The Best Canned Sardines: An Inexhaustive Study

Part Two in the Great Sardine Experiment!

The results are in. If you missed last week’s post, I did a taste-test of 5 different brands of sardines to find the BEST SARDINES IN ALL THE LAND.

Surprisingly to myself, I found out I am down with the sardine and its ilk. This is a marvelous discovery for me and hopefully for you because it means I have a whole new thing to eat that is both healthy and cheap! A couple of general notes: I am still a little easily-skeeved by sardine bones; it is true that sardine cans are kind of a pain in the ass to open; it is also true that dogs LOVE sardines.

Here’s the run-down on the brands, in order from least yummy to MOST YUMMY.

Ligo Sardines5. Ligo – These sardines were BIG. They were, like, big and fat. There were only four in the can if that gives you an idea. Interesting to me how different they were from the whole, Wild Planet brand in regards to shape, size, and color. As noted in the previous post, these were in a “tomato-chile” sauce. Which was kind of good, in a way, except there was no actual chiles in it. But in another way, it was like it was from space and reminded me of Spaghetti-Os sauce. The sardines themselves were not bad, I don’t think, but really the flavor was heavily masked by the sauce. They seemed like the “junk-food” version of sardines. I’d like to try a different variety next time. BUT, it did give me hope for future sardine/tomato combinations.

Season Sardines4. Season brand – Decent-sized fish, but very delicately-textured compared to other brands. Good flavor, but the olive oil they were packed in distracted from the texture. Found a couple tiny bones but that turned out to not be so bad. The new “easy to open can” turned out to be just that and I was very appreciative after opening some of the more “difficult to open” cans. Overall, I’d buy these again in the water-pack version, but they were not my total fave.

Wild Planet Sardines3. Wild Planet – These were the first bone-in sardines I tried and I admit I cheated a little and breaded them in panko and then baked them to distract myself from the bones. But I really don’t think it was necessary. One thing that was nice about these whole sardines was the way they held together and didn’t break up when I forked them out of the tiny can. It was actually kind of neat that they still looked like the little dead fishes that they are, like you really know what you are eating. And honestly, I don’t think I would have noticed the bones even without the crunchy coating I applied. I’ll definitely get these again, if only to bread and bake them for a nice appetizer. I’ll post that recipe next week along with some others.

Crown Prince Sardines2. Crown Prince – These were the palest pink of them all. And the mildest. Nice, fairly firm texture, almost like canned tuna. Of the five, I think these would be the easiest sardines for a beginner to handle. I don’t consider myself a beginner anymore, but I still liked this brand a lot.

Bar Harbor Wild Herring Fillets1. Bar Harbor – Granted, these weren’t actually sardines. But they were durn good. Very lightly smoked, and very light on the black pepper. But the fillets were a good 4″ long and held together well when forking them out. There were some left over (it turns out that it’s impossible to eat more than one and a half cans of sardines in a day) and they were good cold from the fridgerator, too. The can was more than a bitch to open, but worth it. Definitely would buy these again.

Post-Mortem Notes:
I’d like to try some bone-in sardines packed in oil. I’d like to try Season brand, packed in water. I’d like to try Crown Prince brand, whole.
It’s still best to not look too closely at them, especially their insides.
My favorite crackers to eat with sardines are Saltines (of course) and Wasa crisp breads.

2015 Update. More Canned Sardines!

I got a care package from Drew at Mouth Full of Sardines with a whole big bunch of new sardines to taste. Here’s what I think so far (though there are a few more to try!).

Roland Boneless Skinless in Oilsardines-roland

These were good! Of course, I am partial to B/S sardines, so I figured I would like these but still, these were meaty and mild and while I ate them on crackers, they’d be great in place of tuna for tuna salad.

Bela sardines-bela-can

The package design on these Portuguese sardines is gorgeous. Really, one of the prettiest sardine cans I’ve ever seen. Actually one of the prettiest cans I’ve ever seen. The sardines inside the can were big … but not cleaned very well unfortunately. Maybe I got a bad can, but they had lots of tough scales that I had to pick off. They tasted good, but the scaliness would keep me from giving them another try.

Master “Spanish Style” sardines-master

Don’t let the name fool you. These spicy sardines are actually from the Philippines. They are real good, though. Packed in oil, they have their skins and bones, but guess what no tails! I appreciate that. They were seasoned with bay, pepper, spices and in the bottom of the can there were actually all of those things including a slice of cucumber and carrot. I did not eat those parts. The sardines themselves were very good. Spicier than I expected, but good. Would buy these again and at only $1.49 they are a bargain!

King Oscar sardines-king-hot

KO is a well-respected brand and these spicy jalapeños Brisling sardines were a good example of why. These were a little larger than some Brislings I’ve seen, but still tasty. Packed with lots of pepper slices these have a strong jalapeño flavor; that is to say, not just spicy, but also with the identifiable flavor of jalapeño. I enjoyed this but that’s coming from a person who puts pickled jalapeños on everything.

I’ll continue to update this page as I try more canned sardines. If you’ve got a favorite that I haven’t tried yet, leave it in a comment below!


  1. I have eaten a LOT of Sardines in my life and and the best for texture and taste of just the pure Sardine (bone in) are King Oscar, which is probably why they are the most expensive too. They also come in a tomato sauce, dijon mustard and olive oil. But there are a lot of various fun sorts you can find if you check the asian grocery stores, such as fried and soaking in a Thai curry sauce,

    • Thank you, Mathias! I’ll look for King Oscar and try those. I’m pretty sure I remember seeing them at my store.

      Curried sounds interesting. Do you make your own curry sauce or use a store-bought one?

      • In Canada I eat Millionaires and Billionaires…excellent small Norwegian Brisling. They are very small and I like that because I’m not a fan of big bones in my sardines. I just put them on toast and spread them on…fantastic with tea.

    • laura m. says:

      I eat (weekly) King Oscar packed in water and sprinkle on wine vinegar and a little olive oil, some folks add hot sauce like Frank’s or Crystal. Have tried Brunswick sardines the same way, they are cheaper but taste ok. Some brands listed above are not available in my local store. Also, I eat wild salmon weekly and take fish oil pills.

    • I didn’t see mention of Vital Choice sardines in the article! They’re the best/ highest quality brand I’ve had in the past with the most omega 3/ can that I’ve found. Also, I just bought 48 cans of their sardine filet cans (in water):

      Each can would average to be about $1.76 considering they have a HUGE sale on the sardines ATM ($47 for 24 cans, plus add in one of their 10% off coupons: springfish10). This is figuring in my total being a minimum of $99 (free shipping). When one can of King Oscars with 2.5g omega 3/can is around $2.50, it’s nowhere near of a deal than a Vital Choice can with 2.73g omega 3 around $1.76!

    • W gillespise says:

      The best for price is crown prince in olive oil!!! Skinless, bonless, wild caught, product of morocco, less than 2.00 per can!!! 21 grams protein!!! Substainable!!!

      • Mel_Anosis says:

        Season on sale at Costco is cheaper.

        • I second this. The costco deal is the best I have found for amazing tasting sardines. The season ones are awesome.

          • I wonder if boneless/skinless are as nutritional as they should be. The bones have phosphorous an the skin has other nutrients that this brand misses. They do not have that much calcium listed either and do not list phosphorous. Has anyone commented on this?

        • Our Costco stores (metro-Denver) don’t seem to carry boneless, skinless Season sardines packed in oil anymore. The price was great and I really liked them at first, but they switched the oil they used to something that is probably cheaper but is unappealingly orange in color and has a bad taste. Apparently I’m not the only one who noticed this since they are no longer on the shelf at Costco or Whole Foods. I love sardines and probably eat them 2 or 3 times a week on the average, straight out of the can with a handful of crackers. I’ve since switched to Crown Prince. Not as economical but much tastier.

    • The most delicious sardines I’ve ever tasted was the one my daughter brought back from Spain. Sadly I don’t remember the brand

    • Erna Ruben says:

      I just had the King Oscar sardines Mediterranean style, with olives and bell peppers, in extra virgin olive oil. It was very good. They were bone in – but who notices them – and tails on, which does not bother me either. All in all I liked them.

