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How to Eat Canned Sardines: Mexican-style Recipe

The time has come to talk about sardines.

As a nutritionist, I’ve been recommending sardines to just about anyone that will hear me. The thing is. I don’t like sardines.

I believe my failure to embrace them sprouted from my inability to love them. It starts with my husband. My husband has a loving relationship with that little nutritional powerhouse of a fish. He’ll happily open a can and with naught but a fork dive in eagerly, moaning in pure sardine ecstasy at every bite.

Cautiously excited, I took my first bite and it tasted nothing of that paradise my husband painted and everything of fishy, unpalatable anti-paradise.

I think at that point I just gave up. If I could not love it, it was over. So you see, while the nutritionist in me recommended them; the pessimist in me would advise to just “suffer through them.”

“So how do you eat them?” people would ask me.

“Out of the can,” I’d reply with a sigh, “as best you can. They’re so good for you my advise is to just chug them down. It’s what I do.”

wild sardines in marinara sauce

For a year I’ve been eating them occasionally. Always out of the can. Always suffering through them.

Due to health concerns, my mother has been advised by several different doctors, to eat more fish. I had been pushing sardines on her for a while but obviously my pessimism had never made a compelling argument. This Saturday she finally agreed to try some for breakfast and I couldn’t afford to have this one chance she was giving me be as underwhelming as my first and only experience with sardines.

We ate them with corn crackers (tostadas), avocado, cilantro and a big pour of fresh lime juice.

how to eat sardines recipe

And guess what? It was not bad. It was actually quite pleasant. A light meal and fresh taste, reminiscent of beaches and calm days under the sun.

Who would have thought it was that simple! My mom is ordering a big batch of sardines in marinara sauce. And I’m on board too.

how to eat canned sardines

If you are like Barna and genuinely like the taste of sardines straight out of the can, I envy you. For the rest of us this is a DELICIOUS compromise. (and Barna LOVED this version too!)

These are very Mexican beach flavors. I highly recommend the corn crackers instead of regular crackers, and while you’re at it make sure they’re made from nixtamalized corn and they’ll taste superb. I like to buy the Salmas from Sanissimo brand. I used to have to bring some back every time I visited Mexico – but Whole Foods at the Woodlands just started carrying them!

Pacific sardines are featured on the Super Green List of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. This list highlights the best of the best in seafood and recognizes only the best choices for the ocean and human health. Pacific sardines are a great choice in terms of sustainability, low levels of mercury and awesome omega-3 fatty acids.

how to eat canned sardines recipe

How to eat canned sardines: recipe
Prep time
Total time
An easy, yummy way to introduce sardines into your diet! (or mix it up if you're already on the sardine bandwagon)
Recipe type: Breakfast, Lunch or Snack
Cuisine: Seafood, Mexican
Serves: 1-2
  • ½ avocado
  • 4-6 corn crackers or tostadas
  • 1 can wild sardines (4.3 oz/ 125g)*
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  1. Cut avocado in slices.
  2. With a fork, cut sardines in half, lengthwise. Do not de-bone, the bones are edible and highly nutritious! Alternatively, you can mash the sardines up.
  3. Top corn crackers with avocado slices, sardine slices (or sardine mash) and top with cilantro and a dash of lime juice. Or a big fat pour of lime juice, that works too,
* I use Wild Sardines in Marinara Sauce by Wild Planet. I like to buy them in marinara sauce as they taste less strong when eating out of the can. You can use sardines in water or sardines in olive oil just as well!

How to eat canned sardines: my avocado-cilantro-lime version in 50 seconds!

How to Eat Canned Sardines: Mexican-style recipe
Hi! Thanks for reading! I’m a certified nutritionist exploring the local & sustainable foods scenes in The Woodlands and Houston! Keep in touch and follow me! As of 2017 my sister and I just opened an outdoor dessert café – check it out! I couldn’t be more excited!


