Cod vs. Haddock: All You Need to Know

Oct 11, 2023 | 3 minute read Comments
60
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!

Comments (60)

JeffB

Feb 25, 2024

born in raised in coastal New England and I’ve always loved haddock dinners and especially haddock sandwiches. My Scottish great grandmother came over here from Arbroath, Scotland on the east coast of Scotland and I’ve read so much about their world renound smokied haddock, they say you can smell this all over the town, has anyone ever tried smoked haddock?

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    David

    Mar 20, 2024

    It’s true. I live in Fife, south from Arbroath. Smokies are heavenly, especially at a public event like a farm show, where they are smoked to order.

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    dian

    Mar 20, 2024

    Born in portland Me., spent summers at our cottage on Sebago. Grew up eating the best fish in the world. Love smoked haddock, haven’t found it anywhere but London and Portland Me. It is delicious. My Nana would make a cream sauce (light), put the smoked haddock pieces in the hot sauce, add some butter and serve it over toast.

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Anthony Patchett

Apr 5, 2023

If the cod has very large flakes. Its hard to eat out of paper as it all falls out of the batter. And if it’s not had seasoned flour on it before the batter . Even adding your own doesn’t work you only season the batter. And it’s not that great a meal. So I feel safer with haddock. It’s more meaty holds to the batter and even if unseasoned still works. plaice I think gives the perfect ratio of batter to fish in your mouth being a flat fish. But sometimes I feel.a bit sickly after a whole piece… UK. Various areas north and South. Currently Woodbridge Suffolk

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Ken

Apr 2, 2023

I live in the middle between Boston and Gloucester so the seafood selection here is great. Being a lover of fish sandwiches and baked fish, both fish are delicious! Its a tie between the two.

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Jim Mortimer

Aug 1, 2022

Well I live near Scarborough and Whitby, old fishing harbours in the U.K. one of your other comments was correct. Haddock every time, “ The Queen of Seafish”. Beautiful and sweet when cooked properly and carefully. My preference is in breadcrumbs, super beautiful.
A close second is Whiting in breadcrumbs, also as good.
A poor third is Cod, never sweet and often coarse, especially if the fillet is cut from a large beast.
Did anyone mention Plaice or smaller Dab, both flatfish best eaten with a knife and fork on a plate. Or even bigger, a Turbot, but you may need a friend to help eat as there is a a lot of it !
Whatever, happy eating……. Jim

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    Bunny Slippers

    Mar 1, 2023

    So funny… I am sitting in Scarborough, Maine, New England, USA eating fried haddock and read your post. Agreed, all across the board! Best to you!

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craz

Jun 28, 2022

I don’t notice a lot of difference in flavor but cod has nice big flakes with more texture so I’d go with that. Hake is good and cheaper than haddock. Love all three. My favorite is mackerel but most people can’t get it because it has a short shelf life

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SeanMck

Jan 4, 2022

Ventured from Yorks to the Dark side ( Lancs) once and found a place that did ‘Indian’ Fish and Chips ( marinated fillets in a spiced batter with a chutney and Coriander dressing) Really good but they swore it was haddock. Not a chance, they were using Cod. Strangely enough a Chippy In Brightlingsea Near Colchester did the best Haddock and chips i ever had. Noticed recently that the size of haddock fillets is not what it used to be…

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Frank Fernands

Dec 24, 2021

I love both cod and haddock baked or fried. My wife, who was born and raised in St. George, Maine, swears she won’t eat cod. Lately, haddock has been scarce and really $. Tonight I baked cod. I don’t know if she knew the difference.

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    Lisa

    Dec 27, 2021

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for your comment. I’m curious to know if your wife knew the difference! I don’t know if I would, to be honest. Please, let us know.

    Lisa

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Robby

Sep 22, 2021

Brit here! I’m from the once greatest and biggest fishing port in Europe (Grimsby)

We eat haddock here. Anyone here who knows anything about a good chippy will eat only haddock, never cod. And battered, no excuses.

