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Grilled Sardines, Portuguese-style

Grilled Sardines, Portuguese-style

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4


  • 12 to 16 fresh whole sardines (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), scaled, cleaned, and rinsed
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (small dice; from about 1 pound tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 Roma tomatoes (about 1 pound), halved


  • Lay sardines side by side on a clean, dry kitchen towel or on paper towels and gently roll together into a cylinder to remove excess moisture. Refrigerate until ready to use. (It is very important that the sardines are sufficiently dry before oiling, seasoning, and grilling.)

  • Preheat a very clean, well-oiled grill or broiler to high.

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup olive oil, olives, parsley, basil, cilantro (if using), shallot, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 /2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well. Set aside at room temperature until sardines are ready to be served.

  • Transfer sardines to a small rimmed baking sheet and drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over them. Turn sardines in oil to coat. Oil grill grate one more time before you begin cooking. Season sardines on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place directly on grill and cook, undisturbed, until skin is crispy and lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn sardines over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. (If you try to turn the fish too soon, they will stick to the grill. Be patient here and the fish will turn easily once the skin has crisped.)

  • While fish are cooking, brush lemon slices and tomato halves lightly with remaining 1 /4 cup olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, and place on grill. Grill until softened and nicely marked on both sides, about 2 minutes.

  • Place tomato mixture on a serving platter, arrange grilled sardines on top, season them a final time with sea salt and black pepper, and drizzle with remaining 1 /4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 /4 cup olive oil. Serve immediately with the grilled tomato halves and grilled lemon slices.

Recipe Details