Wild salmon vs. farmed salmon– Which should you buy? Does one taste better? Is the other healthier? This guide will help you choose!
Sustainably sourced salmon.
Wild salmon vs. farmed salmon.
Is your head spinning? Are you confused?
I’m here to help!
Wild salmon vs. Farmed Salmon: Which Should I Buy?
Which is the Best? The answer is– it depends.
There are six types of salmon that you might find in an American supermarket or fish market.
Atlantic salmon is always farmed. The other 5 types of salmon are (almost) always wild.
Wild salmon vs. Farmed Salmon: When to Buy Farmed Salmon
Why might you choose farmed salmon over wild?
Cost. Farmed salmon is almost always less expensive than wild salmon.
Flavor. Farmed salmon is milder than most wild salmon, so if you’re worried about a “fishy” flavor, farmed salmon might be a good option.
Is it Sustainable?: Maybe. Look for a “Best Aquaculture Practices” (BAP) label.
Fresh or Frozen? Either!
Look for “Fresh Never Frozen” labels if you prefer fresh, so that you can make sure it hasn’t been previously frozen and then later thawed at the seafood counter.
Cons: Color is added chemically through feed (wild salmon gets its signature color from the food it eats). Farmed salmon isn’t always farmed well, and the fish are sometimes fed antibiotics to keep them healthy in dirty conditions.
Watch for: Avoid being tricked by salmon labels that mark the salmon “Norwegian“– this is just Atlantic salmon.
Try it: This easy pesto salmon recipe works perfectly with farmed salmon.
Wild salmon vs. Farmed Salmon: When to Buy Wild Salmon
Personally, I usually buy wild salmon. But wild salmon can be extremely confusing to shop for!
Keep in mind that, unless you live in the Pacific northwest, you should look for wild salmon with the frozen seafood at the grocery store.
You should also know that wild salmon are almost always sustainably caught— making them a good choice for the environment!
Here are the five types of wild Pacific salmon to look for, plus tips on how to cook them!
- Sockeye Salmon
- Flavor Profile: Gamey, Strong “wild” flavor, Pairs well with citrus and fattier ingredients like nuts
- Pros: Easy to find, High-quality fish, Naturally brilliant-red flesh, Some consider “the best salmon”
- Cons: Can be expensive
- Watch for: My favorite sockeye salmon comes directly from Bristol Bay, Alaska.
- Try it: Try grilling this Sockeye Salmon Recipe: Grilled Chili Lime Salmon
- Pink Salmon
- Flavor Profile: Mild, Pairs well with citrus or mustard
- Pros: Easy to Find, Inexpensive
- Cons: Less oily and decadent than other salmon species
- Watch for: Pink salmon is also easy to find canned.
- Try it: Try pink salmon in this Salmon Caesar Salad
- Wild Pacific King Salmon (or Chinook Salmon)
- Flavor Profile: Extremely rich and fatty, Pairs well with citrus, stone fruit, and tart fruit like pineapple
- Pros: High-quality fish, Extremely rich and decadent, Often considered the “best salmon”
- Cons: Expensive, Can be very hard to find
- Watch for: Recently, some well-farmed king salmon has been showing up on the market. (Most notably from Regal Marlborough King Salmon in New Zealand.) If you find farmed King salmon, look for a “Best Aquaculture Practices” (BAP) label.
- Try it: I love it in this king salmon recipe: grilled salmon with plum sauce
- Wild Pacific Coho Salmon (or Silver Salmon)
- Wild Pacific Chum Salmon (or Keta Salmon / Dog Salmon)
- Flavor Profile: Mild, Very versatile
- Pros: High-quality fish
- Cons: Less oily and decadent than other salmon species, Can be very hard to find