You’ve heard of anchovies on pizza but what about sardines on pizza? Sardine pizza is a healthy choice for a few reasons. Sardines are lower in mercury than most other fish, a great source of heart and brain benefitting omega-3 fatty acids, and they are protein-rich. I really hope you give sardines on pizza a try!
Why Sardines on Pizza?
If you have ever wondered why sardines are so good for you, then stop right here. The benefits of both canned sardines and fresh sardines include:
- low mercury content compared to other fish (salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, cod, perch, among others)
- great source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- high in protein- for each 3-ounce serving, you get around 20 grams of protein!
- contains other nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and selenium.
Read about the benefits of sardines in this CleanPlates article: Are Sardines Good For You? A Dietitian Weighs In.
For more on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and heart health, read: Getting Omega-3’s With Barlean’s (Product Reviews and Recipes).
Sardines– I used canned sardines packed in water. They are lower in fat and sodium than most sardines packed in olive oil. They are very versatile and flake easily, making it simple to place large or small pieces of sardine on your pizza.
Tomato– You can use fresh tomatoes like I did along with low sodium pizza sauce which this sardine pizza calls for. Or try adding more heart healthy lycopene by adding a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to your pizza sauce.
Mozzarella Cheese– Using shredded part-skim mozzarella cuts back on the overall amount of fat compared to using whole milk mozzarella. The cheese still melts nicely over the sardine pizza and gives a delightful cheesy stretchiness.
Spinach– I love colorful pizza and adding veggies into my meals when I can. Spinach adds nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and folate. Adding a nutrient-dense cup of spinach amps up the health profile even more with this sardine pizza recipe.
Pizza Crust Options
I often prefer to make my own pizza crust. Not only because it’s fun for the kids, but it also gives me more control over the ingredients and nutritional content of my meal. If you aren’t able or don’t have the time, there are other options for pizza crust. Here are a few:
- store-bought pizza dough or pre-made pizza crust
- whole wheat bagels
- whole wheat English muffins
- pita bread
- naan bread
If you are interested in my quick pizza crust recipe, here it is:
Quick Pizza Dough (Makes 3 pizza crusts)
- 5.5 cups bread flour, divided
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet rapid rise instant yeast
- 2.5 cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Directions: In a large bowl, mix together the whole wheat flour, 4.5 cups bread flour, salt and yeast. Add the warm water. Mix in additional 1 cup of bread flour until dough comes together. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Put in a lightly oiled bowl, using the olive oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour. After an hour, punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal rounds. Now you have pizza dough!
Keep in mind this makes 3 balls of pizza dough. This recipe only uses one pizza ball, so you can save the other two in the fridge for up to 5 days. If making your own pizza dough, this will add about 1.5 hours of your total time to allow for kneading and rising of the dough.
How to Make Sardine Pizza
Here is a rundown of the simple steps to preparing your sardine pizza.
- Preheat the oven.
You’ll want to set the oven to a hot 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prep pre-made pizza dough or crust.
If using a pre-made pizza crust, there’s minimal prep work here. However if using pizza dough, sprinkle some flour or corn meal over your pan or baking sheet and carefully stretch the pizza dough to the desired size in the pan. If using uncooked pizza dough, I also cook the crust by itself for about 5 minutes before adding toppings to ensure the dough will be cooked through once I add toppings.
- Add your toppings.
Top your sardine pizza first with your low sodium pizza sauce. Then add mozzarella, spinach, sliced tomato, and sardines on pizza.
- Sprinkle with some dried or fresh herbs.
I don’t usually buy fresh herbs however fresh basil or oregano would be amazing on this sardine pizza. I do dust a generous amount of dried oregano and basil; however, 1 tablespoon of each is the perfect amount.
- Bake the pizza.
Place your sardine pizza in the pre-heated oven for about 10-15 minutes. The crust will be golden, the spinach will be wilted but not burnt, and the mozzarella with be lightly brown and melted throughout.
