Costco Sardines Guide - Price, Sustainability, Tips
Costco Sardines might be one of the most underrated food items in the entire warehouse. Sardines are tasty, nutritious, versatile, affordable, have a long shelf life, and they need to be on your next Costco shopping list!
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Canned Sardines at Costco
Costco sells two different brands of sardines, Seasons Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Pure Olive Oil, and Wild Planet Lightly Smoked Sardines in 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Both of Costco’s sardines are sold in a 6 pack and retail for $9.99. They often go on sale for $6.99. They can be found in the pantry and dry goods area of the warehouse, often next to the canned salmon, tuna, or spam.
When most people think of canned fish, they think of tuna or maybe even salmon, but I would argue that sardines bring the best combo of value, nutritional benefits, and taste.
Sardines are my go to canned fish option and when they go on sale at Costco, I stock up.
Costco Sardine Options
Season Brand Canned Sardines
Season has been selling sardines in America for over 100 years. They specialize in canned sardines but also sell mackerel, kippers, caviar, and anchovies.
Season brand offers a wide variety of sardines canned with oil, water, or even tomato sauce. Only the traditional flavored sardines with pure olive oil are available at Costco.
Season Brand is Great for Sardine Newbies
Sardines can be a little funky at times and have the ability to turn newcomers away from eating them.
Typically sardines are sold with skin on and bones in, but season specializes in selling boneless skinless sardine filets.
You do miss out on some extra calcium and omega 3 fatty acids, but in my opinion it is a much more enjoyable and palatable eating experience for sardine rookies.
Season prides itself on its sustainable fishing efforts. All of Season’s sardines are wild-caught, using methods that reduce by-catch (the accidental catching of other fish) and minimize impact on the seabed.
Season has received numerous sustainability certifications, and they are the first to receive the certified sustainable designation from Friend of the Sea, an international non-profit group that certifies products that originate from sustainable fisheries.
These boneless skinless sardines are what converted me from someone who couldn’t stand sardines into someone who’s pantry is now stocked with over 75 cans. They are that good and will change your opinion on sardines.
Their 6 pack of canned sardines retails for $9.99 at Costco. Each can weighs 4.375 ounces and contains 3 ounces of sardines. These are sold year round and go on sale fairly regularly.
Wild Planet Smoked Sardines
Costco also will sell Wild Planet sardines. Wild Planet actually sells quite a variety of canned items.
They sell mostly canned fish products such as tuna, salmon, yellowtail, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, but also offer canned chicken and beef. Their albacore wild tuna is another one of their items available at Costco!
Original Sustainable Seafood Company
Wild Planet is the “original sustainable seafood company”. They practice selective harvesting, which utilizes methods that protect juvenile fish and eliminate bycatch.
As a company, they partner with small-scale fisheries and community fisherman who share their mission of protecting the ocean.
These Sardines are Lightly Smoked
Wild Planet sardines aren’t sold year-round and were available for only a few months in 2021.
They have taken a different approach compared to Season brand and sell their sardines with skin on and bone in. What makes these sardines so special, is that they are lightly smoked.
Their meaty sardine portions include the skin but are cleaned and scale-free. The flavor profile is enhanced with smokiness that brings on a new depth of flavor to the little fish.
What are and Why sardines
Sardines, also known as pilchards, are a small foraging fish that is part of the herring family. They are eaten all over the world and are considered a superfood. Sardines are packed with minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats, while being considered a very sustainable fish.
Their diet consist of plankton and they are at the bottom of the food chain, meaning they will contain significantly less mercury than other fish such as tuna.
In grocery stores, you will often see sardines sold in cans, and generally they are sold skin on and bone in.
Both skin and bones are edible, and with sardine bones being so small that they are barely noticeable.
Great Price for Sardines from Costco
I personally eat sardines from Costco for their taste, price, convenience, and nutritional profile. At $1.16 per can, they make for an affordable meal add-on that is filling and healthy.
I like to eat sardines as part of an egg and potato breakfast, on avocado toast, or even with pasta. Sardines are one of those foods that can go well with so many other dishes that there really isn’t a limit on how many ways that you can utilize them.
Atlantic vs Pacific Sardines
One of the major differences between Season brand sardines and Wild Planet is where the sardines originate from. Season sells sardines fished from the Atlantic Ocean, while Wild Planet sells Pacific Ocean sardines.
Concern with Overfishing
Sardines do spawn multiple times a year and are able to quickly replenish their numbers. This makes them really resilient to overfishing but not immune.
Most of the world’s sardine population appears healthy, but there are still concerns with overfishing and stronger measures can be taken.
Go With Pacific Sardines over Atlantic Sardines
The Seafood Environmental Defense Fund recommends eating Pacific Ocean Sardines over Atlantic Ocean Sardines because of declining populations and ineffective fishery management.
Sardines are heavily consumed in Europe, specifically in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Croatia. This makes the Atlantic Sardines more prone to overfishing.
With this information, Wild Planet’s use of Pacific sardines seems preferred and they get the nod here for their sustainability efforts.
Costco Canned Sardine Cost Comparison
How Much do Sardines Cost at Costco?
While both Costco sardines retail for $9.99, they go on sale regularly for $3 off, bringing the price down to $6.99 for the 6 pack. If I had to guess, I would say these go on sale at least 3 or 4 times a year.
