There are certain items of food that are always handy to have in your storecupboard. When you have cans of chopped tomatoes, corn, and beans tucked away, you can relax knowing that you will always have the essentials to make last-minute meals. Canned sardines fall into this category; whether it’s sardines in olive oil, extra virgin olive oil or sardines packed with a tomato sauce, sardines can form the perfect base for a healthy snack or hearty meal. This fish provides plenty of flavor and is more versatile than you might realize. In this review, we look at the best canned sardines, looking at a variety of different brands and comparing the canned sardines for flavor, taste, and value for money.
Keep reading to find out the best sardines which are ready to eat…
The Best Canned Sardine
These wild sardines have a full flavor, owing to the way that they have been canned. These wild-caught tin sardines have been canned with extra virgin olive oil and have been lightly smoked to produce a full flavor and delicious taste. Wild sardines are rich in nutrition and this particular fish is packed with omega 3 oils, protein, calcium and iron, making them perfect for your healthy diet. These canned sardines have been harvested from the North Pacific using sustainable methods, which means that not only are they good for you, but they’re good for the planet too. Wild Planet food prides itself on maintaining the ocean’s natural ecosystem whilst providing its customers with the highest quality fish. These canned sardines in extra virgin olive oil are our best choice as they pack some serious flavor and make a great base for pasta dishes and salads. There are several flavors available to purchase including lemon, extra virgin olive oil, marinara, no added salt and sardines in water for a plain base.
100% sustainably-caught wild sardines
Available in different varieties
Suitable for paleo & keto diets
- BrandWild Planet
- Weight4.2 pounds
These packed sardines can be used in a variety of different recipes and can be purchased in x 11 different flavors. We have chosen this particular can of sardines as we like that it has been packed in olive oil, giving it a rich, yet simple flavor. These sardines have been caught in the wild and have been gently wood-smoked for a delicate yet smoked taste. Super healthy, these canned sardines provide the best nutrition, with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and protein. This is a ready-to-eat product that is naturally gluten-free and low in carbs. This superfood not only makes a tasty snack but it’s also convenient and good value for money. These King Oscar sardines are canned in recyclable easy-to-open cans with simple pull-rings.
Finest Brisling sardines
- BrandKing Oscar
- Weight3.6 pounds
The health benefits of eating sardines are immense. Not only do sardines provide plenty of taste to pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches, but they’re also super healthy and contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, as well as being low in fat and carbs. The Season Sardines brand has been around for 90 years and the brand prides itself on its high-quality ingredients, specializing in canned seafood and speciality vegetables since the 1950s. These sardines are not boneless sardines and they are stored in water so are completely natural and form a good plain base to add additional flavors or eat on their own.
BPA-free can lining
- BrandSeason 1
- Weight4.5 pounds
These delicious canned sardines in olive oil are perfect for tapas dishes for many different reasons. Firstly, because they are not skinless boneless sardines, they still retain their shape and flavor. Skinless boneless canned sardines often can lose their shape and texture, but these canned sardines provide an authentic addition to any tapas dish with a delicious flavor and excellent texture. These sardines may not have the same reputation as Wild Planet, Crown Prince or King Oscar sardines, but they have gained great reviews from foodies who use them for salads, pasta dishes and snacks. These are wild-caught sardines that have been sustainably harvested off the coast of Spain. Smaller in size, these canned sardines have a fantastic taste, owing to the high-quality olive oil that they have been packed with.
Smaller in size for better flavor and texture
Ideal for tapas
- Weight2 pounds
The Crown Prince brand has been producing the finest canned fish since 1948. This American family-owned business has built a very good reputation for their high-quality products and we are pleased to be including these wild sardines which have been packed in olive oil on our list. This fish is totally kosher and can be enjoyed directly from the can or used in sandwiches, casseroles or other dishes that require a little natural salt flavor. What we liked about this particular product is that each sardine has been hand-filleted and packed using the best cold-pressed olive oil. These cans make a great addition to your kitchen storecupboard, giving you plenty of quick meal options that are super healthy.
