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?

  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.”

  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!

  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.

      • 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,

  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!

  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

  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.

  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.

    • 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!

  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.

  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.

  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…..

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