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Pickled sardines


The sardines can be substituted with herrings

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Rate this recipe 3.3/5 (85 Votes)
Pickled sardines 1 Picture


  • sardines 2 kg (about 36)
  • salt 1.8kg
  • jalepeños or other hot green chillis 3
  • romanos or other sweet red peppers 3
  • red onion 1
  • onions 2
  • dried red chillis 24
  • small lemons 4 (about 24 slices)
  • pickling spice 12 tsp (60g)
  • For the pickling liquid:
  • white vinegar 1.25l
  • water 650ml
  • white wine or more water 100ml
  • caster sugar 75g


Level of difficulty Average
Cost Average budget


Step 1

Twenty-four to 72 hours before you are ready to do the pickling salt the sardines in your fridge, which will give them a more appealing texture. I use a gratin dish and sprinkle it with some salt then spread the fish out in two layers with more salt in between and on top to cover.

Sterilise 12 jars then set aside. There are many ways to sterilise jars and lids. If you have a method you trust, then use it here. Mine is to heat the clean jars and lids (separately) for 20 minutes in a 140C/gas mark 1½ oven. Allow them to cool slightly before using. The fish are salted and pickled so will keep for up to one month in the fridge but should be used within one week of opening.

Soak the sardines in a bowl of fresh water for an hour or so, then pat dry. Combine all the ingredients for the pickling liquid in a bowl and set aside so that the sugar dissolves. Drain and pat dry the soaked sardines and slice them into 4 pieces, crossways. Slice the jalapeño and romano peppers into 2-3 mm slices, removing the seeds and veins as you go. Slice the onions in ½ cm rings, cutting the larger rings in half. Alternating in the jars, layer the ingredients, packing them down periodically. Using a knife, gently slide the tip down the inside of the jar and drop in a chilli on one side and a lemon slice on the other. Repeat this again, alternating sides. Pour over the pickling liquid, close tightly. P

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