Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Shari Mason
Let’s talk about salmon and its flavor profile. As someone who’s cooked up countless salmon dishes, I’ve got the firsthand experience to guide you.
For those who have never had this fish, you might be curious about what salmon tastes like, the best way to eat it, and the cooking method used to prepare it.
Read on as we discover more about salmon and everything you need to know.
How Does Salmon Taste?
The taste of salmon depends on the type of species, cooking method, and seasonings used. But in general, salmon is a type of oily fish that gives off a rich flavor.
The oily taste is due to its high-saturated fats, packed with unique flavors and fresh salmon taste.
The fat content of salmon varies by type, determining the richness and how it will taste like. The more fats, the more stronger the taste.
Moreover, you can tell how salmon taste depending on the color of the salmon’s skin. Expect a mild flavor on lighter or white salmon.
If you’re unsure about the taste, opt for the white variety.
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Describing Salmon’s Taste
Type of Salmon
King Salmon, also known as Chinook Salmon , is pure with a rich fatty flavor (high-fat content). As its name suggests, whether raw or cooked salmon, it’s the most expensive among other salmon species.
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Pink salmon, a fresh fish, is the most common type and is also called the “Humpback salmon.” Its light-colored flesh has the mildest fishy taste. But it has more oil compared to chum salmon.
When you cook salmon of this type, it is best served as a smoked salmon dish. If you’re a novice in cooking salmon, pink salmon is a great fish to start.
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Coho Salmon is also called silver salmon . This coho salmon tastes distinctively fatty and subtle with dense flesh.
Read: Can You Eat Store-Bought Salmon Raw?
Chum salmon, also referred to as dog salmon, has a light fish taste and is low in fat. So, expect a subtle, delicate, and neutral flavor.
Fun Fact: At first, it’s one of those farmed salmon, but when it is large enough, it will be released to the natural salt water or fresh water for wildlife protection.
Sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon, is the fattiest type of salmon. When eaten raw, it has high omega-3 fatty acids. Its dense texture gives off a flavorful, fresh, and rich taste.
“All fats do not behave the same way in your body, and certain fats, including the omega-3 fats in salmon and other fatty fish and the monounsaturated fats in nuts, virgin olive oil, and avocados, are integral to a healthy diet.”— Harley Pasternak, Canadian Personal Trainer.
Also, red salmon has hints of herbs and fresh lemon juice and is often served as a baked and grilled salmon dish.
Pre-packaged salmon taste different from fresh salmon due to the added preservatives and the way it was sliced during the manufacturing process.
While pre-packed salmon taste like fats as well, it may not be as delicious and fresh as fresh raw salmon. It is only used as a substitute for fresh salmon in dishes.
Quick Fact: Coho, Chinook, and Atlantic salmon are anadromous fish born in freshwater and then migrated to the ocean to mature .
If it’s going to be cooked, raw salmon taste salty and fishy. But if it is not going to be cooked, like in sashimi or sushi, eating salmon raw gives an oily and salty flavor but with a lighter fishy smell.
Wild-caught salmon has a rich, creamy taste, while farmed salmon, commonly from a fish pond, isn’t too rich and creamy.
Raw salmon has buttery and creamy flavor that melts on the mouth due to its silky, smooth flesh surface.
Note: Raw salmon has the most fishy smell and taste among other types.
The taste of baked Salmon depends on the seasonings you’ve added to it. But expect its base to taste the same: light, creamy, and buttery.
It complements with chipotle citrus, fresh dill, honey mustard glaze, and other herbs and seasonings.
Baked and poached salmon have the same buttery and creamy taste. But poached salmon will also taste whatever you have poached it into, like coconut milk and herbs.
So, your poached salmon will taste depending on the flavorings used, so choose the seasonings wisely.
Canned salmon tastes mild and bland even if you cook it. If soaked in water, canned salmon can be very mild in taste. But if soaked in oil, canned salmon will give an oily taste.
So, canned salmon needs heavy flavorings and is usually served in tuna sandwiches, salads, salmon cakes, and burgers.
Grilled salmon contains a unique taste as it’s prepared over charcoal or open flame. So, it develops a rich, buttery flavor with a smoky flavor.
Tip: When grilling salmon, use simple ingredients: salt, pepper, butter or olive oil, garlic, and lemon for seasoning your grilled salmon.
Fried salmon is unusual, but it doesn’t mean it has bad flavors. Basically, eating fried salmon tastes salty with a buttery flavor inside and a crunchy texture outside.
Fried salmon is typically served as salmon fillets with cocktail or tartar sauce or in a crema with lime and cabbage.
Smoked salmon includes a specific cooking process that produces a very specific flavor.
A hot smoked salmon tastes similar to the baked one but has a lightly smoky, salty, and fishy profile, while the cold smoked salmon tastes less smoky and has a silky texture.
But among other cooked salmon, smoked salmon taste milder in terms of the “fishy taste,” and it tastes great with cream cheese and bagel condiments.
Does Salmon Have A Fishy Taste?
Yes, raw and cooked salmon have a fishy taste, regardless of whether it’s a freshwater or saltwater fish.
Although some people still find the fishy taste too strong but compared to other types of fish, it has a lesser fishy taste.
How To Cook Salmon For Better Taste
To prepare salmon and achieve a better taste, you can do the following:
- Sauteing: Pan-searing or sautéing the salmon is the best way to cook it. It’s the quickest and easiest way to prepare the fish. You can cook salmon fillet with some butter or oil and basic spices. To prepare the fish, season it with salt and pepper and add it to the pan with some oil. Make sure to add the skin-side down first, and adjust the heat as needed.
- Grilling: Another way to make a better-tasting salmon dish is by grilling it. We recommend using a charcoal grill for better results. You must also make sure that your grill is re-heated. Next, prepare salmon filets and make sure that it is dry.
- Baking: Cooking salmon by baking doesn’t add extra calories, which is suitable for dietary meals. If you don’t want to eat salmon with a strong smoky taste, have it baked and season it with honey, melted butter, thyme, and other condiments like soy sauce, according to your liking.
Tip: The best keto-friendly salmon dish is Salmon Roe. But Salmon Roe tastes salty and fishy that you might find it off if you’re not used to that kind of flavor.
How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad By Taste
To tell if it has gone bad by taste, eating salmon with a super strong fishy smack with a slimy texture in the mouth is a clear indication of spoilage.
Also, apart from the taste, you can smell some foul and sour smell, indicating the fish has gone bad and is not safe to eat anymore.
Does salmon taste much like tuna?
No, salmon doesn’t taste like tuna. Although they both have omega fatty acids, they provide distinctive tastes. Salmon is sweeter than tuna, with a higher fat content.
What makes salmon so tasty?
Salmon is tasty because most store-bought fish are farmed (including canned salmon), providing low-fat content and milder flavor compared to wild salmon.
Salmons taste oily but have rich flavors in general, along with various health benefits like omega-3 acids, protein, selenium, Vit B, potassium, etc. 
But what salmon taste like varies depending on how you prepare it. Grilled, baked, fried, smoked, or canned salmon provides different flavor profiles and mouthfeel.
Eating raw salmon is what most people prefer, but of course, you can cook it the way it pleases your stomach and taste buds.
There are various salmon types to choose from – King salmon to pre-packed salmon. But whichever you prefer, the natural “fish” taste is still common to any fish species.
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