Do Sardines Have Scales?

If you’ve never tried the tasty, healthy little fish known as sardines before, you may wonder, “Do sardines have scales?” While not all fish have scales, sardines, which can be several types of small, oily forage fish in the herring family Clupeidae, actually do. Sardines are often silver with dark round spots, but because the term “sardine” can refer to many different species of fish, the appearance and quality of their scales may vary. So, can you eat sardine scales? In general, the smaller the sardine, the softer their scales (and bones) will be and therefore the easier they are to eat. Even on larger sardines, the scales are typically not an issue, and so they are often not removed from the fish before cooking and packaging, although some brands of sardines may be descaled and skinless varieties are also available. 

If you feel hesitant about eating sardine scales but can’t get your hands on a skinless option, try finding a can containing many smaller sardines rather than a few large ones, although you shouldn’t worry too much about sardine scales, as sardines tend to shed their scales as a defense mechanism when being caught in a fishing net. It is rare to find a scaly sardine in your can, but in the off chance that you do they are perfectly safe and healthy to eat! is reader-supported!
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