Why Tinned Fish Is the Rising Foodie Trend Everyone Is Talking About

Tinned fish date nights and seacuterie boards have TikTok users hooked on canned fish. Here’s what to know, including whether it really is that good for you.

Tinned fish is pegged to be one of 2023’s trendiest foods, though it’s been around for ages. People have been canning fish for hundreds of years as a low-cost and effective way to preserve food, and in recent years, celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Michael Fassbender have made headlines for their sardine-laden diets. Canned tuna is by far the most popular tinned fish in the West, but sardines, mackerel, anchovies, mussels, lobster, and even octopus are the latest varieties of tinned fish to hit U.S. plates. Now, tinned fish is the latest It Food, thanks to TikTok, of course.

Tinned fish on wooden table and board

Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images

What Is Tinned Fish—and Why Is It Trending?

Tinned fish is exactly what it sounds like—small servings of preserved fish packed in convenient tins or cans. It’s shelf-stable, so it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It’s a more affordable and convenient alternative to fresh fish, which can be quite costly and can go bad quickly. The tinned fish making waves today also got a makeover—inside and out. Foodies can’t get enough of the fun, modern branding and delectable flavors like jalapeño-infused mackerel, habanero and lemon pepper smoked shellfish, and octopus in olive oil.

The latest revival of tinned fish can be credited to a TikTok couple whose tinned fish–themed date nights have gone viral. Every Friday night, the couple grazes on new varieties of tinned fish, often smoked or flavored with other exciting ingredients. Now, users on the app are dubbing tinned fish as the latest “hot girl food” for its fin-tastic nutrition and flavor profiles.

Though tinned fish has been historically viewed as inferior to fresh fish, the tides are turning with consumer perceptions shifting to favor tinned fish.

“It’s exciting that people are shifting their preconceived notions that canned or tinned fish isn't as nutritious as fresh fish,” says registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, RDN. “These options can be incredibly healthy to enjoy, and they can make eating more seafood much more accessible to people who don't have access to fresh options where they live.”

Is Tinned Fish Good for You?

Fish in general is part of a healthy eating pattern. Canned fish can be just as healthy as fresh fish, and sometimes even more so, according to Harvard Medical School. Like fresh fish, tinned fish is a rich source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating fish rich in omegas, such as canned sardines and tuna, could reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Fish is also lower in saturated fat than other animal proteins and offers an array of nutrients like vitamin D, iodine, selenium, and amino acids. So yes, it’s very good for you.

However, there are a couple of things to watch out for. Avoid tinned fish preserved in BPA-lined cans, says Manaker. She also recommends checking the sodium content, since canned food is notoriously high in added salt. And, of course, you’ll want to enjoy any kind of fish—tinned or fresh—in moderation, because fish can be high in mercury. The FDA recommends anchovies, cod, salmon, sardines, and skipjack tuna as some of the best fish that are low in mercury. The American Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week—3 ounces or about ¾ cup per serving.

Seacuterie board

Vladimir Mironov / Getty Images

Eating Tinned Fish at Home

You can make a charcuterie board out of anything these days, including tinned fish. Along with tinned fish date nights, social media has cast a line of seacuterie boards—charcuterie boards highlighting a variety of tinned fish varieties and flavors.

But you don’t have to make a fancy charcuterie board or plan a date night around tinned fish.

Add it to salad or pasta for a boost of protein and healthy fat,” Manaker recommends. She also says to give recipes like sardine toast and salmon croquettes a try.

If you’re new to tinned fish, Manaker recommends brands like Safe Catch and Scout. These are MSC-certified, so they’re sustainably sourced—something we can all get on board with.

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