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7 Alternatives to Salmon

Here are the various alternatives to salmon that are just as nutritious and delicious in their own right along with some guides and tips on what to look for in alternatives.

A couple of salmon fillet pieces with salt, pepper and lemon.

Salmon is a delicious fish to include in our diets, and it is very healthy. Although we sometimes get tired of always having it, it is expensive, or we want to do our part with environmental sustainability. So let’s look at some delicious salmon alternatives that we can use instead.

The best alternative to salmon that can be eaten includes arctic char, trout, and mackerel. Other fish species that can also be used in salmon recipes include milkfish, tilapia, bluefish, and yellowtail.

We could be looking at alternatives that have a similar flavor, similar nutritional value, or style to cook it. All of these are good to consider when deciding which alternative fish you should choose.

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Related: Types of Salmon | What Goes With Sushi | Sushi vs. Sashimi | Types of Food | How to Clean Salmon | Salmon vs. Trout | How to Store Salmon | What to Serve With Salmon

The Best Alternatives To Salmon

Pieces of salmon fillet with spices and herbs on a dark plate.

There are many different types of salmon; it is difficult to compare based on all the species so that we will look at them as a whole. There are many reasons some people would like to swap out salmon for an alternative fish. Salmon is very flavorful and healthy but expensive, resulting in many people not including it in their diets.

Thankfully there are other cheaper options with a similar nutritional value. Salmon is also not a sustainable fish specifically when it comes to farming, so it is good to choose other more environmentally friendly fish options. Here are some alternative fish options to salmon that are still very flavorful and delicious:

Arctic Char

This is an arctic char fillet with spices.

Arctic Char is an excellent substitute for salmon because it has a similar color, flavor, and texture. The flavor is slightly softer than salmon with a lighter texture, but it is a great alternative. Luckily it is cheaper than salmon, but at times it can be harder to find in the store depending on where you live.

Like salmon, it is a fatty fish making it easy to cook as it won’t go dry or tough quickly.

The high-fat content also means they are both high in omega 3 fatty acids, which is very important for our health, preventing heart disease and helping with brain development. Arctic Char can be easily farmed, making it a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative because it can survive freshwater long-term.

Steelhead Trout/Rainbow Trout

Large pieces of rainbow trout fillet with parsley.

Trout, specifically rainbow trout species, is a popular farmed species. EDF-seafood Selector has given farmed trout one of the best eco-ratings due to the strict environmental standards it follows. This makes trout more sustainable compared to farmed salmon. Lucky for us trout has a very similar flavor and nutritional value to salmon.

Rainbow trout has a similar taste but, at times, can have a muddy flavor depending on where it is raised. The steelhead trout is a saltwater version of the rainbow trout with a fresher taste closer to salmon than the rainbow trout.

Trout does have a similar orange color to salmon, although its omega 3 content is a bit lower. Trout is luckily more readily available and slightly cheaper compared to salmon, making it a good alternative.

Tilapia

Pieces of tilapia fillet with spices, herbs and vegetables on the side.

Tilapia is a great alternative to salmon; it has a beautiful mild flavor and a good lean protein. It is also high in nutritional value although lower in omega 3 fatty acids than salmon. This fish is also very affordable and versatile, making it easy to add to your diet, use in the kitchen and use as an alternative in many recipes.

This fish is environmentally friendly to farm and also received the best eco-rating by EDF Seafood Selector.

Milkfish

This is a raw milkfish surrounded by spices and herbs.

Milkfish can be used instead of salmon; its flavor is neither strong nor mild, making it very enjoyable. When looking at nutritional value, milkfish is much higher in omega 3 fatty acids than salmon, making it more favorable if omega 3 is something you are increasing in your diet.

This fish is much smaller than salmon, and it contains lots of small bones, which can sometimes be hard to remove, but the flavor is worth it for most people.

Mackerel

Pieces of fresh mackerel with ice and lemon.

Mackerel can be a good alternative fish to salmon, although it is not very similar in flavor to salmon. Although most people would choose salmon over mackerel due to its nutritional content and taste, mackerel is still a great-tasting fish. Mackerel has a much softer mild flavor compared to the strong-flavored salmon we are used to.

It contains fewer omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D but is still a good source of these nutrients. Mackerel is much cheaper and readily available in stores. This fish goes well with flavors commonly used to cook salmon, making it easy to swap in; remember, the fillets are much thinner, which means you need to shorten the cooking time.

Smoked mackerel is also great when needing an alternative for smoked salmon.

Bluefish

These are fresh pieces of bluefish with lemon, herbs and spices on a chopping board.

As we know, salmon has a strong, bold flavor which is why most of us love it; a great alternative with bold flavors includes bluefish. This fish is also very oily, making it a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Due to this fish being very flavorful, it is important to pair it with a few simple ingredients such as lemon and parsley.

Due to bluefish’s high mercury content, it is important to limit your intake to prevent mercury poisoning.

Yellowtail

This is a raw yellowtail on a table surrounded by herbs and spices.

Yellowtail can be a great alternative to salmon in recipes with flavorful, fresh ingredients such as lemon, mango, avocado, cilantro, scallion, or parsley. This fish has a milder flavor which is great for pairing with these kinds of ingredients. It can also be well used as an alternative to sushi.

Yellowtail has similar nutritional content to salmon, such as its high omega 3 content.  

What To Look At When Finding Alternatives

It is also important to know a few criteria when deciding on an alternative fish for salmon. From above, we could see that the best alternatives to salmon were Arctic char, trout, and mackerel due to their flavors and fat content. Here are a few things to consider when choosing an option.

  • Fat content can give you a good idea of the fish’s flavor and texture. Higher fat fishes like salmon have a stronger flavor compared to low-fat fishes. This can also give you a good idea of their omega 3 fatty acid content.
  • Make sure the portion size is the same as the recipe for the salmon, as this will impact how it is cooked. If it is a similar size and weight, then you won’t have to alter the recipe. 
  • If the recipe requires you to keep the skin on the fish, then it is essential to find a fish with edible skin that is tasty.
  • Stick to the same type of fillet the recipe asked for, whether whole fillet or cross fillet; this is because the thickness is different, making them hard to interchange.
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