ArrowDownFill 1arrow-small-lineFill 1Cooking Light - EasyCooking Light - FastCooking Light - So GoodCooking Light - How-ToCooking Light - Staff FaveCooking Light Badge - Wow!GroupClose IconEmailEmpty Star IconLike Cooking Light on FacebookFull Star IconShapePage 1 Copy 3Page 1 Copy 2Grid IconHalf Star IconFollow Cooking Light on InstagramList IconMenu IconPrintSearch IconSpeech BubbleFollow Cooking Light on SnapchatFollow Cooking Light on TwitterWatch Cooking Light on YouTubeplay-iconWatch Cooking Light on Youtube

Pan-Fried Sardines with Sweet-and-Sour Onions, Pine Nuts, and Raisins

Photo: Thomas J. Story; Styling: Karen Shinto
Yield Serves 4 to 6
Time: 50 minutes, plus marinating time. Based on a classic Sicilian marinated fried version, this is a great entry-level way to try sardines. The vinegar adds a mouthwatering acidity that balances the oiliness of the fish—and also, in pre-refrigeration days, helped preserve it.


  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 pounds sardines, gutted, heads off*
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Nutrition Information

  • calories 356
  • caloriesfromfat 62 %
  • protein 17 g
  • fat 24 g
  • satfat 3.7 g
  • carbohydrate 16 g
  • fiber 1.5 g
  • sodium 401 mg
  • cholesterol 49 mg

How to Make It

  1. Slice onions into thin half-moons. Combine vinegar and raisins in a measuring cup. Rinse sardines well inside and out, dry with paper towels, and roll in flour, shaking off excess.

  2. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry sardines in 2 batches, 1 1/2 minutes per side, being careful not to overcook. Transfer to a large shallow serving dish or platter and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt (you can layer the sardines if necessary).

  3. Wipe pan clean with paper towels, return to heat, and add remaining oil. When oil is hot, add onions and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are a soft, browned mass, 25 to 30 minutes.

  4. Add vinegar and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Pour over sardines and sprinkle with pine nuts. Let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, covered, or chill for up to 4 days. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

  5. *Preorder cleaned sardines from your fishmonger.

  6. Make ahead: Up to 3 days, covered and chilled.

  7. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.