Can you eat sardine bones?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question “Can you eat sardine bones?”, and we will discuss various nutrition in its bones and their benefits on your health. Then, we will describe how you can cook a whole sardine along with its bones. 

Yes, you can eat sardine bones as they are soft and chewable. However, they should be properly cooked so that they become soft enough to be easily chewed. Sardines when eaten with their bones are quite nutritious and provide extra nutrients to the body.

Eating whole fish such as sardines, pilchards and herring is delicious and can also be consumed after removing the bones. However, you might miss on the important nutrients like calcium and minerals that their bones contain. The best method is to cook them properly so that the bones become soft enough to not be detected while eating the whole fish.  

Sardines are high in iron, calcium, B vitamins, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, plus they’re highly sustainable. Fresh sardines are great, but they’re not always easy to find, and the canned form has its own set of advantages, such as ease and cost.

Although skinless and boneless forms of sardines are available, the skin and bones are entirely edible, provide a rich source of calcium, and are soft enough that most people don’t dislike (or notice) them.

Why should you eat sardines’ bones?

Calcium in each serving of sardines is more than in any other food, largely owing to their soft, edible bones. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 3-ounce serving of oil-packed Atlantic sardines has around 175 calories and a little over 320 milligrams of calcium.

This is an exceptionally high quantity of an essential mineral given the size of the fish and its tiny bones. Nevertheless, they are a rich source of calcium. Bigger pilchards contain even a higher amount of calcium.

What are the benefits of eating sardines’ bones?

First and foremost, sardines’ bones are a source of micronutrients that are necessary for the body in improving bone health, nerve and muscle functioning, and attainment of hormonal balance, among other things.

Also, if sardines are consumed with their soft bones, they deliver more calcium than any other fish in their size range.  

Approximately 32% of the daily recommended calcium and about 175 calories are provided by a mere 3 ounce serving of oil-packed whole Atlantic sardine, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pacific variants of the sardine might slightly vary in these nutritional values.

This means that eating sardine bones can be beneficial for your health and you don’t have to worry about not getting enough calcium from this type of fish.

Ways of cooking sardines along with bones

One of the best methods of preparing sardines along with bones is by simmering sardine with the pickled plum. It is an exclusive and typical Japanese home-cooking recipe that lets you eat the entire sardine including the bones. Most of the recipes call for frying, grilling or roasting the fish but simmered sardine is a unique way of cooking it.

Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum is the dish that lets you eat the entire body of the sardine including the bones. The umeboshi (pickled plum), sake, and ginger in the simmering sauce cover off the sardines’ pronounced fishy flavor. They also soften the bones to the point where they go unnoticed when eaten.

The main ingredients are sardines, umeboshi, and ginger. Rice vinegar and water are required for pre-cooking the sardines.

  • Sardines
  • Umeboshi – deseeded and torn into small pieces
  • Sliced ginger
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Water

The full method of cooking Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum (Ume-ni) takes about 40 minutes, including the preparation time.

How to butterfly and debone sardines? 

Open the gutted fish and set it on your work table, skin-side up. Use one hand to hold the tail and the other to firmly press along the backbone until the fish is entirely flat.

Turn the fish over and pull the backbone away. Pull till you reach the tail end, then cut off and discard the backbone. Remove any leftover tiny bones with tweezers, then either leave flat for grilling, barbecuing, or frying, or fold over for stuffing.

What are sardines?

This little oily fish is known for its high-protein flesh and are known to roam in groups and are found around the coast, where they are typically used as food by larger marine creatures.

The soft-boned saltwater fish is also commonly available in cans for human consumption. They acquire their name from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where they may be found in vast quantities.

While they may be cooked raw like any other fish, they are best served uncooked. As far as canned meals go, they’re rather popular. They’re frequently packaged in oil, tomato sauce, or water cans to help keep them fresh until they’re ready to eat.

Try one of the delicious sardine recipes to reap its full benefits. 

Other FAQs about Fish that you may be interested in.

Can you eat sardines out of the can?


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can you eat sardine bones?”, and we discussed various nutrition in its bones and their benefits on your health. Then, we described how you can cook a whole sardine along with its bones. 


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!