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Need recipes for canned sardines

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We are upping our consumption of this healthy fish. It's tasty, but a bit strong tasting, ya know?

Here's the challenge, though: NO GRAINS. I can find many recipes for eating them on crackers or bread and while that would be an easy answer, it will not work in our case.

A big bonus would involve chopping or mashing them up with other ingredients, because otherwise (due to spousal pickiness) I have to pick out the tiny, edible bones and scrape off the skin.

So, got any ideas or links to share?

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  1. You can mix them in a blender with 16 ounces of cottage cheese per can of sardines to make a sardine smoothie, though you need the sardines that are packed in spring water.

    7 Replies
    1. re: redfish62

      I'm trying to figure out if this is a serious or joke suggestion--I can't tell. I also can't wrap my mind about a smoothie that doesn't contain fruit, ginger juice, coconut milk, and the other ingred's I put into our almost daily breakfast smoothies. Creative idea though!

      1. re: Enso

        I think it's more "out there" than the Sardine and Beet salad I posted...I don't think I could get it down to be honest. And Redfish62, I do not mean this in a nasty or derogatory way...I'm just saying I doubt I could drink sardines...(flashback to old SNL's BassOMatic) ack!

        1. re: Enso

          Didn't Dan Aykroyd do that with the "Bass-O-Matic"?

        2. re: redfish62

          Huh. I wouldn't drink it, but I can see this mixed with some wilted greens, maybe garlic and onions, and tossed in a casserole, topped with buttered breadcrumbs, and then baked. I think that would make a nice side to a simple pasta, or served with a good bread . . . garlic bread or bruschetta.

          ETA: The bread/crumb was a suggestion for anyone, like myself, lurking for idea using sardines in cooking. And if the OP can use quinoa, that might be a nice mix-in.

          1. re: redfish62

            I sort of laughed at this. My friend eats them just mixed in cottage cheese. My husband just likes them on bread(I know), with butter and onions.

            Mix them in a salad like a farmers chop suey. With lettuce radishes, green onions, etc., put in the sardines with cottage cheese, little sour cream and seasonings like onion powder, garlic,etc.
            Try some of the other sardines, like in tomatoe sauce, chili peppers, etc.

            1. Okay, this one is kind of "out there" but wow...I eat tons of sardines, salmon and kippers and this recipe for Sardine and Beet Salad has been looking SO interesting to me and I WILL try it probably this week...Only drawback I can see for your spouse is that the fish is left in chunks or whole pieces. I've also really enjoyed the Epicurious recipe for sardines with fried capers and dill but they put it with pasta, not acceptable for you but that is a very good combo, the capers and the sardines, just saying...here's the Sardine and Beet salad:

              1 Reply
              1. re: Val

                I never heard of frying capers--interesting! I might could try leaving out the pasta and breadcrumbs and put the rest on a salad, perhaps.

                I bet the pickled beets - not to mention horseradish - hold up well to the taste of the sardines...might try this one also.

              2. Pasta might be categorized as a "grain", so I don't know how non-grainy you want to go. To the point, sardines work well in casseroles (you can use potatoes in place of pasta) or in a wide range of pasta dishes. Use them in spaghetti sauces (in place of anchovies) or on pizza, chopped into a sauce of mayonnaise/mustard/sweet pickle for sandwiches, chop them into scrambled eggs or add them to a frittata, include them in salads (instead of tuna or other fish).

                7 Replies
                1. re: todao

                  hmmm....sardines with scrambled egg...might be a nice change-up for my breakfast, todao...thanks for the idea which I'm sure I've seen on the boards before but am branching out on how I eat those little fishies, so that might also be one to try this week. Am envisioning some sriracha sauce somehow in there too......

                  EDIT: omg...look what this cute young guy Leeshawn is making, Spicy Scrambled Eggs with sardines, ENSO, this might also work for you and spouse?:


                  1. re: Val

                    Will have to listen. The spouse-ster does like curry, though!

