What are Some Meal Ideas Using Canned Fish?

Sheri Cyprus

Whether you prefer canned salmon, tuna or sardines, canned fish is an excellent food to have on hand. It's a convenient, as well as a nutritious and budget-friendly way, to add quick protein to lunch and dinner dishes. Great meal ideas using canned fish include soups, salads, casseroles and much more.

Canned tuna can be used as a main ingredient in sandwiches, casseroles, and salads.
Canned tuna can be used as a main ingredient in sandwiches, casseroles, and salads.

With tomato-based or cream-based chowder, you can make fast and easy chowders by starting with either a can of tomato or cream of mushroom soup. After heating the soup, just add your choice of canned fish and some cooked mixed vegetables and continue cooking just until heated through. Kernel corn is a great addition to cream-based chowders, while you may want to add broccoli or zucchini to tomato-based fish soups. The best thing is that you can customize your soups to the tastes of the people in your household.

Sardines are often canned in oil.
Sardines are often canned in oil.

Perfect summer meal ideas using canned fish can be as simple as adding canned salmon or other fish to a bed of raw spinach and other vegetables. You just top the salad with dressing and croutons and serve it with garlic or corn bread and a cold drink. You can also stir in some canned salmon or tuna to plain pasta salad to wake up your lunch and add some extra protein.

Seafood casseroles can be satisfying comfort food and they make perfect meal ideas using canned fish. You could add canned sardines to scalloped potatoes and top with grated cheeses to turn it into a supper casserole rather than a side dish. A kedgeree is an Indian dish make with rice, hard cooked eggs and canned fish that can be served as a casserole for dinner. If you buy the packaged noodle and sauce mixes on sale and keep canned fish on hand, you can have a quick, hot lunch or dinner when you need it.

Tasty meal ideas using canned fish are almost endless. Many people like to make fish cakes, or patties, using canned fish mixed with seasonings and mashed potatoes. You can pan fry the fish cakes and serve them with lemon or sauce and any side dishes you like. Even tacos can be made using canned fish mixed with salsa and seasonings instead of ground beef.

Sardines -- a type of small fish in the herring family -- are rich in calcium and other minerals, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sardines -- a type of small fish in the herring family -- are rich in calcium and other minerals, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

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Discussion Comments


@clintflint - If I've got a can of smoked fish handy I'll usually make a cheap version of the fish pie my mother used to make. She would never used tinned fish to make it, since it was a traditional meal and it required a particular kind of fish. And hers tastes much better, of course.

But in a pinch, if you're looking for meal ideas using canned fish, fish pie is very easy to put together. It's a pie in the sense of "shepherd's pie" in that you are basically mixing the ingredients and then topping them with mashed potatoes. Usually it needs smoked fish, eggs, potatoes, and mild vegetables like celery, and peas but people get inventive with it as well.

I don't know why but the flavors just come together really well and it was always my favorite dish when I was a kid.


@KoiwiGal - If I've got rice and tuna handy I will usually go for a tuna-rice casserole, as I've got a recipe that I love and have been using since I was in college.

I won't put the whole thing here, but basically you cook up a white sauce with onions and mix it with your canned seafood, eggs, cheese and rice. Then you let it bake for a while and it's quite delicious when it comes out and will serve a whole family for very little.

Smoked flavor fish is particularly nice in this recipe, and I experiment with adding different vegetables and seasonings as well.


I try to keep a couple of tins of fish in my cupboard as a backup for when I run out of fresh meat. Mostly I'll just whip up a simple tomato based dish with onions, whatever vegetables I happen to have handy, a tin of tomatoes and then add the fish at the last minute. Then I serve it over pasta or rice. It's not the most delicious meal in the world but it's easy, filling and it provides a good ratio of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Usually tuna or mackerel works well although you have to remember to add it at the end, just long enough to heat through, or the meal might be too fishy tasting, especially for kids.

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