Cod vs. Haddock: All You Need to Know
Apr 18, 2019 | 3 minute read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cod and Haddock are two of the world’s most popular food fish. From fish and chips to pies and tacos, these tasty Groundfish are in many of our favorite foods. But what’s the difference between the two species? How do you recognize Cod vs. Haddock? Which one is more sustainable? Learn the answers to all these questions and more.

Cod vs. Haddock Identification

A comparison of Cod vs Haddock, showing how to tell them apart. Cod is above, Haddock is below. To the left, text reads "1. Lateral Line: light on Cod, dark on Haddock. 2. Body color: green-brown on Cod, dark grey on Haddock. 3. Front Dorsal Fin: Rounded on Cod, tall and pointed on Haddock. 4. Body Size and Shape" Cod are bigger and rounder, Haddock are smaller and slimmer."

Cod and Haddock are close relatives, so they look pretty similar. However, there are a few easy ways to tell them apart:

  • Lateral lines: Both fish have lines down their sides. Cod have a white or cream line, while the line on a Haddock is dark grey or black.
  • Body color: Cod and Haddock have different colored skin, especially on their upper half. Cod have speckled, grey-brown skin, Haddock are dark grey or black.
  • Front dorsal fins: Haddock have a long, pointed front dorsal fin. All the dorsal fins on Cod are roughly the same length.
  • Body size and shape: Cod are generally bigger and fatter than Haddock. Cod fillets are also thick, while Haddock fillets are thin and flat.

Cod vs. Haddock Taste

A portion of fish and chips, with fries fish, french fries, and mushy peas. Cod and Haddock are the most traditional fish for this meal.

Haddock and Cod can be fun to fish for, but there’s one real reason people catch them: They’re delicious. Both fish are from the same family and they live in similar waters, so they probably taste the same, right? Not quite.

Cod has a more mild, clean taste. Haddock is more flavorful and “fishy.” However, the difference between Cod and Haddock is more about shape and texture than taste. Cod fillets are thicker and firmer. They’re great for grilling or searing because they don’t overcook as easily. Haddock fillets are thinner and more fragile. They cook through quickly and are ideal for frying.

Is Cod or Haddock More Sustainable?

Sustainability is a common concern these days, and rightly so. Choosing sustainable fish isn’t just good for the oceans, it supports communities that are managing their fisheries responsibly. The most sustainable way to enjoy fish is to catch it yourself. This way, you’ll be using techniques with little or no by-catch, and will only catch as much fish as you want.

If you feel like grabbing some Groundfish, the best fishing starts just north of Boston, in historic port towns like Gloucester, and goes all the way up to Labrador in Canada.

A group of anglers dressed in blue shirts and caps. The anglers are sitting at the back of a charter boat holding up some Haddock that they have just caught

Catching your own fish is more fun and more sustainable than buying it in a shop.

A lot of commercially-caught Cod and Haddock is unsustainable. Atlantic Cod, in particular, is often overfished. However, it varies with where and how the fish was caught. As a general rule, look for line-caught fish with the MSC Blue Label. If you want to be sure your fish is sustainable, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has guides for all common food fish in the US.

Which is Better, Cod or Haddock?

Cod and Haddock are both delicious, it just depends on how you cook them. They look pretty similar, but they’re easy to tell apart once you know how. Both species are overfished in many places, particularly in the Atlantic. Choose sustainably-sourced fish, or head out and catch your own for the freshest taste and the smallest impact on the oceans.

What do you prefer, Cod or Haddock? What’s your favorite way to cook each fish? Do you catch them yourself? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments below – we love to hear from you!

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