Just thought I’d add my two cents! 😀

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    Deborah

    Sep 24, 2021

    Thank you!

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    Linda Hammontree

    Sep 30, 2021

    I’m from Portland, Maine, USA. now living in Oregon state. I totally agree with you. There is no comparison to Haddock as it relates to flavor especially if it is smoked as in Finnan Haddie. My family came from the west side of Dartmoor National Park in the 1640s & settled in Massachusetts. DNA shows that I’m directly related to the Drake Clan.

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    Vic

    Oct 16, 2021

    My late grandmother came from Grimsby. I remember her saying they wouldn’t eat cod except for the ‘cheeks’ and would send it down south instead. I was told it was because it was full of worms. I didn’t really believe this until I worked in a restaurant where we would hand batter cod. On Fridays the restaurant was busy and the tray of cod was constantly out of refrigeration and warming by the chipper, the worms would rise to the surface like they were being ‘snake charmed’. They were pinky red and looked like veins in the white cod flesh. Rest assured they are harmless when ‘cooked’.

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    Lisa

    Oct 18, 2021

    Hi Vic,

    Thank you for sharing. I personally didn’t know about that!

    Lisa

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    Peter Ellis

    Jan 28, 2023

    I earned pocket money as a kid in a chippy on a campsite in East Yorkshire when it rumbling machine broke down.
    The filleted Cod was always fresh but left out of the chillers to warm up before being battered and deep fried.
    I have never seen do many little red worms. Its like a horror movie.
    Always go for Haddock. Much cleaner mid water fish.

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    Alli Lansberry

    Mar 28, 2022

    In our family Cod was considered lower class or garbage fish. We preferred Haddock or Plaice.

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    Stewart

    Jul 9, 2022

    A Geordie lad here . My parents owned a chippy back in the fifties and sixties , cod was the best seller . I have been ruined by my childhood and I relish any salt water fish . As a man who regularly ate wild salmon , poached by my uncles during ‘the run’ , I cannot abide the slimy mouthfeel of farmed salmon !

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Tim

Jun 4, 2021

In my view, cod is a flank steak, while haddock is a sirloin.

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    Iva

    Jun 4, 2021

    Hi Tim,

    Ha! That’s a funny way to put it. To each their own, right? Hope you get to enjoy some “sirloin” soon!

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    marlene

    Sep 15, 2021

    Tim, I couldn’t have said it any better. I found cod to be mushy.

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    Tim White

    Aug 16, 2022

    Right there with you; in the past I’ve compared haddock to cod as comparing sirloin to a hot dog.

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Karen

Apr 18, 2021

The best fishing starts in New Bedford, MA, not Gloucester

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    Albert

    Apr 19, 2021

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    I’ve always heard that the groundfishing was better north of Cape Cod, even though the regulations are tighter. Do you think it’s better down in Buzzards Bay?

    All the best!

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Lisa Eblet

Jan 31, 2021

Haddock hands down full of flavour when cooked right sorry cod is tasteless no flavour at all

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    Albert

    Feb 1, 2021

    Hi Lisa,

    Haddock sure is tasty. It really depends on what’s more fresh, though (as well as what’s sustainably caught).

    All the best!

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    Steven Berg

    Mar 26, 2021

    by sustainable do you mean the EU letting in massive Russian, Japan etc trawlers into British & Irish waters to steal all their resources whilst forcing native fishermen to throw thousands of tonnes of fish back into the ocean which could have been used to feed the ever increasing homeless n starving?

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    Albert

    Mar 26, 2021

    Hi Steven,

    Nope, I mean the exact opposite of that. Trawlers aren’t good for the oceans, no matter what flag they fly under. Throwing fish back is also terrible, but I can see how allowing people to sell fish past their quota would just encourage more overfishing. Perhaps people should be allowed to donate surplus fish to homeless shelters, food banks etc. I’m that would also be difficult to organise, though.

