Moroccan Baked Whole Sardines

Moroccan baked sardines

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
391 Calories
18g Fat
0g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 391
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 166mg 55%
Sodium 7224mg 314%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 4mg 18%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 1269mg 27%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Morocco, sardines are abundant on the long coastline, making these flavorful little fish extremely affordable. They're a staple for families living in areas near the ocean, showing up as a regular, if not weekly, offering on their tables.

Flavor and pricing aside, there's another good reason to select sardines at the fish market—they're very good for us. Rich in vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids, as calcium, and vitamin D, the tasty humble sardine is considered a superfood.

Allow approximately one-half pound or 250 grams of sardines per person when serving whole baked sardines as an entrée. The fish should be gutted and descaled before proceeding with the recipe.

Serve with some roasted vegetables or a tossed salad.


  • 2 pounds whole fresh sardines, gutted and descaled

  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt, or rock salt, more or less as needed

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Fresh lemon, thinly sliced or cut into wedges, for garnish, optional

  • Cumin, to taste, as a condiment for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Moroccan baked sardines recipe gathered

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  2. Preheat your oven to 350 F/175 C. Wash the sardines in a bowl of water, scraping off any residual scales with a small knife. Drain the sardines.

    Sardines in a bowl

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  3. If desired, line a shallow baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Generously sprinkle rock salt or coarse sea salt on the bottom and arrange the sardines on top of the salt.

    Sardines on a baking sheet

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  4. Brush or drizzle each sardine with a little olive oil and season generously with freshly ground pepper. If you like, sprinkle additional rock salt over the fish, topping with a few thin slices of fresh lemon.

    Brush with olive oil

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  5. Bake the sardines in the middle of the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or just until the skin slides off easily and the fish is tender. For darker coloring, bake in the upper part of the oven.

    Sardines on a rimmed baking sheet

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  6. Transfer the sardines to a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges. Cumin may be offered at the table as a condiment.

What do sardines taste like?

Sardines have a salty, fishy taste and oily, dense flesh. There can be a hint of smoke flavor in canned sardines, but in fresh sardines, they can be tender, flaky, and taste—like fish. 

Sardines vs. anchovies

Sardines and anchovies come from the same fish family, Clupeidae, but they taste nothing alike. The fishy taste is much stronger in anchovies and is described as being umami-rich. Sardines have whitish-gray flesh, while anchovies are smaller and have reddish-gray flesh. 

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