Ten Tins to Try, and Why by Anna Hezel


Anna Hezel is the senior editor of Epicurious, and the author of a book about tinned fish for Chronicle books (coming spring 2023). You can check out the latest tins she’s been popping over on Instagram.

  1. Minerva Mackerel Fillets in Spiced Olive Oil with Pickles,  An absolute desert island pick. These fillets are buttery and tender. The oil is subtly infused with piri-piri, and just faintly sweet from the single slice (!!!) of pickled carrot. Have a tin of these with a baguette and a bottle of cold white wine next to a lake this summer.
  2. Codesa Serie Oro Anchovies, These are some of the most glamorous anchovies I have had. In contrast with a lot of grocery store anchovies that I’ve turned into Caesar dressings or bagna caudas in the past, these fillets are beautifully firm and intact. They have a mature, developed character that reminds me of an aged parmesan or prosciutto.
  3. Matiz Mussels in Escabeche, Like many tinned mussels, these from Matiz are packed in escabeche, a vinaigrette packed with paprika. These are some of the most tender I’ve had, with a formidable thwack of vinegar. Open a tin of these and a bag of chips, and it’s a party.
  4. José Gourmet Smoked Trout, This is both my favorite smoked trout on the market and my favorite tin of Jose Gourmet’s. The fish has a delicate, tender flake, and the smoky flavor is pronounced but not overbearing. I like to mix it with crème fraiche and chives for a very fancy trout dip.
  5. Nuri Spiced Sardines in Olive Oil, This is just a beautifully balanced, warmly spiced tin of sardines, full of clove and piri-piri. The flavors are subtle enough that you could incorporate these into a pasta full of caramelized fennel, but I also like to eat these totally on their own, with whatever scraps of bread I have around the house.
  6. Wildfish Cannery Smoked King Salmon, Last year, for TASTE, I wrote about the changing world of canned salmon. I always thought of canned salmon as a slightly retro, slightly unappealing casserole ingredient. This tin from Wildfish Cannery, in Alaska, absolutely changed my mind. The jewel-like fillets are smoked and carefully packed in the can, ready to class up your next Sunday morning breakfast frittata or rice bowl. 
  7. Bogar Cockles in Brine, Think of cockles as smaller, sweeter, more elegant clams. Opening a tin of them is like gazing down into a swimming pool full of synchronized swimmers—dozens of dainty, pointy feet gesturing upward out of the brine. I like to open a tin to snack on with martinis before a meal. I’ll admit to having even splashed a little of the minerally brine into my martini in the past.
  8. King Oscar “Tiny Tots”, I first fell in love with these perfect, tiny sardines when Naoko Takei Moore made a video on her Instagram for sardine donabe rice. She fans the sardines out in a sunburst formation on top of a bed of rice, and lets the oil infuse the rice as it steams gently in the donabe. I sought out Tiny Tots after watching her video, and they (and the rice recipe) have been a staple in my kitchen ever since. 
  9. Matiz Sardines in Spanish Olive Oil, When I’m craving sardines, this is the tin I probably reach for the most. These have an elegantly bright, clear taste and a rich texture that goes with just about anything (Shaved fennel and celery salad! Garlicky pasta! Crudites!). They also happen to be brilliantly silver and perfectly photogenic.
  10. Ortiz Bonito del Norte in Olive Oil (92g Round), I love canned tuna very much, but for environmental reasons, I like to enjoy it in small quantities, only every once in a while. Ortiz’s Bonito del Norte is line-caught, packed by hand, and it’s an absolute treat with some harissa, olives, and bread, or as part of a niçoise. 

Order the whole set and receive a free limited edition box of “Anna’s Sardines in Oil” wooden matchsticks.

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  1. phdurniak (verified owner)

    Such a great variety of delicious fishes! Some highlights: the anchovies are indeed glamorous and delicious; its clear why the Nuri spiced sardines are the talk of the tinned fish community at the moment; the Minerva Mackerel is divine; and the tiny tots were a surprise favorite!

  2. Lawrence Kalinowski (verified owner)

    Hey! I used this list as a tool as my introduction to a broader range of conservas. I also reached out to Ms Hezel on a message Board where she was doing an AMA & she shared a cockles recipe with me.

    cockles! who knew.

    If your on the fence, pull the trigger. These tins rock.

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