What Does Salmon Taste Like?

According to National Geographic, salmon is the most popular fish in America, with almost 450,000 tons eaten each year. There are many different types of salmon available in the market. And, with multiple ways to cook it, everyone can find a way to enjoy it.

While you will get different flavors from different types of salmon, overall, salmon has a mild, delicate flavor.  It has a somewhat oily, fatty texture, but it should be moist and flake easily. It often takes on a buttery flavor and texture.

When you order or buy salmon, you might not think much about what kind you’re getting. However, there are differences between different types of salmon, as well as farm-raised or wild-caught. In addition, the preparation and cooking methods can also alter the taste and texture.

Farm-Raised vs Wild-Caught

Depending on if the salmon you’re eating was raised on a farm or caught in the wild, it will have different flavors and textures.

Farm-Raised Salmon

Salmon raised on a farm have a milder flavor. It’s also higher in fat, which makes it moist and flaky. It’s also very tender and easy to eat.

Wild-Caught Salmon

Salmon that is caught in the wild has a stronger fish flavor, due to its diet. They are generally much leaner than farm-raised salmon with more muscle. This lends wild-caught salmon to be a little tougher than farm-raised.

With a lack of fat, it’s much easier to overcook wild-caught and end up with tough, rubbery fish. However, it does have more flavor than farm-raised salmon so it’s a trade-off.

Types of Salmon

The type of salmon also plays a part in how it tastes and what kind of texture it has. While there are other types of salmon, these are some of the more common.


Often referred to as King salmon, Chinook is often thought of as one of the best types of salmon you can consume. 

It’s fatty, flavorful, rich, and thick. Chinook has a buttery texture and flavor and tends to melt in your mouth. 


Sockeye, while full of flavor, does tend to have a somewhat fishy taste that can turn people off. However, if you enjoy fishy tasting fish, Sockeye is packed with fat and flavor. However, if you don’t you may like the taste of Mahi Mahi..

Its texture is a little denser than Chinook and with an oiler texture.


This type of salmon has a bit more of a gamey taste than some of the others. It tastes like a wild-caught fish. That said, it has a somewhat mild taste.

It has a firm texture and is also a little bit oily.


When you eat canned salmon, it’s often this type. It’s a very mild-flavored fish with very little fat and very little fishy taste. 

Its texture is much less oily than some of the other types. It’s also fairly soft and doesn’t tend to flake much.


Chum is a very neutral-tasting salmon. Due to its low-fat content, it tends to have less flavor than some of the other types.

It also has a less oily texture and a firm somewhat meaty texture.

Raw Salmon

If you’ve never eaten salmon raw, you might be surprised to find that it has a somewhat different flavor than cooked salmon.

Raw salmon is fatty and has a buttery texture. It’s smooth and should be rich, and melt in your mouth. It should be slightly salty and have a slight ocean water smell to it.

Wild-caught salmon tends to have a richer flavor when eaten raw than farm-raised salmon. However, it should be a light flavor that’s refreshing.

If you are eating your salmon raw, make sure it is safe to do so. Only salmon that has been specifically prepared to be eaten raw should be.

Baked Salmon

The taste will be dependent on what spices and seasonings you use. However, the fish itself should be light, buttery, and somewhat creamy.

It should be slightly flakey and somewhat firm.

Grilled Salmon

When grilling salmon, you should retain the buttery flavor. However, in addition, grilling the salmon will add a smoky flavor as well as a rich, woody taste.

Grilling salmon also gives the skin a nice crispy texture.

Smoked Salmon

When you think about smoked salmon you probably think about breakfast, as it’s often eaten on a bagel.

Smoked salmon tastes salty, smokey, and has a slightly fishy flavor. It can either be cold smoked or hot smoked, depending on how high the temperature is. 

Cold smoked salmon has a fresher, less smoky flavor. Its texture should be silky and smooth. Hot smoked salmon has a smokier flavor and has a moderate flaky texture that is similar to baked salmon. 

If you enjoy smoked salmon, it’s best to try to consume it fairly quickly.

The Takeaway

Salmon is a fairly mild-tasting fish that has a buttery, fatty texture. Depending on the type and method of preparation, the salmon may vary in the strength of its flavor.

If a mild-flavored fish is more to your liking, try to find a Pink or Chum salmon. However, if you like a more fishy tasting fish, grab some Chinook or Sockeye.