Oven Roasted Sardine Fillets

50 min


Although these sardines are made in the oven, I have been eating them ALL summer. Because one, sardines are in season here in Portugal and, two, they are that good!

If you do not know, in Portugal we eat sardines all summer, and the traditional way is grilled whole. Because they are small fish, we usually do not gut them to grill, so all insides are intact. You need to be careful while eating them if you do not like that parts (at least I don’t!).

The sardines are usually served in bread and eaten with your hands. Or option is to use knife and fork, in which case they are usually served with boiled potatoes and salad.

Sardine fillet recipe

None of those options are my favorite, especially since I tried this new sardine fillet recipe where the fish is not only gutted but the spine and head are also removed.

Now, not all place will have the expertise to prepare them like this. In case you can only find them hole (or at least, with the insides clean) you have to, first, remove the head, and them use a very sharp knife to take the filet and remove the spine. It is not hard, but it does require some technique and the smell of you hands in the end is not the best. But I can assure you, it is worth the trouble.

Can you eat sardine bones?

In this case, we remove most of the bones, or spine, of the fish. However, sardines have a lot of smaller bones throughout their body, as you can see in the picture below:


sardine fillet with bones roasted in the hoven - breaded


The good news is that is this recipe you can eat those smaller bones, and I am going to explain you how to do this.

Once you have the sardines prepared (gutted and cut into fillets) you will put them into a bowl with lemon juice, salt and some water. You need to make sure all sardines are submersed or at least the inside part is touching the liquid. Notice all of mine have the skin up. The lemon juice will soften so much the bones that you will not feel them when eating and it is also very unlikely that they will get stuck in your throat after this treatment.

Some last notes on this. The salt is added so the sardines do not need it after, and the water dilutes the lemon juice a bit to make sure we have enough liquid to soak all the fish. If you use only lemon juice you can leave it there only 15-20 min, otherwise it would taste too much citric. In case you mix with 2-parts lemon, 1-part water, half an hour would be good. Like this:


sardines soaked in lemon juice to avoid bones


While you are waiting you can prepare the ingredients for coating them: an egg wash and seasoned flour. For the egg wash I use only the beaten eggs and some salt (you can add milk but I don’t usually do that). As for the flour I usually change the seasoning depending on my mood. My usual is: fine salt and pepper, chili powder, paprika (just a bit), a lot of garlic powder and some herbs. I usually use parsley, sometimes oregano, and in the day I shoot this I was using dried chive – not the best as it gives less flavor in my opinion.


flour and spices mix for oven sardine recipe

How to cook sardines in oven

For me, the best part of this recipe is that I can actually eat sardines in an apartment, as I do not always have a grill available. Plus, if you try to cook whole sardines in the oven the smell is so, so strong you will probably never want to do it again. This way you can actually cook sardines in the oven and enjoy them without making your house super stinky! I am not going to lie, there is always some smell, but I believe it dissipates well with this recipe.

I usually cook them at 210C (410F) with the grill on, in a non-stick oven tray with a bit of olive oil. Once they are finish soaking, I take each filet and pass them thought egg and then the flour mix. When the tray filled with the sardines, I will add a bit of olive oil on top and put it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.



I serve them with a lettuce salad and a tomato and cucumber salad (one for me, one for my husband!). Sometimes I have some bread on the side, but you might want to skip in case you are following low carb as this already has the flour in it. But it all depends on your personal preference and goals!


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Adjust Servings
Garlic powder
Dried oregano, parsley or chive choose the one you like most!
Chili powder
Salt and pepper



Soak the sardines and turn on the oven

In order to avoid feeling the sardine bones, you should start by soaking them in lemon juice and water (1-part lemon juice, 2 parts water). Leave them about 30 minutes in there with also some salt. In case you like the citric flavor you can use only the lemon juice. In this case reduce the overall time to 15 to 20 minutes. This will make the small bones soft. Heat the oven to 210C (410 F).
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Prepare the sardines

Beat the eggs with some salt and season the flour. Take each sardine and pass them in the egg mix and then in the flour mix, on each side. Add the sardines to a non-stick tray with some olive oil on the bottom. I usually put them with the part that has no skin up.
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Roast the sardines

Once all sardines are ready, put the tray in the oven with the grill part on for about 20 to 30 minutes. You do not need to flip the sardines. Serve with a good salad.
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