The Best Canned Seafood: Ultimate Guide

by Gina Elizabeth
Best canned seafood
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With so many options out there, we’ve broken down the best canned seafood in a variety of categories to help you find your match made in canned seafood protein heaven.

To test these varieties of canned seafood we rated flavor, ingredients, customer feedback, and sustainability.

How The Best Canned Seafood Was Chosen

To pick the best canned seafood in each variety, we looked at the following criteria:

Flavor. Variety is the spice of life. We want canned seafood that offers fresh flavor.

Ingredients. If the ingredient list is as long as a CVS receipt, we don’t want it. We’re looking for short and sweet!

Customer feedback. Lots of positive feedback from customer reviews means a bigger chance of being happy with your purchase and the product.

Sustainably caught. “Sustainable” means that a fish has been caught or farmed with both the long-term future of the species and oceans in mind. Seafood that is sustainable is better for both you and the planet.

Best Canned Anchovies

Wild Planet Anchovies

Simply canned in water or organic extra virgin olive oil, these anchovies resemble sardines and can be enjoyed as a snack.

Unlike most other anchovies that are designed as a seasoning, these anchovies have delicious meaty portions with very mild flavor.

Crown Prince Flat Anchovies in Olive Oil

Crown Prince uses only the highest quality fresh anchovies available.

These flat fillet anchovies are perfect for salads, casseroles, appetizers and pizza.

They’re also kosher.

Best Canned Caviar

Seattle Caviar

A light and easy appetizer or meal you can make in a snap.

Seattle Caviar is of the richest taste and distinctly bigger, gorgeous, succulent roe.

This delicacy is also rich in omega-3 fats.

They offer the finest caviar raised through sustainable means, comparable to the wild stocks of the Caspian Sea.

Best Canned Clams

Crown Prince Baby Clams

Delicate in flavor and firm in texture, Smoked Baby Clams in Olive Oil are packed from the freshest clams available in cold pressed olive oil.

Frozen clams are never used.

This ensures that the product has a delicate smoke flavor with a firm texture.

Only clams of uniform size and color are used. 

Best Canned Crab

Crown Prince, Fancy White Crab Meat

Crown Prince White Crab Meat is wild-caught and contains no bleaching or added preservatives.

It has a delicate, sweet flavor and is gluten free. Salt is added so go light shaking extra salt while preparing your crab dishes.

This fancy white crab meat is not bleached and doesn’t contain any preservatives.

How To Choose The Best Canned Crab Meat

Take a look at the fat and protein content of canned crab meat as it might differ from brand to brand and the particular type of meat. High-quality crab meat in a can, you can still manage to get some vitamins and minerals. 

The high-end canned crab meat brands put larger chunks of meat in the can. It should not have a puree consistency.

The crab meat should have a fresh scent and smell as good as if it has just been cooked.

The classic ivory color is one of the most obvious indicators of high-quality canned crab meat. Note that the color shouldn’t be pure white as it indicates the use of bleach or other chemicals that brighten the meat to make it look more ‘presentable’.

While finding a piece of shell in canned crab meat is not the end of the world and can be considered something nearly unavoidable, too much shell mixed with the meat is not okay.

Best Canned Herring

Crown Prince Kipper Snacks

Herring from Crown Prince is the best tasting and cheapest canned herring you can buy.

Crown Prince is best known for sardines and herring (aka kippers).

[RELATED: 30 Easy Canned Herring Recipes]

Best Canned Lobster

Scout Lobster Meat

Scout’s lobster is a classic: lobster claw knuckle and tail meat preserved with butter, cold-pressed sunflower oil and salt.

The Lobster is MSC certified, wild caught and harvested off the shores of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Best Canned Mackerel

King Oscar Royal Fillets Skinless & Boneless Mackerel in Olive Oil

The filets are almost twice the size of a sardine.

Meaning you can make a full meal out of one can of mackerel, plus good buttered bread and half an avocado. All sprinkled with flaky salt and a squeeze of lemon. Something I find myself doing fairly often in the stuffier late-summer evenings when turning on the stove is really not an option.

Season Fillets of Mackerel in Olive Oil

I Mackerel is a fatty fish, but we’re not just talking any fat: It has some of the highest concentrations of heart-healthy omega-3’s. In general, mackerel is considered an environmentally friendly seafood, particularly compared to tuna.

Good for you, good for the environment.

Wild Planet Mackerel Fillets

Easy to swap in for tuna

Mackerel has a firm texture similar to canned tuna, so that it can be flaked without falling apart.

