Trout vs salmon – everything you need to know about two nutritional powerhouses
September 27, 2023
Salmon is one of the most in-demand fish in the world; it’s delicious, works well in all kinds of dishes and cuisines, and has brilliant health benefits. No wonder it has so many fans! Trout – salmon’s close cousin – is perhaps lesser known but is no less flexible or tasty. In this blog we’re diving into the key differences between the two, and the benefits of trout vs salmon for seafood lovers.
Trout vs Salmon: one big family
Both trout and salmon are part of the Salmonidae family, which also includes char, taimen, freshwater whitefish, grayling and lenok. But although they are close relations, trout and salmon behave very differently in the wild.
They are both migratory fish, which means that they don’t stay in one location for their entire lives.
Trout are typically born upstream in freshwater, and then migrate downstream as maturing adults. They will spend the majority of their lives in the freshwater lake, river or wetland they migrated to, with the exception of a trip back upstream to spawn.
Salmon are also born upstream in freshwater but some sub-species will then migrate downstream and remain in freshwater, while others will migrate to the ocean where the water is salty. Both types of salmon return to the rivers they came from when they are ready to spawn, typically when they are between one and five years of age.
To add a complication, both the trout and salmon species are so broad that both have sub-species that live in the ocean and both have sub-species that spend their whole lives in freshwater. So it’s impossible to generalise about these fish!
However, they do have some traits in common. In the wild, both eat aquatic insects and crustaceans in their youth, progressing to eating small fish as adults. And both are in turn eaten by animals like brown bears, otters, sea birds, birds of prey and, of course, human beings.
Trout vs salmon: seafood farming
Salmon is one of the most widely farmed and widely eaten fish in the world! Salmon farming ensures that global demand for this delicious fish is met, and takes pressure off wild stock to fulfil this need.
The big difference between the way that salmon and trout are farmed is that salmon farming mimics the transition between fresh and salt water that the fish would experience in the wild, whereas because trout live solely in freshwater, this isn’t necessary in trout farms.
The ASC standards cover both salmon and trout farming, alongside many other species. Any farm that wants to use our green label on their products must take environmental protection and social responsibility extremely seriously. This includes following our species-specific standards for salmon and trout. So be sure to look for the label when you buy your salmon and trout to make sure you are buying responsibly farmed fish!
Trout vs salmon: nutrition
Both salmon and trout are oily fishes, which are recommended as part of a healthy diet because they are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s, which in fish are made up of DHA and EPA acids, can help support heart health and reduce inflammation in the body, and are considered essential to human growth.
Fish in general is also a brilliant source of protein, which helps fuel the body with energy and also helps reduce the risk of disease through the creation of antibodies.
Salmon and trout provide very similar amounts of protein. In a comparison between 100g of farmed Atlantic salmon and 100g of farmed rainbow trout, the salmon provided 20.4g of protein and the trout provided 19.9g, so there’s no great significance between the two.
Where salmon and trout differ more significantly is in the fat content. In a 100g serving, farmed Atlantic salmon provides 13.4g of fat versus farmed rainbow trout which has 6.18g of fat. In terms of Omega 3s, the same 100g serving of salmon offers 1.96g of combined DHA and EPA fatty acids, whereas the 100g of trout offers just 0.73g.
A note on farmed fish in comparison with wild fish: studies have shown that farmed salmon typically contains slightly more protein than wild salmon, and that overall farmed fish contains more Omega 3 than wild fish due to its higher fat content. To read more about the differences between farmed and wild fish click here.
Trout vs salmon: taste
Salmon and trout are both delicious and easy to cook. Trout typically has a milder taste than salmon, but they are very similar in all other respects when it comes to their preparation.
Does that mean you can swap salmon for trout in recipes, and vice versa? Yes! Trout and salmon are interchangeable in recipes, but there are a few things to bear in mind when you swap them:
🐟 because trout has a milder taste you may need to use slightly more spice or other flavouring with trout than you would typically use for salmon to achieve the same end result
🐟 if your recipe calls for a certain quantity of salmon, or for the skin to be left on during cooking, replicate that in your trout. This will allow you to use the same recommended cooking times and methods.