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This quick + easy canned (tinned) mackerel pasta recipe is packed with heart-healthy omega-3s, protein, and micronutrients! Nutritious, delicious, and ready in 30-minutes – this is one of the most popular recipes on my blog for a reason.

A serving of a Mediterranean canned mackerel pasta recipe in a white bowl.

I couldn’t even tell you the number of times I’ve devoured this mediterranean canned mackerel pasta over the past few years. I first published this post in 2019 and it’s since become one of my go-to healthy weeknight dinner recipes and that of SO many of my readers!

Canned mackerel is a staple in my pantry, and I’m so happy to have discovered it a few years ago. At first I was hesitant and not sure what to do with it, or how it would taste – if you’re in the same boat, I totally get it.

For some reason I thought mackerel would be really fishy, but it’s not at all! Canned mackerel that’s packed in olive oil is incredibly smooth, buttery, and a little salty.

If you’re trying to figure out HOW to eat or cook canned mackerel, you’ve found the perfect place to start. It’s so easy to add canned mackerel to a pan of sautéed veggies, mix in your fave pasta, and you’ve got a nutritionally-balanced meal in under 30 minutes.

As a registered dietitian, I’m excited to share that mackerel is SUCH a nutritious (and underrated) fish. It’s actually one of the BEST sources of omega-3s, as well as other nutrition benefits.

Plus, this healthy pasta recipe is packed with other nutritious ingredients like red peppers, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. I truly hope you enjoy this canned mackerel recipe as much as my readers have 🙂

A serving of a Mediterranean canned mackerel pasta recipe in a white bowl.

Recipe Ingredients Needed

All you need to make this canned mackerel pasta recipe are 7 simple ingredients, plus extra toppings as desired:

  1. Pasta: You can use any pasta shape you’d like here – short or long! I personally used spaghetti.
  2. Canned mackerel: I recommend purchasing mackerel canned in olive oil. That way, you can use the olive oil from the can to cook with, rather than adding your own!
  3. Fresh garlic: This recipe uses freshly minced garlic cloves, but you are always welcome to use garlic powder if you’re in a pinch.
  4. Red bell pepper: I love using sweet red bell peppers in this recipe, but feel free to also use orange or yellow. I would avoid green bell peppers though, as they aren’t quite as sweet and juicy.
  5. Grape or cherry tomatoes: I always recommend purchasing vine-ripened tomatoes if possible – the difference in flavour is simply unmatched! You can use any small tomato variety that you enjoy.
  6. Green olives: Olives add a nice punch of salty flavour and healthy fats to this recipe. I like to chop them up into small pieces so the flavour gets evenly distributed throughout. You can use any variety of green olives that you can find.
  7. Fresh parsley: Chopped parsley adds a touch of green and extra freshness to this recipe, which helps to offset the more salty flavours!
  8. Optional (but highly encouraged) toppings:
    • Parmigiano reggiano: because you can’t go wrong with some freshly grated parmesan and pasta!!
    • Crushed red pepper flakes: perfect if you want a kick of spice. Add according to desired spiciness
    • Freshly squeezed lemon juice and/or zest: I really enjoy adding a squeeze of lemon to this recipe for a touch of acidity to balance out all the flavours! Feel free to zest the lemon first and add that too 🙂

Full ingredient measurements and detailed instructions are located in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

Adapting This Recipe For Dietary Needs & Preferences

Have other veggies that you want to use up? You can totally add them here! Feel free to add some leafy greens (like spinach or kale), perhaps some chopped zucchini, eggplant, or even broccoli. Cook them at the same time as the peppers and tomatoes.

If you’re gluten-free, simply swap out regular pasta for a gluten-free alternative (I’ve linked one of my preferred brands!)

Dairy-free? Omit the sprinkle of parmesan on top. Instead, swap it with nutritional yeast or a dairy-free parmesan. You can purchase one in store, or a quick google search will show you how to make one at home! If preferred, you can omit the cheese/cheese alternative entirely and enjoy this pasta without it.

Recipe ingredients displayed on a wood cutting board.

How To Make Canned Mackerel Pasta

To make this canned mackerel recipe, start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta).

While the water boils, mince the garlic cloves and chop the bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, and parsley. You can see the approximate size of the chopped ingredients in the image below.

Once the water has boiled, add the spaghetti and cook to al dente according to package directions. Make sure not to overly cook the pasta, as it will cook a bit longer when you add it to the sauce!

Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat and drain. Add it back to the pot you cooked it in and stir in a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

While the pasta cooks, bring a large pan to medium-high heat. Add the canned mackerel to the pan, WITH the olive oil that it comes in. If you can’t find mackerel packed in olive oil, simply use some olive oil of your own here.

