Recipe: Grilled Sardines with Garlic Lemon Sauce

Friends of ours regularly turn up at our cottage with a giant bag of sardines. Grilled with head and tail intact, they make a great, if messy-to-eat, feast. You can grill them as is and just avoid eating the cooked guts—standard practice in Portugal (where grilled sardines are everyday fare) and easily done, because the innards are neatly encased in the  rib bones. Or, if you prefer, slit the underbelly and pull the guts out. Neither approach is as bad as it sounds.


  • Sardines
  • Garlic Lemon Sauce


Garlic Lemon Sauce

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and cook until soft but not brown. Stir in lemon juice, parsley, and salt and pepper.

Makes about 1/2 cup (125 ml).


Rinse sardines under cold running water, drain, and pat dry. Rub the skins with a little olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Use an oiled grill basket or cook the fish directly on the hot oiled grill, with the lid up, about 3–6 minutes each side, until skins are nicely charred and flesh just flakes when tested. In a bowl, toss the hot sardines with the Garlic Lemon Sauce and serve with hot crusty bread—and piles of paper napkins.