Lemony Spaghetti With Sardines and Bread Crumbs Recipe


Combine spaghetti with canned sardines, bread crumbs, and flavors like lemon for a quick weeknight dinner that's ready in less than 30 minutes.

Lemony Spaghetti With Sardines and Bread Crumbs
Photo: Greg DuPree
Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
6 servings

In the case of this epic pantry pasta dish, you'll transform strands of spaghetti into something restaurant-worthy, thanks to pan-toasted panko breadcrumbs, a can of olive-oil-packed sardines, and long-lasting fridge staples like parsley and lemons. Doubling up on alliums—garlic and shallot—make for extra depth of flavor to pair with the zesty lemon and rich sardines. Shopping tip: Because sardines have a strong presence in this dish, it's worth splurging on a nice can from your local specialty foods store.


  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling

  • ¾ cup panko

  • 1 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lemon)

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking spaghetti

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 4.35-oz. can boneless, skinless sardines in olive oil

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add panko and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in parsley, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Wipe skillet clean.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, return to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes.

  3. During the last few minutes of pasta cook time, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet and heat over medium-high. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add sardines and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute.

  4. Using tongs, transfer cooked pasta directly to skillet. Add 1 cup pasta water and cook, tossing constantly, until liquid reduces and coats pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and half the panko mixture and toss to combine.

  5. Top with remaining panko mixture, drizzle with oil, and serve with lemon wedges.

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