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Grilled Whole Sardines (with Thai Side Sauce)

User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


Grilled sardines
Alexandra Grablewski/Taxi/Getty Images
This fantastic recipe for grilled fish starts with fresh or frozen whole sardines. Sardines are extremely healthy - an excellent source of omega-3, B12, selenium, and other important nutrients - they're also one of the cleanest and safest fish to eat. While most people associate sardines with the canned variety, "real" sardines are something else entirely. You'll love the tenderness of this easy fish recipe, which includes a dry barbecue rub slathered on the fish before grilling followed by a flavorful Thai sauce that makes this dish truly gourmet!

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 22 minutes


  • SERVES 2
  • 8-10 whole sardines, fresh or frozen (see recipe for instructions on how to clean sardines)
  • BARBECUE RUB FOR SARDINES: (double this recipe for more than 10 sardines)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. dry crushed chili OR 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. good-tasting oil, such as coconut, canola, or olive
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut milk OR 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 fresh red chili, de-seeded & minced, OR 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili or cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (available at Asian food stores)
  • 3-4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar


  1. Lightly oil the grill with a little cooking oil to prevent fish from sticking.
  2. To make the barbecue rub, simply stir all the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. If the sardines you are using are already cleaned and prepared, skip this step. If not, cleaning sardines is relatively easy. Make a cut along the bottom of the fish and remove the intestines and entrails (simply run your finger inside the cut). Rinse and place the fish aside to dry.
  4. Place prepared sardines on a try or in a long casserole dish, so that they're lying flat. Drizzle with about 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil and slather evenly over the fish.
  5. Now sprinkle the BBQ rub you made earlier over the entire surface of the fish. Gently rub it along each fish, so they appear yellow-gold. Sprinkle any remaining rub powder over the fish and set aside to marinate until your barbecue/grill is hot (at least 10 minutes).
  6. To make the sauce: Simply place all sauce ingredients in a small pot or sauce pan. Heat very briefly (do not boil) - just warm up over medium heat to bring out the flavors, and it's ready! Taste-test for salt, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, or another squeeze of lime juice if too salty for your taste. Add a little more sugar if too sour. (Note: You only need a teaspoon of this sauce per fish, as it's very flavorful.)
  7. Before grilling, make sure your grill is lightly oiled or the sardines will stick. Grill the fish until cooked - about 5-8 minutes each side. When done, the fish will appear golden and the skin will be crisp.
  8. Enjoy the fish as is, or spoon over the sauce for an extra Thai treat. The sauce is also very nice with rice. ENJOY!
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Best Grilled Fish!, Member sianglee

This is one of the best grilled fish recipes i've tried, and one of the easiest, especially if the fish are already cleaned when bought. I've also tried this recipe with small rainbow trout, and that was great too! The key with the sardines is not to overgrill them or they dry out. Just 5 minutes on each side is enough if the grill is hot. When the skin starts to crisp up and bubble a bit you know they're done.

95 out of 98 people found this helpful.

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