Sardine Rillettes

I unintentionally came across a recipe for sardine rillettes on the Great British Chefs website, and it was something I’d never made before. Salmon and smoked trout and Arbroath smokies – yes, but not sardines! (Of course pork and duck rillettes.) What really caught my attention was that these rillettes were served with vodka-pickled cucumbers. Interesting indeed!

Great British Chefs is a British-based food website that contains thousands of recipes, as well as instructional guides, videos, features on British food, and profiles of chefs and restaurants in the UK. The participating chefs are too many to list, and I recognized no names, which really doesn’t mean much. No chef is associated with this particular recipe.

This rillettes recipe uses canned/tinned sardines, plus an interesting mix of garlic, olives, capers, and chipotle hot sauce. I served the rillettes with toast, hard-boiled eggs, olives, capers, tomatoes, pickled sweet peppers and asparagus, radishes, and cooked potatoes.

I was so excited about this recipe that I doubled it.

Sardine Rillettes with Vodka-pickled Cucumbers

Vodka-pickled cucumbers:
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons vodka
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cucumber, finely sliced
1 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns

4.2 ounces sardines in oil
1 garlic clove, grated to a paste
1 ounce black olives, pitted, finely chopped
1 dash of chipotle hot sauce
1 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon capers, finely chopped
Lemon juice, 1 squeeze
1 1/2 ounces butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper to season

Toasted or grilled bread

To make the pickles, combine the vinegar, vodka sugar and salt and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Combine with the cucumbers, dill and pink peppercorns and set aside.

Drain the sardines of oil.

Mash the sardines to a paste, then mix in all the other ingredients.

Serve the rillettes and pickled cucumbers with toasted or grilled bread.

The rillettes were absolutely fabulous! Next time I’ll add more Tabasco; I really liked the zing.

By Published On: January 19th, 202443 Comments on Sardine Rillettes

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Bernadette January 19, 2024 at 6:51 AM - Reply

    Your board is gorgeous. I am saving this whole post because I can’t wait to try to duplicate it. The vodka pickles set off all kind of ideas! Thanks, Mimi

    • Chef Mimi January 19, 2024 at 8:49 AM - Reply

      Exactly! That’s what really made me want to make these rillettes! So good together.

  2. Molly Pisula January 19, 2024 at 8:04 AM - Reply

    Wow–this all looks so fantastic! I would happily eat that whole board for a meal.

    • Chef Mimi January 19, 2024 at 8:50 AM - Reply

      And, I think I did! Husband won’t eat anything fishy or pickled. His loss!

  3. Frank | Memorie di Angelina January 19, 2024 at 8:14 AM - Reply

    I’ve got to try this! I’m a rillettes maven in whatever form they take. Made smoked salmon rillettes as our starter on New Year’s Eve. Never had them made with sardines, however. Until now!

    • Chef Mimi January 19, 2024 at 8:50 AM - Reply

      Oh good Frank, you’ll just love these. Even better than I thought they’d be!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 19, 2024 at 8:20 AM - Reply

    I’m definitely putting this on my list when we have folks over. I love sardines, one of my favorite lunches is sardines atop baguette slices with horseradish sauce and capers. No one else in my family likes them, they don’t even like it when I open the can!
    I love the idea of the vodka pickles!

    • Chef Mimi January 19, 2024 at 8:51 AM - Reply

      I have to open certain cans and cook certain seafood when my husband is gone. So I understand.

      • Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 19, 2024 at 9:47 AM

        He says they smell like cat food!

      • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:15 AM

        Well it kinda does!!!

  5. David Scott Allen January 19, 2024 at 9:52 AM - Reply

    I’ve never met rillettes that I didn’t love. And tinned sardines get such bad press — I love them. I can’t wait to try these (and the cucumbers — they alone would be a nice snack with cocktails). Thanks for the not to add some extra zing. Can do!

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:16 AM - Reply

      Me, neither. Rillettes all day, every day!!!

  6. Charlie DeSando January 19, 2024 at 11:29 AM - Reply

    I’m not sure about the sardines, but I’ll take the Vodka-pickled cucumbers:

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:16 AM - Reply


  7. Thao January 19, 2024 at 1:39 PM - Reply

    The Vodka Pickled Cucumbers sound like they would be a great condiment for bloody Mary’s too! I haven’t had sardines in ages. My mom used to make us sardine sandwiches when we were kids. I have never had sardine rillettes but it looks and sounds delicious!

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:17 AM - Reply

      Do you mean you got sick of sardines?! Cause I can imagine that! The Bloody Mary idea sounds great!

