16 Ways To Use Tinned Fish You Should Know About

Various tinned fish
Various tinned fish - Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

Tinned fish -- once a humble and often overlooked ingredient in home kitchens -- continues to have its viral moment. Thanks to its continued popularity, new recipes and explorations are being unveiled, showcasing the versatility of tinned fish as an ingredient that enhances flavors and transforms simple dishes into delicious, satisfying meals. Tinned fish's unique taste adds a delightful twist to various dishes, from classic pasta recipes to quick and easy instant ramen creations.

In addition to its trendiness and great flavor, tinned fish also has a long shelf life. It's even pre-cooked, meaning it's ready to use. On top of that, tinned fish is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential nutrients like lean protein, healthy fats, and various vitamins and minerals. Whether you're looking to boost the protein content of your breakfast or add a flavorful element to a dinner dish, tinned fish can do it all. Tinned fish is even affordable, making it an easy way to experiment with new flavors and cuisines at home on a budget. Keep reading to discover some interesting ways to use tinned fish.

Read more: Canned Soups You Should And Shouldn't Buy

Top Toast

toast with canned sardines
toast with canned sardines - Circleps/Getty Images

Who knew tinned fish could be the highlight of your next breakfast or appetizer, adding bursts of flavor and protein to a simple toast? For a simple yet delicious topping, try mixing canned sardines or salmon with a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. The richness of the fish will pair perfectly with the crunch of the toast. You can also add onions and some fresh herbs (like parsley or cilantro) to add extra zing.

If you're craving something creamier, mix canned tuna with mayonnaise and chopped onions. You can even incorporate a variety of veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, or arugula to boost the nutritional value and add a refreshing crunch. For an indulgent twist, add a sprinkle of your favorite cheese to amp up the creaminess. For a taste of the Mediterranean, whip up a topping using tinned sardines or mackerel, diced tomatoes, capers, and a drizzle of fragrant olive oil. This recipe works for various types of bread, but for the best canned fish toast, try buttered sourdough or rye bread.

Make A Pasta Dish

Spicy pasta with canned tuna
Spicy pasta with canned tuna - iiinuthiii/Shutterstock

Tinned fish can transform a simple pasta dish into a gourmet meal. Its versatility allows you to use various types of tinned fish with any pasta, offering endless options for quick yet hearty dinners.

Canned tuna is a tasty protein to add to the classic Italian aglio e olio (a name that translates to garlic and olive oil). As the name suggests, preparing the dish is straightforward: toss tuna with olive oil and garlic, then mix with cooked pasta. For extra flavor, remember to add the red pepper flakes and chopped parsley.

If you have extra time on your hands, consider whipping up baked pasta for a more comforting and satisfying dish that is crispy on the outside yet rich and creamy on the inside. Make a tuna pasta bake by combining canned tuna with cooked pasta, a mixture of butter, flour, milk, and shredded cheese before baking until bubbly and golden.

Mix Into Salad

Salad with tinned fish
Salad with tinned fish - Sergei Baltaeff/Shutterstock

The richness of tinned fish can turn a simple salad into a delicious sensation. At the same time, tinned fish can increase the nutritional value of your salad, thanks to the canned food's healthy fats and lean protein. Adding tinned fish to your salad is incredibly easy: simply pick your fish and add it to your usual salad, making sure to incorporate different colors and textures.

For a light and refreshing option, mix canned tuna with some veggies of your choice -- consider options like cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, or avocado. Place the fish-veggie mixture on top of some leafy greens for an extra crunch, then drizzle with a simple vinaigrette made from olive oil and lemon juice. You can even add a touch of Dijon mustard.

If you're looking to increase your fiber intake, try combining canned mackerel or sardines with cooked quinoa, eggs, tomatoes, or other veggies. Top it off with a creamy yogurt dressing or balsamic vinegar -- whatever you prefer. For a Mediterranean-inspired twist, create a salad with canned fish, olives, and cheese, all drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with herbs (such as dill) for a delightful blend of flavors.