Variations and Tips for Making Sardine Pizza
You can make some slight changes to this sardine pizza if need be. Here are a few things to try:
Topping variations– you can add any of your favorite pizza toppings here. I’d suggest trying caramelized onion, mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, or feta cheese.
Crust variations– simplify your sardine pizza recipe by trying any of the previously mentioned pizza crust options such as pita bread or purchasing a store-bought crust.
Sardines or anchovies– both are heart healthy options for using on pizza. Whether you us sardines on pizza or anchovies, you’ll be getting a good source of protein along with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that benefit heart, brain, vascular health and inflammation. See below for tips on purchasing canned sardines.
Tips for Buying Canned Sardines
Some things to consider when buying canned sardines or any canned fish include:
Ingredient list– sardines come in many varieties and brands. They can be packed in water or different oils, tomato-based spicy sauces, or with other spices and ingredients. In order to avoid excessive amounts of sodium and fat, I suggest buying sardines with a very small ingredient list. My go-to brand contains only sardines, water, and a very small amount of salt. However, for sardine pizza I am curious as to how the olive oil-packed variety would taste.
Packaging-some brands of canned sardines may contain BPA. This is a chemical in plastic-lined cans that is known to cause harm to the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. Exposure has also been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
Sustainability– purchasing tinned fish is already better for the environment than fresh fish which requires a large amount of energy to transport. But actual sustainable sources of tinned fish follow specific measures to safely catch the fish without depleting the species’ population or harming the environment. Sardines carrying the blue MSC label are certified sustainable.
While you can eat sardines every day, it is wise to choose sardines that are low in sodium. Additionally, you should choose a variety of fish that are low in methylmercury, especially in children, pregnant women or those wanting to become pregnant. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish such as sardines twice per week.
Both varieties are readily available in markets. If you want to keep overall daily fat intake low, choose sardines packed in water. And if choosing sardines packed in oil, choose olive oil over other oils or tomato sauce packed varieties which can be higher in sodium.
Both are great options for putting on pizza. They both contain heart healthy omega-3’s and both will provide a good source of protein. My only suggestion if using canned sardines is to find ones with minimal ingredients (meaning water or olive oil, sardines, and minimal salt). You may also want to be mindful of BPA-free cans and sustainably sourced options.
More Recipes With Omega-3’s
- Broiled Salmon with Marmalade Dijon Glaze
- Salmon Walnut Beet Salad courtesy of Angela Lago, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
- Vegan Cranberry Bread with Orange and Ginger
- Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies [Egg-Free]
- Cookie Butter Overnight Oats
- Fall-Inspired Overnight Oats courtesy of Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND
Sardine Pizza With Spinach and Tomato
- 1 mixing bowl large
- 1 pizza round or large baking sheet
- 1 pre-made pizza crust
- ½ cup low sodium pizza sauce I used Rao's brand
- 1 cup baby spinach packed
- ½ cup grape tomatoes sliced
- 1 cup part-skim mozzarella shredded
- 4.25 oz canned sardines in water
- optional herbs of choice for sprinkling basil, oregano, red pepper flakes
- Pre-heat oven to 500℉.
- If using fresh pizza dough, I suggest spreading dough to desired shape and baking alone for about 5 minutes to pre-cook slightly. If using premade pizza crust, skip this step.
- Top your pizza crust with pizza sauce, sardines, spinach, sliced tomatoes, and mozzarella.
- Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is lightly browned and melted.
- Enjoy your sardine pizza!
- Try other vegetable combinations with this sardine pizza such as onion, bell pepper, mushroom, etc.
- Try other cheeses, like feta, parmesan, or even a vegan cheese if you prefer.
- Canned sardines are already cooked, so they are convenient to use on pizza. However, you may also use other types of canned sardines or even fresh sardines if available.
Feel free to pin this recipe to save and share with others!
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.