sardine spread

Sardine Spread Recipe. Hand Roll Variation

Sardine Spread

sardine spread


Also called sardine rillettes. Sardines are to Mediterraneans what tuna is to most Americans. You say tuna, I say sardines.

The city of Safi in Morocco has the largest sardine port in the world. And we grew up eating them, so this helps explain why I love them in every shape or form, fresh grilled or in tajines (this is a very unfrequent treat here, alas). We eat them canned in sandwiches, in sardine spread, added to pasta and pizza. I even put them in potato salad! Here’s my absolute favorite sardine brand.
If I could think of a few ingredients that get the stepchild treatment in this country, sardines would be one of them. In my homeland we treat them like a major delicacy and give them pride of place!

Moroccan salad spread

 Sardines! Help!

Canned Sardines

Just the mention sardines brings a wrinkle to some noses.

When I mention I look for sardines with skin and bones, I get wary, almost hostile looks. Gosh, it’s like if I said I was growing hair on my legs.

How do sardines come to be so underrated in America? Is it their fault that they look so homely, and smell so pungent? Have you tried them in a sandwich or panini with some lettuce and tomato? Try them in this recipe and let me know if they are beginning to grow on you!  Please don’t recoil from the skin and bones,  and whatever you do don’t discard any of it: You won’t see them in the finished sardine spread. Plus that’s where all the flavor and nutrition are so you will enjoy them immensely.

Grilled sardines

Sardine Spread is a Snap!

Sardine spread

You will whip up this dish in minutes. Talk about Gastronomie Sans Argent! When we can’t have Duck Rillettes, we whip up Sardine Rillettes in no time and for pennies. I love to see the humble and neglected sardine get so brilliantly vindicated! You will love it on canapes, as a spread on apple or cucumber slices. It’s also great as a sandwich filling, with some added lettuce leaves and tomato slices, or as a dip. Top the canapes with tiny gherkins or capers.

No added salt anywhere please!

Canned sardines and tuna can often err on the salty side. Even the sardines marked low sodium have enough seasoning. So don’t even add a smidgen of salt.

Sardine Spread Hand Rolls

Sardine spread handrolls

I have included here a hand roll variation, which makes for a dramatic presentation.

Sardine Sandwich

Fantastic on whole grain focaccia or baguette, with added lettuce and tomato.


  • 1 can sardines in oil, skin on, bones in, undrained
  • 1/3 cup tehina paste
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 medium jalapeño, minced
  • 4 scallions, sliced very thin


Place the sardines and their liquids in a bowl. Add all but last ingredient, and mash with a fork until smooth but still a little chunky. Stir in the scallions. keep refrigerated in a pint glass jar. Serve at room temperature.

Makes a good 4 servings

Variation: Hand Rolls.

A funky and easy take on spicy tuna hand rolls. Make the exact same spread, and bulk it up with alfalfa sprouts and finely chopped watercress, or some cooked brown rice. Use the filling for nori hand rolls

6 replies
  1. Belle
    Belle says:

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I genuinely
    enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.
    I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back
    someday. I want to encourage you to continue your great writing,
    have a nice afternoon!

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Yehudis: I have a better idea: Wait till your husband enjoys it in a sandwich before you spill the beans. It works for me with absolutely everyone, and they are amazed!

  2. Devora Goldhair
    Devora Goldhair says:

    When I was a kid, my favorite lunch was something my mom called “smashed sardines sandwich”. I loved it even though noone would sit next to me in the lunchroom. It was worth the sacrifice! Thanks for posting this recipe. Can’t wait to try it.


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