                    1. re: Val

                      Like the scrambled egg idea. Dollop with creme fraiche, a little red onion and little capper.

                    2. re: todao

                      Sorry, but no "might" about it. Pasta is made almost 100% from flour, which is made from a grain called wheat, so it's not an option for us. Ditto for sandwiches. Or pizza.

                      And - oops! - I didn't mention it previously, but potatoes are also off the table.

                      I did try them once in an omelet, with a filling of sardines, tomato, bell pepper, and Spanish-styled seasonings. Wasn't bad, but would need tweaking to repeat, and I haven't been able to figure out what to change...

                      1. re: Enso

                        Pasta can be made from a lot of things. YOu need to be more clear if you are avoiding wheat, or all grains, or gluten, or seeds as well. People use "grain" pretty widely.

                        1. re: JudiAU

                          JudiaAU, sorry to learn that you are confused by my post and/or the term grain. Did you have a specific question, or just wanted to quibble?

                          May I recommend you avail yourself of a good dictionary; I believe there are several easily accessible online.

                          Which "pasta" were you thinking of, that IYO does not contain grains (or potato, as I added)?

                          1. re: Enso

                            I think the point being made is that pasta is made from flour, but not all flour is wheat flour.

                            The request for clarification would allow us to offer you the widest array of suggestions possible....but I think that we're clear that no grain- wheat or otherwise- is desirable for you. The additional detail in subsequent posts is helpful.

                            For others perusing this thread who only have a wheat allergy, or a gluten intolerance, but not a need to avoid all grains, this clarification might open up some restrictions that they may have thought they had as they are considering their options.

                    3. Make a salad and stuff into an avocado. I use 1 can tuna and 1 can sardines in olive oil, but you can use straight sardines (which is the way I had it in a v good restaurant). Use lots of minced celery for crunch, a little minced green onion, capers, mayo, the juice of a lime and a shot of Tabasco. It is basically the way I make a tuna salad. You can mash the sardines to the point that spouse will never notice bones and skin! Stuff into avocado halves, serve on a bed of lettuce. Delicious.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: MazDee

                        And another great idea!!!! For me, anyway...thanks MD!

                        1. re: MazDee

                          +1 on this. A shot of Dijon mustard can help here too.

                          1. re: Joebob

                            Mmm, great idea. I am going to add some next time.

                        2. I'm also trying to eat more sardines but agree the taste can be quite strong. I've tried eating it with mayo, avocado, wasabi, tomato sauce etc but it still tasted too sardine-y. This combination hid the fishiness, and the spaghetti squash makes it almost as satisfying as pasta:

                          1/2 onion, sliced
                          1 tin sardines in oil (I use the headless boneless skinless kind, discard the oil and rinse lightly in lemon juice)
                          about 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
                          1-2 tablespoons Trader Joe's General Tso sauce
                          small handful kimchee, chopped (or chili or hot sauce if you don't like kimchee)
                          handful chopped green onions or spinach (optional, for color)

                          Stir fry onions in a little oil till cooked, then add the rest of ingredients to taste and heat through.

                          It's not very sophisticated and does have sugar from the sauce, but for the first time I actually enjoyed sardines instead of forcing myself to eat it for the health benefits. (I should add I do have a sweet tooth)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gemsquash

                            Can you list what's in the General Tso sauce?

                            1. re: Enso

                              Sorry, I don't have the ingredient list right now - it tastes a bit like bbq sauce so I would imagine sugar, tomato, vinegar, spices would be in there.

                          2. Lettuce leaf with mayo and a bit of mustard mixed together, some sweet onion rings thinly sliced and sardines. Wrap and enjoy. It is possible to buy sardines that are skinned and deboned, fwiw.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Gail

                              Open sardines. Give to cats. Done,.