Packed in pure olive oil
Full of natural goodness
Skinless & boneless
- BrandCrown Prince
- Weight4.1 pounds
If you are looking for a canned sardine with a delicate taste then the Ocean Prince canned fish will not disappoint. These pilchard sardines boast a slightly firm texture and a mild taste which is perfect for those who prefer fish to not overpower their tastebuds! The texture of fish is important if you are using it to create salad and tapas dishes which require the sardines to not fall apart. The benefit of canned sardines in water is that you can add your own herbs and spices if you so wish, to enhance the natural flavor of the fish and create your own unique dishes.
Packed in water
Product of Morocco
- BrandCrown Prince
- Weight4.8 pounds
The problem with sardines in olive oil is that they can make your salads feel greasy. What we liked about the BRUNSWICK canned fish is that it has been packed in natural spring water so not only is it not as oily as other brands such as the King Oscar sardines which we featured earlier (packed in olive oil) but they boast a wonderful natural, clean taste and have an abundance of nutritional value. If you’re looking for a delicate taste with no added oil, then this fish product is ideal.
Fillets packed in spring water
No sauce & no added oil
Ready to eat
- Weight5.7 pounds
If you’re looking for a fish alternative to boneless sardines in olive oil then these are the best that we found. Packing a serious flavor punch with tons of taste, these sardines are smoked and have been canned in soybean oil and smoke flavor. This makes them a fantastic choice for people who love to use sardines to add serious flavor to salads and sandwiches. These wild-caught sardines are naturally high in protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They’re the ultimate fast-food product, which is super healthy too.
Smoked fish packed in soybean oil
High in protein
- BrandChicken of the Sea
- Weight5.8 pounds
What makes these sardines really stand out from the other brands such as King Oscar, is that every catch has been tested for mercury. Mercury levels are something that many people who eat fish and seafood are understandably concerned about and therefore can feel a little comfort knowing that the content of each tin has been tested. The fish in these cans have been sustainably caught; the sardines are wild-caught in the Eastern Central waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The sardines are packed in water for a natural taste and have been cooked slowly to retain nutrients.
100% sustainably caught
Packed in water
Each catch tested for mercury
Hand-cut & hand-packed
Friends of the Sea certified
- BrandSafe Catch
- Weight4.5 pounds
This French brand is well recognized and has been preparing top-quality sardines for more than 165 years! The sardines are caught at the peak of the season and delivered fresh to the cannery where they are then prepared by hand. There are several varieties of sardines available; the ones we have featured in this review have been packed in pure olive oil and are naturally gluten-free. We have only featured the very best canned sardines we can find and we feel that this particular product would make a healthy addition to any meal.
- Weight4.3 pounds
Best Canned Sardine Buying Guide & FAQ
In this buying guide, we will look at what factors you should consider when buying tinned fish. We will look at the difference between canned sardines and fresh sardines and answer your most commonly asked questions regarding the health benefits of sardines and much more.
Keep reading to find out more...
Factors to Consider When Buying Canned Sardines
- Who is Eating Them?
This might seem like a really odd thing to consider but you'll need to think about who is going to be eating sardines in your family. Many sardines are packed with the skin and bones and so, although the bones are small and edible, they can cause a choking hazard to young children. Opt for skinless and boneless fillets for children and you might also want to consider sardines which are packed with a tomato sauce; children tend to prefer fish that isn't too oily! Another consideration is the can itself, if you are purchasing sardines for older or less able people then it will be sensible to opt for the easy-open cans as some tins are super tricky to open, even for nimble fingers.
- What Will You Use Them For?
If you are buying sardines for weight loss then you might want to avoid fish that has been canned with olive oil or sauce. These extra calories will soon add up! Sardines that have been smoked or canned with extra flavors such as lemon and herbs, tomato sauce or extra virgin olive oil, make great snacks to be eaten with crackers. If you are adding them to a pasta dish or casserole then it might be sensible to buy sardines which have been packed in water or a little oil, so you can add your own flavor afterward.
- Are they Sustainable?
You are probably already aware, but the ocean's resources are being depleted rapidly, and so it's important to buy sustainably-caught fish that doesn't have a negative impact on the environment. Check the label for clues that the fish has been wild-caught and is sustainable.
