Trout and salmon on a wooden plate. Can you tell the difference between trout vs salmon?

Trout vs Salmon- Is There a Difference?

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Trout vs Salmon is a common debate among many people! I was actually in the grocery store one day, looking at the fresh fish available, and had I not looked at the name card, I would’ve bought trout thinking it was salmon! That was the day I learned that, depending on the type of trout, the two fish can actually get confused quite easily.

There’s a lot of information out there on both fish, so I aim to consolidate it and provide a concise report on all the similarities and differences of trout vs salmon!

When it comes to the trout vs salmon debate, they both have very different tastes, textures, and cooking methods, but they are both considered oily and fatty fish. There are some similarities though in where they are raised and caught. Most of the time both fish are found in fresh and salt water, but salmon will be more likely to come from a farm. The color is also significant because salmon has red colors that contrast with their white fat whereas trout’s coloring is typically darker brown.

If you know what to look for when shopping for either one of these types of fish, then it is easy to distinguish them from one another.

When preparing for either one it is important to know which type you have. That way you get the most out of how they taste and feel when cooked.

So, read on to learn more about both trout and salmon, and how they differ from each other!

trout vs salmon

Trout vs Salmon

Trout and Salmon both belong to the family of fish called Salmonidae, so it’s easy to see how these two fish often get confused.

Here is some more information on each individual fish.

What is Trout?

Trout is a type of freshwater fish that is closely related to salmon. It can be found in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. You’ll most likely find trout lurking about in rivers, streams, and lakes.

Trout are typically silver or gray in color and have a smooth skin. Their flesh ranges from white to light pink to orange. This is why some types of trout are often confused with salmon. They are an oily fish containing high levels of healthy fats.

In terms of appearance, trout tend to be more round than salmon with a round head.

What is Salmon?

Salmon is a type of fish that can be found in both fresh and salt water. It is a popular food fish, and is often used in sushi. Salmon can grow to be quite large, sometimes weighing more than 100 pounds. The fish is pink or red in color, and has a mild flavor. Salmon is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also high in vitamin D.

What’s interesting about salmon is that it spends the majority of its life in the saltwater, they actually hatch in freshwater and migrate to the ocean. They are also a farmed fish.

Trout vs Salmon Fishing Destinations

If you’d like to try your hand at catch your own trout or salmon, here are some great spots to check out!


  • Roscoe, New York
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Patagonia, South America
  • South Africa
  • Pyrenees Mounts, Spain
  • Yellowstone, Wyoming or Montana
  • Grayling, Michigan
  • Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Mountain Home, Arkansas
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • South Holston, Tennessee
  • Redding, California
  • Kobuk River, Alaska
  • Connecticut River, New Hampshire


  • Iceland Rivers
  • Kola Peninsula, Russia
  • Scotland
  • Alaska
  • Washington
  • New Hampshire
  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Maine
  • Great Lakes – New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota

Which Trout is Most Similar to Salmon?

There are many different types of trout. Not all of them are easily confused with salmon. So, first let’s go over which types of trout are most similar to salmon and why.

  • Arctic Char, similar to salmon, will migrate often from freshwater to saltwater. While the flesh leans more towards the salmon side being orange, the taste of Arctic Char trout is more favorably on the trout side, being mild.
  • Dolly Varden is also a cold-water fish that inhabits the same natural habitats as salmon. This type of trout probably has the closest taste to salmon as you’ll get! Mild and buttery texture, served best with a lemon wedge.
  • Steelhead Trout is probably the most similar to salmon because they look similar in terms of their flesh. They are both orange in color! The Steelhead Trout also migrates to the ocean like salmon. But in terms of taste, the two fish are very different.

Is Trout as Good as Salmon?

If you are a salmon lover, you may want to try trout. Trout is a very healthy and flavorful fish. It has been called a “wild salmon” because of the similarity in taste. The taste of trout is a little more subtle. The meat is softer with a light, delicate flavor that’s not as rich and oily as salmon. Trout is also contains less fat, therefore is lower in saturated fat.

So I would say it all depends on your personal preference. I personally prefer Salmon when it comes to trout vs salmon!

Trout vs Salmon- What are the Differences and Similarities?

So, are trout and salmon the same fish? I hope by now, you can see they are not!

Trout and salmon are not the same fish but they do come from the same fish family, the order called Salmoniformes.

The Steelhead Trout looks the most similar to salmon and is probably why many people get confused of trout vs salmon. The Steelhead Trout, like Salmon, is born in freshwater but migrates to saltwater during their adult years.

Here are some categories to see how trout and salmon are alike and similar!


The scales on salmon and trout have a different appearance to one another, with trout being more shiny than salmon’s duller scales. The scales on trout are also more raised than those of salmon and the pattern is different. This means that it would be easier to identify a farmed fish as they have smoother, less-scaled skin with smaller patterns than wild ones.

The scales on both salmon and trout are used for protection.

The scales on trout have more of a protective function, as the fish is very vulnerable in its early life due to it being anadromous (being both a fresh and saltwater fish). The scales help with camouflage from predators such as birds that may prey on them when they return to fresh water after living out in the sea.