  2. I’ve gotten King Oscar in a multi-pack at Costco. You also might want to try Goya in the Latino foods aisle of the market. (With all our suggestions, you might be eating nothing but sardines for the next 10 years.))

  3. Good to know! I just bought some from Trader Joe’s – I’ll report back on my findings.

    I just said “findings.”

  4. peter jackson says:

    When their little bones are crunching between your teeth, just think “mmm, calcium.”

    • I try… it’s also when I look at their little bones.

      I need to stop looking so hard.

      • Hilah, try the boneless, skinless ones. IMO, bones, skin, tails, etc. are off-putting. There are plenty of other ways to get one’s calcium and trace minerals.

  5. I love me some canned sardines! I used to take them for lunch, with saltines, when I was in elementary school. Needless to say, I was not popular.

    Do you know the blog SALTS (aka Society for the Appreciation of the Lowly Tinned Sardine)? I think you just singlehandedly whupped them.

    • I am starting to love them, too!

      I used to take cheese and crackers for lunch almost every day. It didn’t make me unpopular exactly, but it made me an object of pity among those children with actual sandwiches.

      Thanks for sending that blog link, though. I hadn’t heard of it. There’s some very nice package designs on some of them foreign sardine cans.

  6. There’s nothing like fresh sardines… You should come to Portugal during Summer here. People grill them on the streets and they smell and taste marvellous. It’s definitely one of my favourite fishes.
    Even the skin is delicious, with a thin layer of fat. And the liver…

    • Patricia, I would LOVE to come to Portugal! And eat grilled street sardines, skin and all.
      Thanks for writing!

    • Erna Ruben says:

      Which reminded me of camping at Montpellier, southern France, where early in the morning the fishermen would come with fresh caught sardines and sell them to the campers.
      I would quickly fry them in a pan and we had them for breakfast. They were absolutely delicious as they could not be any fresher. Nothing more was needed.

  7. The bones are really no big deal. Same with canned salmon. They are de-bonified by the canning process. Like someone said, CALCIUM. It is some of the higher quality food-grade calcium you are ever going to eat.
    One of my favorite things to do with sardines is with a crunchy salad with green pepper, some hot pepper, some onion, some tomato and anything else you might want to add. Takes a little experimentation but it can be a tasty and refreshing salad.

    • Hi Thomas!

      I think that after this experiment I will be hard-pressed to get weirded out by weird foods ever again, thank gawd. It was really a mental block more than anything. I’m also weirded out by chicken bones which is why I haven’t yet posted about fried chicken but I think maybe I could do that now, too.

      Ahh, it’s nice to be a grown-up.

  8. Love this! I am a huge fan of sardines (got into them while pregnant, never lost the taste for them). I usually buy your top 2 brands so it’s good to know that I was always getting the best. (They used to be available packed in mustard, sadly they have disapparead). However, I have recently been buying them from If you buy enough at a time the price can be pretty economical, and they are fantastically meaty!

    • Hi Sara!
      Thanks for the sardine tip! I’ll look and see if they carry those at my fancy Whole Foods or something. I’m very interested in trying different sardines now!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Ken Whelan says:

    Just tasted the “Wild Sardines” brand purchased at Costco. There from Viet concerned with polution. Are they ok? Which ones are farm free. Ken

    • Hey Ken!
      It’s my understanding that sardines are always wild caught. I’m not sure about pollution, but I think that because they are so low on the ocean food chain, sardines are one of the safest fish to eat. Hope that helps!

      • Hi!

        I read years ago the late great Jacques Cousteau world renowned for his work in the seas of the world said to be sure only to eat fish caught in northern waters because of pollution. Yes, they are higher on the food chain so I don’t know to what degree they have mercury, lead, arsenic, etc. but less is best as such pollution has a cumulative effect on our health and longevity.


        • Hey Mike!
          I don’t know about Northern waters being less polluted (haha, maybe they used to be in Cousteau’s time) but sardines and small fish like that are definitely cleaner than large fish! They are very low on the food chain and have very little mercury.

          • stephen pietrowski says:

            Japans nuclear radiation has gotten badly to the east coast usa and viet nam has too much agent orange hanging around.

      • Hi Again!

        I should have mentioned… I also read that sardines are first steamed for 12 minutes at 208 degrees, then cooked sealed in the can at 250 degrees for 35 minutes. The problem there is the aluminum cans. Much of the old aluminum cookware has disappeared because something of the metal is released by I think oxidation. They even say not to store things in the original can in the refrigerator which I’m sure must be true for aluminum (even drinking pop from aluminum cans is bad). So sardines actually being cooked in them is terrible. I love sardines and thought I was having less of an environmental impact too… yet they over fish the already stressed sea life as there were once over 300 canneries in Maine alone at one time. If there were only a means to manage the population at the same time respecting the existing food chain, respecting the sea – not to take and take.

        Kindest Regards,

        • Aluminum is the third most abundant mineral on earth. If aluminum were biologically harmful there’d be no life on earth. As a metal, aluminum oxidizes easily. So there are no pure aluminum surfaces in air. What we see and touch is covered by a thin layer of very hard, transparent and impervious film of oxide of aluminum. They can withstand strong acids and high temperatures. Oxides of aluminum in crystalline form is sapphire and ruby. a

          When you drink soda from an aluminum can, be assured that the soda is in contact with the oxide and not the metal. Think of the can as having a thin liner of sapphire. Same goes for sardines cooked in aluminum cans.

          Yes, there are toxins in the environment, such as arsenic, mercury and lead. Aluminum is biologically inert.

        • Sad but true, yes Mike

  10. the bar harbor type are cheaper if you buy them under the looks of maine brand,wich is the whiting fish company of maine,packed in canada. the mustard sause ones are out of this world!

  11. posting for posterity

    I want to be here when historians look back upon the invention of the word “fridgerator”

  12. Hi Hilah! Great post. I wonder if you would like to try the Gata (coconut flavor) Ligo sardines? They are really quite delicious. I actually import this product into the US and grew up eating these things. However, my more Americanized pallet finds the Gata flavor to be the best. I’d love to send you one and hear what you think.

  13. Dinobino says:

    Have you tried Nuri sardines? I love Nuri but a bit expensive.

  14. idiotgear says:

    king oscar brisling sardines are the best. the lowest price i’ve seen is at walmart. i did research and brisling are the actual sardines while others just means small fish hence the different sizes in the above cans. it has a nice flavor and if they were like 99 cents a can i’d buy them by the cases!

    • Thank you for the clarification!

    • King Oscar Bristling Sardines in olive oil are excellent
      In July 2012 you say that they cost 99 cents now in
      August 2015 they are $2.52 per can…that’s quite a big difference

      • Wow! What a jump! I’m curious if other brands had similar increases.

      • Caroline Brannen says:

        Yes – that is the cost now but they are simply the BEST and they are little nutritional powerhouses

        • I am in Australia and 76 now, but when I was a First year apprentice electrician in 1956, I had to stay in the city 2 nights a week for night classes. As I was only earning $4.90 a week I would buy half a loaf of bread and a tin of King Oscar Sardines for my evening meal. They were made in Norway then and must have been cheap if I could afford them.
          MODERATOR you can cut all the above if you feel it is off the subject”
          I am an age pensioner now and have to watch my pennies again but King Oscar are now made in Poland and a 3.8 Oz tin is about AUD$3.50. However both Aussie Woolworths and Aldi Australia have a home badged brand made in Poland but in Sunflower oil instead of Olive oil at AUD$1.35. I buy the Aldi Ocean Rise Brisling Sardines in oil, because sometimes their product is so different that I think they are King Oscar in disguise. When I find one of these I go back to both of the nearby outlets and buy them all. I have them twice a week and Alaskan red salmon twice a week. This stops me feeling guilty about the amount of beer I drink.

  15. I love sardines. Great review. I ran across another sardine site awhile back also. mouth full of sardines. They eat a lot of sardines. I look forward to your future reviews.

    • Oh yeah, I’ve seen that site! They are WAY more into sardines than anyone else I’ve seen. Thanks for writing, Mike!

  16. The MOST moist, delicious, & sustainably caught sardines are, by and far, the Wild Planet Brand!

    I tried both the “Season” and “Crown Prince” brands and the difference in flavor and quality was light years away from the Wild Planet brand.