Create Tasty Fish Cakes

Fish cakes
Fish cakes - ILEISH ANNA/Shutterstock

Fish cakes -- a satisfying dish that can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or main course -- are a delicious way to use tinned fish. You can even make a large batch and freeze them for later use. To make a basic fish cake recipe, combine drained canned tuna or salmon with mashed potatoes, chopped onions, and fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, or chives. You can enhance the existing flavors by adding mayonnaise, chili sauce, or lemon juice. Add breadcrumbs to bind the mixture, shape it into patties, and fry the fish cake until golden brown and crispy.

If you're feeling adventurous, try making Thai-style fish cakes. These treats will be fragrant and exciting. To keep it simple, mix store-bought red curry paste with your canned fish, adding seasonings to taste. Form the mixture into patties and fry them before serving with a sweet chili dipping sauce. This recipe will work with various types of canned fish, including cod, salmon, trout, or sardines (for a more budget-friendly option).

Fill Sandwiches Or Wraps

Canned tuna sandwich
Canned tuna sandwich - klaikungwon/Shutterstock

Because tinned fish is convenient and protein-packed, it's a perfect addition to sandwiches or wraps. The fish adds a meaty-yet-soft texture that makes your dish more appealing and satisfying in every bite. When used in these recipes, tinned fish can offer a kick of flavor that elevates your usual lunch to another level.

You can make tinned fish sandwiches using basically any kind of fish, from tuna to anchovies. To help cut the fishy or briny flavor, squeeze a little lemon juice onto the fish and add some chopped celery. Next, spread this mixture on the bread of your choice. Finally, add some lettuce and tomato slices. By the end, you have a complete, nutritious meal in minutes.

The same process goes for wraps. Mix a tinned fish of your choice -- it could be mackerel or sardines -- with tomato, avocado, and some leafy greens like lettuce or spinach. Spread the mixture on a tortilla and roll it up to enjoy a satisfying meal on the go.

Make Rice Dishes

Salmon bowl with rice
Salmon bowl with rice - Nina Firsova/Shutterstock

When combined with rice, tinned fish adds a depth of flavor that elevates the humble grain into a luscious dish. The natural oils in fish infuse the rice with a rich and savory taste, making it an excellent choice for a filling and satisfying meal.

A Japanese-style salmon bowl is a popular rice dish you can make with tinned fish. To prepare this dish, cook some rice and top it with flaked canned salmon, avocado slices, and roasted seaweed. Next, mix mayonnaise and sriracha sauce to get a creamy and spicy dressing that ties the dish together. This recipe is versatile and works well with white or brown rice.

You can also make a quick yet flavorful stir-fry using basically any kind of canned fish, such as tuna, sardines, or mackerel. Simply stir-fry your fish with oil, onion, and garlic, adding chili and seasonings according to your preference. Then, serve this delicious stir-fry over warm rice, accompanied by a vegetable side dish, if you want.

Mix Into Creamy Dips

Creamy dip with canned tuna
Creamy dip with canned tuna - Kritchai7752/Shutterstock

The next time you have a gathering, step up your game by incorporating tinned fish to make a protein-packed dip. A classic creamy dip can benefit from a fish's hearty texture and unique umami flavors. These will add a pleasant twist to your snack that's sure to impress.

To make a creamy dip with tinned fish, first choose your base. It can be cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, yogurt, or a combination of these ingredients. Mix in the tinned fish -- tuna, salmon, sardines, or mackerel will work great. Next, add some fresh herbs (like basil) and aromatics of your choice (like garlic). Then, you can balance them with something acidic, like a dash of vinegar or lemon juice. To boost the flavor, you can add your chosen condiments from mustard to hot sauce.

The formula to create your creamy dip is pretty flexible, so don't hesitate to experiment with different creamy bases and types of tinned fish to find a flavor pairing that suits you best. Serve your dip with crunchy items like crackers, biscuits, celery sticks, or carrots.

Make A Chowder

Seafood chowder
Seafood chowder - Fudio/Getty Images

Tinned fish can be a game-changer when it comes to making chowder. While chowder is traditionally made with seafood like clams or fish filets, using tinned versions of these fishes can simplify the process of making it, without compromising on flavor. Aside from that, tinned fish is often more intensely flavored than fresh fish, which can add a rich and savory depth of flavor to your chowder. Depending on what type of tinned fish you choose, the flaky texture of some tinned fish can help thicken the chowder, giving it a hearty and satisfying consistency.

