Sardine Butter Recipe on Food52 (2024)

5 Ingredients or Fewer

by: Cristina Sciarra



5 Ratings

  • Serves about 6 people

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Author Notes

When I asked my boyfriend, an avid lover of seafood of all kinds, what I should make for this contest, he quickly and enthusiastically answered, “sardine butter!” Eaten on toast as an hors d’oeuvre or starter, it is the love child of two ingredients beloved by people from his region of France: sea salt-laced butter, and sardines. As a bonus, it is really easy to make and store. —Cristina Sciarra

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: cristinasciarra lives in Brooklyn, is getting her MFA in writing, and loves to travel.
WHAT: A simple French-inspired butter of sardines with a kiss of lemon and chives for depth.
HOW: Mashing the butter and sardines takes nothing but a fork -- no special equipment required!
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is butter with some body, able to stand up to the crustiest bread and sturdiest cracker. It keeps well, too! —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • Your Best Canned Fish Recipe Contest Winner

What You'll Need

  • 1.25 sticks/10 tablespoons salted butter, slightly softened (If you can find butter with actual crystals of salt, even better)
  • 1 can good quality sardines, packed in oil (either use boneless or debone yourself!)
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • about a tablespoon of minced chives
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the softened butter in a medium bowl. Drain the sardines, and add them to the bowl. Use a fork to mash the butter and the sardines together. Have fun!
  2. After a minute, add the lemon juice. Keep mashing until incorporated. At the last minute, add the chives, and some black pepper.
  3. Move the butter to a ramekin, or roll it in plastic to form a log. Refrigerate it for at least an hour or so.
  4. Serve the sardine butter with toast.


  • Condiment/Spread
  • Seafood
  • Butter
  • Chive
  • Sardine
  • 5 Ingredients or Fewer
  • Make Ahead
  • One-Pot Wonders
  • Serves a Crowd
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
Contest Entries
  • Your Best Canned Fish Recipe

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kevin Stradinger

  • Jen Williams

  • The Pontificator

  • Kevin French

  • Aliwaks

Recipe by: Cristina Sciarra

Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at

63 Reviews

57belfairmomma February 5, 2021

I served this on crispy crackers and it was so good. My five year old even loved it! So easy but good quality sardines packed in olive oil is a must.

Kevin S. January 17, 2020

So so good and so so inexpensive. Added a couple cloves of garlic for obvious reasons and going to add anchovies next go 'round

caarin June 4, 2017

Very nice! I used 4 oz of butter and the oil from the sardine tin. I prefer it to be more lemony so zested an entire lemon and used all of its juice. Served on rye toast and alternated with another toast shmeared in minty pea spread for appetizer. Delish!"

Jen W. August 4, 2015

Whoa boy, is that good. I like it a little more sardine-y, so I used only 4 oz butter and also drizzled in some of the olive oil from the can. Used lime juice instead of lemon, since I had half a lime hanging around. Love it on rye Melba toast, which I made from a loaf of thin rye that needed to get used up.

btglenn July 22, 2015

Instead of butter, try a little cream cheese. Adding some chopped scallion or onion will perk it up whether its made with butter or other addition.

The P. July 22, 2015

The recipe doesn't call for saving the oil from the can.

I'd add an anchovy fillet or two...and some lemon zest. Go big or go home!

neighome April 18, 2015

Should the oil from the tin be added or discarded?

Jenny December 14, 2014

Scrumptious, especially after a day in the frig. I used smoked sardines. My dinner guests could not stop talking about it (or eating it). Thanks for an elegant and easy recipe!

Kevin F. March 2, 2014

Just made this (sure it will get even better as it sits and melds) but this is a major win. Hard not to spread it like fish dip, as it is so good! Used the fancy butter and followed the recipe as described. Will surely make this again.

melie February 27, 2014

This will be perfect on Matzot during passover ( or year round ) !

Aliwaks February 7, 2013

Made this the other night with some peppered smoked mackerel that I discovered in the freezer... it was perfect.

janet.antene February 6, 2013

My brother and nephew will LOVE this... Thank you!

Cristina S. February 6, 2013

I hope they do!

Mel L. January 5, 2013

Looking for something special and just found it. How can you go wrong for in home tailgate party.

LetaBee January 3, 2013

Yum.. a little of the lemon zest might be nice.

karmaya December 20, 2012

my husband, a Brit who loves sardines on toast, will be blown away by this terrific version. it's today's lunch! thanks!

lfree December 11, 2012

This was amazing. Even the devout sardine haters in my family devoured it.

Cristina S. December 12, 2012

I'm so glad!

Christine H. July 25, 2012

Loved this, elegantly served in the glass egg coddler I purchased through you on line. So civilized.

btglenn May 13, 2012

I make this recipe with whipped cream cheese instead of butter, and add the can's olive oil to the mix. While this isn't exactly a sardine "butter", it is a rich and tasty spread on toast or rye bread, and, for those concerned about health and cholesterol, much lower on the animal fats that delicious high fat butter has to offer. Mix in minced scallions or chives for added flavor.

adashofbitters May 11, 2012

My god, I want to pan-sear a flatiron steak and slather this all over it while it's steaming hot.

tamater S. February 7, 2014

Oh, that made me laugh.
And I know, I know, that comment was 3 years ago, but I can't help wondering - did ya do it?

sarah K. May 10, 2012

This is a winner! My kids love radishes with butter, and they love sardines, so I made your sardine butter for the radishes today and it's marvelous. My 5 year old was practically jumping up and down with excitement.

tamater S. February 7, 2014

Oh, that made me laugh. And I know, I know, that comment was 3 years ago, but I can't help wondering - did ya do it?

tamater S. February 7, 2014

Sorry if I confused you. The comment above was meant for adashofbitters, above.

Sardine Butter Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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