Try swapping it in where’d you’d typically use chicken—like on a salad or sandwich.

[RELATED: 30 Canned Mackerel Recipes]

Best Canned Mussels

Patagonia Provisions Mussels

Smoked over bay wood and packed in organic extra-virgin olive oil and mussel broth, these plump EU Organic mussels offer a savory taste of coastal Spain.

Mussels improve both water quality and aquatic ecosystems as they grow, and are an excellent source of protein, iron and vitamin B-12.

Best Canned Octopus

Wild Fish Cannery Octopus

Smoky, briny and succulent smoked octopus is a special treat.

It’s also notably been named by Monterey Bay Seafood Watch as a ‘Best Choice’ sustainable species.

Pair it with a fine whiskey, or dressed with olive oil and lemon for an amazingly smoky Pulpo a la Gallega.

Best Canned Oysters

Crown Prince Natural Smoked Oysters in Pure Olive Oil

Crown Prince Natural provides quality, sustainable canned seafood without unnecessary additives or preservatives.

The oysters are sustainably raised and harvested in South Korean coastal waters.

Smoked Oysters are freshly shucked, smoked over oak and packed in Turkish olive oil.

Whole Oysters are freshly shucked, fully cooked and ready for use in your favorite recipe.

Best Canned Sardines

King Oscar Wild Caught Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Considered the best canned sardines by some, King Oscar sardines have a lightly smoked taste.

The olive oil used to preserve them is of the highest quality that enhances and complements the taste.

The sardines are caught in the waters near the Norwegian shore, and the company uses the smaller fish for better taste and texture.

Best Canned Salmon

Several species of salmon are available in cans.

Of the two most popular varieties, sockeye and pink, sockeye has a better nutritional profile and more appealing orange-red color, so it’s your best choice, even though pink is less expensive. 

Wild Planet Wild Sockeye Salmon, Skinless & Boneless

Wild planet salmon is more than an emergency dinner when you don’t have any other protein in the house.

Sustainable wild Alaskan salmon is sourced from the icy waters of Alaska, making it a healthy choice for your body and environment.

Best Canned Sardines

Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Wild Planet Sardines are ranked best by those who prefer a stronger taste.

They are lightly smoked and packed in organic olive. They are also firm and meaty.

Wild Planet sardines are well cleaned and scale-free.

Harvested in the North Pacific, Wild Planet Sardines are caught using sustainable methods that protect marine life and implement responsible fishing practices.

[RELATED: 30 Easy Canned Sardine Recipes]

Best Canned Shrimp

Chicken of the Sea Tiny Shrimp

Chicken of the sea shrimp contains no preservatives, are non-GMO and are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, protein and flavor.

This shrimp is pre-cooked, so you can use it straight from the can.

Drained and rinsed, it has a mild and sweet shrimp flavor that’s impressively fresh-tasting.

There’s no hint of that metallic “canned” flavor you sometimes get with tuna and other canned seafood.

Chicken of the Sea is also part of the #1 sustainable seafood company, offering responsibly caught, high quality tiny shrimp.

Best Canned Tuna

Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna

This is the healthiest brand of wild tuna you can buy.

Wild Planet also submits their products to third party mercury testing.

The brand offers a variety of canned tuna (both albacore and skipjack) and it comes packed in olive oil, no salt added, and standard varieties.

And as a huge canned tuna enthusiast, this is by far my favorite canned tuna.

Why You Should Eat Canned Seafood

Here are some advantages of trying good-quality, canned seafood meat:

Nutrition

Nutritionally speaking, health experts recommend consuming two portions of fish every week, one of which should be oil-rich like sardines, mackerel, herring, trout, or salmon.

These healthy fish are nutritional powerhouses rich in protein, omega-3s, & vitamin D.

Convenience

Preserved seafood wins over fresh in a few categories, such as price, shelf-life, and convenience.

Plus it’s ready to eat whenever you are ready to eat it.

You can easily turn it into a delicious dish within minutes.

Canned seafood is often fully cooked so your meals will be on the dinner table in minutes.

When you need a quick meal, or have unexpected guests, canned seafood is a life-savor. 

Shelf Life

Also, a sustainable choice, tinned seafood doesn’t require refrigeration, is usually sourced from healthy populations, and comes in small portions yielding little to no food waste.

As a general rule of thumb, the price and ingredients will tell you about the quality.

For canned seafood, avoid the cheapest products, if possible.

