Trends may come and go, but canned fish, or conservas, will forever be a classic. Though canned, or tinned, fish may be at the height of its popularity right now (at least during this century), the fact is, it’s always been a fantastic way to take a boring, basic meal and transform it into something really special. It’s easy to handle and prepare, and it’s shelf-stable, meaning that you can keep it in your pantry for whenever the mood for seafood strikes. It’s easy enough to take on a camping trip, yet somehow, it still feels elevated and special. There’s so much to love.
But as canned fish rises in popularity, consumers have access to more and more brands than they ever had in the past. Whether you want to buy your canned fish at your local grocery store or you’re willing to go online and order the best of the best, you have so many options at your disposal.
That’s why we’re here to make the canned fish-picking process a little easier. We’ve compiled a list of popular canned fish brands, and we’ve ranked them from worst to best. In a pinch, all of these brands will do. But read until the end to find out what our favorite brands of them all are, and you might just make a discovery that will change the course of your snacking sessions.
We don’t mean to hate on a classic, but we have to say it: StarKist is not the best canned brand out there. Far from it. The brand is best known for their tuna, but they also sell canned salmon and chicken as well. Unfortunately, if you’re going to get the best quality seafood from StarKist, you’ll have to go with their pouches. If you decide to go the canned route, you’re likely to be pretty disappointed.
One of the major problems with this brand is the fact that a ton of their canned seafood comes in water instead of olive oil. In fact, you can’t even get canned salmon from StarKist that doesn’t come in water. There are some oil and water mixtures, but let’s face it: That’s never going to be as good as fish packed in oil.
Considering this brand only uses two different types of fish is a serious bummer too. We know it’s a cheaper brand that isn’t exactly designed to respond to the specialty market, but a slightly wider array of products might have landed StarKist higher in our ranking.
Chicken of the Sea
If you’re looking for a widely available brand that has a few more options for seafood lovers to choose from, then you may be interested in checking out Chicken of the Sea. Chances are, you’re going to be able to find this brand at your grocery store, so it’s a solid option for when you need to grab something quickly on the go. But if you’re trying to get the very best quality, we think you’ll probably be disappointed.
Like StarKist, you can find canned tuna and salmon from this brand, but Chicken of the Sea also sells crab, sardines, and shrimp. As you can probably guess, the canned shrimp is nothing to get too excited about, but that’s to be expected — it’s never going to taste as good as fresh. The crab meat isn’t bad, but we wouldn’t go out of our way for it. And the tuna and salmon and just kind of lackluster. Chicken of the Sea products will work in a pinch, but there are better canned fish brands to explore.
Whole Foods 365
We all want to eat more sustainably whenever possible, so that’s why we were interested in Whole Foods’ 365 canned tuna sourcing policy. Their tuna is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, and they’re the first national retailer to put these regulations in place. Clearly, if you care about sustainability in the seafood industry, you probably love hearing about this policy. However, when it comes to the taste of Whole Foods’ canned seafood, we’re not huge fans.
The fish tends to be tough, and it seems to be lacking flavor. They sell different types of fish in water, which, again, is not ideal. We guess if you’re using a specific recipe that calls for fish packed in water specifically, then this brand is okay. Otherwise, we would opt for a different brand if we were truly concerned about the taste. However, if you happen to have this stuff on hand, you can still add veggies, condiments, and other ingredients and make it into a salad.
There’s a good chance that you’re also going to find a lot of Crown Prince products in your grocery store as well. And if you’re looking for something that’s easy to get but has a bit more to offer than the brands we’ve covered so far, you’re in luck. Crown Prince actually carries all kinds of canned fish and seafood, including tuna, sardines, clams, crabmeat, and oysters. If you ask us, though, the anchovy paste is the best of the best. You can add this ingredient to all kinds of dishes for a rich, umami flavor that takes your food to the next level. (And don’t worry — it doesn’t even have a distinctly fishy taste to it.)
Is this the best canned fish brand out there? Definitely not. We don’t think the quality is the best, and you’re definitely going to sacrifice a bit when it comes to flavor. However, this brand’s products will do when you’re in a pinch.
Patagonia Provisions sells a lot of different products, so we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t realize that they also sell canned seafood — and plenty of it. What we like about this brand is the fact that you can get some kinds of canned fish that you can’t find from other companies. For example, the mackerel comes in several different flavors. And speaking of flavor, the savory sofrito mussels are out of this world.
What you might find surprising about Patagonia Provisions, though, is the fact that you’re not going to find a single can of tuna. They do have salmon, but that’s certainly not the star of the show. The salmon isn’t too appealing, and you can find better varieties from different brands. The mackerel is just okay, but if it’s easy for you to find, you may want to try it. Our advice? Stick to the mussels, and you’re going to be happy.
A lot of tinned fish lovers adore seafood but are worried about eating too much of it due to the high levels of mercury found in some fish. And it’s true that getting too much mercury in your diet can cause serious health consequences. If it’s something you’re worried about, then you may want to opt for canned fish from Safe Catch. They claim that their fish has the lowest levels of mercury of any brand out there, so this is a great option if you have certain medical conditions that may make you more vulnerable to mercury.