                              1. re: MellieMag

                                LOL...but how do your cats pass the health benefits back to you? ;-)

                            2. I know you said no grains, but you really must try this:

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Enso

                                Enso, for whatever it is worth, I appreciate your reaction. Personally, I eat and tolerate grains, but it is a little like saying, "You must try this Malaysian Peanut recipe" to someone with a serious Peanut allergy.

                                Enso, on another note, how are you with Starches that are not grain-based (i.e. Winter Squash, Various Beans, Chestnuts, etc. I know that you already mentioned that Potatoes are no good)?

                                1. re: DougRisk

                                  I appreciate you "getting it" Doug. And I'm sure roxlet really didn't intend any malicious intent. I've been guilty many, many times in my life of being sloppy with language.

                                  Of your list, squash and chestnuts are fine, and some beans might be in very limited quantities. Corn is another, very common, veg that's off-limits.

                                  I notice that most of the recipes include either:
                                  --really strong flavors - to compete and balance with the fishiness of sardines, or
                                  --basically tasteless foods, e.g., wheat or potatoes, to "dilute" the strong flavor of the fish

                                  I can use those principles to consider various foods and create new combinations. Could be an interesting brainstorming project.

                                  I just had a thought...there's some preserved lemon in the fridge, and I think the tart and salty flavor would meld well with the fish. Now, to figure out what else to add...hmm...

                                  1. re: Enso

                                    I have not tried it, but, what about something like this:

                                    Sardines layered with creamy courgette and butternut squash ragoƻt (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sar...)

                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                      That link doesn't work for me...I'm intrigued cause I don't know what courgette is...

                                      1. re: Enso

                                        If I may: courgette is eggplant...(I think, pretty sure...)...rocket is arugula too which has NOTHING to do with this thread...LOL.

                                        1. re: Val

                                          I think courgette is what the Brits call zucchini. Eggplant is aubergine.

                                          1. re: MazDee

                                            MazDee is correct. Courgette aka marrows aka zucchini is not eggplant.

                                          2. re: Val

                                            Umm.... courgette is not an eggplant.

                                            1. re: raisa

                                              Thanks raisa, I see many times that I was wrong. (^_^)

                                2. Some really good ideas here, thanks for the contributions that helped me expand our sardine repetoire!

                                  I'd like to share our mainstay recipe that we had been mostly relying on for serving this healthful yet strongly-flavored fish.

                                  We eat this as a breakfast meal...
                                  Mash sardines with neufchatel and the day's choice of onion (green, red, or yellow/white), capers, mustard, pickles, celery. Serve on spinach, mixed greens, or lettuce. Eat with a fork or use fingers to pinch up a bit of fish with lettuce as a kind of mini-wrap.

                                  I also made a recipe with sardines heated in a sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic. I think we seasoned it with some kind of curry powdered spice mixture. It was only so-so to our tastebuds, though.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Enso

                                    Nice idea with the cream cheese & onions, etc.! Thanks for sharing back, Enso.
                                    Along the lines of sardines with tomatoes, have you tried them with spicy salsa? That's a pretty good and basic combo, too and is mostly how I have them for lunch at work. Good luck!

                                    1. re: Enso

                                      Sardines in tomato sauce is one of the first things I learned to cook. All you need to do is make a sofrito, add your tomatoes and cook them down, add your sardines to heat through, some herbs, a little red pepper, and you're done. Very savory and very satisfying.

                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        That's similar to what I tried. What just occurred to me as I read this, is it might be that for me heating the sardines brings out their flavor a little too much. If I eat 'em cold, they seem tastier somehow... Anyone else notice this?

                                    2. What about mashing it with some mayo, green onion, salt and pepper and rolling in a lettuce leaf to eat? Or on endive? (Edit) and once again, I see that I've completely missed the previous posts that suggest exactly this...sorry.)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        It's tasty enough to bring up twice! :-)

                                      2. I found an interesting site for searching recipes: http://foodily.com. Seems to be some sort of aggregator, searching other sites for recipes containing the ingredients one types in. It will also include terms to omit! So, for example, one can search for recipes with 'canned' and 'sardines' and exclude any with 'pasta'. Very cool!