    I live in New England and can only find WILD PLANET brand in my local Stop and Shop.

    It’s amazing that we have 3 Whole Foods Markets in my state and not one carries the Wild Planet brand! They are only carry what I believe to be the inferior quality brands that I mentioned.

    I’m sure that the Hoffman and Manischewitz families that own Crown Prince and Season brands wouldn’t mind having the Wild Planet brand alongside their own, since they feel theirs are such great quality, right?

    Who knows, they just might figure out how to improve their own product someday.

    • Thank you for your passionate response, Chloe!
      I do like the Wild Planet a lot and I must say I’m very impressed with the stock at your local Stop and Shop! I consider WP to be a very high-end brand, not likely to be seen at convenience stores. I wonder, though, you might be able to put in a request to carry them at your closest Whole Foods?
      Thanks for writing. 🙂

  17. Hello Hilah! Yes, I was feeling very passionate about sardines that day! 🙂

    Actually, I have requested that Whole Foods carry the Wild Planet brand many times — they tell me I can only place a “special order” for them…..very odd ! They carry tuna and canned salmon by the Wild Planet brand, so there is no reason they can’t stock the sardines also.

    Really makes me wonder why the people who shop at Whole foods can’t get a taste of what I believe to be the best sardines ever!

    • That is very strange indeed!

    • If you are near a Wegman’s, they carry Wild Planet sardines.

      • Burt Reynolds says:

        Sardines are amazing! They taste the best when you’re deep into an all day mountain hike, it’s time for a protein packed snack, & you’ve got a tin of Brisling Sardines, made by King Oscar. These sardines are harvested in the cold, clean, oxygen rich, & fruitful waters of Northern Europe / are the best out there, albeit a bit expensive, around 3.50 here in Charlotte, NC. I’m a seafood fanatic and eat either sardines, smoked oysters, mussels, or tuna fish daily. You get what you pay for…The .99 cent trash that comes from Morroco, has filtered out piss/Doo Doo from the Mediterranean & Africa for thousands of years, it’s gross…I thought your review was very thorough & well put together! Good job Hilah!

  18. Burt, you can get a multipack of King Oscar at Costco for a good price. Even on Amazon you can get a 12-pack of the 3.75 oz in olive oil for $33.60 and get free super-saver shipping. See

  19. Is there such a thing as ‘sardine breath’?

    It’s my greatest fear when I think of eating those little fish.

  20. Chuck from Miami Florida says:

    The best sardines on the market are King Oscar Sardines in extra virgin olive oil
    In Florida we have wonderful fresh fish, actually I prefer the sardines because of the omega-3 content and the wonderful taste.

  21. I may be in the wrong place, but I have been looking for info, prep, recipes, etc on sardines packed in coarse salt. I bought a half lb and clearly they are not meant to eat straight up. I love sardines.

    • Hi Xander,
      I’ve never seen salt-packed sardines, but I’d guess you’d need to treat them like salt-packed anchovies or even salt cod and soak them in water for a few hours before eating. You might even want to soak, drain, then soak again in fresh water. Let me know!

  22. Love King Oscar sardines in olive oil.I put them in salads or eat right out of the can.Will try these other suggestions. Theirs something about a woman with sardine breath. Ah. Cheers

  23. moosebeck

    • moosaeck – ah, what wonderful remembrances. i remember coming home at lunchtime from p.s.114 in belle harbor,queens,ny and having a moosabeck sardine sandwich while listening to the adventures of helen trent on the radio. (i am 77 yrs old).

      whatever you know about what happened to those delicious sardines, please let me know. thank you.

      • They closed down their operation many years ago and their facilities were taken over by the Stinson Co. who made Beach Cliff, the worst Sardines on the shelf. Bumble Bee bought them and several other Maine Sardine factories and shut them all down. Now all our sardines come from other countries. I bought my last can of Mooseabec sardines at an old super market in my hometown, Bayonne, NJ in 1975. I grew up eating them, they were very different and very good, No other sardine I’ve tried has come close to their flavor & texture, I always loved the occasional sardine that contained the roe, a little bonus protein. Smoked & seasoned and packed in sild sardine oil. Oh how I miss them.

  24. Have enjoyed sardines ever since I can remember, which is quite a long time. Can remember them at a few cents a can up to now. They all taste good, but some are better than others. Have finally worked my way up to Seasons Brand. I prefer sardines to tuna any day of the week.
    As I write this I have my first can of the Seasons Brand prepared . Will try some of the other brands you have checked out. Like you web site. Bob Zee-Wind & Fire at

    • Hi Bob! Thank you for writing. Hope you like these other ones I tried.

      • Whole Foods Market stores in Chicago have sold Wild Planet sardines for a long time. As for King Oscar, it sounds like a lot of PR people contributing. Just ate some Fantis sardines, 4 3/8 oz., from Spain. $1.89 from my local family owned produce market ( generally, higher prices) and quite delicious. My favorite is your #4 rated Season from WFM, truly amazing. Finding new sardines is such a journey but I have miles to swim before I rest.

  25. Charlie Sommers says:

    I have been an avid sardine eater all my life. I remember when Possum Brand Sardines were only 10 cents and along with a few saltines and a pickle made a great lunch when you were out on a hunting trip. Today the taste of the tiny Norwegian sild sardines has no competition.

    Several years ago I bought a tin of sardines that were packed in sardine oil. They were marvelous but unfortunately I can’t remember the packers name and can’t find such a product online. Can anyone help?

    • I’m sorry, I have never heard of sardines packed in sardine oil, but maybe someone else here will have.
      Thanks, Charlie, for sharing your “hunter’s lunch”. I love simple picnics like that.

    • Hawkeye says:

      I recall that “MOOSEBECK” or ” MOOSE a BECK” brand from Maine was packed in sild sardine oil – late ’40s

      • moosaeck – ah, what wonderful remembrances. i remember coming home at lunchtime from p.s.114 in belle harbor,queens,ny and having a moosabeck sardine sandwich while listening to the adventures of helen trent on the radio. (i am 77 yrs old).

        whatever you know about what happened to those delicious sardines, please let me know. thank you.

  26. Great Stone Face says:

    At the Hong Kong Supermarket in Austin, TX, they have sardines in coconut milk and with black beans.

  27. I notice that some of the brands don’t have the skin. The skin is delicious! Why add expense by taking it off?

    • Agreed, David. The bones are good for you, too. Some people get kind of grossed out by the skin and bones. I used to, but I’m getting over that. Plus, you’re right, they are much more expensive with the extra processing. Thanks for writing!

  28. This article makes me think I should add sardines to my collection of survival food in case of emergencies. I will check out some exp. dates on them next time I go shopping.

  29. If there are better sardines out there than the King Oscar brisling 2 or 3 layer (tiny) I haven’t had them. I have loved sardines for as long as I can remember.

  30. Judy Kerman says:

    Fascinating thread. I loved King Oskar with bones (is that brisling) in oil when I was a kid, but they have been hard to find, especially when I lived in Michigan. Tried a variety of brands this year, and found them too fishy. So I thought maybe i mis-remembered. I guess I should try King Oskar again. But I just bought a pack of frozen, and found your site while looking for recipes. This could get interesting…

    • Hi Judy!
      I have never seen frozen sardines! You will have to report back on those. 🙂

      • Charlie Sommers says:

        One of my local Asian Markets usually stocks frozen sardines from Monterey, California. They are frozen whole so they must be gutted then boned and fried. They are rather large and would possibly be called pilchards by some but I just call them delicious.

      • You can buy frozen sardines at most bait shops. Great for catching Salmon.

      • They are probably frozen smelt from the great lakes. They are delicious too especially sauteed until crunchy like potato chips. They are freshwater trout fingerlings about the size of your little finger purchased all ready cleaned. I love both smelt and sardines.

  31. Still the best I’ve ever had and NO BPA in the can linings…
    I know of NO other popular canned sardines that can say that!

    The only thing better than Wild Planet, is freshly caught:

    I wish people would be more aware of how their health is effected by the daily consumption of poisons, like BPA, since it’s all quite accumulative. It makes no sense to allow ourselves to become ill and then use useless, expensive medications to somehow survive, when we can prevent most illness through the avoidance of pesticides and chemicals such as BPA.

