, a few bones will still be left. You can eat these bones because they’re soft.

One of the most common ways to eat sardines is with saltine crackers.

If you don’t like saltines, you can eat sardines with healthier biscuits and a slice of cheese. The cheese adds a little more flavour to the combination.

You can eat your sardines directly out of the can with a splash of fresh lemon juice.

This is a wonderful idea for when you crave sardines but don’t want to cook them.

You can replace tuna with sardines in a tuna salad.

Combine your sardine with mayonnaise, pickles and mustard for a reformed tuna salad.

You can make fisherman’s eggs. To make them, you bake your sardines with eggs, spices and onions. 

Fisherman’s eggs taste great, and they’re a healthy and flavourful sardine dish.

Eat your sardines with a Caesar salad and avocado oil or homemade Caesar dressing.

This is a healthy and filling meal that combines vegetables and fish to give a great taste.

You could cook them with black pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Eat the seasoned sardines on toast with tomatoes.

Scramble your eggs with sardine and eat the meal with hollandaise sauce. The eggs taste amazing and have many nutrients.

You can fillet fresh sardines then marinate them with lemon juice, salt and olive oil. This gives you a Mediterranean style of ceviche.

Can You Eat Sardines Everyday?

Generally, it’s recommended to eat oily fish once or twice a week. Sardines contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which isn’t food in many foods other than oily fish.

However, sardines have a more substantial nutritional content when compared to their relatively small size.sardines. They contain a lot of vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D.

Sardines also contain far less mercury than other fish, meaning there are far fewer risks on eating them everyday when compared to other fish.

Best Sardines to Eat

Here are a few of the best sardines to eat.

Wild Planet Wild Sardines

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They are stored in extra virgin oil. The olive oil adds to the nutritional value of the sardines.

The fish is completely cleaned, leaving few bones. The skin is still on the fish, so you can obtain the nutrients. 

It’s a great choice for people that dislike eating bones.

King Oscar Sardines Extra Virgin Oil

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Their cans contain some of the smallest sardines. 

The fish are wild caught, wood-smoked, then packed in olive oil.

Jalapenos make the fish hotter and completes the flavour. The sardines still have their bones and skin intact. They are kosher certified.

Brunswick Wild Caught Sardine fillets in Spring Water

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If you want clean and healthy sardines, this is the pack for you. It doesn’t contain tomato sauce, oil or even salt. It’s perfect for people on a keto diet, and people that are familiar with the sardine taste.

How to Eat Sardines From a Can or Tin

Canned sardines are one of the super healthy and affordable foods. There is also a reduced risk of mercury poisoning compared to bigger fish.

Here are a few way to eat that can of sardines you just bought:

You could fry your sardines or grill them

Fry or grill your canned sardines, add a splash of fresh lemon juice, and enjoy your simple but tasty meal!

Eat them with avocado

Sardines and avocados have different flavours that go amazingly well together.

Stuff an avocado half with sardines or a sardine salad.

You can also take the more aesthetic route and add sardines to your avocado toast.

Use them as a pizza topping

You can eat the sardines with your pizza straight out of the can.

You could also try or grill your sardines before using them as a topping.

Eat them with bread

You can eat your sardines with bread alone.

To make it taste even better, make a paste with butter and sardines and use it as a bread spread.

Can You Eat Sardines Raw?

No, you can not eat raw sardines. You can, however, eat your sardines straight out of the can. 

Canned sardines are already prepared so they are safe for consumption. You need to cook fresh sardines before you eat them. 

First of all, make sure the sardines you buy are firm and shiny. Once you’ve selected your sardines, make sure they’re cleaned and scaled.

Season your sardines with salt, pepper and a little olive oil in preparation for cooking.

It takes about two minutes to cook each side of a sardine. You can eat it with a slice of lemon on the side, or add a tomato salad. 

Cook your sardines on grape leaves or large fig leaves to add some pizzazz.

After the sardines are done on one side, turn them over on the grill. Put the leaves on the grill and place the uncooked side on them. 

Besides making the fish look more attractive, the leaves add a fruity scent to the fish.

To Sum Up

Sardines are both delicious and healthy.

Because they don’t have a distinct fishy taste, they can be great for people wanting to get more fish into their diet but don’t typically like the taste of smell of fish.