Canned Sardines VS Fresh Sardines
Just like any fish, canned is always a world apart from fresh. You will find that often fish that has been canned will have a stronger flavor than fresh - think how different tinned tuna is from a fresh tuna steak; it's the same for sardines - however, both should have a place in your diet. One of the benefits of eating canned sardines is that it's more likely to be wild-caught and not farmed. Farmed fish is often associated with having more pollutants. You will find more calcium in canned sardines as the calcium-rich bones have been softened in the canning process and are therefore edible. Canned sardines in oil (not water) are more likely to retain more omega-3 fatty acids which are widely recognized as healthy "brain food". The best canned sardines offer plenty of value for money, are significantly cheaper than fresh fish and are super quick and convenient. Not only can you eat tinned sardines straight from the can, but they have a much longer shelf life too, so you can always keep a few tins in your cupboard for quick, healthy meals and snacks.
Choose fresh sardines if you are looking for a more delicate flavor or wish to impress dinner guests at the table!
Best Canned Sardine FAQ:
Q: Are canned sardines healthy?
A: There are many health benefits to canned sardines. As we mentioned earlier, canned sardines which still retain their skin and bones contain more calcium and this is because the canning process softens the bones, making them edible. Sardine bones contain plenty of calcium and good for our skin and bones too! Oily fish is naturally gluten-free and high in protein. This is wonderful for those on a low-fat diet or people just looking to add more protein to their daily food intake. Low in carbohydrates, eating this fish will help you to stay healthy and lose weight at the same time. Sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids which have many, many health benefits. Omega-3 fish oils are good for your heart and can help lower blood pressure. Our brains are made up of around 60% fat! Omega-3 helps our brains to function well and can even help with certain mental disorders too. This fatty acid can even help with eye health as well as inflammation and maintaining healthy skin. Omega-3 can help reduce liver fat and help reduce allergy risk too.
Q: Are sardines better than tuna?
A: This is a question that many people ask, as tuna is generally more popular than sardines.
Although both types of canned fish contain lots of viable health benefits, there is a difference when it comes to comparing tuna to sardines. Tuna has slightly more protein per gram than sardines and they also contain vitamin K, whereas sardines contain more vitamin E and calcium. Another reason why sardines are better than tuna is that they contain x 10 less mercury than tuna, which is a huge difference comparatively. They are more sustainable too. Tuna are overfished, which is partly due to its popularity in sushi dishes, so it's more eco-friendly to eat sardines where possible.
Q: Is it bad to eat sardines every day?
A: Fish can contain mercury and therefore, we don't ever advise eating it every single day as a build-up of mercury could be very harmful. A healthy diet should contain a balance of fish and vegetables. Oily fish consumed twice or three times a week is sufficient.
Q: How long are canned sardines edible?
A: You should always check the best-before date in the can, but generally, a tin of sardines can last years and that's what makes them a handy storecupboard choice. Once opened they need to be eaten within a few days and you should remove them from the can and store in an airtight container - your refrigerator could smell pretty fishy otherwise! Please always refer to the dates on the tin and the guidelines offered as each product may vary.
Our Top Pick
Our favorite choice by far was the Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil which not only provides great value for money but boasts a wonderful full flavor too. These sardines have been wild-caught which we believe is the best way to responsibly source fish. The best canned sardines pack plenty of flavor and these are no exception. They have been lightly-smoked and are canned with extra virgin olive oil, which means that they are great for cooking and eating as they are as a healthy snack. These wild sardines are rich in nutrition and this particular fish is packed with omega 3 oils, protein, calcium and iron, making them perfect for your healthy diet. The brand Wild Planet claims to pride itself on the maintaining of the ocean's natural ecosystem and these particular sardines have been harvested from the North Pacific using sustainable methods. They would make an excellent base for dishes that require a salty, smoky flavor, full of protein and goodness. You can buy different varieties of the product including lemon, extra virgin olive oil, marinara, no salt added and sardines in water for a plain base. They are non-GMO and gluten-free and kosher. They are perfect for low carb, low fat, paleo and keto diets too.