    Thanks for your blog.

    Happy Sardine eating! 🙂

  32. Do you or anyone know if MOOSEBECK sardines are available at all anywhere. Thanks for any and all replies

    • I haven’t heard of them, Kelly, but hopefully someone here has!

    • Bill Radetzky says:

      This is so funny. Just wrote my brother and sister and said, “I remember the kind of kippered snacks that Dad ate and you don’t! My brother didn’t remember and my sister said Crown Prince. They actually were Moosebeck or Moosebeac brand in a red box. Funny that Drice who replied remembered that brand. I think they were herring. For all I know a herring and a sardine are the same. I came to this site after googling for Moosebeck.

      • I googled Moosebeck, too, and came up with nothing but an article written by another person who misses the Moosebeck!

        • I’m 69 so I very vividly remember Moosebeck sardines in the red box (hardly any other brands were boxed at that time). This was by far the best testing and best packed of all sardines. It had a unique flavor. To my knowledge based on previous investigation the brand just closed up and strangely, though it was the most popular brand and sold all over, no one purchased the recipe or name or the owners chose not to sell it. Until today no company has been able to reproduce that flavor (having tried many different brands).

          • Oh man! That is so interesting. There has got to me a good story behind this brand! Thanks for writing, Steven.

          • Moosabec is an area on Beals Island in Maine. There used to be a thriving sardine industry there, but I believe it is no more. The “Moosabec” trademark for sardines is still co-owned by Clover Leaf Seafoods of Ontario, Canada, and Stinson Canning Co. of Prospect Harbor, Maine.

      • moosaeck – ah, what wonderful remembrances. i remember coming home at lunchtime from p.s.114 in belle harbor,queens,ny and having a moosabeck sardine sandwich while listening to the adventures of helen trent on the radio. (i am 77 yrs old).

        whatever you know about what happened to those delicious sardines, please let me know. thank you.

    • Ed Circusitch says:

      Forty years ago I loved Moosebeac sardines. My memory says they were the best but knowing me, they were probably the cheapest. I used to have an empty box on the wall in my room. My dad and I would eat them with crackers. Ritz crackers were best. Now I eat sardines with my son!

  33. I’ve heard that the best sardines are caught in cold water places. King Oscar brand sardines are packed in Poland which is on the Baltic Sea which is really cold water. Crown Prince brand are packed in Scotland which is on the North Sea which is also really cold water. Ligo brand are packed in the Philippines which is a warm water place. Brunswick brand are packed in Maine which is on the North Atlantic which is cold water.

    I eat more sardines than anyone I know personally (or ever have known). I’ve been eating them since I was a boy and now I’m 67 years old. I eat Brunswick brand most of the time, packed in water. Three or four times a month I eat a can of King Oscar packed in olive oil, or Crown Prince packed in olive oil (with skin and bones) if I can find them. I think I like the Crown Prince brand the best of all but I really do like the King Oscar brand also. I add a teaspoon of sesame oil to the Brunswick brand sardines which transforms the taste. I eat juice and all.

  34. Herring are a lot bigger than sardines. I think a lot of fish that get passed off as sardines are actually something else. In 1998 I went deep sea fishing off the coast of San Diego and we used live ‘sardines’ for bait. They were almost a foot long and weighed over half a pound. The deck hands said they were sardines but I have an idea they were something else. The sardines I’ve seen travel in huge schools and most of the people who see those schools refer to them as minnows. But a lot of times they are actually sardines.

    Anchovies are a similar fish, a bit smaller and really tasty. I think the smaller sardines taste the best. Now there’s this big rave about krill. I haven’t seen it in the grocery stores, canned or any other way. I’d like to try some though.

    Sardines are really good for your skin. I live in Alabama and for those who spend much time outside the sun is brutal during the late summer. I eat a lot of sardines and my skin is really healthy. About twenty years ago I saw a documentary about a holistic practitioner in Africa who swore by this ‘like heals like’ approach to healing diseases. She said if someone had stomach problems she’d recommend that they eat a meal of cow’s stomach three times a week. Or if they had skin problems she recommended that the person eat animal skin. And so on.

    I’m 67 years old and most of my friends tell me I look ten years younger than that. I think it’s because I eat a lot of sardines and I take a lot of vitamin C.

    • I’ve heard that “like heals like” theory. Similar to an older medical theory I read about wherein doctors would prescribe patients to eat things that resembled the part of their body that was having problems, which is how kidney beans got their name. I’m pretty sure that is true, but I haven’t verified it.
      I should eat more sardines, anyway. I’ve been feeling a little wrinkly. 😉

    • FoodJunkie says:

      Sardines packed in Canada and the US are juvenile Herring. If I understand correctly there is no such thing as a sardine fish species. It is a common name for a variety of small fish in the herring family.

  35. I like most sardines, but the ones with bones in are my favorites. As a child, these were a treat, something we didn’t have around often. I use Seasons a lot because Costco’s and BJ’s sells this brand in a multi-pack. If you don’t care for the oil, put in a colander and rinse it off. The Crown Prince I got from Big Lots and didn’t really care for those. I’ll have to see if I can get the Wild Planet on next trip to Wegman’s. One of my favorite cafes used to sell sardines with cole slaw and potato salad, yum! No one does that now.

  36. Funny, I was eating sardines when your twitter post showed up. I have been eating sardines for a very long time. My father ate them on crackers when I was a kid. I love them straight from the can. I have always bought the Brunswick brand packed in oil but have recently been experimenting with different brands and sauces. I have found that mustard sauce goes well with these little tasty guys and water packed is fine when you add them to other foods. Thanks for the post and interesting discussion.

  37. Gotta chime in on the King Oscar brand. Love them. Never even tried any of the ones you tasted, mainly because King Oscar brand is everywhere here and you know, you go with what you like and are familiar with, I guess.

  38. Great Stone Face says:

    More than you ever thought you’d know about U.S. production (now gone) of sardines is at the website and physical location of the Maine Sardine History Museum.

    • bill radetzky says:

      A Sardine History Museum and website; is there anything that is not on the internet? Thank you Stone Face for the info.

  39. I just ate some king oscar tiny tots… i adore them! I buy a least 4 tins a month at walmart, i eat them with saltines. Sardines and crackers, lip smackers! I also love pickled herring

  40. Wild Planet for certain.. Also I find it noteworthy that Wild Planet cans are BPA free.

  41. I love sardines and often eat them for lunch with Ak-Mak brand wheat crackers. My fav sardine brands are “Nuri” (hard to find check asian markets) which come spiced with a pickle, a carrot slice, a whole clove, and a hot pepper inside, and Crown Prince packed in olive oil. It’s olive oil or nothing for me, no water or seed oils for packing. A lot of people are squeamish about sardines but are perfectly fine with other fish. Not sure why…

  42. Having read all the great comments, I am drooling so much I am gonna have to go out to the kitchen and make my fav sardine sandwich — packed on good rye, maybe marble rye, with a thin slice of sweet raw onion and mayo!

  43. Richie Bee says:

    Great reading about great eating!
    I, too, have eaten sardines all my life. Like many, my dad ate them so it was a natural part of life.
    IMHO, cold-water product is superior. In fact, i will not eat ANY fish processed in Asia.
    Canada, Poland, Scandnavian and Maine are the safest bet.
    An interesting factoid: when Italians settled into Monterey, CA in the late 19th c. they were so efficient at fishing the stocks were completely decimated in less tan 20 years. You can visit “Cannery Row” there today for a great history lesson!

    • Thanks, Richie! I’d never heard about Cannery Row, but will try to check it out next time we are in California.

      • Hugo Lahera says:

        You should first check out the book and the 1982 film “Cannery Row”. The book is by John Steinbeck. The movie stars Nick Nolte and Debra Winger.

  44. Hilah,

    I think you need to update and redo this review. Now that you have gotten over the appearance of sardines and don’t need to bread and fry any of the brands, you can give a real review and not a rather novice look at an important and sustainable food source. Not knowing of Cannery Row in Monterey is just a little disappointing but I truly hope you’ve heard of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Sea Food Watch. If I sound a little condensing that is not my intention. Your a food expert and need to be a little more informed before you do reviews. You can’t review boneless in water with smoked oil packed or tomato sauce packed. Your #1 wasn’t even sardines. Bar Harbor does do sardines so why wouldn’t you find their sardines before you did this review? By the way, Bar Harbor Wild Herring Fillet with Cracked Pepper is very very good; One of the best canned fish products I’ve ever eaten.

