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Sardines with Garlic, Lemon & Thyme

By January 20, 2012January 1st, 2019Fish, Main Dish, Recipes

Sardines with Garlic Lemon and Thyme is an easy, delicious dish popular all over Europe.  Sardines are one of the highest sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids on the planet. Besides being high in clean protein, they reduce inflammation, feed your brain and make your body feel great. 
Sardines with Garlic, Lemon and Thyme
I love sardines. They are small, saltwater, oil-rich, soft boned,silvery fish. They happen to be one of the most beneficial and least expensive fish available. Along with salmon and tuna they are high in omega 3’s.   As a small fish they are low in mercury unlike tuna which is a big fish and high in mercury.  They are not farmed, as the life cycle of the sardine does not lend itself to farming.  Salmon is great and I love it but wild salmon costs about $22 per pound, sardines $7.  

The amazing health benefits of sardines may encourage you to give them a try.  Canned sardines are easy to find but I prefer the fresh ones.  When fresh they taste like the sea.

The easiest way to cook them is to roast or broil them with a little garlic, lemon and herbs.  I learned to make them this way when I was in Spain about 10 years ago.  I have been enjoying sardines ever since.

In this recipe I use fresh thyme but marjoram and oregano are also good.  Order sardines from your fishmonger if they don’t carry them regularly and give them a try. Your body will thank you.

Some people say they don’t like sardines because of the bones.  Yes, there are quite a few bones but they are soft and if you eat a few, they won’t harm you.  You will get a bit of calcium too.

Sardines With Lemon and Thyme

Health Benefits of Sardines

Brain Food

Thanks to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids sardines have an incredible impact on the brain, especially when it comes to mild memory loss.  Sardines can help to prevent mood disorders including anxiety and depression.

Anti-Inflammatory with Great Cardiovascular Benefits

Sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, shown to reduce inflammation resulting in improved heart health. They have been found to lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels.  Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B12 second only to calf’s liver which promotes cardiovascular well being.

Packed Full of Protein

Sardines are rich in protein, which provides us with the amino acids needed to build cells . They are low in mercury and environmental impact.

Good For Bone and Joint Health

Sardines are a superb source of bone-building calcium and contain surprisingly high concentrations of vitamin D, a nutrient not so readily available in our diet. Vitamin D prevents unwanted inflammation and helps bones absorb calcium.

Skin and Hair

The omega-3’s found in sardines lock moisture into skin cells, encouraging the production of strong collagen and elastin fibers, which contribute to more youthful looking skin.  Omega-3’s are also known to alleviate skin blemishes and maintain good hair luster.

Eye Health

Studies strongly suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of dry eye syndrome, a common complaint.  Omega 3’s offer substantial protection against macular degeneration (AMD) of the eye, a condition in which fine vision deteriorates, resulting in central vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.

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Sardines with Garlic, Lemon & Thyme

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  • Author: Ingrid DeHart -
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 2-3 servings 1x


  • 1 pound sardines (8 medium), gutted, with heads on or off (I like to see the eyes and express gratitude)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Celtic sea salt & fresh pepper
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 12 fresh thyme sprigs, plus chopped fresh thyme for garnish


  1. Rinse the sardines, pat dry.
  2. Mix garlic with 2 Tb of olive oil
  3. Season sardines with salt and pepper
  4. Rub the garlic/olive oil all over the sardines including inside the cavities
  5. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
  6. Heat the broiler until hot. Move the oven rack as close to the heat source as possible (two inches away).
  7. Heat a flat pan for about 5 minutes.
  8. Take the sardines out of the refrigerator. Cut the lemon slices in half stuff inside the sardines with thyme sprigs; They will stick out a bit that is fine.
  9. When the pan is hot, remove it from the oven and brush with 1 Tb of the olive oil, then put the sardines on the pan and drizzle with the remaining 1 Tb olive oil on top.
  10. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes, then check the sardines; they’re ready when they’re opaque, the tip of a knife flakes the thickest part easily, and the outside is nicely browned. If they are brown but not cooked through turn down the broiler and roast until done.
  11. To serve, carefully remove the sardines with a spatula, sprinkle with chopped thyme. Serve with lemon wedges.


Plan to marinate them for 15-30 minutes.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, Paleo, Gluten Free

Enjoy the recipe and let me know if you eat sardines.

Much love,




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