Canned sardines are a pantry staple for many, offering a convenient and nutritious source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients. But with so many brands and varieties on the market, how do you know which are the best – and which to avoid?
The best canned sardines include those from brands like Wild Planet, King Oscar, and Bela-Olhão, known for their high-quality ingredients and sustainable sourcing practices. The worst canned sardines are typically those with poor-quality fish, unhealthy additives, or questionable sourcing methods. Read on to learn more about the top choices in various categories, from taste to health benefits, as well as some brands to steer clear of.
|Best Overall||Wild Planet||Sustainable, high-quality, Non-GMO Project Verified, and certified gluten-free. Comes in water, extra virgin olive oil, or marinara sauce.|
|Best Tasting||King Oscar||High-quality, flavorful sardines in various styles, hand-packed and lightly smoked.|
|Healthiest||Bela-Olh?o||Lightly smoked sardines in extra virgin olive oil, sustainably caught with no artificial additives.|
|Best in Tomato Sauce||Season Brand||High-quality sardines in a rich, tangy tomato sauce, wild-caught, and packed without artificial preservatives.|
|Best in Olive Oil||Nuri||Premium Portuguese brand with top-quality, hand-packed sardines in olive oil, and a commitment to sustainable fishing practices.|
|Best in Water||Crown Prince Natural||Skinless and boneless sardines packed in water, sustainably caught, and additive-free.|
|Best Gourmet||José Gourmet||Upscale canned sardines from Portugal with a focus on premium ingredients and sustainable fishing practices, available in various flavors.|
|Best for Omega-3||Matiz Gallego||High in omega-3 fatty acids, sustainably caught in Spanish waters, packed in Spanish olive oil or organic extra virgin olive oil.|
|Top Rated from Canada||Raincoast Trading||Sustainable, high-quality sardines with various options, including extra virgin olive oil, water, and maple mustard sauce.|
|Worst to Avoid (Quality)||Bumble Bee, Brunswick||Criticized for sourcing methods, unsustainable fishing practices, inconsistent quality, taste, and added preservatives or artificial flavorings.|
|Worst to Avoid (Ingredients)||Beach Cliff||Mixed reviews on taste and quality, strong, overpowering flavor or mushy texture, and may contain added sugars or other unhealthy ingredients.|
Why Choose Canned Sardines?
Canned sardines offer numerous benefits, making them a great addition to your diet:
Nutritional Benefits: Packed with high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, and other essential minerals, sardines support heart health, brain function, and bone health.
Sustainability: As a low-impact seafood option, sardines are eco-friendly, and many top brands prioritize sustainable fishing practices.
Convenience and Versatility: With a long shelf life, canned sardines provide a quick, nutritious meal option and can be used in various dishes, from salads to pasta.
Affordability: Compared to other protein and omega-3 sources, canned sardines are cost-effective, allowing you to incorporate essential nutrients into your diet without breaking the bank.
By choosing canned sardines, you’re selecting a delicious, convenient, and sustainable food that supports both your health and the environment.
Best Overall Canned Sardines
Wild Planet Wild Sardines
As a top-rated brand, Wild Planet’s sardines consistently receive high marks for their taste, texture, and quality. Their sardines are sustainably caught in the Atlantic Ocean, packed in either water, extra virgin olive oil, or marinara sauce, and contain no additives or artificial preservatives. They are also Non-GMO Project Verified and certified gluten-free, making them a great choice for those with dietary restrictions.
Best Tasting Canned Sardines
King Oscar Sardines
King Oscar is known for its high-quality, flavorful sardines, which come in a variety of styles, such as those packed in olive oil, tomato sauce, or mustard sauce. Their sardines are hand-packed and lightly smoked, providing a rich, savory taste that has earned them a loyal following.
Healthiest Canned Sardines
Bela-Olhão Lightly Smoked Sardines in Olive Oil
Portuguese brand Bela-Olhão offers lightly smoked sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil, making them a healthy and delicious choice. Their sardines are sustainably caught and contain no artificial additives, making them one of the healthiest options on the market.
Best Canned Sardines in Tomato Sauce
Season Brand Sardines in Tomato Sauce
Season Brand is known for its high-quality sardines in tomato sauce, which boast a rich, tangy flavor. These sardines are wild-caught and packed without any artificial preservatives, ensuring a natural and healthy meal option.
Best Canned Sardines in Olive Oil
Nuri Portuguese Sardines in Olive Oil
Nuri is a premium Portuguese brand that offers top-quality sardines packed in olive oil. Their sardines are hand-packed, ensuring the best texture and taste. Nuri’s commitment to quality and sustainable fishing practices makes them a favorite among sardine enthusiasts.
Best Canned Sardines in Water
Crown Prince Natural Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Water
For those looking to avoid added oils, Crown Prince Natural offers skinless and boneless sardines packed in water. These sardines are sustainably caught and contain no additives, providing a healthier option without sacrificing taste.
Best Gourmet Canned Sardines
José Gourmet Sardines
For a more upscale canned sardine experience, José Gourmet offers beautifully packaged, high-quality sardines from Portugal. With a focus on premium ingredients and sustainable fishing practices, their sardines come in a variety of flavors, such as those packed in olive oil with lemon, tomato sauce, or spicy Calabrian pepper sauce.
Best Canned Sardines for Omega-3
Matiz Gallego Sardines
Matiz Gallego, a Spanish brand, offers sardines that are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart health and brain function. Their sardines are sustainably caught in the waters off the coast of Spain and packed in either Spanish olive oil or organic extra virgin olive oil.
Top Rated Canned Sardines from Canada
Raincoast Trading Sardines
Raincoast Trading is a Canadian brand known for its sustainable fishing practices and high-quality sardines. They offer a variety of options, such as sardines packed in extra virgin olive oil, water, or a maple mustard sauce. Their commitment to eco-friendly sourcing and delicious flavor make them a top choice for consumers in Canada and beyond.
Worst Canned Sardines to Avoid
While many brands offer high-quality sardines, there are some to avoid due to poor quality, unhealthy additives, or questionable sourcing practices. These include:
Bumble Bee Sardines
Bumble Bee has faced criticism for its sourcing methods and has been linked to unsustainable fishing practices, which can harm marine ecosystems. Additionally, their sardines are often considered lower in quality and taste compared to other brands.
Brunswick sardines have been reported to have inconsistent quality and taste, with some consumers complaining of a “fishy” or unpleasant flavor. Furthermore, some varieties of Brunswick sardines contain added preservatives and artificial flavorings, making them a less healthy choice compared to other brands.
Beach Cliff Sardines
Beach Cliff sardines are another brand with mixed reviews in terms of taste and quality. While some consumers may find them acceptable, others report a strong, overpowering flavor or mushy texture. Additionally, their sardines may contain added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients.
When it comes to choosing the best canned sardines, factors like taste, health benefits, and sustainable sourcing practices are essential to consider. Brands like Wild Planet, King Oscar, and Bela-Olhão consistently rank among the best for their commitment to quality and eco-friendly practices. On the other hand, brands such as Bumble Bee, Brunswick, and Beach Cliff may be best avoided due to their questionable quality and potential negative impact on the environment.
By considering the various categories, from the healthiest and best-tasting to the top gourmet options and those with the highest omega-3 content, you can make an informed decision when purchasing canned sardines. Whether you’re a sardine enthusiast or trying them for the first time, there’s a high-quality, delicious option available to suit your taste buds and dietary needs.