    • David,
      You make a good point about updating the review and honestly I’ve got a collection of about 6 new brands in the pantry I’ve been meaning to taste and review.
      As for your other comments about what I should or should not know, I’m afraid I can’t respond without feeling as if I’m defending myself from attack. Whether you meant to or not, you do sound very condescending.
      It’s good to know that Bar Harbor also cans sardines. I’ve never once seen BH brand sardines in any of the 3 grocery stores I frequent, which may explain my ignorance on that fact.
      Good day.

  45. I have to say that I initially thought this too–about Hilah maybe needing to know more about sardines and sardines vs. herring–but as I read the whole string I really liked Hilah’s transformation over time! Anyway, it is interesting how so many people seem to re-discover sardines and how their taste and sophistication changes/grows. I think that’s great and, honestly, even for experts like Hilah, there is no way any one person could know everything about everything! I would love to see periodic updates on Hilah’s list, even if it includes herring along with sardines–I love both! Also, it’s funny but I have been eating the occasional can of sardines over the years, and my son (who is now 16) loves them too! My wife, though, still will not eat them. It is the perfect quick snack for those times when you want something tasty and nutritious too.

  46. Take 4 tablespoons of mild chopped onion, shallot….etc, 1/4 cup portabella mushrooms, 2 tablespoons butter and set to simmer.add one can sardines in olive oil, remove from heat and add garlic powder and parmesan. Place in the middle of a fluffy omelet and add one piece of American cheese or velveeta (sorry but nothing flows like American cheese. Best omelet ever.

    • Wowee that sounds great, Kevin! (And you’re right about American cheese 🙂 I love it on a cheeseburger for that reason, too.)

  47. Don Oatman says:

    Sardines in the tin were once very small. Now they are large, sometimes only four to a can. Why has that changed?

    • Hey Don! I’m not sure why so many sardines are larger now, but you can still get small sardines. They are labeled Brisling or sometimes “double layer”.

      • Charlie Sommers says:

        I have been getting Riga Gold from Estonia. They are labeled “sprats” which I think are the same thing as Baltic Sea Brislings. I order them through Walmart and they are mailed to my address at a very reasonable price. Both my son-in-law and myself are in love with these tiny little taste delights.

  48. Visitor says:

    King Oscar Brisling Sardines in olive oil are the best I’ve had.

  49. After reading a number of favorable reviews, I finally tried Wild Planet sardines in extra virgin olive oil. Fish were firm, but not nearly as flavorful as those from Morocco or Portugal. Even less flavorful than brislings from northern Europe. Potential buyers should be aware that they are packed, not in olive oil, but in a combination of oil and water. A bad idea. And the “lightly smoked” turns out to be a heavy dose of liquid smoke which tastes like it was made by burning a pine knot. They certainly are not worth a premium price. I won’t be buying again.

  50. King Oscar’s Tiny Tots. Hands down the best.

    • Hi, AnthonyG,
      I’m with you! The small size of Tiny Tots negates any bones/skin issues some folks can’t get past. They are small enough you can eat them with a cocktail fork, which somehow improves the aesthetic of the snack, and seemingly the flavor! They are brislings, which I believe connotes real sardines as opposed to other small fish posing as sardines; obviously affecting flavor! And the small size is probably indicative of their youth, which produces a milder tasting product. (To wit: the difference in flavor between a filet from a 10lb. bluefish and a 2lb. “snapper blue”).

  51. Thanks for your post. I too had recently wondered about canned sardines and why I never tried them before, especially as an alternative to tuna. I used your recommendation and tried a few different brands, but none from your list. I did try Crown Prince Kippers which seemed to have a very different flavor than actual sardines, but were equally tasty.

    So far, I think that the Royal Oscar brand two layer brisling in oil seems to rate the best on taste to me, but I do plan on trying some the ones from your list.

  52. Correction! I meant “King” Oscar not “Royal” Oscar.

  53. The Mighty Kage says:

    So far, I have to go with the Crown Prince Brisling in EVOO. The Royal Oscars are pretty good too. But Crown Prince edges them for me because their box clearly states BPA Free and Sustainably Wild Caught. Thanks for a great and useful website/blog.

  54. best sardines by far is Titus, get to know folks

  55. The bones contain all the calcium! Great for building stronger bones, just think of the spines of the sardines becoming your own bones! Awesome non-diary alternative for that Ca.

  56. After searching the web for safest fish… Sardines, sardines, sardines! I ate my first ever sardines on february 1. I bought lightly smoked in olive oil- 2 brands, 1 can skinless, boneless, the other with skin and bones. Although I cannot get past the mouth-feel of canned salmon with bones or fried smelt I was happily surprised that the ‘bone-in’ sardines were excellent. These were single layer so quite large but nothing crunchy about them. Eyes closed I don’t think I could have discerned the difference. The cost savings of bone in makes me happy.

    I’m 54 and I’m now a confirmed sardine enthusiast. Two cans in and I can’t wait to get back to the grocery store. My little brother (53) could not believe I had never eaten a sardine.

    Thank you for putting together your website! My thanks to posters for all of the information.

    Of note, I’ve cross referenced lots of ‘scientific’ information re sardines and find repeated that Asian and Mediterranean sardines are not considered safe. Here is a helpful link for seafood safety information from the Monterey Bay aquarium. They rate seafood on different aspects, contamination, sustainability, etc.

    I personally don’t eat any IQF seafood from china, Vietnam, etc. I wouldn’t consider eating anything canned! Farmed fish is an unappealing idea but I’ve learned that farmed tilapia and catfish are considered completely safe.

    Yay sardines!

  57. What I appreciate about sardines is their heart healthiness. If you eat sardines with bones, they are loaded with calcium too. But most of all, I appreciate that there is no sodiumtripolyphoshates (STPP) present. I am a heart patient and I can’t eat that much sodium. In the USA, STPP is in every fresh or frozen fish that you can find.

  58. Hi,
    I have a question about cooking sardins.
    How to cook it? I bought a can of King Oscar Sardines in olive oil. Are they cooked or smoked. The can does not say anything about it.
    So what is the best way to eat them? cook them over skillet? in the same oil they were preserved?
    Bake them or steam them?
    Also can you suggest few recipes for sardines?

    • Hi Mihir,
      Canned sardines are always cooked and ready to eat right out of the can. You do not need to cook them before eating. Most people enjoy them on crackers or on top of a salad, unheated.
      Some people like to make a pasta sauce with sardines in olive oil, plus garlic and red pepper flakes heated together and tossed with spaghetti. Sardines can also be drained, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried in oil until crisp and browned.

    • Anything canned is cooked for a long time.

  59. I eat them from the can on crackers. Bumble Bee 3.7 oz seems to be what I see in Maryland. I will eat the can and try to stay away from speaking to my class of little children.


  60. I had no idea what I was getting into when I clicked this link. Who knew there were so many types of sardines or passionate sardine lovers?! Now I definitely have to try them!

  61. Mike the Sardine Eater says:

    King Oscar , Bridling Sardines , the Tiny ones in the cross pack …… The best by far from my perspective they definitely are pricey compared to some…. What I have to do now is try a can of the Tiny Tots which are made by King Oscar come in cross pack look identical and are about 1/3 the cost. Olive Oil is in my opinion the best way to enjoy the delicate taste of the tiny brisling which could easily be overpowered by other types of packings…..

  62. I was recently researching the anti-inflammatory diet to try and cure a recent personal health issue and sardines were recommended – so very glad to have found your post and this thread! I grew up eating canned mackerel with the skin and bones (cooked in spicy stews) but have never had a canned sardine before. I imagine the taste to be similar but maybe less fishy? Either way, I look forward to it! Thanks for this.

    • Charlie Sommers says:

      At the risk of an off subject comment canned mackerel is wonderful. Back in the days I had just left the military and money was scarce I bought many a can of Jack Mackerel to provide protein for my wife and two kids. Mackerel patties are every bit as good as salmon patties and then they were much cheaper. They got us through some hard times, I even made mackerel loaves.

