Portuguese Grilled Sardines Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Portuguese grilled sardine (Sardinhas) is mainly enjoyed during the summer, when sardines are in season, making the recipe a perfect dinner for you and your family. Next time if you want to organize a barbeque at your home, try to impress your guests with some grilled sardines.

You won’t need much to make this dish shine, just the sardines and some basic seasoning to enhance the natural flavors of the fish.

Served with a fresh salad, some baked potatoes, or some bread, you will have a delicious and nutritious meal on your plate, filled with protein, healthy fats, Omega 3, and all those goodies. Let me show you how to easily grill sardines at home.

Grilled Sardines1

What Are Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

Portuguese grilled sardines are a popular dish in Mediterranean countries made by grilling sardines with simple ingredients. The dish is especially in coastal regions like Portugal and Spain, where sardines are considered iconic.

There is even a festival to eat sardines (“sardinhas”) in Portugal, called Festa de São João do Porto, on June 23rd.

Very often enjoyed in restaurants by the beach, sardines are associated with the summertime. In Portugal, for example, if you live close to the ocean, you will surely smell the grilled sardines during the summer nights.

Usually, the grilled sardines are usually served as the main meal, with a fresh salad or baked potatoes. There is also a type of small sardines that can be eaten with the bones, which can be enjoyed simply on a slice of bread and some lemon on top.

What Sadines To Use For Grilling?

The Atlantic Sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and the Pacific Sardine (Sardinops sagax) are popular in the States. However, if you’re in a hurry, any sardine family variety can also work wonders.

The Atlantic Sardine, commonly used in Portugal and Spain, is a cheap and healthy source of protein. For an enhanced taste and aroma, it is recommended to catch Atlantic Sardines from June to early October.

On the other hand, the Pacific Sardine stands out with its blue-green back, white flanks, and one to three sets of dark spots. The smaller Pacific Sardines offer a delicate flavor, while the larger ones provide a fuller, oilier taste reminiscent of anchovies but milder.

Known for its creamy texture and robust flavor, the Pacific Sardine adds a delightful touch to any culinary creation.

Grilled Sardines2

Why Consuming Sardines Benefit You?

Consuming sardines offers several benefits for your health. For example, sardines are rich in potassium, zinc, and magnesium, essential minerals supporting various bodily functions. Additionally, the potassium content in sardines promotes healthy blood pressure levels.

Sardines also contain niacin and zinc that can help improve lipid and lipoprotein levels in the body. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for heart health.

Also, sardines have higher iron levels than other fish, making them a good choice for individuals who need to increase their iron intake. Don’t forget sardines offer superior nutritional content to tuna, as they contain more calcium and vitamin E.

What Tools Are Needed To Nail Your Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

To make Portuguese grilled sardines, you need to lay your hands on simple utensils like a griller alongside simple tools like a spatula, knife, cutting board, and container.

  • Griller: I use a charcoal griller in this recipe, which gives extra flavor to the sardines, but you can use an electric griller if you prefer.
  • Spatula: To take and reposition the sardines from the griller.
  • Big plate: To place sardines on.
  • Knife: For chopping ingredients.
  • Cutting board: Goes with the knife for a stable surface before cutting anything.
  • Small container: For mixing the essential marinade ingredients.
  • Small spoon: Mix and spread the marinade.
Grilled Sardines Tools

What Ingredients Are Needed For Portuguese-style Grilled Sardines?

The main ingredients necessary for Portuguese grilled sardines include sardines with simple seasonings of olive oil, parsley, lemon, and garlic. Of course, sardines are indispensable from the mix, but you may want to know what else to prepare before starting the fire for grilling.

Grilled Sardines Ingredients
  • Sardines: Filled with protein, healthy fats, and Omega 3, the sardines are the “queens” of this dish. Any variety should work fine.
  • Olive oil: To add even more healthy fats, olive oil is the base for the marinade of the sardines.
  • Garlic: Aside from helping to boost the immune system, garlic gives a delicious flavor to any dish.
  • Salt & black pepper: For that final touch and to enhance all the natural flavors.
  • Fresh parsley: Fhis will add both an earthy flavor and a peppery aroma.
  • Lemon: The lemon juice will give that freshness and make the fish extra juicy.

How To Make The Perfect Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

Making Portuguese grilled sardines requires simple steps of preparing the marinade, marinating the fish, and grilling the sardines. The dish is simple to make, so you don’t have to worry about using any complicated chef-rated skills.

Step 1: Prepare the Marinade

You should start by preparing the marinade for the sardines. Add olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the small container. Mix well.

Grilled Sardines Step 1 Prepare the Marinade

Step 2: Marinade the Sardines

Place the sardines on a plate and pour the marinade on top. Make sure to spread the marinade concoction evenly over the surface of the sardines. Let them sit for 2-3 minutes.

Grilled Sardines Step 2 Marinade the Sardines

Step 3: Grill the Sardines

Fire up your griller, whether it’s electric or charcoal. Then, place the sardines on a hot griller and let the heat penetrate the fish for about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Grilled Sardines Step 3 Grill the Sardines

Ideally, you should aim for a nice and crispy texture on the outside and still moist on the inside.

Grilled Sardines Step 3 Grill the Sardines1

What Are Some Tips And Serving Suggestions For Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

When your sardines are done, it’s time to serve them up with some tips and serving suggestions to help you make your grilled sardines better than ever. Don’t worry; they are easy to follow.

