Aug 20, 2021

Eating canned fish is a handy way of getting more nutrient-rich protein into your diet. Flavorful sardines are both healthy and convenient. Enjoy them straight out of the can as a nutritious snack, add them to salads, or incorporate them into main courses. However you choose to eat them, sardines pack a punch of nutrients and are high in beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids.Sardines allow you to enjoy all the benefits of eating heart-healthy oily fish without all the cooking. Canning these small fish allows you to enjoy them all year round. Processing sardines involves adding salt and other ingredients. Any added ingredients will affect the flavor and nutritional quality of the sardines. That’s why it’s important to know what’s on the label before you open the can.

Best Overall
Our Score 9.6 Out of 10
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Best Mid Range
Our Score 9.2 Out of 10
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Cheaper Choice
Our Score 9.0 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.8 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.6 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.6 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.4 Out of 10
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Our Score 8.0 Out of 10
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What to Consider Before Stocking Up on Canned Sardines

The Type of Sardine

There is more than one type of sardine swimming in the world’s oceans. That can of sardines you bought might contain a single variety of sardines or a mixture of different types. They could also be whole small sardines or fillets of larger types. Bristling sardines are tasty, small sardines that are usually packed two layers thick. Since they’re so small, they’re generally complete with their highly nutritious skin and bones.Of course, one of the most important considerations when choosing a sardine brand is whether the sardines were sustainably harvested. 

The Medium

This is what’s inside the can beside the sardines. A proper medium maintains the quality of the sardines while they’re in storage.  Salt, water, olive oil, and vegetable oil are all used in various brands of sardines.  Other common ingredients include flavorful sauces like mustard, catsup, or hot sauce.If you love the taste of sardines, you’ll probably prefer them packed in water. Oil will help mask that ‘fishy’ taste if you eat them more for the nutrition than the flavor. Olive oil with all of its healthy monounsaturated fatty acids is probably a better choice than vegetable oil. Salt naturally improves the flavor of sardines but you should always take the sodium content into consideration. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, It may be better to choose unsalted sardines and add salt yourself if needed. That way, you have control of the sodium levels.

The Nutritional Value

Any type of canned sardine will include at least moderate levels of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, along with minerals like iron and calcium. However, the nutritional value of sardines is greatly enhanced when they’re consumed along with their bones and skin. 

The Intended Use

How are you planning on using the sardines? Will you enjoy them draped on a cracker as a snack? In that case, sardines in a flavorful sauce will shine. Maybe you’ll garnish a salad or prepare a pasta dish with sardines packed in spring water. Almost any type of sardine fillet makes a great sandwich spread. If you’re not sure how you’ll use them, the best all-around choice is probably sardines packed in olive oil.

Let’s Jump Right Into Comparing Sardine Brands

A reliable brand of sardine will consistently offer the quality, flavor, and nutrition you want. We’ve reviewed and ranked the sardine brands below to help you find your own favorites.These are our top 8 picks for the best sardines. Which one is your favorite?

King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Our Score 9.6 out of 10
King Oscar Sardines Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3.75-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
King Oscar Sardines Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 3.75-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

Wild-caught, wood-smoked, hand-packed and a natural source of omega-3s.
Ingredients: Brisling sardines, olive oil, salt.
A SIMPLE, LOW-CARB, CONVENIENT SUPERFOOD - Omega-3s, protein, calcium, iron....

These sardines are wild-caught and carefully sorted to meet size and quality standards. Then they’re gently smoked over a wood fire before being packed by hand. All of this care and attention to detail ensures that the flavor and nutrients naturally present in these tiny fish remain intact.

Pros
  • Wild-caught and wood-smoked
  • Packed with extra virgin olive oil and salt
  • Two layers of bristling sardines in a 3,75-ounce can
  • Rich in Omega-3s and minerals like calcium and iron since they include the bones and skin
  • Protein-packed and with very low mercury levels
  • Ideal for a low-carb or gluten-free diet
  • Pull-tab cans are certified BPA-NI and recyclable
Cons
  • The fish are tiny and delicate, making them hard to separate

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Our Score 9.2 out of 10
Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lightly Smoked, Keto and Paleo, 4.4 Ounce (Pack of 12)
Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lightly Smoked, Keto and Paleo, 4.4 Ounce (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

WILD SARDINES IN EVOO, LIGHTLY SMOKED - Wild caught sardines in organic olive oil and lightly smoked for a delicious, full flavor.
RICH IN NUTRITION & FLAVOR – A nutritional powerhouse, Wild Planet...

