How To Eat Sardines Without Throwing Up

Sunday 12th May 2024

Do you know that sardines are up there with the foods that contain the highest amount of essential nutrients and protein?

Sounds good – let’s eat sardines and be healthy!

Well, it is not that simple. I am sure you feel the same way I do. Open a can of sardines and you are hit by that not-so-great fishy smell. They also tend to look a little slimy and are certainly way-down on my choice of appetizing foods.

But, I am on a health drive, so I persevered. I found some great ways to use sardines in everyday cooking and snacking. I managed to make them edible and even … likable. My kids tried some and that is the ultimate taste test for me.

Here are my ideas on how to make canned sardines taste good. I have also included some info on how sardines boost our health – hopefully this will give you an added incentive to try out the recipes!

Breakfast sardine scrambled eggs

scarmbled eggs and sardines

My family loves scrambled eggs for breakfast. It is fast and easy to make and ideal for those rushed school and work days. Combining sardines into the scrambled eggs gives it a different and surprisingly pleasant taste.

Eggs and sardines are both a rich source of protein, so this meal is a great booster for people who need to increase their protein intake.

Proteins are used in the body to build and repair muscles and bones. They also aid in producing hormones and enzymes. Proteins are a great source of natural energy. (1)

Ingredients needed

  • 2 cans of boneless skinless sardines
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely sliced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper

Steps to follow

  • Remove sardines from the can and drain
  • Use a fork and break into bite-sized pieces
  • In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, chives, tarragon, and parsley
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Whisk the eggs lightly until frothy
  • Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat
  • Add the sardines
  • Cook for about 1 minute
  • Turn the heat down to low
  • Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the sardines
  • Using a spatula, stir the eggs and sardines for four to six minutes
  • When the eggs are at the desired consistency remove the skillet from the heat
  • Serve on toast, crusty bread or flatbread as desired

Summer lunch sardines and avocado

Sardines and avocado

Combining sardines and avocado creates a fresh and tempting meal for a summer lunch. This recipe is also ideal if you are following a Keto Diet plan. It is fast and easy and only takes 5 minutes to prepare.

Sardines contain high doses of Omega-3. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that play a vital role in heart and blood health. Because Omega-3 cannot be produced by the body, we have to obtain it from the foods we eat. Omega-3 is known to lower blood pressure, slow the development of plaque in the arteries and reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke (2).

Avocados are rich in Vitamins, especially Vitamin K which the body uses to help blood clot and wounds heal. It is also high in fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats (3).

Ingredients needed

  • 1 large avocado with the seed removed
  • 1 can of sardines (3.2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 medium spring onion finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps to follow

  • Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed
  • Drain the sardines and place them in a bowl
  • Use a fork and break them into small pieces
  • Use a spoon to scoop out the middle of the avocado, leaving about 1 inch of the flesh in the skin
  • Add the finely sliced spring onion and turmeric powder into the sardines
  • Add in the mayonnaise and mix well
  • Add in the scooped avocado flesh and mash with a fork
  • You can make the mixture chunky or smoother as you desire
  • Squeeze in fresh lemon juice
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Scoop the avocado mixture into each avocado
  • Place onto a plate and top with some decorative parsley

Lazy weekend barbecued sardines

Barbeque Saredines

As a family, we love chilling out on the weekend around a barbecue. It makes for some great bonding time to catch up on the events of the week and make plans for the days to come.

This recipe is a favorite in Mediterranean countries and is served as part of a tapas plate in Spain. Imagine yourself on an exotic island with endless white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters all around. You have an instant get-away in your own garden or yard!

Sardines are a very cost-effective food option. If you suffer from those too-many-days in the month syndrome, sardines will stretch your budget and keep you healthy and well-fed.

For this recipe, I like to make the marinade a few hours before we barbecue and allow the sardines to rest in it. Doing this takes away the very fishy taste and enhances the great taste of spices and herbs. They make a great starter to snack on while you cook up the rest of your meal.

