Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

Fancy Tinned Sardines on Toast | Simple Provisions

Our local farmers’ market rotates through four towns in the Macedon region. Two locations are handy  to home, one is farther but in such a pretty location that it makes the trip worth it, and the other is just that bit too far to justify ploughing the freeway for. Which leaves one weekend per month where my pantry is the sole source of my Saturday lunch.

A pantry stocked with a variety of tinned goods, paired with a fridge of brighteners like capers and fresh herbs, will always provide an honest meal. Tinned sardines is one of my favourite store cupboard staples. This under-utilised, oily fish is rich in omega-3s which means it’s great for you and can be gussied up to taste delicious, even if you’re not a fan of strong fish flavours.

Fancy Tinned Sardines on Toast | Simple Provisions

Sardines on toast is classic British comfort food that could be relegated to sad, grey Sunday nights in front of the telly. But when paired with a lively pickle and fresh salad, it is anything but somber.

To ensure the meal is a happy one, and to address the concerns of the fishy-taste haters, a quick pickle is made to liven things up. Red onion is cooked until soft and mixed with sugar, vinegar, capers and parsley to produce a sweet but bright topping that cuts through the richness of the fish.

Fancy Tinned Sardines on Toast | Simple Provisions

Make sure to use a sturdy sourdough that has the wherewithal to soak up the juices of the oily fish and pickle brine. A generous smear of mustard will ground the meal, helping to balance the flavours and a little greenery that has been dressed in olive oil and lemon juice will add lightness.

It’s a texture and flavour carnival that is the prettiest tinned sardines on toast I’ve ever seen, and the perfect Saturday lunch.

Fancy Tinned Sardines on Toast 

Serves 2


  • 2 tins of sardines (preferably a brand that supports sustainable fishing)
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • Butter
  • Mustard
  • A handful of rocket (arugula)
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Quick Pickle

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 heaped tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


To make the quick pickle, heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until it is soft but not browned. Stir in the sugar, vinegar and capers and cook for a few seconds more, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in parsley. Let cool a little while you prepare the toast.

Turn on your griller (broiler) and lightly toast your bread (I do this part in the toaster while the griller is heating up). Spread your toast with butter and a generous portion of mustard. Evenly lay the sardine fillets over each slice and place the toast under the grill until the sardines are warmed through and a little charred (about 2 minutes).

Toss your rocket (arugula) in some lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to lightly dress the leaves.

Remove the toast from the grill and lay the pickle on top of each slice then crown with the salad leaves. Serve warm.

Adapted from The Hairy Bikers (BBC)

34 thoughts on “Fancy Tinned Sardines on Toast

  1. This looks delicious! My boyfriend loves sardines–I will have to try making this for him. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Amelia says:

      You’re welcome Ada, I hope you both enjoy them.

  2. laurasmess says:

    This is such a gorgeous idea. I’m a long-time fan of sardines on toast (but then again, I am British by birth!) with a slathering of buttery avocado, but I love the idea of this acidic onion pickle and the dressed leaves. Yum! Sardines are definitely underrated. So delicious! x

    1. Amelia says:

      Avocado would go beautifully! I’ll try that next time, thanks Laura.

  3. misha says:

    ah, the majesty of the encroute. these look fantastic!

    do you ever pair these with a nice cheese, maybe a brie? as i read your recipe, i thought of cheese as an alterative to the quick pickle. you know, sacrifice a little acidity for some creaminess.

    1. Amelia says:

      Oh what I would give for some soft brie! Once this pregnancy is out of the way, I’ll be putting soft cheese on EVERYTHING. Maybe I’ll start with your suggestion :)

  4. I love your combination of sardines and capers. Delicious – and great photos!

  5. How you can make tinned sardines look so damn delicious is beyond me! This makes me wanna buy some tinned sardines tomorrow!

    1. Amelia says:

      Pink pickles make everything prettier Bonnie!

  6. If only sardines on toast had looked so beautiful when I was growing up! I’ll have to give them another shot. :)

    1. Amelia says:

      Totally worth another shot. So good for you too!

  7. Stephanie says:

    I love the fresh pickle! Beautiful photos.

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks Stephanie

  8. lirioscake says:

    Wooowww it looks delicious!

  9. Saskia (1=2) says:

    LOVE, love, love this Amelia. You are one clever lady. I immediately added sardines to my shopping list! That quick pink pickle (quickle?) looks sensational and is the perfect flavour blanket for those lovely-looking sardines. I’ve always eaten mine with fresh chopped tomatoes and herbs. Very excited to have a new idea to try. That sourdough looks beautiful too!
    PS. The Mediterranean Wholesalers in Sydney Rd sell the most beautiful white sardines in olive oil – you must stock up when you’re next in the big smoke.

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks Saskia! I love sardines with tomatoes and herbs too. Cafe Rosamond in Fitzroy served me up a beautiful plate of that for lunch every week for a couple of months earlier in the year when I had just started eating green things again after dreaded morning sickness. A trip to the Mediterranean Wholesalers has just gone on the list of To Do in Melbourne Before I Can’t Move More Than 10 Metres From Couch.

      1. Saskia (1=2) says:

        Ha! I usually can’t move more than 10 metres from the couch AFTER a trip to the Mediterranean Wholesalers but that’s due to their cannoli!

  10. Urvashi Roe says:

    I love sardines but had never thought of using the tinned ones this way. Lovely simple post and wonderful images

    1. Amelia says:

      Thanks Urvashi. These simple meals are my favourite.

  11. I love sardines, but apparently people in the states don’t find them as appetizing so they’re rarely in the store. I may have to give the canned ones a try. yours look gorgeous ;-)

  12. Sardines are so healthy and this just seems like a great way of eating them! Can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing

  13. kafka1984 says:

    Looks great, gonna try it for sure!

  14. so…. someone gave me a super fancy tin of those little suckers and i am going to have a good go at this. i’ll let you know how i go :) but this
    recipe looks and sounds so yummy, it must just work and re-jiggle my tastebuds into liking little fishie things. mh…

  15. Sony Loren says:

    I used to eat sardines by the pound as a youngster and then got turned off….I’m sure it was due to overkill. I think I’m ready to revisit them now. Thanks for this recipe!

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