The 30 Best Tasting Fish: Complete Chart

I love eating fish for both the taste and the health benefits. But not all fish are created equal, and I really like to eat the best tasting fish. Here’s …

I love eating fish for both the taste and the health benefits.

But not all fish are created equal, and I really like to eat the best tasting fish.

Here’s my list of the very best eating fish out there. I have put them together in a big table to make it easy to read.

And for the top five or so fish in both saltwater and freshwater I have gone into a bit more detail about the best ways to cook and eat these species.

How These Fish Are Rated

I’ve given each of the top 30 an overall ranking and also included a column rating the taste and texture based on my own experiences. Remember, your mileage may vary so don’t get upset if your very favorite eating fish isn’t on here or I’ve rated highly a fish that you don’t like!

I have explained the rating categories here below:

Taste Rating

This is about rating the type of taste the diner will experience rather than the overall eating quality.

  • Mild – a subtle flavor that is not overly “fishy” and is good for people who enjoy delicate flavors or are just starting to enjoy seafood
  • Medium – a typical fish flavor and lends itself to a variety of cooking techniques but isn’t strong enough to put people off
  • Strong – a distinct strong flavor usually found in fish such as mackerel with oily flesh and also in other pelagic fish

Texture Rating

Texture is fairly self explanatory and describes the firmness of the flesh in the fillet or whole fish

  • Delicate – soft textured fish that needs to be handled and cooked with care
  • Medium – a relatively solid flesh that can be filleted easily and handled
  • Firm – a dense and  robust texture that’s more reminiscent of steak or other red meats

Overall Rating

A – An excellent eating fish

B – A highly regarded eating fish

C – Considered good to eat by some, but not prized for its food qualities

D – A poor eating fish with 

E – Don’t bother

Best Tasting Fish Ranking Chart

FishTasteTextureRating
AmberjackMildMediumA
BarracudaStrongFirmB
Black DrumMediumMediumB-
Bluefin TunaMediumMediumA
Bluegill (more here on eating bluegill)MediumMediumA
Black Sea Bass
(Sea Bass)
MildFirmA+
BonitoStrongMediumB-
Catfish (more here on eating catfish)MildMediumB+
CobiaMildFirmB
CodMediumMediumB
Crappie MildDelicateA
FlounderMildMediumA+
GrouperMildMedium A+
HalibutMediumFirmA+
HogfishMediumMediumA+
Mahi Mahi (dorado or dolphinfish)StrongFirmB
MarlinStrongFirmB
PerchMediumMediumA+
PompanoMediumFirmB
Redfish (red drum)
[more here on eating redfish)
MediumFirmB
Salmon (more here on eating salmon)StrongMediumA
Sheepshead
(more here on eating sheepshead)
StrongFirmA
Snook (more here on eating snook)MediumFirm
Spanish mackerelStrongFirmB+
Spotted Sea TroutMediumFirmA
SwordfishStrongFirmB
Trout (more here on eating trout)MediumMediumB
WalleyeMediumFirmB
Yellowfin TunaStrongMediumA+
YellowtailMediumMediumA+

The 7 Best Tasting Saltwater Fish

1.Salmon

What does undercooked salmon look like feature image
Salmon is beautiful grilled or fried

Salmon is an amazing versatile fish that can be served in a range of ways: raw as sushi or sashimi, grilled, smoked and baked.

Salmon fillets have a firm texture and the flesh has rich, slightly oily taste.

Flavors such as lemon, dill and Asian sauces go well with salmon.

From a health point of view, salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and can be considered a health fishy to eat.

And in terms of sustainability, salmon farms  – while they have their negative effects on the environment – ensure there is a plentiful supply of salmon and allow for wild salmon populations to be maintained for the benefit of the ecosystem and recreational anglers.

2.Yellowfin Tuna

Sashimi at the Tsukiji Markets - Tokyo Japan
Yellowfin tuna sashimi at the Tsukiji markets in Tokyo (Unsplash)

Yellowfin tuna has a mild, slightly sweet taste with a firm texture. The flesh is a translucent red color that can be seen to best effect when it is served raw.

In fact, while it can be cooked, yellowfin tuna is best served as sashimi or sushi to take advantage of its firm texture and sweet and slightly buttery taste.

