Mediterranean Garlic and Herb Crusted Roasted Sardines

September 28, 2017

Simply delicious roasted sardines with a garlic herb crust – you can practically eat them with your hands.

Herb Crusted Roasted Sardines

There is so much to be said about fish, particularly when it comes to the Mediterranean diet. Greeks traditionally consumed the small, cheap fish: sardines and anchovies that also happen to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

Typically, sardines are consumed grilled and very often they are cured. Nowadays even in Greece, they are considered a second choice fish, a poor man’s fish, which is unfortunate as they are so rich nutritionally. Fortunately, it looks like they are coming back again, in fact sardines have been noted as a top food trend according to the communication firm Sterling-Rice Group. And they should be: nutritious, tasty, great as a protein rich snack but also a main meal.

Do not fear the fish

For the longest time I avoided making fish at home, but once you get the hang of it, fish can become a regular dish in your home. In Greece we usually eat whole fish, not that much fillets. We want to see the fish. You can read here more about fish consumption in Greece.

How to choose fish

When choosing sardines they should have a mild fish/sea smell, bright eyes and shiny and elastic skin. You should plan on cooking them within 1-2 days of buying them. Ideally, you want the fish to be cleaned before you buy it, basically you want them to remove the intestines. Here they also removed the head and then I also removed the bones on some of them for the kids, although that is not necessary for small sardines.

If you need to clean them on your own click here for a brief video on how to clean sardines. I found it was the simplest one although it is in German, but you do not need have the sound on, it is fairly clear. For larger sardines you can check out this video by Jamie Oliver. The important thing is that you want to make sure you remove the intestines -they can impart a bitter flavor when cooked.

This particular recipe has become a favorite, it is simply delicious. I usually roast sardines or anchovies in the oven-sometimes with tomato, and always looking for new ideas. I was inspired by a recipe I saw in the Greek newspaper Kathimerini. By dipping the sardines in this dressing and roasting at high heat, the sardines develop a tasty crust and you can practically eat them with your hands. If you are using small sardines, you can eat the whole fish including the bone.

Now, fresh sardines can be difficult to find. In Greece they are common and cheap (5 euros per kilo, about 3 dollars per pound), so if you are not able to find fresh, I believe this recipe could work with canned sardines, just make sure you get plain ones (no spices).

Mediterranean Garlic and Herb Crusted Roasted Sardines Ingredients

  • Fresh sardines. If you are unable to find fresh, you can also use whole frozen ones that have been defrosted. You can also use other small fish and use the same method for roasting them.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is important here.
  • French (Dijon) mustard: Do not use the american yellow type.
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Dry oregano
  • Paprika
  • Dry onion flakes. Do not use onion powder, the flakes give a nice crust.
  • Fresh parsley: The fresh parsley (along with the lemon juice) brightens the dish right before serving.

How to make roasted sardines

  • First make the sauce, mix in a large bowl all the ingredients except the fresh parsley and the sardines. Mix well.
  • Next you add the sardine and toss gently (don’t break the sardines) until they are coated.
  • Prepare a pan or cooking dish and grease with some olive oil place the sardines one next the other in one layer. Drizzle over them any leftover dressing.
  • Roast for 15-17 minutes a bit more if they are larger sardines.
  • Once they are ready you can sprinkle with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Storage and Make Ahead

Make ahead: You can make the sauce 1-2 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
Store: The sardines can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days, however they are best served right away, as this preserves the crispiness.

What to serve with roasted sardines

Roasted Sardines

The classic way here in Greece is to serve it with lightly boiled greens, what we call “horta”, dandelion greens, collard greens will work, drizzled with a bit of olive oil and lemon. You can also serve the with a green Classic Greek Green Salad with Feta – Maroulosalata, or the colorful Summer Spanish Salad – Pipirrana or the Greek Island Summer Salad. They also pair wonderfully with Authentic Tzatziki – Greek Garlic Yogurt Dip. And the ideal potato accompaniment is the Greek Potato Salad.

