Photo by: Photo: Thomas J. Story; Styling: Karen Shinto

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

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.

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 none 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
  • none About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


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.

*Preorder cleaned sardines from your fishmonger.

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

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 356none
  • Calories from fat: 62%
  • Protein: 17g
  • Fat: 24g
  • Saturated fat: 3.7g
  • Carbohydrate: 16g
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 401mg
  • Cholesterol: 49mg

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