Open tin of sardines on table
Sardines Taste Drastically Different When They're Not Canned
Both the canned and fresh versions of sardines are solid options for discerning home cooks on a budget, but the taste is hugely different due to differences in texture and quality.
The quality of canned sardines slightly deteriorates during its prolonged submersion in the canning liquid. As a result, fresh sardines have a sweeter, milder taste than canned.
For the same reason, fresh sardines are texturally firmer than canned sardines, which are often higher in sodium. Fresh sardines are also generally a higher quality fish.
Canned sardines can be packed in liquids like tomato sauce, olive oil, or brine, and are often smoked or salted. They can also come skinless, which greatly changes the flavor.
Canned sardines have been known to make seafood accessible. If you prefer the more pungent flavor in your recipes, fresh sardines might be the way to go.