Do Sardines Have Bones?

If you are sardine-curious but have never eaten a tin of these little protein-packed fishes before, you might be wondering if sardines contain bones. Like all other fish, sardines are vertebrates and do, in fact, have bones. You may ask, “Are sardine bones safe to eat?”—but don't worry, sardine bones are not at all unsafe or dangerous to consume! Because the bones are so small, tinned sardines are cooked without removing the bones first (unlike kippers,) which further softens them and makes them very easy to eat. In fact, sardine bones actually contain many vital nutrients including calcium and other important minerals, and, because sardines are also high in vitamin D, the calcium in sardines bones is more effectively absorbed and utilized by your body.

Some sardine lovers even consider the bones and spines to be a special treat! However, if you're feeling a little squeamish about eating sardine bones, they typically are either essentially undetectable or are quite easy to separate from the flesh and remove. Tinned boneless sardine varieties are also available. The quantity and size of bones in a can of sardines varies based on brand, variety, and season, but even the largest bones like the spines are very soft and do not have much of a crunch or taste at all. If you want to get the most out of your sardine snack, consider eating the bones! is reader-supported!
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