                                        1. A Filipino recipe using sardines in tomato sauce is to soak a bundle of mung bean noodles aka bean thread, or cellophane noodles in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and cut into 3" lengths using food prep scissors. Saute sliced onions, and garlic in vegetable oil then add sardines. Continue cooking for a few minutes then add noodles and a scant cup of water. Cook until water has cooked away, and noodles are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: letsindulge

                                            That sounds good! Do you really need a cup of water to cook the noodles, I thought they would be more or less soft after soaking?

                                            1. re: gemsquash

                                              You can enjoy this preparation either dry or slurpy. Wet is best over rice.

                                          2. I recently made a grilled sardine sandwich on rye bread.

                                            Although they're not as healthy for you, the boneless skinless are more mild tasting than those with skin & bone.

                                            My grilled sardine sandwich was 1 tin of olive oil packed boneless skinless sardines emptied into bowl along with the olive oil. Mash well with fork. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of mayo. The juice of 1/2 lemon. 1/2 grinder twist Trader Joe's Pink Himalayan salt. 1/2 grinder twist Trader Joe's 4 Peppercorns mix. For extra lemon flavor measure a few good shakes of lemon pepper. Mix all well.

                                            Spread desired amount on piece of rye bread. Top w/deli slice of swiss cheese. Top with the other slice of rye. Sprayed on good amount of olive oil flavored non-stick cooking spary. Lay sparyed side down on a well heated (w/medium to medium high burner flame) cast iron skillet. Spray now top bread with the 'OONSCS'. Toast each side to golden brown.

                                            It was really good but a little rich. I'm thinking because of the olive oil added. Next time, and I suggest for anyone who wants to try this, drain off olive oil place couple of layers of paper towel on plate/paper plate carefully remove fish pieces from drained tin place on paper towel cover plate and gently daub off as much as possible OO remaining on sardines. Then add to bowl mash and continue adding ingredients.

                                            1. I"m not a big fan of sardines myself, but if you want to try some of the pasta-based casserole recipes out there, I recommend using well-drained extra-firm tofu, cut into pieces the approximate size of macaroni noodles, in place of the pasta. I use tofu to make low-carb macaroni and cheese, and I've recently started making a low-carb tuna noodle casserole as well with good results. I can post my recipes if you'd like.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                can you please post the tofu mac and cheese recipe? thanks!!

                                                1. re: liveloveat34

                                                  Sure! Keep in mind that this recipe was developed not only to avoid pasta but other carbs as well - if you aren't concerned about ALL carbs, you could easily just make a typical bechamel-based cheese sauce and use it with the tofu.

                                                  3-12oz pkgs extra firm tofu, drained and pressed of excess liquid
                                                  1-10 oz. pkg frozen cauliflower
                                                  2 cloves garlic (optional)
                                                  2 T. butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
                                                  4 oz. cream cheese
                                                  1/4 c. sour cream
                                                  1/4 c. heavy cream (could use milk or half and half)
                                                  3 oz. velveeta (you can sub something else, but velveeta really gives the best texture)
                                                  12 oz. sharp cheddar, gruyere or other sharp cheese, grated (you can use more or less here)
                                                  grated parmesan to taste
                                                  1 t. dry mustard (more if you like it)
                                                  pinch of cayenne (to taste)
                                                  salt and pepper to taste

                                                  Press the tofu REALLY well with a heavy between multiple layers of paper towel (at least a couple of hours). Grease a 13x9 baking dish. Place the cauliflower and garlic in a saucepan with water and boil until extremely soft, approximately 20 minutes (the garlic kills the cabbagey tasty of the cauliflower, to my palate). Drain and place the cauliflower in a blender or food processor with the cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream and process until entirely smooth (you could use an immersion blender as well).