  63. joan spoerndle says:

    King Oscar Mediterranean Sardines – delicious! i do squeeze out some olive oil and seasonings and put in on KO plain ones in water, squeezing out the water…great way to get calcium, olive oil, omega-3s and great taste – i eat them everyday for breakfast – (no wonder i’m not married! hah! i’ll take the little fish any day 🙂 enjoy… joan

  64. Jamie H. says:

    Been trying to find out the place of canning or manufacturing of the brand Sol-Mex. The stores only seem to carry this brand in tomato sauce only. I am wanting to know if it comes with just oil and if there are other sauces available. I thought I found the email address, but i have no gotten a response from that.

  65. King Oscar, a few pieces of guyere cheese, some black cured salty olives, pita chips and glass of white wine….pure, unadulterated, delicious, decadence.

    • Charlie Sommers says:

      Make sure the guyere is cave aged, use kalamata olives and don’t forget to invite me!

      • Sorry Charlie (a little tuna lingo there), I just read your reply which means I forgot to invite you to, like, the last 30 times I’ve had the above-mentioned snack. Don’t worry though, the guyere wasn’t always cave-aged, the olives weren’t always kalamata and the wine wasn’t always white! (but the sardines were ALWAYS King Oscar)

  66. Amazing how long ago this post started. Is there any difference between sardines from China vs sardines from Canada? Mercury, omega 3s, or anything to look out for?

    • Hi Alex,
      As I understand it, sardines are so low on the food chain that mercury doesn’t build up in them so anywhere should be okay for that. I think cold-water fish are generally thought to taste better, though.

  67. Hilah,

    You don’t strike me as the ‘expert’ some posters have labeled you as much as a foodie enthusiast intent on gleaning all the little tidbits about sardines that you can. Because of this ever-evolving post, and your on-going pursuit of knowledge about them, I’m trying my first sardine today. Thank you!! 😀

  68. Too much of a good thing can be harmful. I don’t like meat or poultry and for a long time was eating fish 7 days a week. A few months ago I started to get peripheral neuropathy in my toes and fingers and I innocently asked my MD if it could be mercury from the fish. Sure enough the test came back with very high mercury levels – below 12 is OK, 60 is toxic, my number was 28. I even got a letter from the NYC Dept of Health about high levels of mercury in my test which they track.

    Turns out all my favorite fish-grouper, tilefish, spanish mackeral, and black sea bass are all dangerously high in mercury. The lowest are wild salmon, scallops, and sardines. So I’ve been eating these three a few times a week. Then I began to get concerned about eating canned sardines and there IS cause for alarm. One column says
    ‘With canned food, the risk is greater if the food inside the can is either watery and acidic (like canned tomatoes or canned tomato sauce) or if it is oily (like canned sardines and salmon). The risk is also greater when heating is involved. In general, we would place oily, canned fish like canned sardines and salmon in a higher-than-average risk category since there is often “double-cooking” involved (cooking prior to canning, and then heating in the can for sterilization purposes), and oils in and surrounding the fish can allow contaminants in the packaging to migrate from the can into the food.”

    The main toxin which is just as dangerous as too much mercury is BPA so unless the cans are BPA free and most aren’t, the only safe solution is fresh sardines which is obviously not as easy to find.

    And one last bit of info, the bones in sardines are an excellent source of calcium.

    Sardine Lover in the Big Apple

    • Well the Seasons sardines claim on the cans that they are BPA free for what it’s worth

      • Hi Bess,
        King Oscars cans are made in Denmark and are also BPA free. This info is on their Facebook page.

    • Can anyone comment on the safety of the heating packing process even if the cans are BPA free? Having just recovered from mercury poisoning from eating fish every day my choices are now limited. I’d prefer fresh sardines but haven’t found any place in NY that sells them. I eat bones, skin, and all having lived in Japan for many years.

  69. King Oscar is a Norwegian company, not Danish. Main packing plant is in Poland. There is also a plant in Norway. None in Denmark.

    • I am not sure but I think the plant in Norway has closed as well. The cans are manufactured in Denmark for king Oscar . Much like the fish are processed in Poland. From K.Os Facebook page ”
      Only the cans are made in Denmark. I think the plant in Norway has also closed. From K.Os Face book page “ARE KING OSCAR’S CANS BPA-FREE?
      From time to time, we get the question…and are happy to say YES!…we hand-pack the world’s finest sardines in BPA-free, recyclable aluminum cans. All part of bringing you the best of the ocean in the best way possible. For more about our commitment, please visit here…

      King Oscar Seafood

      January 27, 2013 ·

      • Kind of messed that post up. Although the text in quotes is from K.Os Facebook page. Sorry for the confusion. Cheers!

  70. More on this topic.

    King Oscar Seafood At King Oscar, we obtain our cans from certified suppliers who assure no BPA. We also do our own lab analyses. Our brisling sardine cans come from a supplier in Denmark. Thanks for your interest and loyal support! I think I am done with this subject LOL.

  71. I have only found one brand that I actually enjoy eating. Seasons Boneless and Skinless packed in Water. Taste great. No bones. Skinless. Baltic Sea. What more could you want?

  72. Neat that this comment thread is still active!
    I love sardines! I was recently dismayed to find out that many companies first harvest the fishes’ oil to sell to companies that make fish oil supplements, before packing them in cans. Wild Planet advertises that they don’t strip their fish of the natural oils, but I haven’t found info on any other company. I haven’t done an exhaustive search, but maybe someone has? Does anyone know of a list of companies that do/don’t participate in the supplement industry? Or even other brands that definitely don’t? I’d love to try them!

  73. I just wanted to give an update on a brand that I just tried came back from a local specialty shop hoping to pick up some of the heralded Portuguese canned sardines.

    Unfortunately they were sold out of all Portuguese stock, so I decided to experiment on a few different brands. I bought one Flower Brand to try out. They were the spiced sardines in pure olive oil (hot sauce) chili pepper, laurel clove, peeper corn and salt.

    Flower Brand is out of Morrocco, and they are very very tasty. They are not the brisling type; they are the larger ones that come four to five in a tin. They are salty, very meaty and firm, with skin and bones. Hopefully the next time I go back they have more of this brand in stock because I was very impressed.

  74. I love sardines, I have loved since I was just a little girl,
    My mouth is already watering, where can I find these wonderful sardines?
    I live very close to Portland, OR any suggestions?

  75. Hi there. If you can find Montano Sardines from Dipolog City in the Phlippines, I suggest you try them out. They do not export, thus, any stuff being brought out are probably gifts or for personal consumption. These sardines is the king of Philippine Spanish Sardines. They are also the most expensive among all the locals. They have a “secret recipe” that has been handed down from generation to generation.

    Why don’t you try googling them. If you have friends in the Phlippines, maybe you can ask them to send you a couple of boxes (6 x 228 gms) . These are bottled sardines.

    There are many ways to eat them but my favorite is just mix them with pasta and some plain pesto. They come in 3 variants, olive oil, corn oil and tomato sauce.

    Just wanted to let you know.

  76. I loved the review. Btw, how do you eat your sardines? like do you just eat it on top of a saltine cracker? I eat it with a pandesal or newly cooked rice, it’s very good, you have to try it, it will give you a different perpective in doing your trial, I love to have a freshly slice onion lightlysalted and sprinkled with spicy vinegar on the side. you have to try this way!

  77. Carl Hammel says:

    Just tried the King Oscar’s in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These absolutely beat the pants off other brands I have tried, including Trader Joe’s. My search for great sardines ends here. BTW, they look ever so much more appetizing than the other brands I have tried. Instead of opening the lid and finding an unappealing mess of brown mush, I found about about 25 beautiful little sardines, skin on, all neatly lined up in oil. MUCH more appetizing!!

  78. I grew up on Titus canned sardines. Love them!! But I’m going to have to switch to a different non-BPA brand. Thanks for your blog!!

  79. My favorite way lately to eat sardines are to add them to a fresh Thai cucumber salad.

  80. I just tried a brand of sardines called Matiz Gallego from Spain. They are large, three filets to a 4.2 oz container (the package says it’s two servings, but I polished them off for lunch, no problem!). They are packed in olive oil. They were very good. Nice flavor and texture. Their packaging material talks all about their “artisan” and environmentally friendly methods. I can’t attest to that, but they are part of a group called the “cullinary collective” which can be found at the website of the same name. They don’t sell them there but do point you to retailers. Lot’s of other interesting products from Spain there also. Bon Appetite!

