Sardine Butter

By • February 28, 2012 • 57 Comments

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Author Notes: When I asked my boyfriend, an avid lover of seafood of all kinds, what I should make for this contest, he quickly and enthusiastically answered, “sardine butter!” Eaten on toast as an hors d’oeuvre or starter, it is the love child of two ingredients beloved by people from his region of France: sea salt-laced butter, and sardines. As a bonus, it is really easy to make and store. Cristina Sciarra

Food52 Review: WHO: cristinasciarra lives in Brooklyn, is getting her MFA in writing, and loves to travel.
WHAT: A simple French-inspired butter of sardines with a kiss of lemon and chives for depth.
HOW: Mashing the butter and sardines takes nothing but a fork -- no special equipment required!
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is butter with some body, able to stand up to the crustiest bread and sturdiest cracker. It keeps well, too!
The Editors

Serves about 6 people

  • 1.25 sticks/10 tablespoons salted butter, slightly softened (If you can find butter with actual crystals of salt, even better)
  • 1 can good quality sardines, packed in oil (either use boneless or debone yourself!)
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • about a tablespoon of minced chives
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the softened butter in a medium bowl. Drain the sardines, and add them to the bowl. Use a fork to mash the butter and the sardines together. Have fun!
  2. After a minute, add the lemon juice. Keep mashing until incorporated. At the last minute, add the chives, and some black pepper.
  3. Move the butter to a ramekin, or roll it in plastic to form a log. Refrigerate it for at least an hour or so.
  4. Serve the sardine butter with toast.
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Comments (57) Questions (1)


6 days ago neighome

Should the oil from the tin be added or discarded?


4 months ago Jenny

Scrumptious, especially after a day in the frig. I used smoked sardines. My dinner guests could not stop talking about it (or eating it). Thanks for an elegant and easy recipe!


about 1 year ago Kevin French

Just made this (sure it will get even better as it sits and melds) but this is a major win. Hard not to spread it like fish dip, as it is so good! Used the fancy butter and followed the recipe as described. Will surely make this again.


about 1 year ago melie

This will be perfect on Matzot during passover ( or year round ) !


about 2 years ago Aliwaks

Made this the other night with some peppered smoked mackerel that I discovered in the freezer... it was perfect.


about 2 years ago janet.antene

My brother and nephew will LOVE this... Thank you!


about 2 years ago Cristina Sciarra

I hope they do!


over 2 years ago Mel Lewis

Looking for something special and just found it. How can you go wrong for in home tailgate party.


over 2 years ago LetaBee

Yum.. a little of the lemon zest might be nice.


over 2 years ago karmaya

my husband, a Brit who loves sardines on toast, will be blown away by this terrific version. it's today's lunch! thanks!


over 2 years ago lfree

This was amazing. Even the devout sardine haters in my family devoured it.


over 2 years ago Cristina Sciarra

I'm so glad!


over 2 years ago Christine Hardy Leaf

Loved this, elegantly served in the glass egg coddler I purchased through you on line. So civilized.


almost 3 years ago btglenn

I make this recipe with whipped cream cheese instead of butter, and add the can's olive oil to the mix. While this isn't exactly a sardine "butter", it is a rich and tasty spread on toast or rye bread, and, for those concerned about health and cholesterol, much lower on the animal fats that delicious high fat butter has to offer. Mix in minced scallions or chives for added flavor.


almost 3 years ago adashofbitters

My god, I want to pan-sear a flatiron steak and slather this all over it while it's steaming hot.


about 1 year ago tamater sammich

Oh, that made me laugh.
And I know, I know, that comment was 3 years ago, but I can't help wondering - did ya do it?


almost 3 years ago sarah k.

This is a winner! My kids love radishes with butter, and they love sardines, so I made your sardine butter for the radishes today and it's marvelous. My 5 year old was practically jumping up and down with excitement.


about 1 year ago tamater sammich

Oh, that made me laugh. And I know, I know, that comment was 3 years ago, but I can't help wondering - did ya do it?


about 1 year ago tamater sammich

Sorry if I confused you. The comment above was meant for adashofbitters, above.


about 3 years ago ashleychasesdinner

Congrats on your win! This looks delicious!


about 3 years ago AnnieHynes

Loved! and soooo easy. Thanks!


about 3 years ago jstew52

Oh good gracious this is tasty. I used salted Plugra and a few additional flakes of larger fleur de sel. I think my weekly butter comsumption amount is going up!


about 3 years ago Cristina Sciarra

Fleur de sel is ace! I'm so glad you liked the recipe.


about 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats! An awesome recipe!


about 3 years ago Anne S

Verdict: yummy. My sardine tin was a 4.38oz size, which contributed to a slightly more crumbly texture until I really packed it in, but I like the flavor, so I probably won't adjust the fish:butter ratio. Thumbs up!


about 3 years ago EmilyC

Congrats on your win! Can't wait to try this!