  8. sherry January 19, 2024 at 4:33 PM - Reply

    I’ve never seen a tin of sardines that are boneless and skinless. I must check it out in our shops. I really enjoy sardines in tomato sauce, and have it on toast sometimes. this recipe sounds so interesting Mimi! And i adore pickled cukes!

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:18 AM - Reply

      I just bought them on Amazon! I’m glad I didn’t have to skin and bone them!

  9. Angela January 19, 2024 at 5:17 PM - Reply

    I admit that I am not much for tiny fish, but I must say that that presentation is fabulous.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:18 AM - Reply

      Thank you Angela!

  10. Tandy I Lavender and Lime January 19, 2024 at 10:11 PM - Reply

    I am so excited as well. I will print this off to make for Dave as he loves sardines.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:19 AM - Reply

      At least there’s one Dave out there who eats them! My Dave won’t.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:20 AM - Reply

      At least there’s one Dave out there who will eat sardines! My Dave won’t.

  11. angiesrecipes January 19, 2024 at 10:17 PM - Reply

    This is fantastic! I only tried salmon rillettes before, now I must give sardine a try. And that vodka-pickled cucumbers are great too.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 9:20 AM - Reply

      Smoked trout make fabulous rillettes as well!

  12. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 20, 2024 at 11:20 AM - Reply

    Your presentation is stunning!
    While I love fresh sardines, I’m just not into the canned ones. But I like all the ingredients used, and the vodka pickled cucumbers, so will probably improvise with both.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 4:42 PM - Reply

      I understand! And thank you.

  13. Jeff the Chef January 20, 2024 at 11:21 AM - Reply

    Wow! This is making an appearance at my next party!

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 4:42 PM - Reply

      I served it at Thanksgiving and it was a hit. And I even told people what it was!!!

  14. terrie gura January 20, 2024 at 11:23 AM - Reply

    Nice! I’ve only had duck rillettes, which are so so rich. This would be a great recipe to try next time we host our friends who are pescatarian! It looks elegant and special without being too fussy.

    • Chef Mimi January 20, 2024 at 4:43 PM - Reply

      Salmon and smoked trout rillettes are also really good, and perfect for pescatarians!

  15. Healthy World Cuisine January 22, 2024 at 6:27 AM - Reply

    Did not know that you can find skinless and boneless sardines. That is a game changer. Perfect grazing appetizer table. We have not marinated cucumbers in vodka before but often with mirin so must give this a go.

    • Chef Mimi January 22, 2024 at 5:05 PM - Reply

      Ohm, well that sounds good too. Better, actually, in that I don’t enjoy straight vodka! Yes, amazon has helped me out numerous times with food products.

  16. nancyc January 23, 2024 at 7:25 PM - Reply

    The presentation is so pretty with all the colorful veggies! What a great dish to serve at a party! :)

    • Chef Mimi January 24, 2024 at 5:42 PM - Reply

      thanks, Nancy! I actually served one at Thanksgiving and it was a hit!

  17. spicedblog January 24, 2024 at 6:35 AM - Reply

    I know what you mean about sardines catching your attention in this recipe…but what I find really unique are those vodka-pickled cukes! I’m trying to imagine what that would taste like. Guess it’s time to find out…

    • Chef Mimi January 24, 2024 at 5:43 PM - Reply

      That’s where my brain went as well – those pickled cucumbers!

  18. Raymund January 25, 2024 at 3:42 PM - Reply

    The vodka-pickled cucumbers in this recipe definitely adds an intriguing twist but I love this.

    • Chef Mimi January 25, 2024 at 3:55 PM - Reply

      The pickled cucumbers are what caught my attention! But the rillettes are fabulous. I’ll be making them again.

  19. Roz January 28, 2024 at 3:49 PM - Reply

    I love sardines and have wanted more recipes to prepare them in. I love how pretty you arranged your board, Mimi!

    • Chef Mimi January 28, 2024 at 5:31 PM - Reply

      Thank you! It was fun, and the rillettes were wonderful!

  20. Hannah Kaminsky January 29, 2024 at 5:23 PM - Reply

    Huh, there must be something in the air; I was just reading about plant-based rillettes! I’m not sure how they would measure up, but I’m very intrigued. I don’t think you can go too far wrong with a smoky, briny pate of any sort, right?

    • Chef Mimi January 30, 2024 at 8:54 AM - Reply

      Goodness, that’s hard for me to fathom. Can’t wait to see if you try them!

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