How To Make Portuguese Grilled Sardines Easier and More Delicious?

To enhance Portuguese grilled sardines flavors, you can try these 5 tips to alter the sardines to your will. Also, you can learn a few tricks to handle frozen sardines.

  • You can always use an electric griller if you don’t have a charcoal griller or just don’t feel like using it. Even if you don’t have one, use your oven with the grill mode.
  • You can get creative with the marinade, like adding some spices, paprika, fresh herbs, etc.
  • Marinade the sardines for a couple of hours for a stronger flavor.
  • You can use frozen sardines, but for the best flavor, choose fresh sardines.
  • Serve the sardines immediately; they are best when served hot.

What Should I Serve With The Grilled Sardines?

The sardines have such a unique flavor that you really want to enjoy them simply, but they go well with a fresh salad, baked potatoes, or simply some bread.

In addition, you may want some specific suggestions like lemon salsa, roasted veggies, tomatoes with toast, or salsa spaghetti.

How Can You Store Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

You can freeze the sardines when raw, but once they are grilled, the best is to enjoy them within a day. With that said, you can still reserve your already-cooked sardines.

  • In the fridge: You can store the sardines for 2-3 days in the fridge and then reheat them, but their flavor is best when enjoyed hot and directly off the grill.
  • In the freezer: You can freeze the raw sardines for up to 3 months.

What Are Other Grilled Dishes You Can Try?

If you like grilled options, you can take a look at these selections to uncover more about exciting options. With various ingredients, you can pick one that suits your taste bud to make at home.

  • Meshana Skara: A delectable Bulgarian classic dish boasting a delightful array of sizzling grilled meats. The dish features succulent pork chops, flavorful meatballs, juicy sausages, and savory kebabs.
  • Grilled steak: Made by cooking a high-quality cut of beef on a hot grill, grilled steak results in a smoky, charred exterior and a juicy, tender interior. Usually, the steak is seasoned with simple salt and pepper or marinated in flavorful herbs and spices.
  • Grilled salmon: The salmon is marinated or seasoned with various herbs, spices, and sauces before being cooked on a grill, resulting in a crispy and slightly charred exterior while retaining its moist and flaky interior. Grilled salmon is also considered healthier than other dishes.
  • Grilled baby back ribs: This meat section is known for its tender, fall-off-the-bone texture and mouthwatering flavors. These succulent ribs are seasoned with a dry rub or marinated in a flavorful sauce, then slow-cooked on a grill to achieve a smoky char and caramelized glaze.

Are You Up For Having Portuguese Grilled Sardines?

You won’t need any special ingredients to make Portuguese grilled sardines, just some fresh sardines and basic seasoning that will make the natural flavor of the oily fish shine.

You can serve the grilled sardines with a simple salad, baked potatoes, or even fresh bread. Hope you enjoyed this recipe! I would love to hear your feedback, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Grilled Sardines

Portuguese-Style Grilled Sardines Recipe

Want to impress your guests at your next barbeque gathering? Then I would suggest serve them these delicious grilled sardines. Crunchy on the outside, juicy and moist on the inside, these will make a perfect dinner for one of those summer nights.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Fish, Main dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Portugal
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 248kcal


  • 4 medium sardines
  • 0.5 lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 small garlic cloves minced
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp black pepper


  • Start by preparing the marinade. In a small container, add the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and mix.
    Grilled Sardines Step 1 Prepare the Marinade
  • Pour about 1 tsp of the marinade on top of each sardine, and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes.
    Grilled Sardines Step 2 Marinade the Sardines
  • Place the sardines on a hot griller and let them grill for about 2 minutes on each side or until they are nice and crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.
  • Serve them immediately with some fresh salad or baked potatoes.
    Grilled Sardines Step 3 Grill the Sardines1



  • The total time and the ingredient quantities are based on 2 servings of Grilled Sardines.
  • If you don’t have a charcoal griller, you can use an electric one. Or if you don’t have any of these, you can make the sardines in the oven, on the grilling mode.
  • Feel free to add extra herbs and spices to your marinade (dried oregano, paprika, chili flakes, etc.)


Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 1165mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 337IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 323mg | Iron: 1mg
Liliya Balinska

Liliya Balinska

Content Writer


Content Writer, Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Translator & Proofreader


Universidade do Minho, Portugual

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures
  • Focus: The languages, cultures, and societal aspects of Eastern countries.

Nankai University, China

  • Program: Exchange Program, Chinese Studies
  • Focus: Improving understanding of Chinese language, culture, history, and possibly other specific areas related to Chinese studies.

Universidade do Minho, Portugual

  • Program: Master’s degree, Intercultural Studies Portuguese/Chinese
  • Focus: Preparing students for markets involving Chinese and Portuguese cultures, focusing on linguistic skills, communication, and cultural sensitivity

Escolas do Turismo de Portugal

  • Program: Culinary Arts
  • Focus: preparing students for technical and managerial roles in food service and restaurant business. It emphasizes solid technical training, creativity, and ethical awareness, with the goal of promoting sustainable development in the tourism and hospitality sectors​.

Liliya Balinska, based in Lisbon, is a culinary content writer with an impressive educational background in Oriental and Intercultural Studies, complemented by a specialization in Culinary Arts. Her broad expertise enables her to cover a wide array of cuisines, from European classics to global dishes, captivating food lovers worldwide with her deep cultural knowledge and captivating writing style.

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