Crispy and Easy to Make Fried Sardines Recipe

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Sardines, often overshadowed by their seafood counterparts, pack a nutritional punch that few can match. In this article, we’ll show you how to prepare fried sardines and unlock the secret to transforming these humble little fish into a crispy, satiating meal.

Two plates of sardines over greens.

With the rising cost of groceries and a baby on the way, I knew now was the time to start making more budget friendly meals at home. The first in this series is going to be this easy and flavorful pan fried sardines recipe. Canned sardines never tasted so good!

Not only are canned sardines budget friendly, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (great for fetal brain development in women who are pregnant), rich in protein, calcium, minerals, vitamins, and more!

Ingredients for Fried Sardines

Below, I’ve included a list of the ingredients that you’ll need to make this dish!

Ingredient needed to make fried sardines.
  • Canned sardines
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Water
  • Garlic powder
  • Red chili flakes
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Egg

See recipe card for quantities.

How to Fry Canned Sardines

I’ve included a few process shots below along with step-by-step instructions.

A white speckled bowl with spices and whole wheat flour.

1. Combine 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour with all spices into a shallow bowl.

Wet batter mixture.

2. In another bowl, whisk together egg, water and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour.

Dredging sardines in batter and flour mixture.

3. Carefully dip one sardine at a time into flour and egg mixture. Use a fork to assist with this. Remove sardine fillets from wet mixture and add to bowl of flour and spices. Coat each side with flour.

Instructions Continued

Place a large skillet on your stovetop and set to low heat. Once pan is hot, pour in olive oil from both cans of sardines. Let oil heat up. Once oil starts to simmer, carefully add in your battered sardines. Flip over after 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove whole sardines from oil and place on a dish lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Finish off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 

Hint: make sure that oil in your pan is hot enough before adding in the sardines. This will help keep the battered sardines from getting soggy.

Different Ways to Enjoy Fried Sardines

I opted to serve these over a simple bed of greens and topped the greens with fresh parmesan, cracked pepper, a little salt, and caesar dressing. I used an arugula and spinach mix. It was essentially a caesar salad minus the croutons. Sardines are very versatile! Here are a few other suggestions on how to serve and enjoy them:

  • Serve over pasta
  • Serve with a savory yogurt dip and capers
  • Toast with tomato
  • Make into fish tacos
  • Enjoy them dipped in a caper sauce
  • Sardine sandwich
  • Serve these with our caprese salad recipe cherry tomatoes
Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
Enjoy this delightful caprese salad recipe with cherry tomatoes for a burst of fresh flavors. Try our twist on this classic dish today!
Check out this recipe

Love sardines like we do? You’ll love our creamy tuscan pasta with sardines and our new sardine salad recipe!

Creamy Tuscan Pasta
Make this delicious creamy Tuscan pasta for weekly dinner meal prep or to serve up when having guests over!
Check out this recipe
Sardine Salad
Discover the perfect balance of flavors in our delicious sardine salad recipe. It's packed with nutrients and bursting with zesty goodness!
Check out this recipe

Substitutions

  • Red Chili Flakes – omit these from the recipe if you know you’re going to be serving this dish to those who may be intolerant to spicy foods
  • Vegetables – enjoy with your favorite veggies instead of a salad
  • Whole Wheat Flour – instead of whole wheat flour, you can use all-purpose flour
  • Can of Sardines – instead of canned sardines, you can use fresh sardines. If going this route, add 1/2 cup of olive oil to your frying pan

Variations

  • Spices – feel free to use other spices such as dried parsley, onion powder or Italian seasoning
  • Citrus – add a bit of lemon zest to your dry flour mixture for a bright burst of flavor
Fried sardines served over a bed of greens.

Equipment

No equipment needed other than a large pan and stovetop.

Storage

Allow the sardines to cool to room temperature on a plate or wire rack. Avoid leaving them out at room temperature for too long, as this can promote bacterial growth. Place sardines in an airtight container. You can layer them between sheets of parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together. Store for up to 3 days.

Top Tip

Remember to turn on your vents and keep your kitchen windows open while cooking. If not, the sardine scent tends to linger in the home for the rest of the day. Also, prepare your paper towel-lined plate as your sardines are frying. 

FAQ

Are canned sardines healthy?

This answer can vary depending on what your idea of healthy is. Sardines host a variety of health benefits including but not limited to, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential healthy fats that help prevent heart disease and improve cardiovascular health. They are also a great source of protein!

Easy Fried Sardines

Learn how to make a delicious, protein rich and budget friendly meal with fried sardines.
Print Recipe PIN RECIPE
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:10 minutes
Total Time:20 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cans sardines
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour with garlic powder, red chili flakes, oregano, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper into a shallow bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, water and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour.
  • Place a large pan on your stovetop and set to low heat. Once pan is hot, pour in olive oil from both cans of sardines. Let oil heat up.
  • Carefully dip one sardine at a time into wet mixture. Use a fork to assist with this. Remove sardine from wet mixture and add to bowl of flour and spices. Coat each side with flour.
  • Once oil starts to simmer, carefully add in your battered sardines. Flip over after 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove sardines from oil and place on a dish lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Serve over a salad or with your favorite veggies.

5 Comments

    1. Hi Jason,
      I’m really sorry to hear that. You may have to trial and error with different brands. In my experience, some don’t hold up as well as others. In this case, one of the brands that held up the best was Wild Planet’s wild sardines in extra virgin olive oil. I hope you give this recipe another shot. Thank you for your feedback!

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