Yellowfin tuna is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals and is definitely one of the best tasting fish there is. 

It is important to choose sustainably caught yellowfin tuna to support healthy ocean ecosystems.

3.Black Sea Bass

image
Black sea bass fillet

Black sea bass (also known as just sea bass) has a mild, delicate flavor with a slightly sweet taste and a firm texture. It is often described as having a buttery flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

 Black sea bass is a versatile fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, baking, and frying.

It is best paired with light seasonings and fresh herbs to enhance its natural flavor. Black sea bass is often served with lemon, garlic, and parsley, and pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including vegetables, rice, and potatoes.

Black sea bass is not overfished but to ensure that you are consuming sustainably caught sea bass, it is recommended to look for fish that have been certified by third-party organizations, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). These organizations certify fisheries and aquaculture operations that meet strict sustainability criteria so you can enjoy what is one of the best tasting fish there is.

4. Yellowtail

Yellowtail is a firm, mild and sweet tasting fish that is both underrated and versatile. I love it as sushi and sashimi (look for it in Japanese restaurants as hiramasa). 

It goes just as well in curries and various Asian dishes and it can equally well be grilled with a bit of salt and oil and enjoyed with either lemon or soy sauce and grated daikon (Japanese style).

In fact it is very hard to spoil a nice yellowtail fillet.

Yellowtail is an abundant fish that is also produced via aquaculture and is a sustainable fish to eat.

5. Grouper

Grouper has a mild, sweet flavor with a firm texture. It is often described as having a buttery taste with a hint of nuttiness. 

Grouper can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, and frying. It is best paired with light seasonings and fresh herbs to enhance its natural flavor. 

Lemon, garlic, and thyme are popular choices for seasoning grouper. Grouper is versatile and can be served as a main dish or in fish tacos, with chili and lime, or in  sandwiches, or salads.

6. Halibut

Halibut Fillet
Halibut Fillet

Halibut has a mild, sweet taste with a firm, flaky texture. It is often described as having a clean, fresh flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty. 

The flavor of halibut is not overpowering, making it a versatile fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, and frying. 

Halibut is best paired with light seasonings and fresh herbs to enhance its natural flavor. Lemon, garlic, and dill are popular choices for seasoning halibut.

Halibut is a popular fish for fish and chips, and it also pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including vegetables and rice.

It is a really popular fish with recreational fishers and a big halibut (they come in record sizes)can produce many fillets to feed a family for a week or two!

7. Hogfish

Hogfish
Hogfish

Hogfish – a type of snapper –  is a really popular eating fish in the areas in which it is caught. It is a reef dwelling fish that eats crustaceans and takes on that same nutty flavor – not dissimilar to lobster and scallops – with sweet flesh.

That makes it  really versatile fish to cook with that can be grilled simply or fried, served in fish tacos or any other way you care to mention.

Many people rank hogfish as their favorite fish to eat.

The 5 Best Tasting Freshwater Fish

1.Crappie

spawning crappie 1
Crappie are beautiful to eat and easy to catch

Crappie one of America’s favorite tablefish and one of the best tasting fish to be found in freshwater. 

It’s common, easy to catch and has a wonderful mild, sweet flavor and tender, flaky texture. 

The meat of crappie is white, lean, and low in fat, making it a healthy choice for those who are watching their fat intake. Crappie is also versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways, including frying, baking, and grilling. 

There are few better ways to end a fishing trip than with a feed of fresh crappie fillets and that’s why we fishermen and women love this mild tasting fish.

2. Bluegill

Another name for bluegill featured image
Bluegill prove goods things come in small packages

Bluegill, like crappie, are a popular panfish noted for their sweet taste.

While they are a bit smaller than crappie, bluegill have a great flavor and are keenly sought after by recreational anglers and fish lovers in the kitchen.

The fact that anglers are prepared to take the time to prepare what is ultimately a small fish shows how well regarded bluegill is to eat and many people regard it as the best tasting fish there is in freshwater.

Bluegill are great grilled, fried and baked and any other way you care to cook them.

