Go Back
–+ servings
Lemon Pepper Pasta with Sardines twirled onto a plate with bright green arugula.

Lemon Pepper Pasta with King Oscar Sardines

This bright and lemony pasta is tossed with garlic, lemon juice, arugula, and peppery sardines. It's the perfect pantry-friendly weeknight meal clocking in at less than 30 minutes!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Pescetarian
Keyword 20 minute dinner, easy, Pasta, pescetarian, Sardines
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Dana Sandonato


  • Large skillet


  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • 1 can King Oscar Brisling Sardines with Spicy Cracked Pepper, drained See notes.
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino romano (optional)
  • 3 heaping handfuls or baby arugula
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • A generous amount of cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted panko breadcrumbs See notes.


  • Cook spaghetti as per the directions on the package; set aside.
  • In the meantime, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt, and simmer until tender and fragrant—about 3 minutes.
  • Add the drained sardines to the skillet and flake them into chunks with a spatula or spoon; stir to mix.
  • Once the sardines are just warmed through, which should only take about 2 minutes, transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet; toss to coat. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan, arugula, and a generous amount of cracked black pepper. Toss again to even distribute the ingredients. Taste, and add salt as needed.
  • Finally, toss in the toasted breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.


If you can't find King Oscar's Brisling Sardines with Spicy Cracked Pepper, you could use other variations, such as the brisling sardines in extra virgin olive oil or Mediterranean style.
To toast breadcrumbs, simply dump the breadcrumbs into a dry pan. Heat the pan on the stove over medium heat, occasionally tossing the breadcrumbs around to prevent burning, until they're toasty and golden. This should take about five minutes, but keep a close eye on them.