14 Reasons You Should Always Have a Can of Sardines in Your Pantry

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Sardines don’t get the praise they justly deserve. Not only are these small fish sustainable, but they’re also packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Despite their small size, these fish can be intense — in a good way. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve got a few ideas that should be reason enough to start keeping a can or two in your pantry.

Sardines are such a versatile food — as long as you know how to use them. Here are 14 delicious ways to enjoy a can of sardines any time of day.

1. Grill or fry them.

Keep things simple: Grill or fry whole sardines, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and eat!

2. Pile a couple on toast or hearty crackers.

Topped on toast or Wasa crackers, sardines make a simple, light meal. Add a spread of mustard, a squeeze of lemon, or some sliced tomatoes and red onion for more flavor.

Get a recipe: Sardine Snacking Toasts

3. Add a few to pizza.

You can toss them on straight from the can, fry them up, or grill them. Either way, sardines make a fun pizza topping.

4. Add them to salad.

Whether you take them straight from the can, or give them a quick grill or fry first, a few sardines will totally transform a salad.

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

5. Pair them with avocado.

The buttery richness of avocado is a perfect match for umami-rich sardines. Add one or two to avocado toast or stuff an avocado half with a quick sardine salad.

6. Whisk some into tomato sauce.

Sardines don’t have to be left whole. Try blending them into a paste, and then whisking them into tomato sauce to add depth of flavor.

7. Mix them with pasta.

Sardines work wonders in so many different types of pasta dishes: Add them to pasta tossed with marinara or pesto, or mix them into a carbonara or primavera.

8. Use them in tacos.

Sardines might not be the first type of seafood that comes to mind when you think about fish tacos, but these small, canned fish work surprisingly well in a tortilla.

9. Turn them into fish cakes.

Whether you chop the sardines or blend them into a purée, they’re a natural addition to almost any type of fish cake you want to whip up.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

10. Chop a few for quiche.

Change up the way you do quiche. Chopped or whole, sardines add something really excited to this egg dish.

11. Flake them into braised greens.

Sardines add great flavor and a nice contrast to hearty braised greens, like kale, collards, and chard.

12. Layered some with sliced potatoes.

Sardines amp up the flavor of almost any potato dish; they’re especially wonderful layered between sliced potatoes.

13. Pile them on plain rice.

Make plain rice a more interesting side dish with a few sardines, then flavor everything with a few dashes of hot sauce and a drizzle of soy sauce.

14. Mix them into a gratin.

Instead of keeping them whole, consider puréeing sardines into a paste and then mixing them into a gratin for another layer of savory umami.

Get a recipe: Tomato and Squash Gratin

Are sardines a staple in your pantry? What’s your favorite way to eat them?