3. Catfish

Fried catfish with lemon 1 1
Fried catfish with lemon 1 1

Catfish are another great freshwater fish and a really beloved fish among southern anglers in particular. They are at the other extreme to crappie in that one fish produces a lot of large fillets.

Catfish has a mild, sweet taste with a firm, white flesh that is slightly flaky. It doesn’t have a strong fishy taste.

The flavor of catfish is not overpowering, making it a versatile fish that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including frying, baking, and grilling. Catfish is often seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices, such as paprika, garlic, and thyme, to enhance its natural flavor. 

It is a popular fish for Southern-style dishes, such as catfish po’ boys and catfish gumbo, and it also pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including coleslaw and hush puppies.

4. Perch

Crankbait vs Jerkbait Crankbait with two trebles and Perch
The bigger the perch the sweeter the flavor

Perch are many freshwater angler’s favorite table fish. They are easy to catch and certainly one of the best tasting fish you’ll find.

Fresh perch has moist, translucent, deep-pink flesh with a mild, sweet flavor and firm but flaky texture. It is a lean and healthy fish to eat that can be grilled, baked and fried.

The interesting thing about this delicious fish is the biggest perch are often the tastiest, which is the reverse of what you find with many species where the older fish aren’t necessarily the best tasting fish.

5. Trout

trout fillets on a cutting board eating
Trout fillets

Trout is a popular freshwater fish for the table. Trout resident in lakes usually have pink colored translucent flesh that is firm and sweet. In rivers, the flesh tends to be white as a result of fewer crustaceans such as crawfish in their diet. 

Trout are fun to catch on lures or fly and great eating when prepared the right way.

Trout are best cooked as a whole fish grilled in aluminum foil on a BBQ with various flavorings including tyme, lemon, button and bacon thrown in the gut cavity to season it.

The Best Fresh Fish to Eat for Health Reasons

Healthline rates salmon, cod, mackerel among its healthiest fresh fish to eat for its high levels of mega three fatty acids and other important nutrients. These are also some of the tastiest fish there are! The other health fish to consider are the lean fish you find in freshwater – crappie, bluegill and perch are good examples. They are very low in fat, but still very tasty.

Are Sea Bass and Black Sea Bass the Same Fish?

Yes, sea bass and black sea bass are the sea fish: centropristis striata. It’s a sweet tasting and popular fish found from Maine down to Florida on the Atlantic Coast of the US and caught commercially. 

FAQs

What Fish is the Least Fishy Tasting Fish?

Not all of us like the real fishy taste you get with a grilled mackerel or even a fillet of salmon.

The least fishy tasting fish are typically those that have a mild, delicate flavor and a light, flaky texture. 

Some examples of fish that are known for having a mild taste include:

  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Halibut
  • Haddock
  • Sole
  • Trout

These milder fish are often described as having a clean, fresh taste that is not overpowering or overly fishy. 

They are versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, broiling, and frying. When cooked properly, these fish can be incredibly flavorful and delicious, making them a great choice for those who may be hesitant to try fish due to its strong taste.

What Are the Best Fish To Eat Raw?

Many fish are good to eat raw, although care needs to be taken in preparation (it’s safest to eat raw fish that has been snap frozen to a temperature when all parasites present are killed – known as “sashimi grade”).

Some of my favorite fish to eat raw, either as sushi or sashimi, are:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Kingfish
  • Scallops
  • Snapper

I also like to eat fish “raw” as ceviche, which involves “cooking” the fish by marinating it in lime juice for several hours. It doesn’t cook it in a temperature sense, but the flesh will turn white and it is safe to eat.

What are the Best Fish to Put in a Curry?

I really like yellowtail to put in a curry. The firm flesh tends to hold together nicely without flaking and turning into a mess. It has a mild sweet flavor that doesn’t clash with the chilli flavor of the curry and the spices in it.

What are the Best Fish to Grill?

For grilled fish, I really enjoy the oily type fish – Spanish mackerel, wahoo, King mackerel. Any of those silver fish go really well heavily salted then grilled over high heat. No need to add sauces or flavors as the fish has a rich enough taste. Serve with a bit of lemon or soy sauce to cut the oily taste.

More Info On Eating Fish

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AUTHOR
Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.