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Grilled Sardine Salad

Grilled Sardines Salad
Turn your dinner table into a Blue Zone with this Grilled Sardine Salad, featuring grilled sardines atop a bed of mixed greens dressed in a zesty vinaigrette.
5.0 from 1 vote

Sometimes, sardines get a bad rap, but it’s time to ignore the haters! Take a culinary journey with this Grilled Sardine Salad, a simple dish that brings the essence of the Blue Zones straight to your table. This recipe features fresh, grilled sardines laid atop a bed of mixed greens dressed in a zesty vinaigrette.

This recipe is a breeze to prepare and packed with flavors and nutrients that epitomize the Blue Zone lifestyle. It’s a perfect blend of simplicity and sophistication, and its health benefits are as impressive as its taste. Keep reading to discover how this dish is not just food but a celebration of life and health!

How Do You Prepare Sardines for Grilling?

Preparing sardines for grilling is simpler than you might think, and it’s a great way to enjoy these nutritious fish. Start by cleaning the sardines by gutting them and removing the scales. (Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!) Rinse them under cold water and pat dry. Before grilling, marinate the sardines in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper for about 15-30 minutes. This not only adds flavor but also helps to keep them moist.

Grill the sardines over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. The key is to grill them until they are just cooked through—not overcooked—ensuring they remain tender and juicy.

Grilled sardines dressing recipe vinaigrette
Grilled sardines dressing recipe vinaigrette

Are Sardines Healthy?

Sardines are incredibly healthy and a staple in various Blue Zone diets. They are a rich source of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, crucial for heart and brain health. Sardines are also high in protein, vitamins (especially Vitamin D and B12), and minerals like calcium and phosphorus.

Their small size means sardines are lower in contaminants like mercury compared to larger fish. Including sardines in your diet can improve cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, and strengthen bones. Grilled sardines fit perfectly into the Blue Zone diet, which prioritizes nutrient-dense, whole foods for longevity and wellness.

Are Canned Sardines Still Nutritious?

Yes, canned sardines are still nutritious. In fact, they can be a convenient and affordable way to include fish in your diet. Canned sardines retain most of their nutritional value, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various vitamins and minerals.

For the recipe below (or a general Paleo diet or Keto-friendly snack on a low-carb day), I prefer wild-caught Season Sardines in olive oil.

It’s crucial to choose canned sardines that are packed in water or olive oil rather than in sauces or brine to avoid excess sodium. Canned sardines are a practical option for those who don’t have access to fresh sardines but still want to reap the health benefits they offer.

Which Blue Zone Communities Eat Sardines?

Sardines are a common component of the diet in several Blue Zone regions, particularly in Ikaria, Greece, and Sardinia, Italy. These communities, known for their remarkable longevity, often include small, oily fish-like sardines in their meals.

Blue Zone residents consume sardines for their high nutritional content, which aligns with the Blue Zone dietary principles of eating primarily plant-based foods complemented by high-quality animal proteins. The consumption of sardines in these regions is part of a broader dietary pattern that emphasizes fresh, whole foods, minimal meat, and plenty of seafood.

Grilled Sardine Salad

Recipe by Nate Clark
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: Mediterranean, Blue ZoneDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time





Enjoy this delightful Grilled Sardine Salad, a dish that brings a taste of the Mediterranean and the healthful principles of the Blue Zones to your table.

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  • 12 fresh sardines, cleaned and gutted

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Mixed Greens Salad
  • 4 cups salad greens (e.g., spring mix)

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half

  • 20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

  • Zesty Vinaigrette
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp dijon mustard

  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Gut and clean the sardines, then pat dry. In a bowl mix the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the sardines and coat them well with the marinade. Let them sit for 15-30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium heat.
  • While the sardines marinate, prepare the salad by slicing the onion and halving the tomatoes and olives. Toss the salad greens with onions, olives, and tomatoes in a large bowl, then move to a serving plate.
  • Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to create the dressing.
  • Grill the marinated sardines for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are cooked through and slightly charred. Do not overcook.
  • Place the grilled sardines on top of the salad greens. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sardines.
  • Serve the salad immediately while the sardines are still warm.


  • The nutritional calculations for this recipe can vary widely based on the size and quality of the sardines used, and whether they were packed in oil or water. The information below is based on an average of three sardines per can of medium size fish packed in olive oil. Vary your recipe as needed.

Nutrition Facts

  • Total number of serves: 4
  • Calories: 344kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 6.3g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Fat: 29g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.8g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 13.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 42mg
  • Sodium: 347mg
  • Potassium: 356mg
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sugar: 2.6g

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Nate Clark

Nate Clark has been making content for the Internet since 1921. He's best known as a musical comedian, a fitness enthusiast and author, and as a voice talent for lots of stuff. He's also a filmmaker, and has directed content for brands including Louis Vuitton, FENDI, The New York Times, Breeders' Cup, and many more. He lives in West Hollywood, CA, but he doesn't like visitors.
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