Retail and Sale Price Comparison
I have never paid full price for sardines from Costco, but for this review I will do a price breakdown of both the retail price and the sale price.
At the retail price of $9.99, each can of Costco sardines will cost $1.67, and at the sale price of $6.99, each can goes for $1.16.
This is an absolutely incredible price by Costco, I’ve seen other grocery stores sell both of these brands for $2.50-$3.00 a can.
Even at regular retail prices, Costco sells sardines at half of the price of their competitors.
Expensive Price Per Pound
Each can with fish and oil weighs about 4.4 ounces, and according to the nutritional information, there is approximately 85g (3 ounces) of sardines in each can.
At 3oz of fish per can, the per pound price is $8.90 if paying the full retail price of $9.99. If you can wait for the sale price, the price per pound drops to $6.18 just for the actual sardine fish.
Keep in mind, you are also getting the oil in the can which can be also used in dressings or sauces.
More Expensive than I thought, but Still Worth It
To be honest, I haven’t done the calculations before and the price is higher than I thought it would be. For comparison, Costco sells fresh Salmon or Steelhead Trout at $8.99 a pound and Pacific Cod at $7.99 a pound.
Costco’s canned salmon goes for $7.11 per pound and their canned tuna sells for $3 per pound.
Per pound it is rather pricey, but I personally only need 1 can combined with some Costco pasture raised eggs and potatoes or toast for a filling breakfast. While the can is rather small, 3 oz of sardines when combined as part of a meal is often enough.
Sardine Nutritional Information
It’s been mentioned a few times in this article, but sardines are considered a superfood and one of my favorite nutritional foods to eat. Both of Costco’s sardine options are going to have fairly similar nutritional profiles.
How Many Calories In Season Brand Sardines?
One serving of Season Brand Sardines in 100% Olive Oil weighs 85 grams (3 ounces) and contains 200 calories with 12 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, and 22 grams of protein.
How Many Calories in Wild Planet Sardines?
A serving of Wild Planet Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil also weighs 85 grams or 3 ounces and includes slightly less calories at 170. Those calories are made up from 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of protein.
Again, this is an absolutely fantastic nutritional profile.
The issue with sardines will be the higher than average cholesterol. Wild Planet Pacific Sardines have 35 mg of cholesterol per serving or 12% of the recommended daily value.
Season’s Atlantic sardines contain 56 mg of cholesterol per can or 19% of the recommended daily value. For reference, one Kirkland Signature large egg will have 187 mg of cholesterol.
These two particular cans of sardines have a moderate amount of cholesterol at 35 milligrams for Wild Planet and 56 milligrams for Season sardines.
This isn’t the end of the world for sardines because some other brands can have up to 125mg of cholesterol per can! The cholesterol while not outlandish, is just something to note for those monitoring their cholesterol intake.
Health Benefits - Are sardines good for you?
Yes, sardines are an amazing food to eat for their health benefits. Sardines are an excellent source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamins D and B-12. They also include minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, and selenium.
Since sardines are low on the food chain, they also have an extremely low mercury level compared to other seafoods. They score a 0.013 in Mercury Concentration PPM (approximately 10 times less than canned tuna) and are only bested by scallops, clams, shrimp, and oysters.
And as mentioned above, the macronutrients from sardines are amazing. Each serving of Costco sardines has around 200 calories with 20 grams of protein and 12 grams of fat.
Most diets can benefit one way or another from the inclusion of sardines.
Sardine Uses and Recipes
Great Breakfast Food!
I love sardines for breakfast because they are delicious and super easy to prepare for a quick meal.
One of my favorite quick breakfasts is avocado toast. Alton Brown has his version which is extremely popular, and I have my modified version which is topped with red chili flakes and some lemon juice.
Additional Meal Ideas
I also enjoy sardines with scrambled eggs. They make an easy protein for scrambled eggs and the meal goes well with hashbrowns. A really popular sardine dish is fisherman’s eggs.
Some of my favorite non breakfast options are topping a pizza with sardines or including chopped sardines in pasta. My wife has a great spicy feta cheese pasta that is so tasty with some canned sardines.
Here are a few more sardine recipe ideas here and here.
Both sardine options at Costco check off all the boxes for me. They are affordable, tasty, nutritious, and versatile. It may take some time to acquire the test, but when you do, it will be well worth it.
Sardines are one of the superfoods that I never imagined myself liking and would have immediately dismissed if introduced to me in the past.
The season brand sardines are top notch and because they are served boneless and skinless, they make a great introduction to sardines. Once you fall in love with sardines, Wild Planets’ lightly smoked sardines will bring another depth of flavor to the already delicious fish.
When these go on sale at Costco, make sure to stock up. I’ll buy at least 5-6 boxes if not more!
Costco Food Database User Reviews
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Greg Larkin is the founder and managing editor of Costco Food Database, the premiere site for honest takes on all things Costco food. A self-proclaimed Costco super-fan since childhood, Greg turned his obsession in a mission to properly rate and review all of Costco’s delicious buys. When he’s not busy navigating Costco aisles, you can find Greg smoking Kirkland Signature meats, meal prepping, or perfecting his homemade jerky recipes.