Homemade Spanish Sardines in Olive Oil


This is one of my favorite from my mom’s recipes. I swear I could eat this all week. I can do lot of things with this sardines. I can add this to pasta, or on my toast, or simply eat it with rice. Whenever my mom can make this, I always ask her to make a big batch. Not only does it get eaten quickly in this household, but whenever there’s some left, I can always canned these sardines afterwards.


  • fresh or frozen sardines
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • water
  • bay leaves
  • peppercorns
  • paprika/ cayenne pepper
  • chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • garlic
  • chili pepper (or any pepper you prefer)
  • carrots (optional)

No exact amounts of the ingredients as my mom never really measure anything. Especially in this case. The measurements below are merely my estimates.

First off, make sure all the sardines are clean (inside and out) and heads are cut-off.


In a pressure cooker, layer about 5 smashed garlic cloves, peppercorns (about 2 tsp) and 3 bay leaves on the bottom. Then atop it, place half of the sardines.


Add about 1 tsp salt on top of the first sardines layer.

Then add the rest of the sardines on top.


Add more peppercorns and salt on top, about 2 tsp or so. Try to be easy on the salt here. We can always adjust the salt later once it’s done, but it’ll be very hard to remove the saltiness if we oversalt it.

Then add about 1-2 tsp of paprika, and/or 1 tsp of cayenne pepper.


Throw in more garlic cloves and bay leaves on top of the sardines. So, there’s flavor coming from the bottom and top of the sardines.


Pour in about 1 cup of cold water, then the olive oil until it almost reaches the top of the sardines and not completely submerging everything.


Then more seasoning! Peppercorns, chili flakes, and more paprika. Add in the peppers as well.  It’s actually supposed to be chili peppers, but we didn’t have some available, so my mom just grabbed whatever we had at that time. If using chili peppers, there’s no need to chop them. If adding carrots, add them here on top as well.


Then it’s time to close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook them on high heat. Once the pressure cooker whistles, lower the temperature to medium heat and time it for about 30-40 minutes, then check for doneness. The sardines should be cooked and soft by then and the kitchen would smell amazing! If it’s not cooked yet, put the lid back on and bring it back to heat again. Once done, give it a taste and season it with additional more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve it as is, or wait for it to cool down completely (preferably overnight) before canning them.


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