Learn how to make sardine salad wraps (AKA pilchard wraps)! These low carb and keto sardine sandwiches are made with collard greens to boost your veggie intake. Canned sardines are an inexpensive way to add fish to the diet, and choosing sardines with bones provides an added calcium boost. Try these low carb and keto sardine wraps for an easy lunch prep that’s rich in the omega-3s DHA and EPA.
Have you tried sardines? If not, consider adding them to your grocery list this week. This recipe for sardine salad with collard green wraps is an excellent introduction to this tasty fish!
It is recommended that we get at least two servings of seafood per week. Canned fish makes it so easy to fit them in.
If you don’t want to make a sardine lettuce wrap, you can eat sardines straight from the can. You can eat sardine skin, and you can also eat the soft bones of canned sardines.
Bring a few cans of sardines the next time you go camping, backpacking, on a road trip, or other vacation adventure. They also make a healthy snack to bring to the office.
I don’t recommend eating the sardines straight from the tin if you do not want to see the bones. I get that can make some a little squeamish. Luckily, the bones get mashed up so finely to make this sardine salad, they’re barely noticeable.
Another favorite brand of sardines is the King Oscar Brisling sardines. It doesn’t matter for this recipe whether you get big or little sardines in a can. Since we’re mashing them up, get whichever is cheaper.
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of Sardine Salad Wraps has 254 calories, 4.2 grams net carbs, and 20.4 grams protein. This nutrition information includes the sardine salad and leafy green wrap. This sardine sandwich wrap is a great fit for low carb and ketogenic diets.
Are canned sardines good for you? In most cases, I’d say the answer is yes! Here are some of the many nutrition benefits of sardines:
- Omega-3 Fats: Salmon is not the only natural source of the fatty acids DHA and EPA in town. Sardines are another oily fish that are rich in these healthy fats. (Canned tuna is much lower, though still a nutrient-rich seafood option.)
- Vitamin D: There are very few natural food sources of vitamin D. The Wild Planet sardines I’m using provide 50% DV for vitamin D per serving. Amazing!
- Other Vitamins and Minerals: Aside from vitamin D, sardines are rich in other essential nutrients including vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.
- Calcium: The calcium in sardines deserves a special mention. Sardines are also an excellent source of calcium when they are tinned with the bones. If you eat no dairy, sardines canned with the bones are another whole food option for highly bioavailable calcium (unlike certain greens like spinach).
- Special Diets: Canned sardines are good for a keto diet and are naturally gluten free. They’re also soy free, Whole30 compliant, and Paleo friendly.
- High Protein: Sardines are part of the protein food group, offering a lot of this macronutrient relative to their total calories. Unless you add gobs of mayo and added oil to them, it’s easy to create filling low calorie sardine recipes.
- Low in Mercury and Sustainable: Sardines have low mercury levels, putting them among the best seafood choices for young children and pregnant women. Additionally, Pacific sardines are considered a sustainable seafood option, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List.
- Delicious: This one is subjective, but I also think sardines are pretty darn tasty. They’re really one super food I hope you don’t miss out on!
To make the best sardine salad, you need:
- Sardines in a can
- Sliced scallions
- Fresh parsley (flat-leaf Italian parsley is my favorite here)
- Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Dijon mustard
- Raw collard green leaves (for our sandwich wrappers)
As mentioned above, I highly recommend choosing sardines with the bones for this recipe. You’ll be packing more calcium into your sardine salad sandwiches when you skip the boneless sardines.
I went with lightly smoked sardines packed in olive oil. For a spicy pop of flavor, there are Spanish-style sardines packed with chili pepper. Or go for the sardines with lemon if you want a bright and citrus-y salad.
I love raw collards for sandwich wraps more than most lettuce wraps options. Collard greens are sturdier than most lettuces, holding up to heavy fillings without tearing.
If you don’t like collards, wrap the sardines in romaine lettuce, or make sardine salad cups with butter lettuce. You could also use nori as a sandwich wrapper, for a fun little spin on classic sushi options.
For those who aren’t looking for very low carb options, you could put this sardine salad on whole grain bread. It’s tasty on toast, lavash flat bread, stuffed in pita pockets, and wrapped in tortillas.
You don’t need any special equipment to make this recipe. A fork for mashing the sardines, plus a medium-sized bowl and a spoon for mixing should be sufficient.
Food picks are an unnecessary (but fun!) extra to help hold your keto sardine wraps together. If you’re meal prepping the sardine salad, 1-cup glass food storage containers are perfect for individual portions.
🔪 How to Make Sardine Salad Sandwich Wrap
How do you make sardine salad? Something wonderful about this recipe is there’s no cooking involved. It’s really easy!
Drain the sardines well and put them in a medium bowl. Mash the sardines well with a fork. This is super important if seeing fish bones in your food grosses you out!
Slice the scallions and finely chop the parsley. Add the scallions, capers, parsley, mayo, yogurt, and mustard to the fish in the bowl. Stir until well combined.
To make a low carb sardine wrap, rinse a large collard leaf with cool water and pat it dry. Remove the thick part of the stem. (You can chop the stems up small and save them to throw in a stir fry later.)
