Moroccan Baked Whole Sardines

Moroccan baked sardines

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
463 Calories
18g Fat
22g Carbs
56g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 463
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 24%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 166mg 55%
Sodium 7228mg 314%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 56g
Vitamin C 111mg 554%
Calcium 90mg 7%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 1592mg 34%
*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 can be found in abundance along the long coastline, making these flavorful little fish extremely affordable. For families living in areas near the ocean, sardines are a staple, 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 well as in calcium and vitamin D, the tasty humble sardine is regarded as 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

  • Cumin, to taste, as a condiment for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Moroccan baked sardines
    The Spruce
  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
    The Spruce
  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
    The Spruce
  4. Brush or drizzle each sardine with a little olive 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
    The Spruce 
  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 tray
    The Spruce
  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. In canned sardines, there can be a hint of smoke flavor, but in fresh sardines, they can be tender, flaky, and fish. 

Sardines vs. Anchovies

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

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