Simple Sardine Salad Recipe Made with Canned Sardines

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Transform an often-underestimated ingredient into a sensational salad. A can of sardines, often tucked away in the pantry, can star in a protein-packed, flavorful dish when paired with the fresh herbs and the right ingredients. We’re sharing a sardine salad recipe that’s not only delicious but also a great source of healthy fats and other essential nutrients!

Sardine salad over 2 pieces of bread.

This healthy sardine salad recipe was inspired by our popular fried sardines recipe (which has a 5-star rating) and pairs well with this caprese salad recipe cherry tomatoes. If you’re a fan of sardines, you know this humble, oily fish is beneficial for heart health, packed with protein and offers a great source of calcium.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

Even for self-proclaimed sardine haters, this sardine salad recipe is a game-changer. The combination of zesty lemon, tangy Dijon mustard, and the freshness of dill work together to transform sardines into a refreshing and flavorful dish. With one taste, skeptics will find themselves with a new appreciation for sardines they never thought possible.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Each ingredient in this sardine salad recipe is carefully chosen to create a harmonious and flavorful blend. The olive oil from the sardines adds richness, while Dijon mustard brings a tangy kick.

Lemon juice and zest provide a zesty, citrusy brightness, complemented by the freshness of dill.

Salt and black pepper enhance the flavors, and capers contribute a briny burst of excitement.

Finally, green onions add a touch of mild, crisp onion flavor, resulting in a balanced and vibrant sardine salad that’s as delicious as it is nutritious.

Ingredients for making sardine salad recipe.
  • Cans of sardines in olive oil (we like using Wild Planet sardines)
  • Olive oil from 1 can of sardines
  • Dijon mustard
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh dill
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Capers 
  • Green onions

See recipe card for quantities.

Instructions

Below are a few process shots along with step-by-step instructions for crafting your salad:

Emptying oil from canned sardines into a bowl.

1. Empty olive oil from 1 can of sardines into a large bowl.

Zesting lemon over a bowl.

2. Zest half of a lemon into that same bowl. Add more to taste.

Squeezing lemon with a lemon squeezer.

3. Squeeze juice from 1 lemon into the same, large bowl.

Sardine salad dressing ingredients in a bowl.

4. Add in salt, black pepper and Dijon mustard.

Combined sardine salad dressing in a bowl.

5. Whisk those ingredients together until well combined. It should look similar to this.

Green onions and herbs in large bowl.

6. Add in chopped green onions, (including the dark green tops), fresh dill, and capers. Combine them well into your olive oil mixture.

Sardine fillets in bowl of dressing.

7. Add in sardines fillets from 2 cans of sardines.

Smashing sardine fillets with a fork.

8. Smash sardine fillets with a fork and combine with the rest of your mixture.

Smashed sardine salad in a bowl.

9. This is what your sardine salad should look like once combined.

Sardine salad recipe, full image.

10. Spread salad over your favorite artisan bread or make into a sandwich!

Hint: to further fortify this recipe, feel free to add in some chopped lettuce.

Substitutions

Below are a few substitution ideas you may consider when making this recipe:

  • Canned Sardines – you can use fresh sardines instead of canned sardines. Be sure to clean them and remove any scales. Next, you’ll want to roast them in an oven or cook them on a stovetop. After cooking them, place them in a large bowl and add in 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Proceed with the recipe as outlined in the recipe card.
  • Lemon Juice – instead of using lemon juice, you can use lime juice if preferred.
  • Fresh Dill – you can use fresh parsley in lieu of dill. This will give your salad a more peppery taste. 
  • Green Onions – you can use diced red onion instead of green onions. 
  • Salmon Salad – instead of using canned sardines, you can use canned salmon to make a salmon salad.
  • Tuna Salad – use canned tuna in place of sardines to make a delicious tuna salad. This recipe is very versatile. 

