Sardine (Sprat) Flavor Profile

Sardine Flavor Scale

When fresh, small sardines have a delicate taste, while larger fish have a fuller, oilier flavor, similar to Anchovies but milder. In the US, most sardines are canned in oil or a sauce, smoked, pickled or salted.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

Alternate Names

Herring, Pacific Sardine, Atlantic Sardine, Rainbow Sardine, White Sardine, European Pilchard, Sprat or Brisling in Scotland, Sardinella in Spain, Sild in Norway, iwashi is the sushi name for sardines.

Typical Wholesale Products

Fresh: Whole, Fillets
Frozen: Whole, Fillets
Processed: Canned, Salted, Smoked, Pickled

Sardine Description (Sardina pilchardus, Sardinops sagax, others)

Sardine pilchardus pngAtlantic Sardine – image from FishBase

The name Sardine came from the canning of small fish in Sardinia. In the culinary world “Sardine” does not refer to a specific species but rather to a number of species of the Herring family. In general, small Herring are called Sardines. According to the FAO/WHO Codex of standards for canned Sardines there are 22 species which can be called Sardine. FishBase lists over 30 species worldwide which are called Sardine. In the US there are two primary species: the Atlantic Sardine Sardina pilchardus(European Pilchard) and the Pacific Sardine Sardinops sagax.

Sardines can grow to about 1.3 feet long, but typical sizes are less than 9 inches. Anchovies are similar to sardines but are usually smaller and have an upper jaw which protrudes farther than the lower jaw, while on sardines the lower jaw protrudes.


Fresh Sardine Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Frozen available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


Sardine (Sprat, Pilchard) Butchering Yield Percentage and Recovery

Item To Dressed Head/On To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets
Whole Round 84% 53% 49%
Whole Head/On gutted 64% 59%


Range & Habitat

Sardines are found in shallow coastal temperate and subtropical oceans world wide. They are a small pelagic schooling fish with a life span of up to 14 years, but the majority of sardines are less than 6 years old.

Pacific Sardine range jpgPacific Sardine AquaMaps sources: GBIF
Sardine Pilchard range jpgPilchard Sardine Range AquaMaps sources: GBIF Sardine Atlantic range jpgAtlantic Sardine Range AquaMaps sources: GBIF


Sardine Sustainability Info

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Pacific Sardines, Sardinops sagax Iwashi, Pilchard, Sardine Wild – Purse Seine US, Canada Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Low
Japanese Sardine,Sardinella zunasi Wild – Seine Net Northeast Pacific n/a Green-icon_20.png n/a
Orangespot Sardine,Sardinella brasiliensis Atlantic Ocean n/a Green-icon_20.png n/a
Spanish Sardine, Sardinella aurita Atlantic Ocean n/a Green-icon_20.png n/a
Atlantic Sardines, Sardina pilchardus European Pilchard, Iwashi, Pilchard, Sardine Wild – Bottom Trawl, Midwater Trawl, Purse Seine Mediterranean Sea Red-Dot_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Red-Dot_20.png
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.
Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended      Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative       Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended Updated
August 2013

For additional info on sustainable seafood and options for purchasing sustainable seafood visit FishChoice.


Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 271
* Protein grams 31
* Fat grams 15.4
* Saturated fat grams 3.4
* Sodium milligrams 154
* Cholesterol milligrams 103
* Omega-3 grams 2.7


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