The mild smoking and olive oil, along with the cleaning they receive, serve to mellow out any ‘fishy’ flavor. They’re great in sandwiches, salads, and more.

Pros
  • Sustainably sourced and packed following eco-friendly practices
  • Mildly smoked to enhance the natural flavor
  • Packed using extra virgin olive oil in a 4,4-ounce can
  • Mixed whole sardines with the heads, tails, scales, and many of the bones removed
  • Rich in protein and Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Non-GMO, gluten-free, and Kosher
Cons
  • The ratio of fish to oil is sometimes inconsistent from one can to another
  • Removing most of the bones reduces the nutrient content somewhat

Matiz España Wild Sardines in Spanish Olive Oil

Our Score 9.0 out of 10
Matiz Sardines in Olive Oil, 4.2 Ounce Can (Pack of 5) Spanish Gourmet Wild Caught Natural Fish for Tapas, Snacks, or Meals, Protein Rich, Sealed Freshness
Matiz Sardines in Olive Oil, 4.2 Ounce Can (Pack of 5) Spanish Gourmet Wild Caught Natural Fish for Tapas, Snacks, or Meals, Protein Rich, Sealed Freshness amazon.com Check price

Wild-Caught Natural Sardines – Sustainably harvested off the coast of Spain and packed in high-quality olive oil our sardine fillets offer rich, natural bold flavors.
Exceptional Taste and Texture ...

These sardines have a unique flavor and meaty texture that most people enjoy. The flavor and texture are great in whatever way you use them. They’re especially good when added to main dishes.

Pros
  • Sustainably sourced off the coast of Galicia and harvested using eco-friendly practices
  • Whole, fleshy sardines with an unusual flavor most people enjoy
  • The dense, slightly chewy texture and mild smoke flavor enhance many seafood dishes
  • Packed in premium quality Spanish olive oil in 4,25-ounce cans
  • From a popular and certified B Corporation brand 
  • These versatile sardines are great as a snack, spread, or main dish component
Cons
  • If you don’t like to eat fish scales, you probably won’t enjoy these sardines

Season Sardines in 100% Olive Oil

Our Score 8.8 out of 10
Season Sardines in Pure Olive Oil, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12)
Season Sardines in Pure Olive Oil, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

Made in pure olive oil
A natural source of Omega-3 fatty acids
Protein and calcium
Natural and tasty seafood
Wild Caught
Packaging may vary

These Moroccan bristling sardines are great fried with fresh cherry tomato halves or served in a salad. They are an especially good source of Omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Pros
  • Wild-caught off the coast of Morocco using sustainable harvesting practices
  • Packed in salt and 100% olive oil
  • Each can contains 3,75 ounces of whole bristling sardines with the skin and bones removed1500 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per serving
  • Non-GMO and gluten-freeBPA-free packaging
Cons
  • The flavor of this type of sardine might not be to everyone’s taste
  • Removing the skin and bones also reduces their nutritional value

Crown Prince Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Olive Oil 

Our Score 8.6 out of 10
Crown Prince Natural Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Pure Olive Oil, 3.75-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
Crown Prince Natural Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Pure Olive Oil, 3.75-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

Case of twelve, 3.75-Ounce cans with pull-top lids (total of 45 ounces)
Hand filleted and hand packed in pure cold pressed olive oil
Non-gmo Project Verified; Certified Paleo
Contains 1, 740 mg of ...

If you’re new to eating canned sardines, this is a good place to start. These sardines have a delicate flavor and firm texture. That, plus the lack of bones and skin, makes them great for sardine newcomers. The firm texture of these fillets also makes them a good choice for adding to cooked dishes.