Ingredients needed

  • 2 cans sardines
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Steps to follow for the marinade

  • In a bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and paprika
  • Add black pepper to taste
  • Whisk well to combine
  • Place the sardines in a single layer in a shallow baking dish
  • Pour the marinade over the fish
  • Flip each sardine to ensure it is evenly coated
  • Spoon the remaining marinade over the fish
  • Set aside for 30 minutes

Steps to follow for the barbecue

  • You need a barbecue grate with fine holes to prevent the small sardines from slipping through into the fire
  • Prepare your coals and light up
  • Leave until burning hot
  • Oil your barbecue grate
  • Arrange the sardines on the grate so that they don’t touch one another
  • Place over the fire and grill for 2 to 3 minutes
  • Charring is fine but do not burn
  • Use a spatula and flip them over for another 2 to 3 minutes
  • Transfer the sardines to your serving platter
  • Season with salt
  • Garnish with chopped parsley
  • Serve with lemon wedges

Spaghetti with sardines

Sardines and spaghetti

I love a good pasta dish and spaghetti is so easy to make. I usually use anchovies to make a salty spaghetti that the family loves. Substituting them with sardines seemed like a great idea. The problem was, they were not salty! By adding in some capers I discovered how to make canned sardines less fishy, and add that spine-tingling salty taste.

Sardines are a sustainable food source. They are ethically fished in a way that will not harm the environment. A sustainable food system also ensures that economic and social factors are not compromised (4). This certainly gives the humble sardine a thumbs-up in my kitchen.

Ingredients needed

  • 14oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium can chopped tomato
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • 2 cans skinless and boneless sardines in tomato sauce
  • 4oz pitted black olives roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Steps to follow

  • Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the pack instructions
  • While the spaghetti is cooking you can prepare the sauce
  • Using a fork, break up the sardines
  • Pour the oil into a medium pan and heat
  • Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute
  • Add the tomatoes, sardines, and chili flakes
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir and heat for about 2-3 minutes
  • Stir in the olives, capers and most of the parsley (leave some parsley for decoration)
  • Continue stirring for another 2 minutes
  • Drain the pasta and keep aside 2 tablespoons of the water
  • Add the pasta into the sauce and mix well
  • If it is too thick, add in water that you saved
  • This makes enough for 4 bowls, top with the remaining parsley and serve with crusty bread and some Italian winery

Teatime sardine on toast snack

sardines on toast

Feeling peckish in the afternoon? Why not consider making a healthy sardine snack in place of snacking on candies, chips or biscuits? It is much healthier and great for your figure.

Sardines packed in cans come in different forms. They can be packaged in brine, which is a salty water. They also come in a classic tomato sauce. If you enjoy a touch of heat, look for sardines packed in chilli or a hot spicy mix.

You can also find sardines in olive oil, which is the option I am going to use in this snack recipe. Olive oil is also packed full of healthy monounsaturated fats and contains large amounts of antioxidants. Olive oil can reduce inflammation and significantly reduce heart disease.

For this snack, I also use sourdough bread. It has a unique taste and is a great health alternative to regular white bread.

Ingredients needed

  • 2 slices toasted sourdough bread
  • 1 large garlic clove halved
  • 1 small can sardines in olive oil
  • 4oz cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons watercress
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 lemon to serve
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps to follow

  • Toast the bread
  • Rub the garlic over each piece
  • Empty the sardines and the oil into a small bowl
  • Mix in the tomatoes and the watercress
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Place half the mixture onto each slice of toast
  • Sprinkle with parsley
  • Squeeze over the lemon
  • Serve with piping hot tea on a cold day, or iced tea on a hot day

Asian inspired sardines with egg rice

Sardines and egg rice

Buying Asian takeouts is fun but it can become expensive for a family. I have discovered a delicious Asian-inspired recipe that uses sardines and is quick and easy to make. It is also much healthier to make your own food at home.

This recipe makes a great Friday-night relaxed dinner to eat while watching a movie. You can even serve it in paper containers with chopsticks – just like your local takeout.

Ingredients needed

  • 1 large can sardines in oil
  • 1/4 cup green onions chopped
  • Fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • Chilli pepper
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice as per instructions on the box
  • 2 eggs

Steps to follow

  • Empty the sardines and the oil into a bowl
  • Using a fork, break up into small pieces
  • Chop up the green onions and add in
  • Add in the ginger, this is spicy so add only the amount you need
  • Add in chilli pepper to taste
  • Add in soy sauce to taste
  • Pour some of the sesame oil into a pan and heat over a medium heat
  • Empty the mixture into the pan and heat through, stirring for around 3 to 5 minutes
  • Set aside
  • Whisk the eggs
  • Using another pan, heat up the remaining sesame oil and add in the cooked rice
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir slowly until it starts to fry lightly
  • Make a well in the middle of the rice and pour in the whisked eggs
  • Scramble the egg with a fork until it takes on the consistency you want
  • Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg through the rice and remove from the heat
  • Place the rice into your serving bowls or takeout-style containers
  • Spoon the sardine mixture over the top
  • Serve and enjoy!


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