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26 Mar

Sardine Butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano Sesame Crisps

PrimalSardine Butter. Does the combination of these two words have you salivating or grimacing? Canned sardines are a delicious, nutritious fish, but they aren’t everyone’s favorite. The flavor can be a little, well, fishy. But there are a lot of omega-3s and other nutrients packed into those small, oily little fish, so finding a way to love ‘em is a worthwhile endeavor.

Butter, on the other hand…who doesn’t love butter? Mashing butter and canned sardines together with lemon and cayenne makes a simple but stunning spread. Sardine butter has a more assertive, less delicate flavor than anchovy butter. But sardine butter is much less “fishy” than sardines straight out of the can (if that’s a plus for your taste buds).

In recipes like this, with so few ingredients, quality matters. Use your favorite salted butter, hopefully one that’s pastured or cultured. Grab a few cans of sardines from the grocery store, taste-testing to find you favorite. Boneless sardines give the butter a smoother texture, but if you don’t mind a little crunchiness (and want the calcium) then go ahead and use bone-in. Whether they’re smoked or un-smoked, packed in water or olive oil, is your choice.

Sardine butter can be spread on your favorite Primal cracker, or on the Parmigiano-Reggiano & sesame crisps included in the recipe below. Sardine butter is fantastic spread on raw, crunchy veggies like radishes or dolloped onto warm roasted vegetables.

Servings: Approximately 1 cup sardine butter

Time in the Kitchen: 10 minutes


  • 1 can sardines, drained of water or oil (4 ounces/120 g)
  • 6 ounces salted butter, room temperature (170 g)
  • Juice of 1/2 a small lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (1.2 ml)


Depending on how much you like canned sardines, you can use the whole can or just 1 or 2 fillets for this recipe.


In a bowl, use a fork to mash the sardines and butter together. Add the lemon juice and cayenne and mash until blended in.

mashing butter

Pack the butter into a small dish or scoop it onto parchment paper and roll it into a log that can be sliced. The butter can be served immediately or refrigerated until firm.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Sesame Crisps



Preheat oven to 350°F/176°C.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Grind half the cheese with the side of the box grater that grates shreds of cheese, and half the cheese with the side of a box grater that grates cheese very finely.

Combine both piles of cheese in a bowl with black pepper.

Drop rounded tablespoons of the cheese on the baking sheet. Sprinkle sesame seeds on each pile.

Bake 6 to 7 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Let cool, then remove from pan with a spatula.


You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Although I rarely eat snack food, I’ve liked sardines ever since I was a small child. I eat them straight out of the can but I’m fussy about the way they’re prepared. They have to be boneless and skinless, and I prefer them packed in olive oil rather than water. I’ve never tried mashing them with butter. Thanks for the tip.

    Shary wrote on March 26th, 2016
    • I have loved sardines since I was a kid too, but now they make me burp too much.

      Patricia wrote on May 4th, 2016
  2. I actually like the taste of sardines. My biggest problem with eating them has been their appearance, which tends to turn me off. I have been able to eat them in nori wraps blanketed in avocado. This might be a good chance for another application.

    Keith wrote on March 26th, 2016
    • I eat them that way too sometimes…so good!

      Elizabeth wrote on March 26th, 2016
  3. Instead of satdines, i would xo lacto-fermented radish slices and a bit of bacon

    IJulie wrote on March 26th, 2016
  4. Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds are amazing in onion soup. I like chewing on the soft rind that doesn’t melt, so satisfying!

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 26th, 2016
    • Sounds delicious! I have onions caramelizing in the crock pot for soup later, thanks for the idea of adding the rinds!

      Sharon Thumann wrote on March 26th, 2016
      • Curious, Did you enjoy the melty rind?

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on March 27th, 2016
        • Yes, hubby did as well, told me to make it anytime. I made french onion soup and it gave it such a wonderful flavor, I didn’t even bother adding extra cheese.

          Sharon Thumann wrote on March 27th, 2016
  5. Yum, that soup with Parm-Reggiano rinds sounds delightful-always looking for a way to make onion soup even more tasty! Never thought of using that kind of cheese, thanks for the idea.