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Roasted Sardines with Garlic and Herb Crust

Roasted sardines
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Simply delicious roasted sardines with a garlic herb crust – you can practically eat them with your hands.
Course: Appetizer, fish
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Easy, Recipe, Sardines
Servings: 4
Author: Elena Paravantes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 pound fresh sardines cleaned, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 teaspoons French mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice plus extra lemon for serving
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry onion flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley chopped


  • Preheat oven at 430 F (220 C) with the fan on.
  • In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except the fresh parsley and the sardines.
  • Add the sardines in the bowl and mix gently so that all the sardines are coated.
  • Grease a pan (or cooking dish) with some olive oil and place the sardines so that they are all in one layer, drizzle any leftover dressing on the fish.
  • Roast for 15-17 minutes a bit more if they are larger sardines.
  • Remove, sprinkle with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.


Make ahead: You can make the sauce 1-2 days ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
Store: The sardines can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days, however they are best served right away, as this preserves the crispiness.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on instagram and mention @greekdiet


Roasted Sardines

Photos Elena Paravantes All Rights Reserved

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  • Reply Beverly March 4, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    Made this last night with Port Lincoln fresh sardines. I didn’t have onion flakes so sprinkled some panko bread crumbs on top before roasting. Delicious.5 stars

  • Reply Paul February 5, 2023 at 7:55 am

    Just made these for dinner tonight. The dressing is great, if a bit oily. Biggest problem was that the fresh sardines (which we don’t get a lot of here in Australia) were too big, which meant the bones were inedible.

    I look forward to trying it with better sardines. The flavours were awesome.

  • Reply Jennifer L Miles December 9, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    I need measurements. Not sure how much of each item especially the Djoin mustard

    • Reply Paul February 5, 2023 at 7:52 am

      Scroll further down. Full recipe is there, with quantities.

  • Reply Kathryn September 30, 2022 at 2:03 am

    Could you tell me what french mustard is? Is it the regular French’s mustard in the yellow bottle. Or would it be a French mustard such as Dijon? Thank you.

    • Reply September 30, 2022 at 8:32 am

      Hi Kathryn, Yes, it is Dijon mustard, I’ll add that clarification in the recipe.

  • Reply Lauren Cruz March 14, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    What is the nutrition facts break down?

    • Reply Charles Roberts January 31, 2023 at 1:21 am

      In stead of mustard I’m gonna use a dry salt free lemon pepper blend that I had already purchased and lay the fish on Roma tomato slices just my preference

  • Reply Amanda February 23, 2022 at 12:12 am

    I never made sardines before, but I am trying to incorporate more fish in my diet and wanted to experiment with something different (plus sardines are cheap!). I’m so glad I tried this recipe, they were super yummy and I’ll definitely make them again. I loved the sauce and may try it on some other things.5 stars

    • Reply Sheela July 20, 2022 at 8:29 am

      My family’s favourite recipe. Love it.5 stars

  • Reply SueJ November 23, 2021 at 2:01 am

    We are usually able to get fresh frozen sardines in a bag at Whole Foods. This is always the recipe we use. It is easy and fabulous. Even my meh-about-fish husband loves it.5 stars

  • Reply Joanne Minuete July 5, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    I might be able to get fresh sardines at a not too far away Asian market. Watched the video on cleaning. Am I right in seeing sardines gutted with finger, head removed and what is left you cook with skin on?

  • Reply Peter Perry April 9, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    I cook them in my non-stick Scanpan skillet using a small drop of olive oil. The sardines get crispy, what a delightful taste treat, love em! It’s hard to get fresh sardines in Calgary, Canada, so I used canned in water sardines.

  • Reply Janet January 14, 2021 at 9:19 am

    Did this with tinned sardines. Made dressing about an hour before I wanted it the poured over tinned sardines and put in over for 6 or 7 minutes to heat through. It was very good, will do it again

  • Reply Sizun January 12, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Had this for lunch, absolutely delicious !

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