Sardines vs Anchovies: What’s the Difference?

Both sardines and anchovies are very popular and they can be used in different dishes.

You can either enjoy them as a fast snack or use them as an ingredient in your favorite sauce or topping and get creative if you want to make spreads with a fish flavor.

Even if these two types of fish are similar, there are notable differences that you should be aware of before you choose one or another.

Sardines differ in flavor, appearance, and origin from anchovies. You will notice right away that anchovies are smaller and they tend to be more oily than sardines.

Also, sardines are originated in the Mediterranean area while anchovies come from Europe. And there are over 140 types of anchovies so the variety is much wider than the one of sardines.

Let’s look more in-depth at the differences between these two types of thin fish!

Sardines vs Anchovies: Comparison Chart

Aspects  Sardines  Anchovies 
Taste  Milder salty taste, oily Salty, assertive, oily
Size  6-12 inches 4-10 inches 
Dishes  Cooked dishes, salads, toppings, spreads Sauces, salads, sandwiches toppings, pizza toppings
Origin  Mediterranean area  Europe 
Nutrition  vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin D, Phosphorus, Calcium, Niacin, Iodine  omega-3 fatty acids, Niacin, Calcium, Selenium, Potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12

Sardines vs Anchovies Nutrition

You will be happy to find out that both sardines and anchovies are from the healthy type of fish category.

For instance, only four sardines can bring to your meal about 100 calories, 12 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, as well as vitamin B12, selenium, vitamin D, Phosphorus, Calcium, Niacin, Iodine, and other significant nutrients.

On the other hand, anchovies will bring you plenty of nutrients as well. This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Niacin, Calcium, Selenium, Potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and a serving of anchovies will bring you 17 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and 111 calories.

Do Anchovies and Sardines Taste the Same?

Caesar Salad with Anchovies

The taste of both sardines and anchovies is saltier than other types of fish. They are both very oily as well. However, anchovies are even saltier than sardines, so you will have to use a lot less of them.

You will get the fish flavor from both of these types of fish but sardines tend to have a stronger fish flavor since they are not as salty as anchovies. Therefore, keep these few differences in mind when you are using these two types of fish in your food.

Can I Use Sardines Instead of Anchovies?

You can substitute sardines with anchovies. However, it is important to realize that, their texture is quite different too.


Besides the fact that anchovies are saltier and greasier than sardines, they also melt away when cooked. If these differences don’t bother you, you might be able to use one instead of another.

On the other hand, you can always substitute sardines with anchovies or the other way around in cold dishes such as salads or sandwiches. In such a case, feel free to use the type of thin fish that you prefer as they will both taste delicious.

Sardines vs Anchovies Taste

Anchovies are not only saltier and melt during cooking, their flavor can be quite different from sardines as well. You will discover that they can add an impressive taste to every food you add them to and you don’t even have to add a big quantity of them. 

Sardines will give your food a stronger fish flavor and they will not melt during cooking. If you want your food to have a delicious fish taste without being too salty, opt for sardines.

However, if you don’t mind a milder fish taste and a salties flavor, you should definitely go for anchovies. If you use anchovies, you might not need to add any extra salt to your dish.

Sardines vs Anchovies on Pizza

When it comes to pizza, anchovies make great toppings. They add a great taste especially when they are combined with tomato sauce and cheese but also onion and other toppings. But could you obtain the same taste if you replace anchovies with sardines?

You might want to use sardines on pizza with caution due to many reasons. For instance, you want to make sure you use sardines in a file form because no one likes to feel bones on their pizza, or fish skin for that matter.

On the other hand, you need to make sure they are cut into slices or cubes so you can use them as a topping on your pizza.

We can say that there are ways to replace anchovies with sardines on your pizza. However, you might need to allocate a bit more time to prepare them.

Anchovies vs Sardines Caesar Dressing

If you like the famous Caesar salad you most likely know that half of the charm of this dish is the dressing that it comes with.

The traditional recipe of Caesar dressing includes egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, lemon, garlic, mustard, and pepper. However, you might want to add some extra flavor to this dressing by using anchovies.

Worcestershire sauce already has a fish flavor to it, so it will go great with the pungent and salty flavor of the anchovies. Plus, anchovies will blend with the rest of the ingredients in a lovely way so you will not even feel their texture in your dressing if you mix them right.

You will still feel their delicious flavor and you might enjoy your Caesar salad even more!

If you are thinking to add sardines to your Caesar salad dressing, you might want to think again. Sardines will definitely change the texture of your sauce and they will not add as much flavor as anchovies will.

Considering that the Cesar dressing already has a fish taste because of the Worcestershire sauce, adding sardines even in a finely chopped form, will simply enhance that flavor a bit but it will not make a significant difference.

A great idea would be to add chopped sardines to your Caesar salad directly instead of adding them to the dressing of this salad. By doing so, you will still enjoy the flavor of the sardines and an authentic dressing as well.

How to Eat Anchovies and Sardines?

You can enjoy both sardines and anchovies in any form you like it but there are certain types of food with which you simply can’t fail.

When it comes to anchovies, the best way to eat them is plain on sandwiches and pizza, or in sauces. You can also add them to cooked dishes if you don’t mind that their texture will disappear and you will remain to enjoy mainly the taste of it.

You can enjoy sardines on toast sandwiches too. They go particularly well with butter. But you will be glad to find out that they are perfect for fish paste as well. You can blend some sardines with lemon, garlic, onion, olive oil, and butter and get a delicious fish spread.

Sardines will not go so great in sauces. However, you can use them in cooked dishes a lot better than anchovies since they have more meat and they will not melt as easily.

Anchovies vs Sardines vs Mackerel

Anchovies and sardines are thin fish types whereas mackerel is a significantly bigger and fatter type of fish. Mackerel is a type of fish that includes all pelagic fish and it can grow to about 30 cm in length.

You will see that compared to sardines and anchovies which are saltier and more assertive types of fish, mackerel is a fish with a fatter and more buttery flavor to it.

You can cook sardines and mackerel in fairly similar dishes but you will not be able to use mackerel the way you use anchovies in sauces.

You can use mackerel in different sandwiches as well as eat it plain once you barbecued it or fry it in the pan. This fish is great for the main course and combined with a side of your favorite veggies or salad.

Compared to anchovies which are rarely enjoyed plain, mackerel will make for a delicious snack. You can marinate this fish in different sauces to obtain an even more pungent flavor.

Anchovies or Sardines, What’s Tastes Better?

As you can see, both anchovies and sardines can find their place in your recipes. Make sure to consider your personal preferences when you choose between these two types of fish as they are flexible enough to be used as you please.

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