What Does Trout Taste Like And Why?

Sometimes there are foods that you are curious about, and have never had the opportunity to try. It can be a big step to buy a portion of food that you have no experience in, and take that gamble. I know I don’t feel like taking that gamble, and would much rather go for a sure thing, or at very least know what I am getting myself into. That is why I find it useful to understand a flavor of food before I dive in or try to make a dish with it. It helps me appreciate the food and plan a meal that will compliment its flavor.

With so many kinds of fish in the world, it is unlikely that you have tried all. In fact, it is pretty common not to have tried that many. If you have never tried trout, you are lucky, because I would like to answer what trout tastes like today.

What does trout taste like?

There are a few different kinds of trout that you may be able to find depending on your location. One of the most accessible kinds of trout usually is rainbow trout. There are other varieties that you may be able to acquire such as steelhead, browns, and brooks.

The best place to start with the flavor profile of a trout is with salmon. If you are familiar with a salmon, you will have a good jumping off point to pinpoint where trout is on the scale of fish flavors. Some others have described the flavor of trout to be a gamey fish, that can be considered the chicken of fish.


Trout and salmon have a few similarities regarding their meat. They are both pink meats and have similar profiles of flavor. Some say that saltwater and river trout have a closer relationship to the flavor of salmon, and find the freshwater trouts blander and closer to catfish in flavor. Either way, there is a relationship to salmon in profile, even if subtle in the freshwater and more present in varieties such as steelhead.

The reason these kinds of fish vary in taste is due to a variety of conditions. Freshwater versus saltwater can affect the flavor of these fish. Saltwater triggers the production of amino acids that give more flavors. Glycine is a sweet acid that is produced this way as well as glutamate, which is more savory. Freshwater fish tends to lack these chemicals, so the flavor is milder, and some would call it bland.


Fat content and fish activity can also affect the flavor. The more movement and activity a fish gets, the muscles change the structure and give more oxygen-storing pigments which are also responsible for a great deal of flavor. This is why farm fish that do not get a great deal of moments do not have as much flavor.

While steelhead has a flavor that is comparable with salmon and different varieties may have a bit of a subtle flavor, there are farmed varieties that are even more brand. Many people do not like eating trout because they have experienced the farmed variety and have had a bad experience. Most fish that has been farmed do have a lack of flavor and turn people off.

This means that there is a hierarchy in the flavor profile in kinds of trout. The best place to get the most flavorful and delicious kinds of trout are rivers. These kinds of wild river trout have the most robust and complex flavor. The brands of trout that come from lakes have less flavor, and some actually find them quite distasteful, and lacking in any flavor at all. Farmed trout are even less favored, so you are best off getting wild river trout such as steelhead. In general, the more flavorful kind of trout is the steelhead, and the flavor is pretty comparable to salmon.

While the profile of the trout is nearer to salmon, it does differ. Overall trout has a more light and fine flavor that is more delicate and nuanced. Salmon can often tolerate being prepared in many different ways, and while it certainly can be spoiled by bad preparation, you have a bit more leeway when you are exploring flavor matches.

Trout is a great fish that is best when treated simply and with a bit of love. The flavor of trout is best served if paired with a simple oil and lemon combo. Trout is best if it is prepared in a simple pan fried manner or grilled way. The olive oil pairs very well and can bring out the great natural flavors that the trout has.


Cooking trout in other ways can overwhelm the natural flavors and drown it out. Although with this proper technique and light additions you can accentuate and bring out those natural flavors that you will be looking for. A light crust made from salt and flour can also be a great addition to this particular kind of fish.

The key to accompanying flavors with trout is light. It is not a fish that pairs well with heavy and over complicated profiles. The flavor of the trout is something you will want to experience fully and just work to enhance the flavors.

A subtle flavor that should be treated lightly.

Trout is reminiscent of salmon if it is a nice steelhead from a river. Lake and farm varieties are far blander and not nearly as flavorful. Some describe the flavor as gamier with a chicken like quality. Trout should be treated lightly and with care when cooking to preserve the flavor. Cooking with light oils or a bit of lemon is ideal. A light fry is possible, but anything too intrusive will drown out the flavor and leave it bland or taking on the flavor of the cooking method rather than bringing its profile to the meal.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.

Helen Harris

Helen’s your eternally cheerful, next-door suburban mom that genuinely enjoys sharing with the whole neighborhood her latest fresh-from-the-oven culinary creations. She’s also a treasure trove of kitchen hacks and DIY advice if you have the patience to listen to her life story on repeat and the latest news on her son, Marv, and on how great he’s doing on the college football team. Fortunately, she agreed to leave her kitchen wisdom in writing as well when one of our editors with saintlike patience asked her to.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Greta Gradinaru - May 3, 2017

Hello! I really appreciated your article, but I couldn’t find the answer to the question that brought me on your website… So, I sometimes marinate the salmon in brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. At the end I add garlic. Yesterday I bought trout because it was less expensive than the salmon. I thought that trout and salmon have the same texture and taste, so I used the same ingredients to marine it before putting it in the oven. The result was a disaster. The trout cooked that way tastes like gasoline…Could you explain what happened?

Christopher faria - July 21, 2017

If I am cooking rainbow trout what should I do to give it flavor? Can I add a certain type of seasoning? What should I add to it?


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