Salmon’s scales offer protection from the rough surfaces and sharp edges of their habitats in saltwater such as pebbles, which can scrape off scales.


The best time to find trout is June through September, whereas the best time to find salmon is April through June. Both trout and salmon are most flavorful when they’re freshly caught.

You can find frozen fish year round of trout and salmon, but fresh is the way to go if you can!


The taste was briefly discussed earlier, but I’ll go into more detail below!

The taste of trout fish is often described as being “cleaner.” Trout does not have a layer of fat under the skin like other fish do, therefore it has a less pronounced flavor and more delicate texture.

Salmon meat may be pink or orange depending on its diet. It also tends to be richer in omega 3 fatty acids than trout due to its raw diet with lots of krill that contain these vital nutrients.

Salmon has a richer taste than trout and very pronounced, but not fishy. Salmon are at times called king for their rich coloration and even richer nutritional content!

Both types can be cooked various ways depending on what type you want them served as: grilled/broiled, poached, steamed; smoked, or cured.

Can I substitute trout for salmon?

So now we know a little more about both fish, we can determine if we can substitute one for another. The answer to this question is yes and no. It all depends on your personal taste preferences and location as to which fish you can easily access.

  • Coho Salmon could be an option for a substitute to the Atlantic salmon if you live in that region or are willing to import your fish from there.
  • Rainbow trout and steelhead trout don’t have as similar of flavors as Salmon, so they would not work well as substitutes on their own.

However, by using seasonings like dill and adding some cream cheese before cooking these types of trout may help mask any differences in flavor with traditional recipes made with other forms of salmon.

So why not try substituting one type of fish for another? It can save time, money, give more variety, and still taste delicious!

cooked trout vs salmon

Nutritional content of Trout vs Salmon

Trout is high in calories and protein, as well as salmon.

You should avoid eating either fish if you have any skin conditions or are pregnant, as it can cause bleeding and swelling in the fish’s liver that may be passed on to humans who eat them.

Trout Nutritional content

A typical serving of trout is about one fillet, at 79 grams. It has a moderate amount of protein, 16g, and full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for the heart! Trout also contains many vitamins and minerals necessary for the body.

Salmon Nutritional content

A typical serving of salmon is about one fillet, at 20 grams (4 oz). It has a higher amount of protein, 22g, and full of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation in the heart and lower cholesterol levels! Salmon also contains many vitamins and minerals necessary for the body.

Trout vs salmon nutrition facts

Cooking Trout

Here are some great ways to cook trout:

  1. Bake trout in oven with salt, pepper and butter on top of it until its crispy
  2. Fry trout after coating it lightly in flour or cornmeal. Remember to pat the fish dry before frying
  3. You can also grill trout using a wood chip smoker such as applewood chips for an extra flavor profile.

If you are going to grill trout, be sure the surface is well oiled and that there is a good space between each piece of fish Preparation for bake time includes coating with butter or olive oil on both sides before putting in oven until done

Cooking Salmon

You can cook salmon similar to how you’d cook trout above

You an bake, fry, grill, or sauté salmon. 

For a healthier alternative to frying, consider baking the fish in foil with some salt and butter on top of it until its crispy.

Salmon has a few more cooking options than trout.

  • Oven baked with some herbs.
  • Poached in stock (simmering) for about 15 minutes until it flakes easily

Removing the bones in Trout or Salmon

Removing the bones in trout is easy!

Just follow these steps

  • Remove the head and tail by cutting from behind with a sharp knife.
  • Cut along each side of the spine to remove it
  • Use your fingers to peel off any remaining bones that are attached to the flesh.
  • You will feel them tell you they’re coming out!

Side Dishes

Some great side items for trout and salmon include:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Steamed peas or broccoli
  • Cornmeal crust apple pie (slices of the fish and a little lemon juice go great with this!)
  • Asparagus

Trout is usually served as part of an entrée, but can also be made into appetizers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Trout Better Than Salmon?

It really depends on how your asking this question! Are you wondering if trout is the healthier choice between the two or which one tastes better? Both fish have a considerable amount of health benefits, as I’ve shown above. Ultimately it’s going to boil down to personal preference. I personally like salmon better than trout. The taste is richer and I find it more flavorful.

Is Trout as Tasty as Salmon?

Trout is not as tasty as salmon, when eaten by itself. Salmon has a richer sweeter flavor, while trout is more on the mild side. Now, if you really do prefer trout to salmon (no hate here!) I’d recommend adding some seasoning to spice it up to your liking!

Is Trout More Expensive Than Salmon?

It’s going to depend more on the type of trout and whether the salmon is farm raised or wild caught. Typically thought, trout is less expensive than salmon.

Final Thoughts on Trout vs Salmon

I hope this post has cleared up a lot of the confusion between trout vs salmon! While I will always be a full-blown salmon lover (I’m definitely biased), there are many beneficial health benefits of trout!

Do you prefer one to the other? If so, let me know in the comments and what your favorite way to cook it is!

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