Safe Catch sells mostly tuna and salmon, so you’re not going to get a ton of variety. They also sell sardines and mackerel, but you don’t have many options on that front. Because of the limited selection and the fact that the fish is just okay, we can’t put Safe Catch at the top of our list. However, their commitment to offering high-quality canned fish that has as little mercury as possible? That’s something we can get behind.
Looking for something that’s a bit higher-end? We think you’re going to love what you’ll find from Nuri. Though they say they specialize in artisanal sardines, they sell mackerel as well. And these aren’t your boring, basic sardines and mackerels. Rather, they’re flavored with a variety of ingredients. Take, for example, the spiced sardines in tomato sauce. The tomato sauce works perfectly here, adding a bit of sweetness to the savory flavor of the fish. If you’re looking for something a little different, you may opt for the spiced horse mackerel in olive oil instead.
With their focus on ultra-flavored options, it’s no wonder we love Nuri. And it’s certainly not the quality of their product that lands them in the middle of this list instead of right at the top. We just wish there were different kinds of fish to choose from, like tuna, salmon, or anchovies. However, for those looking for sardines and mackerel, this is an excellent brand to try out.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Ortiz tinned fish is the packaging. It looks nostalgic, maybe like something your grandmother would keep in the pantry. And that throwback look is just a small part of the reason why we like this brand so much. First of all, Ortiz carries products that you know are going to be reliably high-quality. They seem to really care that they deliver a top-notch experience, and that comes through in every bite. We also love the fact that they carry some types of canned fish that may be difficult to find from other places. Where else can you get hake roe?
And the best part? This higher-end brand can often be found in grocery stores or specialty stores, so you may not have to order online. Considering that it’s of better quality than most of the canned fish you’ll find on store shelves, this one is definitely a winner.
Here’s another amazing canned fish brand that you can likely find at your grocery store: Bela. They mostly specialize in sardines. You can get those sardines packed in olive oil or tomato sauce, and both varieties are fantastic. They also sell sardines packed in spring water, but we wouldn’t suggest getting them — canned fish in water is almost never as good as the stuff in olive oil.
Other options include mackerel as well as codfish, which we didn’t expect to see in a can. Regardless of what type of fish you decide to buy from Bela, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to get delicious seafood. Their sardines are on the larger side, and they look plump, juicy, and healthy. They break apart super easily, and they’re delicious in salads, pasta, or even on their own.
While we do wish Bela sold other products like tuna, we can’t deny that the canned fish they do make is fantastic.
Even the most devoted seafood lover can acknowledge that large-scale fishing is bad for the environment. And even if we’re viewing it totally selfishly, if humans aren’t careful about how we source seafood, we could lose these species altogether. That’s why we love a company that goes above and beyond to put sustainable fishing practices in place. Enter Wild Planet. By pole and line fishing and being choosy about which species to fish for, Wild Planet attempts to limit bycatch and cause less environmental harm.
There’s also the fact that they sell a wide range of fish. Choose from tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and anchovies when you opt for Wild Planet canned fish. It’s not our absolute favorite as far as flavor goes, but their products are still delicious. And because you know that this fish is caught sustainably, you can feel better about every meal you prepare using Wild Planet products.
Finally, our favorite grocery store brand of them all. Chances are, you’re going to run into Cento products at most grocery stores you go to, including Trader Joe’s. And that’s a great thing because when you take both quality and price into consideration, Cento is definitely one of the best. Their products aren’t super expensive, but you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to be happy with the results.
If you want to start out with the basics, pick up some of their tuna. If you want to try something that’s a bit out of the ordinary, go with the minced clams. But for the best of the best, you have to try the anchovies. Opt for the traditional flat filets, or if you want to feel a bit fancy, go for the rolled anchovies with capers. We love serving these to friends to snack on when they come over for dinner. And of course, you can’t forget about the anchovy paste — Cento’s is amazing, and you can use it in anything salty and savory.
What’s not to love about Jose Gourmet? This is one of the most exciting brands in the tinned fish space. First of all, the packaging is absolutely beautiful. Every single product looks like a work of art — so much so that you may not even want to open it. When you do, though, you’re going to be blown away.
Before that happens, though, you have to pick out what you want from the brand. The tuna filets are some of the best canned tuna we’ve ever had, but we also love the more out-of-the-ordinary options like the spiced calamari in ragout, razor shell clams in brine, and fried mussels in marinade. You can also get classics like sardines and mackerel with interesting added flavors that take them all to the next level. Basically, you’re not going to be disappointed with anything you get from Jose Gourmet. This brand should definitely be on your must-try list.
If you spend much time on social media, then you know there is one canned fish brand that is taking the internet by storm: Fishwife. And while it may seem like it’s all hype, we’re here to tell you that it really is as amazing as it looks. Currently, they offer four different types of fish: smoked rainbow trout, smoked Atlantic salmon, wild-caught sardines in olive oil and preserved lemon, and wild-caught smoked albacore tuna. The sardines and the rainbow trout are our favorites, but any of their options are out-of-this-world good.
Consider also that this brand opts for sustainably sourced seafood and is owned by two women, and it’s clear why it comes in at the top of our list. The only thing holding it back is its lack of options, but this is a relatively young company, so that might change. Even if it doesn’t, though, Fishwife’s commitment to quality makes it one of our favorites.