Sockeye Salmon Vs Atlantic Salmon – All Major Differences

Today we will look at all the major differences between Sockeye Salmon and Atlantic Salmon. So if you wanna know about sockeye salmon vs Atlantic salmon then keep reading.

We love salmon. But have you ever gone salmon shopping? There are so many varieties of salmon that picking one type can get confusing and overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for.

The two most common salmon found in supermarkets are the Sockeye salmon and the Atlantic salmon. While both these salmon varieties may look similar, they are quite distinct and can significantly impact how your meal tastes.

Join us as we take a closer look at the key differences between Atlantic and sockeye salmon so you can pick the perfect fish for your next meal.

What is Sockeye Salmon?

Now if you ask me how to distinguish between Sockeye salmon and Atlantic salmon then I would say look at the color of salmon. Sockeye salmon has bright red-orange skin and that’s one of the many factors that makes it different from Atlantic salmon.

And since it is in red-orange skin, this feature has also earned it the nickname “red salmon”. However, the species is born with a blue-black color that gradually changes as the fish travels upstream.

Also, the size of sockeye salmon is very compact, it is only 12-14 inches. And are thinner and smaller and found in the Northern Pacific Ocean and rivers that discharge in it.

What is Atlantic Salmon?

There is a reason why we call it Atlantic salmon, and it is because this species of salmon is only found in the Atlantic ocean and that’s what makes it unique.

And another noticing factor is the size, Atlantic salmon are huge in size and way larger than sockeye. Where the size of sockeye salmon was 12-14 inches max, the Atlantic salmon has a length of 3-4 feet, amazing, right?

They are nutrient-packed, dense, and are also known as the “king of fish.” They have shiny, silver skin and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater. Atlantic Salmon are fish farmed and hardly found in the wild.

Sockeye Salmon Vs. Atlantic Salmon

Sockeye Salmon Vs Atlantic Salmon

While both fishes are salmon, each has its own unique appearance, flavor, and nutritional profile. While these characteristics of sockeye and Atlantic salmon are defined by genes, the way they spend their life and hunt for food, as well as human intervention are also major contributing factors.

The sockeye salmon faces various challenges in nature, traveling thousands of miles in the challenging marine ecosystem, whereas Atlantic salmon are mostly raised through aquaculture. While sockeyes have immeasurable waters to explore, their Atlantic relatives live in confined spaces.

Additionally, while sockeyes hunt for their food, Atlantic salmon get pre-made pellets that are engineered to increase the mass of the fish.

As we can see, the two species of salmon could not be more different from each other. Here is a detailed comparison of the two salmon species.

What are the differences between Atlantic and sockeye salmon?

So, now let’s quickly discuss all the differences between the Atlantic and sockeye salmon, so that you can make a better choice in selecting the best salmon for your next food recipe.


If I have to talk about my personal preferences then I would say sockeye tastes more flavourful, it is less oily and has an overall complex flavor.

If you are like me who love strong flavor then I am sure you will love sockeye salmon more. Its flavor is so domineering that the meat will hold it even against spices.

Talking about Atlantic salmon it is more on the bland side, and if you don’t love strong and complex flavor then definitely you will love Atlantic salmon.

Although its overall taste is very mild since this fish has a nutrient-deficient diet, this also allows more room for seasoning with spices and herbs.

Also, it is soft, so you can easily chew it. Now it’s up to what satisfies your taste buds the most, in my case, I like the flavor of sockeye salmon the most.


As mentioned previously, sockeye has a better nutrient profile. It is more nutrient-packed, high in calories and proteins, and low in unsaturated fats. While Atlantic salmon is also high in calories, it has comparatively lower amounts of protein and high unsaturated fats.

Both species have marginal differences in calorie content. A 3-ounce filet of Sockeye offers 140 calories, and the same amount of Atlantic salmon offers 150 calories.

However, when it comes to protein, sockeye wins. A 100 gram of sockeye meat will give you 26 grams of protein, while the same amount of Atlantic salmon will only give you around 19 grams of protein.