                                                  Pour the mixture into the saucepan over medium heat and add the rest of the ingredients, reserving some grated cheese or parmesan (or both) to top the casserole. Stir until all the cheeses have melted, adding additional cream or some water or chicken broth if the sauce is too thick (it should be the consistency of a thick bechamel).

                                                  Cut the pressed tofu into 1/4"-1/8" slices, then cut the slices crosswise into "noodles". Toss with the melted butter, then combine with the cheese sauce and gently toss until all the tofu is coated. Pour into the prepared dish and top with reserved cheeses, then bake at 350 for 30 mins and finish under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp the top.

                                                  I also make a crispy low-carb topping out of pork rinds and/or bacon sometimes. The butter can be omitted but I really love the flavor it adds. I often make this with whatever odds and ends of cheese I have left in the house - goat cheese/blue cheese adds a nice tang. My anti-tofu husband prefers this to the real thing, and the last time I served it to guests one of them literally licked the pan clean. With all that cheese, how can you go wrong? :)

                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                    thanks so much! appreciate you taking the time to post this! :-)

                                              2. So surprised no one has mentioned the Avocado Sardine Toasts that were in Paula Wolfert's Slow Mediterranean Cookbook (and that Alton Brown bastardized for his diet plan).

                                                I have been served these on a number of times and can't recommend them highly enough. Leite's Culinary wrote them up here:

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                  I love sardines and I love avocados but together, they do nothing for me...go figure. Alton Brown also has a very popular sardine and avocado sandwich out there,that's the one I tried.

                                                2. http://www.food52.com/recipes/2661_si...

                                                  skip the pasta and just add extra veg, and sub almond meal for the breadcrumbs. i also add capers, sub in a splash of sherry or white balsamic vinegar for part of the lemon juice, and swap out the raisins for dried currants (or if they're in season, chopped figs).

                                                  you can also do a tomato sauce variation, just omit the lemon & fruit. i like to add sauteed onion, mushrooms, and whatever other vegetables strike my fancy - zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, cauliflower...

                                                  1. i know this is late but i posted 7 recipes for canned sardines a in 2010


                                                    chris of chow

                                                    1. I am a sardines-on-crackers person, myself, but it occurs to me that you could try slicing a cucumber and using the rounds as "crackers." I would just put the sardines on the cucumbers--skin, tails, bones, and all--but you could of course mush them up with some mayo and scallions or something.

                                                      1. This is a fantastic recipe for pasta with a sauce of sardines, fennel and tomato. Totally delicious. I know that you don't eat pasta, but perhaps you could use the sauce as a topping for spaghetti squash? Also, it really helps to buy good quality sardines, I love the Wild Planet brand.

                                                        Here is another recipe for sardine butter, I bet it would be good spread on radishes instead of toast. http://food52.com/recipes/16342_sardi...

                                                        1. I love this Epicurious recipe. I use sardines, not the anchovies. You can always ignore the toasted bread portion of the recipe. The marinated sardines on greens with balsamic are really good, and the marinade is an excellent dressing too.


                                                          1. I love these sardine fritters/meatballs/not entirely sure what to call them that I make fairly often. It's an easy and delicious way to prepare sardines. If anyone is interested, I'll post a 'recipe'.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Enso

                                                                Haven't been online in a while :)
                                                                Just mash the sardines with a fork, add in any grated/chopped veg (onions, zucchini, carrots, chilli, whatever you want), oats and an egg. Add more oats if it's too wet. Roll into balls/patties and fry in a bit of oil. Drain and enjoy.

                                                            1. A little late to the party...but here's my entry:

                                                              Make a spread out of cream cheese, scallions, and chopped capers. If you want to kick it up a bit throw in some hot sauce and/or mustard.

                                                              Slice cucumbers. Top with some of the spread, and with a piece of sardine. If you want to get really crazy throw some fish roe on top.

                                                              Feel free to sub avocado/guacamole for cream cheese above.