To make your tinned fish chowder, simply swap out your main ingredients with the fish of your choice. You can usually find canned fish or mussels, which may help make a more authentic chowder. But canned tuna, salmon, and mackerel will also work wonderfully and will be flakier.

First, sauté your onions and garlic, then add water, milk or cream, potatoes, carrots, and finally the tinned fish of your choice. Season everything with salt, pepper, and a touch of flour (if you want a thicker consistency). Feel free to experiment with additional ingredients such as corn, peas, or bacon. These will enhance the flavor and texture of your chowder.

Make A Casserole

Salmon casserole
Salmon casserole - nelea33/Shutterstock

Whether you are looking to make a quick weeknight dinner or a cozy dish to serve at your next gathering, tinned fish is always a great addition to your casserole. This canned food helps to complement the richness and cheesiness of casseroles while adding healthy protein and fats to make these dishes even more satisfying.

You can use canned tuna, salmon, or sardines for a delicious casserole foundation. Choose a starchy casserole base, such as macaroni, potatoes, or noodles. Next, mix this with your selected tinned fish, as well as broth or soup, milk, cream, and cheese. Then, bake until golden and you're done. For a well-rounded meal, you can add vegetables such as carrots, peas, or mushrooms to your casserole or your plate. If you're in the mood for something spicy, try creating a Cajun-inspired casserole with canned tuna, rice, onions, bell peppers, and Cajun seasoning.

Top A Pizza

Tuna pizza
Tuna pizza - SnapFocus/Shutterstock

Tinned fish can add a burst of flavor and a healthy dose of protein to your homemade pizza. Whether you're a fan of traditional flavors or trying to get creative with your toppings, tinned fish plays well with the existing savory flavors of pizza.

While using canned anchovies on pizza is a well-known formula -- and one that is wonderful to make -- you can also get creative with other types of tinned fish. One great topping combination is to top your dough with canned tuna, sliced red onions, black olives, and cheese. The umami flavor of the tuna will complement the savory, salty flavors of the olives and cheese. For another option, feel free to mix tinned fish with Mediterranean-style ingredients, such as sliced tomato, basil, and feta cheese. For a spicy pizza, top your pie with spicy tinned fish, as well as spicy peppers and red pepper flakes.

Elevate Your Instant Ramen

Instant ramen with sardines
Instant ramen with sardines - jreika/Shutterstock

Both tinned fish and instant ramen are quick and convenient. As it turns out, these ingredients also make each other better. Tinned fish can be a game-changer in elevating a basic bowl of instant noodles into a heartier and more nutritious meal, as the canned protein adds an umami richness to the broth. On the flip side, instant ramen provides a delicious base for the fish, thanks to its savory flavor and the comforting texture of the noodles.

Upgrading your instant ramen with tinned fish is incredibly easy, simply add drained, canned tuna or salmon to your cooked instant ramen noodles. Don't forget the seasoning packets. You can also add vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or green onions for flavor and nutrition. For a creamier option, try mixing a spoonful of mayonnaise with the flavoring packet in a bowl, before pouring your cooked instant ramen and broth over it and mixing it all together. For an even easier option, you can just add tinned mackerel or sardines on top of your ramen, to make it instantly more flavorful and satisfying.

Craft A Seacuterie Board

Tinned fish charcuterie board
Tinned fish charcuterie board - zarzamora/Shutterstock

While charcuterie is traditionally associated with meat, tinned fish can also be used. Tinned fish offers a range of textures and flavors that can be just what your charcuterie spread needs for a unique and flavorful twist. In fact, this snack is becoming so popular that people have come up with the name "seacuterie," to describe it.

To create your seacuterie board, pick out up to four different types of tinned fish. Consider mixing and matching flavors and textures, choosing from options such as tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, and mussels. To balance out the brininess of the fish, include a selection of raw vegetables like cucumber, celery sticks, or carrots, as well as fresh fruits like grapes or berries.