Variations

Below are a few variation ideas you may consider when making this recipe:

  • Sardine Salad Wraps – add your sardine mixture to a leaf of butter lettuce and roll it up to make a sardine lettuce wrap.
  • Sandwich – use this salad to make a tasty, quick sandwich. Add a bed of leafy greens over a slice of bread, layer on a serving of the salad, lastly, place your second slice of bread over the salad. 
  • Mediterranean Sardine Salad – transform this recipe into a Mediterranean salad by adding in diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes and some black olives.
  • Crunchy Vegetables – enjoy your salad with a side of fresh, crunchy vegetables to make a complete meal.
  • Spicy Sardines – sprinkle in a bit of red pepper flakes to give your salad some heat!

More Canned Fish Recipes

Here are a few of our other favorite dishes, highlighting the flavors and convenience of canned fish:

When to Make this Salad for Sardine Lovers

This is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed at various times. Here are some occasions and scenarios when it’s a good time to make a sardine salad:

  1. Quick Weeknight Meal: When you need a quick, light dinner, this salad is an excellent choice. It comes together in no time and provides a satisfying meal.
  2. Lunchbox Option: Pack a sardine salad for your lunch at work or school. It’s a convenient, quick meal that doesn’t require heating.
  3. Picnics and Outdoor Gatherings: Sardine salad travels well and is a great addition to picnics, barbecues, or outdoor gatherings. It’s less likely to spoil in warm weather compared to some other salads.
  4. Healthy Recipes for Summer: In the summer, sardine salad can be a refreshing and light meal, perfect for those days when you want something cool and nutritious.
  5. Appetizer for Entertaining: Serve a smaller portion of sardine salad as an appetizer when entertaining guests. It’s a unique and flavorful choice.
  6. Post-Workout Meal: Sardines are a good source of protein, making sardine salad an ideal post-workout meal to help with muscle recovery.
  7. Emergency Pantry Meal: Keep canned sardines in your pantry for emergency meals. When you don’t have time to go grocery shopping, a sardine salad can be a lifesaver.
Sardine salad spread over 2 slices of bread.

Equipment

Storage Tips

Place the sardine salad in an airtight container. Ideally, refrigerate it within two hours of preparation. This recipe can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. After that, its texture and taste may start to deteriorate.

Top Tip

When shopping for your ingredients, there’s no need to search for cans of boneless sardines. Most of the canned sardines will include the bones which is perfectly fine. They’re so soft that they will easily break apart when combining all your ingredients together. You wont even notice that they’re, there!

FAQ

Are the bones in canned sardines safe to eat?

Yes, the small bones in canned sardines are safe to eat and are a good source of calcium. The bones are usually soft and easily digestible.

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Pairing

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Sardine Salad

Discover the perfect balance of flavors in our delicious sardine salad recipe. It's packed with nutrients and bursting with zesty goodness!
Print Recipe PIN RECIPE
Prep Time:12 minutes
Cook Time:0 minutes
Total Time:12 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cans sardines in olive oil
  • olive oil from 1 can of sardines
  • 1 lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • lemon zest zest 1/2 lemon, add more to taste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped (including dark green tops)
  • 1 tbsp capers

Instructions

  • Empty olive oil from 1 can of sardines into a large bowl. Zest half of a lemon into that same bowl. Add more to taste. Squeeze juice from 1 lemon into the same, large bowl.
  • Add in salt, black pepper and Dijon mustard. Whisk those ingredients together until well combined. Add in chopped green onions, (including the dark green tops), fresh dill, and capers. Combine them well into your olive oil mixture.
  • Add in sardines fillets from 2 cans of sardines. Smash sardine fillets with a fork and combine with the rest of your mixture. Spread salad over your favorite artisan bread or make into a sandwich!

One Comment

  1. 4 stars
    Made this for a lite dinner tonight…so yummy! Didn’t change a thing, enjoyed on sourdough. Will make again. O, the Wild Planet sardines are my new fav!

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