  81. Hello, I just fond your blog and I realy liked it.
    I’m from Portugal and my family had canned fish factorys. So I feel that I can help you undertand a litle more about the sardines.
    Normaly if they are produced fresh and right away from the fish boats they have many scales. They start loosing them as they get old, so having lots of scales is considered very good.
    I you dont like scales the is skinless and boneless sardines that are my favorite, it is more dificult to find and more expensive because it must be hand made, there is no machines for that.
    By the way I’m a designer and thank you very much for liking my work. I work with several sardine factorys and I wone many design awards for canned fish packaging.

    • Thank you, Ana Lisa! That is really good information, straight from the source 🙂 Congratulations on your design awards. That is so cool!

    • @Ana Lisa: Did you design the Bela sardine can, which is shown at the beginning of this article? I have not encountered a can of sardines with many scales … you indicate this means fresh & good fish. Are the scales difficult to remove? If I can find fresh (but frozen) sardines at the fish market …. are they difficult to clean? Do you prefer fresh sardines instead of can sardines?

      • Hello Robert yes I did the design for bela sardines. It is easy to clean the sardines. In the cannde ones we eat all do not take the bones or the scales but if you whant they came out very easy with fork and nife. For the frosen ones you just take out the inside of the belly and cook it then wen you eat you can take the skin out.
        The skin and skales will protect the fish meat and natural.

        • Ah yes ,I remember well! In the early ’80s I would go to my ex father in laws mobile home that he was trying to make habitable. Mid January, 25 degrees out and for lunch we would start a campfire and throw whole frozen sardines directly on the coals along w/ a bunch of potatoes. Add Portuguese rolls or “pops” and drizzle all w/ olive oil. Maybe some salt and type of olives I’ve never seen since. Very crude but it can’t be beat. My ex family came from Portugal and Mozambique, and all was available at the local Portuguese store in Danbury,Ct. If only they were available here in New York(upstste) I’d still be eating them that way.

  82. After reading all of the posts (Whew! That took a while!) I decided to try a can of Tiny Tots in extra virgin olive oil. I’ve often eaten the King Oscar two layer brisling sardines in extra virgin olive oil, which is my personal favorite, and wanted to see how the Tiny Tots compared. I went to the nearby Walmart and picked up a can of each. Interestingly, I couldn’t find a difference between the two when reading the packaging. Both cans said they were Finest Brisling Sardines in extra virgin olive oil, Two Layer 12-22 Fish. Both wrappers stated they were “A Norwegian Tradition Since 1902 – Wild Caught – Wood Smoked – Hand Packed – Kosher Certified”. They both had the exact ingredients, nutritional info, and even the same photo of an ocean inlet on the back! I opened both packages and removed the cans, being careful to keep each with their wrappers since the cans looked identical once unwrapped. Opening both, the sardines inside looked exactly the same in size and color. I carefully teased one fish out from each can and set them on plates. The sardines from each can had the same firmness, and the oil had the same color and consistency. Finally (yeah I was going to eventually get around to actually tasting them!) I tried the King Oscar first. It was as I remembered, delicately smoked with a very light olive oil flavor. I then tried the Tiny Tot. It had the same consistency, and light olive oil taste, but it had a very slightly stronger smoked flavor. The difference was so slight I had to sample several of each to convince myself there was in fact a tiny difference in taste. I will, however, need to pick up a few more cans of each to confirm my observation and ensure the slight difference isn’t merely due to normal can to can or lot to lot variation. In the end, there really wasn’t enough of a difference for me to choose one over the other, and since they were also the same price, I’d be just as happy with either one.

  83. Try to taste the YOUNG’S TOWN SARDINES it has a different variety of sardines, it was made from Philippines and it has been awarded as Food and Beverage Quality Award from Madrid Spain, this last January 25, 2016. Hope you try it..

  84. I have to take back my recommendation for the Flower Brand, the spiced sardines in pure olive oil (hot sauce) chili pepper, laurel clove, peeper corn and salt. While they are tasty, I found the processing is not up to par as some of the fish still have bits of fins and scales. I bought a few more after I liked the first one and had a bad eating experience. Yuck!

  85. Pamela Burnough says:

    I eat Prince Albert sardines packed in water all the time. I stir fry cabbage, onions and whatever other veggie I like. Remove my sardines from can and place on plate and put warm veggies on top and allow to sit a minute or two. Delicious!

    • That sounds good, Pamela! Thanks! On a related note, I just read a new study that said the government guidelines for eating high-mercury fish like tuna are still too lenient, especially for kids and pregnant women. Good thing we have our sardines instead!

  86. I read most of the above comments. Firstly I don’t like to eat whole sardines. I clean them by slowly running water from the faucet into the sink as I hold them in my hand. I get rid of the abdominal contents skin and bones. Then I blot them them with paper towels to dry them. I then put them in the original oil. They are delicious on rye bread. (The filets sometimes break apart and there may be some loss of the product, but that’s OK. ) This process is more difficult and time consuming with smaller sardines, but this has never yielded a result inferior to any skinless and boneless sardines straight from any can.
    I used to clean Moosebec sardines years ago and sadly I discovered that they’re no longer available. A few years ago, I found 12-15 cans in my attic (yes, in the original red box ) where my thoughtless contractor put them in the process of finishing my basement.

  87. Hi, where can I get hold of canned Boe silk sardines

  88. Katherine Loizos says:

    Hi Hilah — Love your efforts in trying to like Sardines. I too am in that boat. I like fish but haven’t ever warmed up to sardines in a can. My parents used to eat fresh sardines deep-fried. Not sure if that is better or worse. I’m sure it nullified the healthiness of eating them. Right now I’m on a quest to learn what I can do to avoid or prolong Alzheimer’s Disease. Sardines fit in there with the high Omega3s Anyhow Here is my question:

    What did the shorthand you wrote in your blog mean? (below)

    “I am partial to B/S sardines”

    Somehow I missed where you mentioned B/S?


    • Whoops! Sorry Katherine. I mean boneless/skinless 🙂 I’ll eat bone-in ones sometimes because I know they have more calcium, but it still kind of bothers me.

  89. Katherine says:

    Thanks — as now I know there is a choice. I’ll be shopping for some sardines this weekend

  90. RockoSockoJocko says:

    You are 100-percent correct about the Bar Harbor sardines! A few days ago I was at the grocery store. I was hungry, and when I’m hungry I am more likely to buy sardines. Basically, the Bar Harbor Brand is a lot more expensive than the others, but it was also really, really good!

    I have been a fan of King Oscar for a long time. Many years ago, my uncle, who is a doctor, read a report about the benefits of sardines (packed in water). He sent a case of Kind Oscar sardines to my mother, who would rather eat glass than a can of sardines. I gladly took them off her hands and enjoyed them over the next few months. My wife, however, made me go outside to eat them. They were yummy. I like to eat them with my homemade hot sauce and Ritz crackers.

  91. SeafoodWatch
    recommends wild-caught Pacific sardines.
    Does anyone know the cheapest source? amazon/WalMart/Aldi for wild Pacific sardines.

    • Costco in No Cal sells Wild Planet and Seasons boneless, skinless in oo. Not sure which WP as I just happened to see it when I grabbed Seasons tonight. They were $3 off, for final of $6.99, for 6 x 4.375 oz cans so I stocked up.

    • Forgot the crucial info that I saw the Wild Planet at Costco says on label it’s fished in California.

    • I think the reason they recommend Pacific sardines is because they are American packaged and more “sustainable”, NOT because they are better for you. I don’t eat anything from the Pacific anymore after Fukushima. King Oscars from the cold North Atlantic seem a lot healthier to me.

  92. Hi Everyone, Love Sardines But haven’t had them in a long time “i’m 75” will be going too WalMart soon.. I do most of the cooking and have not served up sardines Yet,to my lovely Wife . Loved Your Article and the Many comments from So Many wonderful People from all over .

