Anchovies vs sardines: the difference and which one is healthier
Different types of sardines and anchovies are caught all over the world — from Engraulis encrasicolus anchovies of Europe and Africa to Sardinops melanostictus Japanese sardines, and each one has unique qualities. However, in general, sardines (6-12 inches) are larger than anchovies (4-10 inches). They also have a lighter silver color, while anchovies can have darker scales with a blue or green tint.
Sardines and anchovies have a similar nutritional profile, although sardines tend to be smaller more protein, fat and calories1.
Both fish have a mild fishy taste and firm texture when eaten fresh. However, “once you can use them, they become different products,” said Bart van Olphen, co-founder of Sea Tales and author Canned fish cookbook, mindbodygreen calculates.
This is because while sardines are lightly smoked or boiled before being canned, anchovies are cured in salt for months. Due to this salt treatment, canned anchovies have a brown appearance and a salty taste: when eaten fresh from the water, they can be compared to sardines.
You can find anchovies and sardines preserved in water or oil (most often olive or vegetable oil), served whole or as boneless and skinless fillets, sometimes with added flavorings such as garlic or chili.
Canned sardines have a shelf life of more than four to five years, while dried anchovies tend to last about a year. Van Olfen notes that anchovies should be stored in the refrigerator, not in the pantry, because of their curing process.
You should enjoy canned sardines within a day from the moment of opening2but opened anchovies will stay good for up to two months.
Here’s a deeper dive into each fish and how to use it.