Sauté the minced garlic in the pan, along with the chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and olives. Season with salt and pepper, then continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

The juices will release from the tomatoes and peppers, creating a nice “sauce” along with the olive-oil packed canned mackerel!

Next, add the drained pasta to the pan and cook with the veggie and mackerel mixture for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

Serve this canned mackerel pasta with some freshly grated parmesan, black pepper, a sprinkle of red chilli flakes, and/or a squeeze of lemon juice (as desired). Enjoy hot!

Storage & Reheating Notes

Leftovers of this canned mackerel recipe can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It will reheat well in either the microwave or on the stovetop, without compromising on texture.

Canned Mackerel Nutrition Benefits

Not only is canned mackerel flavourful, affordable, and convenient, it’s also jam-packed with nutrition.

Mackerel is an oily fish that is rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3s.

In fact, mackerel has some of the highest omega-3 content of any fish!

Omega-3s play a crucial role in cardiovascular and neurological health, while also helping to lower inflammation throughout the body.

Mackerel is also a great source of complete protein (at roughly 23 grams of protein per 100 grams of mackerel) and many micronutrients, including:

  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin B6
  • selenium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • vitamin D

Canned mackerel is such a convenient way to reap all these amazing nutrition benefits. I love keeping a couple cans in my pantry to whip up this pasta for a quick and healthy dinner!

A serving of a Mediterranean canned mackerel pasta recipe in a white bowl.

More healthy canned seafood recipes:

Did you give this Mediterranean Canned Mackerel Pasta a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: 30-Minute Mediterranean Canned Mackerel Pasta Recipe

This quick + easy canned (tinned) mackerel pasta recipe is packed with heart-healthy omega-3s, protein, and micronutrients! Nutritious, delicious, and ready in 30-minutes – this is one of the most popular recipes on my blog for a reason. 
A serving of a Mediterranean canned mackerel pasta recipe in a white bowl.
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Ingredients

  • Approx. 150 grams spaghetti, or other pasta shape (Approx. 4 ounces or enough for 2 people)
  • Approx. 230 grams canned mackerel, in olive oil (Approx. 8 ounces, including olive oil)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 large red bell pepper (or 2 smaller)
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes (vine-ripened if possible)
  • 10 large green olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup parsley, fresh
  • Salt + pepper (to taste)
  • Optional toppings: freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, crushed red chilli flakes, freshly squeezed lemon

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (for pasta).
  • PREP INGREDIENTS: Mince garlic. Remove the core from bell pepper + cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Slice tomatoes in half. Roughly chop parsley and olives. Set aside.
  • COOK PASTA: Once water has boiled, add spaghetti and cook to al dente according to package directions. Once pasta is done, remove from heat and drain. Return it to the pot and stir in a splash of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • MAKE SAUCE: Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add cans of mackerel, WITH the olive oil that comes in the can. Add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes.
  • Next, add chopped bell peppers, tomatoes, and olives. Cook for about 10 minutes until veggies are tender, stirring frequently and adding salt + pepper for taste.
  • Then, add the drained pasta to the veggie-mackerel sauce. Stir and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped parsley.
  • SERVE: Serve pasta and top with freshly grated parm, a sprinkle of red chilli flakes, and/or a squeeze of lemon (you could add the zest also!) Adjust salt/pepper as needed. Enjoy hot!

Notes

*LEFTOVERS: can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. They will reheat well in either the microwave or on the stovetop, without compromising on texture.
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS:
  • This recipe uses freshly minced garlic cloves, but you are always welcome to use garlic powder if you’re in a pinch!
  • I used sweet red bell peppers in this recipe, but feel free to also use orange or yellow. I would avoid green bell peppers, as they aren’t quite as sweet and juicy.
  • Have other veggies that you want to use up? You can totally add them here! Feel free to add some leafy greens (like spinach or kale), perhaps some chopped zucchini, eggplant, or even broccoli. Cook them at the same time as the peppers and tomatoes.
  • Adding a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes are perfect if you want a kick of spice. Add according to desired spiciness!
 
*DIETARY MODIFICATIONS:
  • If you’re gluten-free: Simply swap out regular pasta for a gluten-free alternative (I’ve linked one of my preferred brands!)
  • If you’re dairy-free: Omit the sprinkle of parmesan on top. Instead, swap it with nutritional yeast or a dairy-free parmesan. You can purchase one in store, or a quick google search will show you how to make one at home! If preferred, you can omit the cheese/cheese alternative entirely and enjoy this pasta without it 🙂

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.