Lemon Juice

Lemony Sardine Pâté

February 24, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Makes About 1 cup
Author Notes

I got the idea for this pâté from David Lebovitz, who made a sardine pâté using fresh sardines, Korean red pepper flakes, and Japanese togarashi. Though fresh sardines are not hard to find in my home area, fresh cleaned and filleted sardines are. So I decided to make it using canned sardines and seasoning it with Aleppo (but you can use any dried fragrant chili that you have on hand). Serve with toast, sliced baguettes, or crackers for an elegant appetizer. Add a simple green salad and a glass of dry white wine, and it becomes a light lunch. I've even spread this on a baguette with pickled carrots and daikon for a banh mi–style sandwich. —HalfPint

Test Kitchen Notes

This is an easy pantry hors d'oeuvre. It takes no time at all to whip up and has a satisfying, smooth and creamy texture. It doesn't taste fishy -- we noticed a pleasant meaty flavor. —Rebecca Vitale

What You'll Need
  • 2 cans sardines in olive oil, ~4 oz each
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or any mildly spicy, fragrant dried chile
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • salt, optional
  1. Put all ingredient, even sardine oil, in a food processor. Blend until you get a somewhat smooth paste. Taste; add salt and more lemon juice, if needed.
  2. Alternatively, mash all the ingredients in a blender, a stand mixer (or hand mixer), and even, in a bowl with a wooden spoon. The texture will be a little chunkier, but as long as the butter is very soft, you will be able to achieve a nice paste.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerated, let it come to room temperature before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • QueenSashy
  • Iris VK
    Iris VK
  • ChefJune
  • HalfPint

16 Reviews

breakbread April 1, 2016
I'm thinking the addition of some sumac would go nicely with the Aleppo and thyme against the sardine. It's a bright, acidic note and balances well with lemon. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top and it becomes a Za'tar mix (thyme, sumac, sesame seed) albeit in three separate parts .
mayK March 15, 2014
I would think that the sardine paté also would be nice to melt over vegetables like steamed broccoli!?
HalfPint March 17, 2014
Can't see why that wouldn't work. I've been told by others that it's good tossed with pasta.
QueenSashy February 12, 2013
I liked the pate a lot, and then liked it even better three hours later. The taste changed quite a bit, it became mellower, to the point that one could hardly detect the taste of the sardine. 
HalfPint March 5, 2013
Glad you liked it. Interesting that the sardine taste mellows after a few hours. My batches have never quite lasted that long :)
Citygal December 2, 2012
Could this be made in a blender as well?
HalfPint December 3, 2012
I don't see why you couldn't, though I only worry that the blades of the blender might not be able to sufficiently move the mixture around. It might be a bit chunkier than a mixture made in a food processor. I'm pretty sure you can make this in a mortar with a pestle or in bowl with a potato masher.
beejay45 January 26, 2014
What about if you treated it like a mayonnaise? Put the solids in and whirl them, slowly drizzling in the oil? Haven't tried this method, but it seems like the slow drizzle would get things moving nicely AND would give a little emulsification, too. Anyone?
beejay45 January 26, 2014
Oops, guess you'd have to melt the butter for this method which would be a different dish altogether!
JenJack September 16, 2012
What is Aleppo pepper? I'm not familiar with it.
HalfPint September 18, 2012
It's a Middle Eastern dried red pepper (originally from Syria?). It's a mild fruity red pepper flake that's a common condiment in Turkey, Syria, most of the Mediterranean. If you can't find it, you can substitute a good quality sweet Paprika or piment d'espelette (though is a bit smoky).
HalfPint September 18, 2012
it's a mild fruity red pepper flake used commonly in Turkish and Syria cooking. If can't find it, try substituting in a good quality sweet Paprika or a piment d'Espelette.
Iris V. April 6, 2012
Very simple to make, and it made a tasty, elegant, and very healthy snack! Loved it, will be making it again.
HalfPint April 10, 2012
Glad you like it!
ChefJune March 18, 2012
I know I would love this. And I almost always have King Oscar in the cupboard.
emcsull July 14, 2013
who's King Oscar ?