  1. Hi Natalia….one of my ways not to overwhelm my palot is that I use Spanish Sardine oil as a pizza topping. I’m a cook and this is definetly the easiest way to break in some one who has never tried sardines at all.The Spanich sardines have a very lught and slightly smoky flavor. The next stepis to make brusheta which is a toasted bread a littlte tomato paste plus your favorite cheese but melt it a little…mine is Elementer then add your sardine chunks right out of the can .I found this wets your appetite for the next course.

    • Thanks Victor, those are incredible tips! Great ways to slowly introduce sardines and their taste into your diet. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Thank you for opening up my world toward eating sardines! I have been eating out of the can with curry powder sprinkled on it and lemon and eating it w poi for breakfast. My Sister stir fries it in black bean sauce w poholi(fern shoots) that taste like asparagus.Mahalo

  3. Hi Natalie,
    Loving your sardine recipe idea indeed but was wondering if you would provide the brand of corn crackers you mention aa part of this recipe? I can’t say that I’ve ever seen these before from the looks of them, but first place I’ll look to buy them will be Amazon! Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Diana, they are from the Sanissimo brand called Salmas Oven Baked Corn Crackers. They used to have blur corn but not sure if they still offer that. The yellow/white corn tastes the same, though!

  4. I love sardines, my father was in the military and our family got stationed in Madrid Spain for 4 years, I fell in love with Spanish food, the people, the lifestyle, everything about their culture, I’ve tried to get my 2 daughters to try sardines, smoked oysters, other Spanish dishes dishes with no luck, oh well, more for me.

  5. My son even said that looked good and ask me to do it

  6. Just open a can of sardines. Mash them up. Squeeze lemon juice on then. Chop up a small onion. Mix all together. Eat on a buttered saltine cracker. Wonderful……

  7. Where did you get the crackers and what brand are they?

  8. Morning … I’m truck driver is it ok to eat sardines in the a.m. I think it’s ok but since you are the expert on this topic.i been eating sardines since I been a kid.I used to prepared them as how my parents taught me too it’s so easy we used and continue to eat them I and my fiance Mari Cardenas she diced the tomato and onion cilantro and some Chile Verde we call it Chile de Amor meaning Chile de Amordidas oh and a few lemons it’s very good is it safe to eat sardines every day maybe like 3/4times a day every day or what do you think ma’am we get the Mexicans we call it portolas..

    • Hi Ramon, Thanks for your comment. As a general rule it’s always good to vary one’s diet and not eat too much of any single food. But sardines do offer inexpensive, excellent nutrition including lots of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, with little drawback. You might just want to check for sodium levels in the can and and make sure the rest of your food intake isn’t very high in salt. It’s a good thing you enjoy sardines!

  9. My wifes Filipino recipe is sardines , i like and recommend the tomato sauce for this recipe, she sautes onions adds the sardines with a dash of soy sause i also add a dash of Worcestershire sause and garlic powder or saute mince garlic with the onions, heat through and put on a bed of white rice. I like to use one can of spicy and one can of regular in tomato sauce.

  10. Fantastic recipe! It’s simple and very good for you as well.

  11. I am not a huge fan of sardines but I may have to give them another try now… Thanks for sharing

  12. Totally cool and a recipe idea that I have never seen before.

  13. I have always avoided sardines, but I’ll admit, I might be able to stomach them with some fresh lime and avocado like you have here! They actually look appealing to me!

    • I avoided them all my life until now! I think it’s time to embrace sardines – and avocado and lime just made it easier than ever:) Thanks for your comment.

  14. My husband loves sardines and he buy them often. Great recipe!

    • Same here!I mooch some when I’m feeling the need for protein and omega-3 awesomeness. If he already loves sardines he’ll absolutely love this recipe – and it’s so easy!

  15. This is genius!! Love Sardines and anything Mexican and you put them both together! Scrumptious! Thanks for sharing :)

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