    ShaSha wrote on March 26th, 2016
  6. Definitely not something I would have thought to try hah! But hey, that’s one of the things I love about this site. I don’t know how I’ll do with the texture, but I imagine this will taste pretty good! Just have to go and find me some sardines..

    Mitchell wrote on March 26th, 2016
  7. Seafood allergies suck =(

    Ziva wrote on March 26th, 2016
    • My husband is so allergic to seafood even the smell sends him into a panic! I can only eat it when I am not at home.

      Patricia wrote on May 4th, 2016
  8. I love sardines and try to eat them several times a week. I usually just throw them in a salad or over some leftover roasted veggies. Love the idea of the sardine butter. I would probably serve with some raw veggies instead of the cheese crisps. Thanks for the great idea!

    Elizabeth wrote on March 26th, 2016
  9. I make sardine cakes a lot. Mash with eggs, coat with corn meal (or could be some grain-free flour if you prefer), roll into patties (they’re pretty wet but okay) and fry. This week, I had them with hot sauce, mayo, and a cabbage leaf wrap. Oh man, so cheap and good.
    Butter is maybe my favorite thing ever.
    But I have given up on complicated grain-free crackers.

    Christina wrote on March 27th, 2016
  10. This recipe sounds fantastic! Also for the parmesean crisps, if you take them out before they’re totally hard and put them in mini muffin tins to finish baking, they become little lacy cups that you can fill with goat cheese or sautéed mushrooms or carmelized onions. Then they become a fancy paleo appetizer.

    starmice wrote on March 27th, 2016
  11. Sweet! Any ideas how long and how well this stuff keeps in the fridge?

    Sardines are the best! I’ve been packing them in my lunch for work for several weeks now — the Wild Planet sardines are awesome, to me their taste is mild, not so fishy.

    I feel invigorated after polishing off a can of whole, wild caught sardines. On the other hand eating the same thing day after day gets old fast… I’ve resorted to drowning them in Franks’s Red Hot sauce on the days I wanna mix it up, hahaha. Adding this to my list to keep up my daily sardine fix (not possible to get tired of butter!).

    Could very well be the placebo effect, but my gym performance and the way I feel has improved greatly since adding thses little fish to my diet, so I’m just not willing to part with keeping them in my daily routine.

    Alex wrote on March 27th, 2016
  12. Sounds delightful! But I am already hooked on sardines with mayo – especially Primal mayo, which is outrageously delicious!

    Marge wrote on March 27th, 2016
  13. Wild Planet white anchovies are delicious too!

    Brian wrote on March 28th, 2016
  14. I like the taste, but the appearance and the texture of sardines keeps me from eating them often. Putting them on the shopping list so I can try this recipe!

    TInaC wrote on March 28th, 2016
  15. Ill bet sardine butter is great to saute greens like, mustard greens, bok choi or Napa cabbage, etc

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on March 28th, 2016
  16. I adore sardines and attempt to eat them a few times each week. I normally simply toss them in a plate of mixed greens or over some remaining cooked veggies. Love the thought of the sardine spread. I would likely present with some crude veggies rather than the cheddar crisps. A debt of gratitude is in order for the colossal thought!

    Amir Ali wrote on March 29th, 2016
  17. I’ve been experimenting with Omega 3 Sardine Snack Pots – something I first made when doing an AIP Whole 30. Basically just Sardines, mashed starchy whatever – cauliflour, yucca or yam for example – and Preserved Lemon! Yes, Preserved Lemon which I made last summer when my mother-in-law gave me a huge one from the tree. Gorgeous!

    Angie wrote on March 29th, 2016
  18. This might be the thing that finally gets me to try sardines…

    Okay just kidding! No way Jose! I’m open to trying new things but sardines are definitely something I think I can live with not ever trying.

    Jesse wrote on March 29th, 2016
  19. The sardine butter did not go over with my kids. We took the leftover cheese crisps and added some leftover homemade marinara sauce and a slice of pepperoni. I am no longer sad that I can’t have real pizza.

    Carrie wrote on April 9th, 2016

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