  93. I just had a snack of King Oscar S&B Sardines in Olive Oil. I got hooked on Sardines while in the Navy 30 years ago. Packed in Olive Oil is my favorite.

  94. Dale Calder says:

    I’m nearly 76 and have eaten sardines all my life. My first job, at age 14 way back in 1955, was in the village sardine factory on an island in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, and I worked in that factory several summers thereafter. The industry was the cornerstone of our economy, and my mom and dad both worked there. The old factory is gone now, but equivalent sardines are packed nearby in Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick…prepared under the “Brunswick” brand.

    In being a frugal person, I usually buy those Brunswick brand sardines, but acknowledge that King Oscar sardines are better quality (but at twice the price). I like Portuguese sardines also. As for Brunswick sardines, they are prepared from small herring harvested in cold waters of the Bay of Fundy region, northeastern North America. If I grew up familiar with the operations of and cleanliness of a sardine factory and have always eaten the fish, even when I worked in the plant, it says something about how safe I consider them to be. Brunswick sardines are also in a BPA-free can nowadays, so that is reassuring.

    Here is a site that answers some questions and may be of interest to some:

  95. Factoid: King Oscar is now owned by the Thai Union Group, a Thailand-based producer of seafood-based food products. They also own the Chicken of the Sea brand.


  96. I have been following the sardine topic for quite a long time – About a year ago I had peripheral neuropathy in all my fingers and toes and it turned out to be mercury poisoning from eating fish 7 days a week and I had to give up almost all my favorite fish that I ate every day and limit myself to salmon, scallops, smaller fish and sardines. My concern is not the cans which I believe are now safer than they were many years ago but the preprocessing before they are packed. What does that heating process involve and how safe is that? Wish I could get fresh sardines but there are certainly none available I know of in Manhattan and I don’t get to Portugal or Spain ever.

    • Hi Bess!
      Fresh sardines are in season in the cooler months. Might need to visit a fish market to find them, though.

    • PS I just looked at your website and your jewelry is gorgeous!

    • Charlie Sommers says:

      I live in Tennessee which is far from any source of fresh sardines but I can find them regularly in Asian Markets in both Nashville and Knoxville, They are frozen but they are magnificent when thawed and fried. The majority I buy were frozen in Monterey, California.

  97. Sorry to bust on everyone’s selections. But Conservas Ortiz sardines are easily the best sardines on Earth. It’s no contest! They are not cheap, but you will not be able to eat another brand after you’ve had them. Unfortunately they are rather difficult to find as well. I get them from a specialty store. Check out their website to find them near you.

  98. bette dinardo says:

    scalfani is the best sardine but priacey cant find them anymore

  99. Hi Hilah, It’s Noel again. One supermarket had King Oscar Double Layer sardines on special for AU$2.00 this week so I bought a can for the old times. When I took it out of it’s cellophane wrap, the tin looked very familiar. I opened a packet of Aldi’s Ocean Rise Brisling Sardines and YES the cans were identical so that now I am convinced that Aldi is sourcing their brand from the same factory as King Oscar.
    I think that Aldi have quite a presence in the U.S. now, but I don’t know if they stock the same lines as in Australia.

  100. David Randall says:

    I’m late to this discussion, but wish to express my unbridled love of the preserved fishies. Sardines and salmon were my first introduction as a kid. In a salad or plain, on toast or cracker, I was hooked. Then going low carb, I started wrapping a preparation in lettuce leaves, then mustard greens or turnip greens. No one here (that I’ve seen) has mentioned canned mackerel, but in spite of the skin and bones, it makes a great alternative to tuna salad, and the extra stuff fades away, tastewise, and as mentioned, gives absorbable calcium and the best Omega3 in the skin. Something crunchy– celery, onion, water chestnuts– eliminates the “ick” factor, should that bother you. I get sardines at the grocery, Big Lots, While Foods, the local deli. Im always fascinated by the taste difference, but rarely put off by it. I wish I could remember the brand, but smoked sardines are a revelation. Could I find them fresh or frozen, they’d be my new staple. Meanwhile, when frozen smelts are in my PriceChopper freezer, stand back!

  101. Garry Wilson Ponce says:

    Hi Hilah!

    Im a Filipino and I was wondering on how did you get the Ligo and Master sardines? Just curious 😀

    • Hi Garry!
      I found those in Austin, at the Fiesta grocery store. It has a huge international foods aisle 🙂 I could spend hours in there!

  102. I just had my first tin of sardines. It was mostly psychological (my former repulsion)…watching my dad eat them as a little girl, with their eyes and tails. I’m 42 now and decided the nutrition of them was worth giving it a go. My verdict is…. Just fine! I had a can in the pantry (skinless and boneless), but would like to try with skin and bones next time ( no heads or tails). Do you have any recommendations?
    Thank you for keeping this conversation going for so long!!!!


    • Hi Kelly!
      I’m glad to hear your first try went well! As far as I have seen, even the sardines with skin/bones have the heads removed already. Sometimes there are little tails, though. My favorite bone/skin sardine is probably King Oscar or Wild Planet. I also prefer sardines packed in olive oil or with hot peppers, rather than packed in water or tomato sauce.
      Have fun tasting! Let me know if you find a favorite.

  103. Fishboy says:

    Hilah, May I say that I think that many of the comments on comparisons are missing an important point; that you should probably only compare “sardines” of the same species.
    “Real” sardines in European Union and the only sardines that can be labeled only “Sardine” in the EU is of the species “Sardina pilchardus”. All others, including brisling, a much smaller “sprat-type” of sardine, are generally obliged (by EU law) to be called “Norwegian” sardine, or “Scottish” sardine etc.
    The sardines (pilchardus) caught in Morocco, Spain, Portugal, France and the North Atlantic in general, are of this species. This species is also caught in Eastern Canada and NE coast of the U.S.
    To compare this species with the “pacific” sardine (Sardinops species) is like comparing apples to pears.
    It should be noted that the best sardines are caught in the May-June period in Europe or Morocco when they are high in fat. Sardines caught in the winter, or frozen and kept in storage before canning, will be “drier” and more crumbly. The meat around the backbone will also be of a more red color.
    Sardine “pros” will never eat a sardine packed in water! And most will avoid tomato sauce as a packing medium, which is often used as a “mask” for some oxidation—sardine because of its high fat content may well suffer from the oxidation of the fat if held too long in cold storage.
    Extra virgin olive oil is the one to look for.
    And real sardine gourmets will rarely eat a sardine that hasn’t been in the can for less than 12 months; the time to absorb the subtle flavor of the extra virgin olive oil. The longer in the can, the better!
    As somebody who has worked in the Industry for some time, and visited many sardine plants around the world, I realize that everyone has their “favorite” sardine and if they enjoy them, great. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to compare fish of different species from different parts of the world and say one is definitely better than the other. Everyone to his (or her) preferred choice.
    Did you know that in the US, the laws on labeling are less demanding than the European Union?
    An E. Coast herring (from the “clupea” family, and a completely different fish species than a sardine) can be labeled sardine on the can! A well-known US brand, owned by a major canned fish company and sold in most US supermarkets, falls into this category. They’re good, but not a real sardine strictly speaking….
    Skinless boneless sardines were developed really in order to appeal to a younger generation of consumer. In fact, the fact that they are missing the backbone is a pity and means they contain less calcium of course.
    Whatever your bloggers prefer is just fine, and they should eat whatever they like. Getting all the health benefits that eating a nutritious fish, high in Omega-3, is what counts, wherever it is from and whatever it’s called.

    • Thank you so much for your detailed post! It’s too bad that cans aren’t required to label the species. I appreciate you sharing this information 🙂

    • Very nice summary Fishboy. I couldn’t say when I started eating sardines, probably an acquired taste from my Mother or Grandmother on my father’s side who used to eat canned sardines, as well as smelt (cornmeal and fried, for the latter). After being recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, and researching healthy foods, I’ve rediscovered sardines. I can’t recall ever eating sardines on crackers, or in salads, only from the can. For dietary reasons, I look for the lowest sodium content, or no salt added labeling. I also avoid olive oil packing, even though some folks think olive oil is OK (perhaps compared to corn oil). The tomato sauce packed variety also seems to be high in salt content. For now, it’s mostly Seasons brand, in water, No Salt Added variety for me.

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