Next, complement the fish with cheeses like soft brie, creamy goat cheese, or sharp cheddar. Add some crackers or crusty bread to serve as a base, and enhance the flavors with lemon wedges, olives, or capers.

Roll Into Sushi

Sushi with tinned fish
Sushi with tinned fish - Syamshine89/Shutterstock

Fish has always been a central element of traditional sushi. Luckily, making delicious sushi is especially doable with tinned fish. Whether you're a sushi aficionado or you're new to sushi-making, tinned fish can simplify the process and open up a world of possibilities for your homemade sushi creations.

To make a simple sushi roll, start by draining and flaking your canned tuna or salmon. Next, prepare sushi rice and gather nori (seaweed sheets). Place a sheet of nori on a bamboo sushi mat, then spread a thin layer of rice evenly over it, leaving a small border along the edges. In the center of the rice, place a line of canned tuna or salmon, and add your desired fillings such as cucumber, avocado, or pickled vegetables. Roll the sushi tightly using the bamboo mat, then slice it into bite-sized pieces. If you enjoy spicy flavors, consider mixing your canned tuna with mayonnaise and sriracha before using it as a filling for your sushi. Don't forget to serve it with soy sauce for dipping!

Make Paella

Fish paella
Fish paella - Javier Volcan/Shutterstock

Paella, a classic Spanish dish, is traditionally made with rabbit meat, vegetables, fragrant rice, and flavorful spices. However, modern variations are made with a range of meats and seafood options. That said, you can use tinned fish to easily incorporate the seafood element in your paella.

To prepare a tinned fish paella, begin by sautéing onions, garlic, and peppers in olive oil in a large pan. Add diced tomatoes, saffron, seasonings, and your chosen type of tinned fish (such as mackerel, cod, sea bass, or sardines). Next, add the rice and broth, and simmer until the rice is cooked and the flavors have melded beautifully.

The beauty of paella is its versatility, so feel free to get creative with your ingredients. Add vegetables like peas, artichokes, or mushrooms for added flavor, texture, and nutrition. You can also experiment with fish combinations or include seafood like shrimp or mussels. You can even incorporate chicken or other meats to suit your preferences.

Add To Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs with shrimp
Scrambled eggs with shrimp - PJjaruwan/Shutterstock

Scrambled eggs are a breakfast classic, so why not take them to the next level with tinned fish? This addition not only boosts the protein content of your morning meal but also elevates the flavor and texture of your scrambled eggs.

To begin, prepare your scrambled eggs as you normally would. Whisk your eggs with a splash of water, milk, or cream. Heat a pan, add butter or oil, then pour in the eggs. Cook them gently, stirring occasionally, until they begin to set. Be mindful not to cook the eggs all the way through, because you still need to add the fish.

Next, add your tinned fish to the pan. Canned tuna, salmon, and sardines are all excellent canned ingredients to add to scrambled eggs. Flake the fish into the eggs and continue to cook, stirring gently until they reach your desired level of doneness. For an extra burst of flavor, consider adding some fresh herbs or spices such as chopped chives, parsley, onion, or a pinch of paprika.

Make Your Favorite Mexican Dish

Tacos with canned tuna
Tacos with canned tuna - Antonina Vlasova/Shutterstock

Put a twist on the vibrant flavors of Mexico by incorporating tinned fish into your favorite Mexican dishes. Whether you're craving tacos, burritos, or quesadillas, tinned fish can add a delicious and nutritious element to these meals.

To make tinned fish tacos, heat some corn tortillas and fill them with flaked tinned fish like tuna or mackerel, shredded cabbage, salsa, and a squeeze of lime. For a creamy touch, add a sauce made from a mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, and lime juice on top of your tacos.

For a more filling meal, you can opt to make a burrito with rice, beans, and your choice of tinned fish. Top it off with salsa and guacamole for extra flavor and nutrition. As for quesadillas, create a filling by mixing canned tuna and cheese. Then, spread them between two tortillas. Cook until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy, then slice into wedges and serve with salsa or sour cream.

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