Few appetizers achieve the coveted balance of low-effort/luxurious with the ease of the best tinned fish on toast. Lay a briny anchovy or a meaty sardine over a charred slice of sourdough, pair that baby with a Spanish white wine, and you’re halfway to tapas night. Shelf-stable tinned seafood is a ticket to tasty and nutritious weeknight dinners, punching well above its weight with concentrated umami flavor and jam-packed with protein, omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals. It doesn’t hurt that the packaging is often easy on the eyes: The artful boxes and tins of our favorite brands make for an ultrachic (and economical) gift.
Many tinned fish producers, including some of our favorites below, are placing increased emphasis on ethical, sustainable fishing. And while plenty are based in Portugal and Spain, for whom high-quality canned seafood is a specialty, others are bringing the practice home to North America. The best tinned fish brands traverse the global map—so take a trip with us, why won’t you?
Add a pop of color to your canned fish collection with Fishwife’s beautifully packaged conservas. The female-founded company emphasizes sustainability, partnering with canneries in Spain, Washington State, and British Columbia. We flip for its canned Atlantic smoked salmon, albacore tuna, and rainbow trout. For salmon with a kick, try Fishwife’s collaboration with one of our all-time favorite chili crisp purveyors, Fly By Jing.
Helmed by a married couple from Spain, this LA-based brand sources its squid, tuna, mussels, and sardines from Galicia and packs them in extra-virgin olive oil. Siesta’s website invites you to “picture this: You’re on a remote small beach on the coast of Spain, the sun’s out, it’s sandy, but you’re cool enough in the salt water breeze.” Immediately sold.
Another American entry on this list, Scout is breaking free of the Mediterranean tinned fish mold, says Epicurious senior editor Anna Hezel, resident tinned fish connoisseur and author of a new cookbook on the very topic, Tin to Table. “They’re really proving how much great seafood can be sourced off the coast of North America—tuna and salmon from the Pacific Northwest, and mussels and lobster from Prince Edward Island,” Anna says.
This Portuguese producer offers a wider variety of both types of fish and packing liquids than some of its competitors. Think trout filets in curry sauce, octopus in olive oil with piri-piri, or cod roe in olive oil. José Gourmet also offers many of its fish selections in paté preparations, if that’s your thing—but even if it isn’t, the boxes are worth picking up for the illustrations alone.
This importer of Spanish specialty foods has a robust selection of conservas, including contributor Alex Beggs’s favorite ’chovies. Donostia’s product page reads like a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s: “Animosity toward anchovies is endemic, thanks to the prevalence of poor quality examples cursing supermarket shelves. THESE ANCHOVIES ARE THE ANTIDOTE.”
Sourcing its fish from Spain, Minnow is run by the team behind Cervo’s, Hart’s, and the Fly, three New York restaurants beloved by BA staff. It offers sardines, salmon, cod liver, mussels, and trout. “I love the Minnow smoked trout, which comes in boneless, skinless filets,” Anna says. “It’s way more tender than a lot of smoked trout out there, which can be really dense and dry.”
Drawing from over a century of Galician canning experience, Ramón Peña stands apart in freshness and quality. Alongside more run-of-the-mill types of fish and shellfish varieties, the Spanish brand offers some unique offerings like scallops, razor clams, and sea urchin roe, packed in everything from olive oil to vinegar-based brines.
Yes, that Patagonia. Eat its Savory Sofrito Mussels (tinted paprika red and delicious on crusty bread with good butter) while wearing your most normcore fleece. Patagonia sources from across the map, including anchovies from Spain and sockeye salmon from Alaska.
These netting-encased oblong cans make for especially handsome gifts. Find octopus, mackerel, cockles, and clams among the Spanish brand’s offerings.
In 1982, an oyster farmer Nick Jambor built his wife a smokehouse for her birthday. Their marriage survived, and Ekone smoked oysters were born. These sturdy beauties come in punchy brines like teriyaki and habanero and are sustainably raised in Willapa Bay, Washington.
Spanish chef José Andrés obviously knows his seafood. Allow him to transport you to the Galician coast with tinned sardines, tuna belly, or baby squid.
Unless you live in Western Washington, you won’t be able to sign up for this Alaska salmon CSF (community supported fishery), a favorite of Bon Appétit contributor Brad Leone. But you can still stock up on Drifters’ smoked and tinned sockeye, which we highly recommend you do.
This article was originally published in 2020 and updated in 2023.