What are sardines?

Sardines are named after the island of Sardinia, where they were once found in abundance. Found in shoals throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean, sardines have a silver skin and a rich-flavoured flesh that is dark in colour.

A very healthy oily fish, older sardines are known as pilchards. Tinned sardines are also common, and while they lack the subtlety of taste of the fresh fish, they are a useful storecupboard ingredient.

Read more about responsible fishing at Seafish and Marine Stewardship Council.

Choose the best sardines

Sardines do not travel well, so choose fish caught as locally as possible. Select bright-eyed, fresh looking fish with shiny skin.

How to prepare sardines

Scale and gut your sardines before use. This is quite simple - just remove the head and twist the backbone out.

Read our guide on how to butterfly sardines.

How to store sardines

Sardines do not keep well, and should be eaten as fresh as possible.

How to cook sardines

Sardines are best treated simply - grill, barbeque or fry them with simple Mediterranean accompaniments.

Have a look at our sardine recipe collection.

Alternatives to sardines

Try anchovy or mackerel.