Sardines Two Ways: Sardine Pâté and Spread

March 15, 2013

Sardines Two Ways - Sardine Pate and Sardine Spread 1

Sardines don’t get the limelight they deserve. Is it because they come in a can? Do they remind people of their less refined college days of scarfing down tinned sardines over their kitchen sink? Or perhaps it’s due to their reputation of tasting so darn “fishy”?

Personally, I love sardines. And I know I’m not alone – they’re a popular on-the-go snack/meal replacement for the paleo crowd. They’re fatty, flavorful, and chock-full of healthy Omega-3’s. Plus, they’re widely available and pack well.

So, as an ode to the underappreciated sardine, I decided to gussy them up to hors d’oeuvre dinner party status. Not that there’s anything overly exotic about these two recipes – it’s just that pâtés and such are quite de rigueur of late.

Which one should you make? If you consider yourself a purist and want the sardine to shine in all of its fishy glory, you’ll love the pâté. It’s an intensely flavoured, ballsy alternative to the classic chicken liver pâté. If, on the other hand, you prefer the lighter texture of spreads, and are looking for something a little milder, with a slightly less pronounced sardine taste, then the sardine spread is for you.

Can’t decide? Why not try both? This tasty duo only takes a few minutes to whip up.

Sardine Spread

Sardine Pate

Sardine Pâté


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened and cut into large cubes
  • 2 (3 ¾ ounce) cans sardines packed in olive oil, drained
  • 1 large shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons) (can substitute onion)
  • 1 green onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed, from about 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • optional garnish: 1 teaspoon parsley, minced


1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and uniform in texture. Alternatively, you could use a hand mixer.

2. Transfer pâté to serving dish and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

3. Garnish with parsley (optional) and serve.

Sardine Spread


  • 2 (3 ¾ ounce) cans sardines packed in olive oil, drained
  • 4 ounces (113g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon) (can substitute onion)
  • 1 green onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed, from about 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional garnish: sprig of dill


1. Combine all ingredients except for sardines in a food processor and process until smooth and uniform in texture. Alternatively, you could use a hand mixer or use a spatula to smooth out the cream cheese by hand and then stir the other ingredients in with a fork.

2. If using a food processor, add the sardines and pulse only a couple of times, just to break up the sardines into smaller chunks. If not using a food processor, stir the sardines in with a fork, lightly mashing them.

3. Transfer spread to a serving dish and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

4. Garnish with dill (optional) and serve.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please remember to share it (pinterest, facebook, twitter, etc.). Thanks!

Shared with Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays.

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Leave a Comment

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristine March 15, 2013 at 8:44 AM

These look fantastic. I, too, love the little suckers any way I can get them. But I have been looking for a “spread” that I would enjoy and I will give these a shot!


admin@primalist March 15, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Awesome, hope you enjoy these spreads as much as I did!


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Aaron March 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Ballsy alternative huh? You crack me up. Damn girly chicken liver pate!


admin@primalist March 15, 2013 at 5:31 PM

I literally LOL’d at work when I read your comment :P Just goes to show you what a happy little bubble I live in – one where chicken livers are standard fare, no biggie :)


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Beth March 22, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Thank you! I picked up a couple tins of sardines a while ago but haven’t worked up the nerve to try them. The less ballsy option sounds like a good intro.


admin@primalist March 22, 2013 at 9:15 AM

I agree – hope you like it!


Kristen @ Smithspirations March 23, 2013 at 1:51 PM

I see cans of sardines and always think that I should try them, but I’ve never bought any, not knowing what to do with them! I like this two options! Perhaps I’ll work up my courage and buy some soon to top on some sourdough crackers.


admin@primalist March 23, 2013 at 5:31 PM

A pate or spread is definitely a fun way to try sardines, hope you like them!


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Mary June 29, 2013 at 1:13 PM

cream cheese?


Carole July 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Lovely work! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday over at Carole’s Chatter which is creating a collection of recipes using anchovies or sardines? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers


admin@primalist July 18, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Done! Cheers


Carole July 19, 2013 at 1:04 PM

So glad you stopped by and added this to the collection. Hope to see you again soon. Cheers

Alice February 4, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Hi there,

Can fresh sardines be used?

How should they be cooked before making the pate?
E.g. Boil 2 gutted sardines for 10 mins?



admin@primalist February 4, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Hi Alice. The recipe is for canned sardines, but feel free to experiment!


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