Skip to Content

6+ Key Differences Between Coho and Sockeye Salmon

6+ Key Differences Between Coho and Sockeye Salmon

I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve my health, and one of the best things I’ve ever done is add more salmon to my diet. Salmon is packed with nutrients that are essential for good health, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D. But did you know that there are different types of salmon? I used to think that all salmon was created equal, but I was wrong. There are three main types of salmon: Coho, Sockeye, and Chinook. Each type has its own unique flavor and nutritional profile. So, which type of salmon is right for you? Read on to find out!

The key differences between Coho and Sockeye Salmon are the color and flavor profile of each fish. While Coho Salmon meat is pink-orange, Sockeye Salmon meat is dark red-orange. Sockeye Salmon has a strong flavor and is a very oily fish, while Coho Salmon has a milder taste.

Healthy, delicious, and packed with protein, Coho and Sockeye are both types of Wild Alaskan Salmon. Both Coho and Sockeye Salmon are found in the Pacific Ocean and are anadromous fish. This means they are born in freshwater but migrate to the ocean to mature and breed. However, there are some differences between them, which are essential for you to know when choosing which of the two for the recipe you want to cook. 

Each Has Its Own Distinctive Coloring

Coho is commonly referred to as silver salmon because of its shiny silver skin. The flesh of Coho Salmon is a pink-orange color. 

Sockeye is known as red salmon for two reasons. Firstly, Sockeye salmon turn a deep red color when they swim upstream to spawn. Secondly, their flesh is a deep red color. 

Their Flesh Is Different

Coho salmon
Coho Salmon Flesh

Coho salmon has semi-firm flesh and contains less fat than other salmon varieties, so it is more prone to drying out. It is best to use more gentle cooking methods when preparing Coho Salmon. Pan-searing over medium heat or poaching Coho Salmon will ensure the fish does not dry out. Gentle cooking methods will also lock in Coho’s milder flavor.

Coho can be smoked, but you should rather cold-smoke this salmon due to its low-fat content. If you are looking for salmon to make sushi or sashimi, Coho is a good choice because of its mild flavor.

Fresh Fillet of Sockeye Salmon with parsley
Fresh Fillet of Sockeye Salmon with parsley

If you would like to grill salmon, choose Sockeye, as it is the firmest of all salmon varieties. Sockeye Salmon is fatty, with compact flesh, so it can withstand high heat without drying out or flaking. 

Sockeye Salmon is also delicious when baked or slow-roasted in the oven. If you enjoy salmon with a crispy skin, you can fry Sockeye. It can also be used to make sushi and sashimi.

Coho Salmon Has A Milder Taste Compared To Sockeye

As its dark red color would suggest, Sockeye Salmon has an intense flavor. It has a rich texture and can be considered oily and salty.

If you don’t like that fishy taste, you will appreciate Coho Salmon. Coho Salmon has a mild flavor, making it a tasty fish that is not overpowering.

Nutritional Comparison Of Sockeye And Coho

Salmon is well-known to be an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Coho Salmon has the highest amount of EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements. Apart from Omega-3, Coho and Sockeye salmon have other nutrients.

Coho Salmon contains vitamin D and has a higher protein content than Sockeye. It is also lower in calories than Sockeye, making it an excellent choice for those counting calories.

Sockeye Salmon has a higher content of selenium and vitamin B12 than Coho Salmon.

Sockeye Salmon Is Fractionally Cheaper

The price of salmon will depend on whether it was farm-raised or caught wild in the ocean.

Farm-raised salmon is cheaper than salmon caught in the ocean. Other factors contributing to the cost are location and whether you buy fresh or frozen fish.

Wild-caught Coho Salmon is approximately $20 a pound, while wild-caught Sockeye is about $19 a pound.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Type Of Salmon To Eat?

As the name suggests, King Salmon is the largest of the salmon species and is considered to be the best of the best in terms of flavor and texture. Also known as Chinook Salmon King Salmon is the most expensive salmon on the market, and is lauded for its flavorful yet delicate buttery taste.

Of all the varieties of salmon, King Salmon has the highest fat content, making the flesh of this fish moist and giving it a silky, succulent texture.

Are Coho Salmon Good To Eat?

Coho Salmon is a safe fish because it has a light, mild flavor, and firm texture. So, if you don’t like a strong fishy taste or are cooking for guests and are unsure about their taste preferences, Coho Salmon is a good choice. 

It has a medium fat content, so its flesh has a lovely, flaky texture when cooked correctly.

Packed with nutrients, Coho Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is also high in vitamin B12, vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants. 

How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Coho And A Sockeye?

It is easy to distinguish between the flesh of Coho Salmon and that of Sockeye, just by looking. Sockeye Salmon flesh has a distinctive dark red color. The meat of Coho Salmon is lighter in color and is a pink-orange hue.

Coho fish have a shimmering silver skin. This silver skin turns red when the Coho Salmon swim upstream to spawn. Sockeye fish are red and turn a brighter and deeper red when they swim upriver to breed. Their bright red skin and green heads are what sets them apart from other varieties of salmon.

Sockeye Salmon is a bigger fish, it is heavier and longer than Coho. 

What Is The Best Alaskan Salmon To Eat?

Low in sodium and packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, Sockeye Salmon is nutritious and delivers on taste. It has a rich flavor and a dense, firm, moist texture. What’s more, Sockeye Salmon is a good quality fish, but it is not as expensive as King Salmon. For these reasons, Sockeye is the best Alaskan salmon to eat. 

Fishing regulations for Sockeye Salmon make it the best-protected species of salmon.

Final Thoughts

Coho and Sockeye Salmon are filled with Omega-3 and other nutrients, making both fish a healthy addition to any meal. The main differences between the two fish are the color, texture of the flesh, and taste.

Both Coho and Sockeye Salmon are tasty fish. It is essential to know the different features between the two so that you use cooking methods that will bring out the best flavor and texture of each fish.