Cost Savings

Even the most expensive jar of Italian olive oil-packed tuna belly will still cost less than its fresh counterpart.

Plus, canned seafood also does not require cooking or refrigeration.

This means that canned seafood can be prepared, transported, and stored using much less energy than fresh or frozen products.

Additionally, while the flavor may begin to degrade over time, many varieties of canned fish are considered non-perishable and can be safely stored for up to five years, reducing food waste.

Canned Seafood FAQs

Should you avoid fish because of mercury?

Eating a lot of fish — especially larger species — is linked to higher levels of mercury in the body.

Exposure to mercury can cause serious health problems.

It is generally recommended that most people eat no more than one serving of fish per week.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises people at high risk of mercury toxicity — such as pregnant or breastfeeding women — to keep the following recommendations in mind:

  • Eat no more than one (227–340 grams) serving of fish per week.
  • Choose lower-mercury fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, and sardines.
  • Avoid higher-mercury fish, such as tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. Larger and longer-lived fish usually contain higher levels.
  • When choosing fresh fish, look out for fish advisories for those particular streams or lakes.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, young children, and those who regularly consume large amounts of fish have a higher risk of problems related to mercury exposure.

Should you avoid farm raised fish?

You should limit or eliminate farm raised fish from your diet, here are a few reasons:

PCBs are cancer-causing chemicals that may exist in farm-raised salmon at a concentration 16 times higher than wild salmon, and the level of dioxin is also higher, by a factor of 11 fold.

Because of the crowded conditions in which farm raised fish are raised, they are routinely treated with antibiotics to help prevent infection.

Be sure to check labels. Don’t be fooled by names like “Atlantic Salmon.” While you might think that Atlantic salmon means the fish was harvested from the Atlantic Ocean, almost all Atlantic salmon is actually farm-raised.

Choose only high quality, sustainably caught seafood from clear waters.

What does sustainably caught mean?

When it comes to seafood, the term “sustainable” means that a fish has been caught or farmed with both the long-term future of the species and the health of the oceans in mind.

Seafood that is sustainable is better for both you and the planet.

Should you avoid fish from certain areas?

  • Fish caught in the Baltic Sea should not be consumed. Baltic species are contaminated with chemicals due to increasing pollution and lack of regulation. Russia, which has played a major part in Baltic Sea pollution, has banned fish from the Baltic Sea in its country.
  • Farmed fish should be avoided due to fish contaminated with toxic chemicals like DDT. Water supplies are contaminated by sewage, industrial waste, and agricultural runoff – that includes pesticides – is also an issue.

What are the best and worst canned seafood choices?

Not all canned fish is created equal! Here’s what to avoid:

Industrial oils: Take a very close look at the ingredients list, not the front of the package.

Sometimes, the front of the package will say “olive oil,” but the inside actually contains some olive oil mixed with some canola or soybean oil.

Hidden soy: Look at the allergy statement on the nutrition label (the line that says “contains egg, milk, and soy ingredients” or whatever list of major allergens the product contains).

Soy can sometimes hide inside “broth” or other items on the ingredients, so if you’re sensitive to it, check the allergen warning.

Additional Ingredients: Be very cautious about fish canned in mustard or tomato sauce or anything else – sometimes it’s OK, but often it involves a potentially low-quality ingredients.

If you want mustard or tomato sauce on your fish, you can always put it on yourself.

Here’s what to look for:

Bone-in seafood: Sardines, bone-in salmon, and bone-in mackerel are all common examples.

Bone-in seafood is a great source of calcium.

Fatty seafood: Fatty seafood includes salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

These species are more flavorful than very lean fish like tuna, and they’re also more nutritious because you get a bigger dose of Omega-3s and Vitamin D.

If you want to eat more sustainable seafood, eat more tinned fish.

Why is jumbo lump crab meat so expensive?

Colossal lump crab (also known as mega jumbo or super jumbo) is the large chunks of meat that connect to the swimmer fins.

There are only two of these muscles per crab, which is why it is so expensive (often $40 to $50 or more per pound).

How do I use canned crab meat?

Here is what you can make with canned crab meat. 

Shrimp & Crab Jambalaya Stuffed Peppers

Crab Quesadillas

Crab Cakes

Avocado Crab Boats

Crab Souffles

Crab Chowder

Greek Crab Salad

Sandwiches

Crab Chowder

Crab Tacos

Three-Cheese Crab & Artichoke Dip

Shrimp & Crab Casserole

Crab Tapas

Crab Cake Stuffed Mushrooms

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