Trout vs. Salmon: What's the Difference?

You can prepare salmon and trout in a variety of ways to enjoy not only their flavor but also their health benefits.
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When you're trying to decide whether you want salmon or trout for dinner, know that either choice will make a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.


While trout and salmon are closely related and typically interchangeable in recipes, they do have slightly different flavors. Compared with the mild taste of most trout, salmon has a bigger flavor, sometimes described as sweeter.

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So stock up on both of these healthy fish and try these go-to recipes for salmon and trout.


Trout and salmon may look similar, but they're two different species of fish. Steelhead trout live in saltwater seas and breed in freshwater rivers while rainbow trout spend their lives mostly or entirely in freshwater, per the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Salmon breed in freshwater streams and rivers, where the young grow up. As they reach adulthood, they move to saltwater oceans, per the NWF.

How to Cook Salmon

Try this simple salmon recipe from the Seafood Nutrition Partnership:

Things You'll Need

  • Salmon fillets

  • Bowl of cold water (for thawing)

  • Paper towels

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice or lemon wedge

  • Salt

  • Black pepper

  • Skillet (if cooking on stovetop)

  • Baking sheet with aluminum foil (if baking)

  • Air fryer (if air-frying)

  • Food thermometer

Step 1: Prepare the Salmon

  1. Allow your salmon fillets to thaw by putting them in a leak-proof package and submerging in cold water.
  2. You can remove the skin or leave it on depending on your preference.
  3. After they're thawed, rinse them under cold water.
  4. Dry the fillets by gently patting them with a paper towel.

Step 2: Add Flavor

  1. Adding flavor to salmon comes down to personal preference. Use a combo of fat and citrus — olive oil and lemon juice works well.
  2. Start by brushing the salmon fillet with oil, then spritzing it with lemon juice.
  3. Finish off your flavoring with some salt and black pepper.


Step 3: Cook It

You can cook salmon in one of three ways:

  1. Cook salmon in a skillet​ by heating a lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the salmon with its skin facing up and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes before flipping. Finish cooking with the skin down for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Cook salmon in the oven​ by setting it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and popping it in a 400 F oven for about 12 to 13 minutes.
  3. Cook salmon in an air fryer​ by spritzing thge basket with oil before adding the salmon and cooking it at 400 F for about 7 minutes.



To avoid foodborne illness, always cook fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, per the USDA. You can check the temp using a food thermometer.

Step 4: Serve

Try serving the salmon alongside a starch, such as rice, and green vegetables.

How to Cook Trout

Try this tasty trout recipe from the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center:

Things You'll Need

  • Trout

  • Paper towels

  • Fat-free milk

  • Egg whites

  • Breadcrumbs

  • Salt

  • Paprika

  • Food thermometer

Step 1: Prepare the Trout

  1. Thaw the trout in the refrigerator, then run it under cold water to give it a good rinse.
  2. Dry your trout by gently patting it with paper towels.



Step 2: Add Flavor

  1. Bread your trout by dipping it in a mixture of fat-free milk and egg whites, then toss it with breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle it with salt and paprika.

Step 3: Bake It

  1. Spray cooking oil on a shallow baking pan and preheat your oven to 500 F.
  2. Bake the trout until golden and fish flakes easily with a fork. Cook fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness when measured at its thickest point (be sure to turn the trout halfway through).
  3. Check the internal temperature to make sure it has reached 145 F.


Step 4: Serve

Once you've cooked your trout, you can garnish it with carrot curls, green pepper rings or lemon.

Trout vs. Salmon: Which Is Healthier?

Both types of fish are nutritious, but there are several factors to think about when choosing between trout and salmon.


In the U.S., salmon is farm-raised in either the Atlantic or the Pacific Oceans, but most of the salmon that's available is farmed rather than wild-caught, according to the Washington State Department of Health.


But wild salmon is still plenty available — you'll see it in many health-food stores sold fresh or frozen — and it's often caught in Alaska, according to Unity Point Health. Wild salmon is more nutritious because it has fewer calories and less saturated fat, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Similarly, as much as 95 percent of rainbow trout is farm-raised, which makes it available throughout the year at reasonable prices, according to the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center.


If you're buying trout from the store, you can probably count on the fact that it came from either North Carolina or Idaho, as these two states are the most frequent producers, according to the North Carolina Cooperative.


Salmon vs. Trout Nutrition

Per 3 oz. cooked






Total Fat

6.3 g, 8% DV

6.9 g, 9% DV

Saturated Fat

1.4 g, 7% DV

1.1 g, 5% DV


20.2 g, 40% DV

21.6 g, 43% DV

Vitamin D

16.2 g, 81% DV

12 g, 60% DV


837 mg, 52% DV

1,967 mg, 123% DV

Source(s): USDA

Fat Content

Both salmon and trout are oily types of fish.

Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good not only for your heart but also for healthy vision and brain development, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Omega-3s can also help lower triglycerides levels and blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A 3-ounce serving of cooked rainbow trout has about 143 calories and 6.3 grams of fat, according to the USDA. On the other hand, a 3-ounce serving of cooked wild Atlantic salmon has 155 calories and 6.9 grams of fat, per the USDA.

When fish have fairly high oil content already, they do well with cooking methods that don't rely on additional oils or fats. For example, you can bake, steam, grill or pan-fry either salmon or trout for a tasty meal.


Just as they have similar fat content, salmon and trout are similarly good additions to a healthy diet.

Rainbow trout is high in vitamin D and vitamin A while being low in sodium. It also gives you B vitamins, potassium, iron, phosphorus, copper, iodine, manganese, cobalt and selenium, according to the USDA.

As far as salmon goes, it's a great source of omega-3s, vitamin D, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B12, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

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