Pros
  • Wild-caught off Morocco’s coast
  • Packed in cold-pressed olive oil in 3,75-ounce cans
  • Bones and skin are removed and the fish are hand-filleted
  • Contains 1700 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per serving
  • It’s a high protein, low-calorie food source
  • Non-GMO verified product
  • Kosher and gluten-free
Cons
  • Despite the pull-tab, a can opener is usually needed to get into these cans
  • Since the skin and bones are removed, these sardines aren’t as nutritious as some others we’ve listed

Season Sardines in Water, No Salt Added 

Our Score 8.6 out of 10
Season Sardines in Water, No Salt Added, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12)
Season Sardines in Water, No Salt Added, 4.375-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

All Natural
Gluten Free
Non-GMO
No BPA in can lining
Product of Morocco

If you’re on a low-sodium diet or just looking for healthier options, these sardines may fit the bill. They’re a good source of protein and minerals while being lower in sodium and calories than many other brands.

Pros
  • Moroccan sardines harvested using eco-friendly practices
  • Certified wild-caught and sustainable
  • Whole sardines packed in water with no added salt in 4,375-ounce cans1100 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids in each serving
  • Full sardine flavor is undiluted by additions
  • Non-GMO verified, gluten-free, and Kosher
  • The BPA-free cans have easy pull-tab lids
Cons
  • These sardines are somewhat lower in essential fatty acids than many other canned sardines
  • The smell and taste is ‘fishier’ since there is nothing to mask it
  • Not everyone will appreciate the bones and skin

King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Tapatio Hot Sauce

Our Score 8.4 out of 10
King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Hot Jalapeno Peppers, 3.75 Ounce (Pack of 12)
King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Hot Jalapeno Peppers, 3.75 Ounce (Pack of 12) amazon.com Check price

BRISLING SARDINES IN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL WITH HOT JALAPEÑO PEPPERS – Finest quality, extra small brisling sardines in top-grade extra virgin olive oil with sliced hot jalapeño peppers. 12-22 fis...

Add some extra protein to your tacos or nachos with these sardines packed in a zesty and flavorful sauce. The unique flavor and firm texture of these sardines also make them great for snacking. They’re especially good atop bland but crispy crackers. 

Pros
  • Sourced in the cold coastal waters off Norway and caught using sustainable methods
  • The 3,75-ounce cans each hold 12-22 fines brisling sardines
  • The sardines are packed with spicy Hot Jalapeno Peppers
  • High in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and calcium
  • Non-GMO verified and gluten-freeBPA-NI certified cans are made from recyclable aluminum
Cons
  • The hot sauce tends to slightly overwhelm the flavor of the sardines
  • These sardines aren’t suitable for including in most dishes because of the hot sauce

8. Brunswick Sardine Fillets in Spring Water, No Salt Added 

Our Score 8.0 out of 10
BRUNSWICK Wild Caught Sardine Fillets in Spring Water, 18 Cans, 3.75 Ounce (Pack of 18)
BRUNSWICK Wild Caught Sardine Fillets in Spring Water, 18 Cans, 3.75 Ounce (Pack of 18) amazon.com Check price

BRUNSWICK CANNED SARDINES: BRUNSWICK Sardines in Spring Water feature wild caught sardines packed in pure spring water for a clean, natural taste—no sauce or added oil
QUALITY IN EVERY CAN: This ca...

The fresh spring water and lack of salt allow the true sardine flavor to shine. They are perfect for those on salt-restricted diets. However, if you aren’t on a low-sodium diet, you may want to add a bit of salt or other seasonings to these sardines. Their natural sardine flavor and great texture work well in a range of seafood dishes. 

Pros
  • Responsibly sourced and harvested in an eco-friendly manner
  • Wild-caught sardines packed in 3,75-ounce cans
  • Sardine fillets are packed in pure spring water with no salt added
  • High in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein
  • Gluten-free and keto-friendly
Cons
  • Those trying sardines for the first time may not find these palatable

Which of These Sardine Brands Appeals to You?

A healthy diet should include at least 2 or 3 servings a week of oily, cold-water fish. Canned sardines fit that description perfectly. They also offer a convenient and tasty way to get more fish into your diet. Whether you’re after flavor, health benefits, or just a handy snack, one of these brands of sardines will surely fit the bill! 

Written by Ginger Cook