Put about ¼ of the sardine salad on the leaf and wrap it up tight as I’m showing you in the video. (Did you watch the recipe video? It's in the recipe card below!)
That’s all there is to this one. I like to cut my sardine wrap in half and secure the halves with food picks for a nicer presentation.
How to store sardines? If you have unopened sardines in the can, they’ll last at least 2-5 years at room temperature, according to the FoodKeeper App. I like to keep them on hand for power outages and other unexpected events.
Once you open the can, the sardines will last for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. This prepared sardine salad will also last for 3-4 days under refrigeration.
I like to make this sardine salad as a lunch prep. I keep the sardine salad individually portioned in covered food-safe containers. The salad gets wrapped in the collards right before I plan to eat.
🥪️ What goes on a sardine sandwich?
What are some good add-ins and toppings for a canned sardine salad sandwich wrap? Here are a few ideas:
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Sprouts or microgreens
- Arugula (rocket)
- Roasted red peppers
- Baby Kale
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Smoked salt
You could also make a Greek sardine salad. Instead of the recipe below, mash your sardines with some fresh lemon juice, tomatoes, chopped cucumber, feta, and olives. YUM!
🥗 Side Dishes
What goes well with sardines besides crackers? Here are some options if you’ve been wondering what to eat with sardine salad:
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Sardine salad in a wrap makes a low calorie and low carb main dish. If you need to beef this lunch up a little more, consider including additional components from the different food groups.
I added raspberries, one serving of whole grain crackers, and some cheese to my lunch. This move boosted the calories to around 600 per meal and covered all of my food groups.
If you’re following a low carb diet, either skip the crackers or include another food for crunch. A serving of nuts, seeds, or your favorite low-carb cracker would work here.
Consuming too few calories can backfire if you wind up snacking on “junk foods” before your next meal. Make sure you are eating enough to leave you feeling satiated. Aim to get most of your calories from healthy meals, not from desserts.
I am using non-fat Greek yogurt in place of some of the mayo in this recipe. This is a little trick of mine to boost the protein a little while lowering calories and fat. This swap doesn’t impact the flavor like when you replace all of the mayo with yogurt.
For a higher energy meal, use an additional 2 tablespoons of mayo in place of the yogurt. You could also make a sardine sandwich on bread instead of making a sardine wrap. Add on some higher calorie sides as well, and you’ll be well-fueled until your next meal. Enjoy!
Yes, the oil in canned fish usually gets drained before recipe preparation. You will lose some omega-3s in this process, unfortunately. I’ve heard of people saving the olive oil in sardine tins to make salad dressings. It’s a nice thrifty tip!
I would (for the most part) consider sardines a food that may help support weight loss. It’s easy to create a low-calorie, high-protein, high-volume meal using sardines. Really though, my answer depends on how the sardines are served. (Fried and served with gobs of a mayo- or cream-based dressing, or swimming in butter or olive oil would really pack on the calories.)
To make Paleo sardine salad wraps, you need to make them dairy free. Try swapping the yogurt in this recipe for an equal volume of mayo. Alternatively, make the sardine salad with mashed avocado (perhaps guacamole) and ditch the mayo and yogurt entirely.
One 4.4-ounce (125g) drained can of Wild Planet Wild Pacific Sardines in extra virgin olive oil has 170 calories. One 4.4-ounce (125g) drained can of Wild Planet Wild Pacific Sardines in water has 150 calories.
Sardines and anchovies are two completely different types of oily fish. Sardines are related to herring and are usually described as having a much milder flavor than anchovies. You’d typically use a small amount of anchovies in a recipe for flavor (think of Caesar salad dressing). Anchovies and sardines are not good substitutions for each other in recipes.
👩🏻🍳 Other Low Carb Sardine Recipes
Want more healthy sardine recipes? Here are a few options for low carb and keto sardine recipes:
- Sardine Cakes (swap the crumbed bread for almond flour)
- Pepper Poppers Stuffed with Sardines
- One-Pan Sardine Bake (swap the potatoes for cauliflower)
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Sardine Salad Sandwich Wrap (Keto, Low Carb)
- 4 tins sardines with bones, packed in olive oil, drained (125 grams per tin)
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons drained capers
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt, plain
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 large collard green leaves, rinsed and dried
- Drain the sardines and put in a medium-sized bowl. Mash the sardines well with the back of a fork.
- Slice the scallions and finely chop the parsley. Mix the scallions, capers, parsley, mayo, yogurt, and mustard with the sardines. Combine well.
- For meal prep, divide the sardine salad between four containers (1-cup size) and refrigerate.
- Rinse a large collard leaf with cool water and pat it dry. Remove the thickest part of the stem from one of the collard green leaves. (You can chop the stems up small and save them to throw in a stir fry later.)
- Pile one of your sardine salad servings on top of the leaf.
- Wrap the leaf around the filling to make a secure package. (Watch the recipe video below to see how it's done.) Cut the wrap in half and secure the halves with food picks (if desired). Enjoy! You may find yourself using collards as a sturdy wrapper for other sandwich fillings.
This recipe has been tweaked from 2019 and includes new photos, a recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!