Also, while sockeye has high fat content at 5 g per 3-ounce serving, Atlantic has only 3 grams. But this does not make Atlantic more beneficial because, of these 3 grams, only 0.5 grams is saturated, and around 1 gram is polyunsaturated. As opposed to that, sockeye has only 0.3 grams of polyunsaturated fats.

Health Benefits

Now in this segment, I consider Sockeye salmon as the winner. Sockeye is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have lots of health benefits as you already know.

And unlike Atlantic salmon, sockeye is a wild and diverse fish, it can be found in various oceans, not particular to any ocean, which makes them safer.

And I suggest you avoid Atlantic salmon in recipes where you eat raw salmon because it is a farmed fish, and we all know that farmed fish do not live in the best condition, and farmed fish have a comparatively higher risk of contamination.

Additionally, farmed salmons may have a higher content of pesticides and toxins, which are very damaging to our health.


While appearance may look like a trivial thing, in the case of salmon, it holds great importance.

The diet of fish will define the color of the meat. Sockeye feeds on tiny fishes, brine shrimp, krill, and plankton, so they have a more diverse diet. This gives them a deep red color. In salmon, the deeper the color, the higher the content of the antioxidant astaxanthin, a carotenoid.

Atlantic salmon, on the other hand, has a synthetic diet of carotenoids and thus develops a pale pink color.


The textures of the two species, of which one is wild and another aqua-farmed, are going to be different.

Sockeyes have to hunt for their food. As such, they will not always get the most nutritious food to feast on. Thus, they are leaner with a lesser fish oil content. They have a compact body and have to travel upstream against the current, which also gives them a firmer meat texture. The fish also has medium-sized flakes and lean quality.

Atlantic salmon are fed engineered or “well-defined” food (typically made from soy and corn). Their diet is purposely made high-fat, and thus the fish meat has a higher content of fat.

Atlantic fish are also huge, almost double the size of sockeye, so their meat is thicker. They have larger flakes, which are interspersed with fat deposits.

The fat deposits can be seen as white lines in between flakes. This fat deposition gives the meat the signature thick, buttery, “melt in the mouth” texture, making it the preferred choice of many.


Since we now know how these two are different from each other, one more area where they are different is the pricing. Now the pricing really depends on a number of factors such as location, availability, demand, etc.

However, where I live, a pound worth of sockeye salmon will cost you around $25-$30 whereas the Atlantic salmon will roughly cost you $10 or $15 per pound.

Sockeye salmon is full of flavor and firm texture which makes it overall expensive and it is also rare, the availability of sockeye is lower than the Atlantic salmon which is why it is more expensive.

Which is better Atlantic salmon or sockeye salmon?

Sockeye Salmon Vs Atlantic Salmon

There is no straight answer which is the best or which is not, in my opinion, the sockeye salmon is better because of various reasons.

For me flavors matter a lot, I don’t really like bland flavors, and for me sockeye salmon is the clear winner in this category, sockeye salmon has a strong and more complex flavor and better nutritional value than Atlantic salmon.

Sockeye salmon is packed with full of nutrition, it is full of omega-3 fatty acids and unlike the farmed Atlantic salmon, there is very less risk of contamination with sockeye salmon.

So overall, I consider sockeye salmon better than Atlantic salmon because of above-discussed factors.

Sockeye Salmon Vs. Atlantic Salmon – Are they both Dyed?

Sockeye Salmon Vs Atlantic Salmon

Well, Sockey salmon is naturally red-orange color whereas the Atlantic salmon has a gray shade and later farmers dye them to make it marketable.

Many people think that the Atlantic salmon is also of red-orange color but that’s not true, sockeye salmon is the one that has natural red-orange color.

Also Read:

  1. Does Salmon Make You Gassy?


I hope I made all of your doubts regarding sockeye salmon vs Atlantic salmon clear. Now it is up to you which salmon you want to choose.

Both species are different from each other in terms of taste, colors, texture, etc.

I made all the points clear and now it is your turn to choose the best salmon for you. I personally prefer sockeye because of its flavor and high nutritional value. But you can also consider the Atlantic because of its cheap price and since it has mild flavor you can add herbs and give it the taste you want.

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