    There’s no perfect system, but the one you mention definitely doesn’t sound sustainable. That’s why we always recommend either catching your fish yourself or paying close attention to how and where it was caught. You can read more here if you’re interested.

    All the best!

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    maris

    May 18, 2022

    So True!.
    Our dodgy Australian Government, have signed lucrative deals with MASSIVE Factory Fishing Vessels, that strip the oceans of EVERYTHING big and small, but Recreational fishers are Fined heavily for the slightest reason.
    The profits go offshore. Foreign owned business and the Govt. allow them to “hunt” in the traditional waters of Indonesian Villages, as well as Antarctic Oceans.
    Everything is processed on board, and no accountability for whay they tske ( or for the slave labor they use.

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Dave

Dec 28, 2020

I love haddock, but, when cooking from home I use sustainably line caught cod, make a homemade batter, and deep fry and serve with homemade oven cooked chips (sometimes skins left on), on a bed of salad (shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomato), with mandatory tartare sauce and got to have a couple of lemon wedges. Is amazing.

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    Albert

    Dec 29, 2020

    Hi Dave,

    Sounds delicious! Can’t beat a classic fish and chips. What do you use for your batter?

    All the best!

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    buster

    Feb 13, 2021

    My brother in law fishes for haddock in the PNW off rhe coast of Washington. They are huge compared to Atlantic offerings …think 200 Lbs. Limit is one fish per day per person though the Indians can possess as many as they can haul in due to some treaty laws.

    Which is “sustainable” … sport fishing or tribal commercial trawling?
    That’s a controversy up there.

    Haddock is best when grilled on wooden planks. Fried? No thanks.

    As for flavor; cod stands no chance.

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    Albert

    Feb 17, 2021

    Hi Buster,

    To my knowledge, Haddock only lives in the Atlantic. Are you maybe thinking of Hake?

    The sustainability question is tough. Native Americans seemed to be doing a very good job of it before European settlers arrived, though.

    All the best!

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    Tim

    Jun 8, 2021

    I believe you’re thinking of halibut, not haddock.

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    Steve

    Jul 6, 2021

    You are probably thinking of halibut. Also very good eating.

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    David

    Mar 17, 2023

    The European white man has decimated the ocean of fish as well as the asians. Native Americans have taken nothing in comparison. Do your homework without prejudice?

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    David

    Jul 30, 2021

    I just don’t like the knowledge that with Cod you are probably eating parasitic worms.

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    Albert

    Aug 3, 2021

    Hi David,

    Fair enough, I can see how it would put people off. It’s not just the case with Cod, though. Pollock, Mackerel, Snapper, Swordfish – pretty much any fish can have parasites, as can many meats. The important thing is to make sure you cook it properly.

    Thanks for getting in touch!

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    dragn

    Oct 7, 2022

    Don’t forget Salmon!
    Needs to be frozen to make sushi, kills the parasites.

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loinerlad

Oct 9, 2020

I live in the north of England (Yorkshire) where haddock is the fish of choice in most fish and chip shops. Skinned, battered, and fried in beef dripping, along with a portion of chunky chips, the two make a simple but extremely tasty traditional ‘take out’ meal in this part of the world. Relatively inexpensive too.

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    Albert

    Oct 12, 2020

    Hi Loinerlad,

    Nothing beats a good Yorkshire fish and chips – especially if it’s fresh Haddock!

    I always assumed it was fried in oil, though? Either way, delicious.

    All the best!

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    loinerlad

    Oct 16, 2020

    Hi Albert, ta for your comments. Vegetable oil for frying seems to be more widely used in other parts of the U.K. (where cod also seems to be favoured over haddock) and in areas where beef dripping would not be used on religious grounds. A friend of mine from Lancashire reckons fish and chips over this side of the Pennines are the best he’s ever tasted, he’d never had haddock and chips fried in beef dripping before until he came for a visit, so that’s praise indeed coming from a Lancastrian! Kind Regards.

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    Albert

    Oct 16, 2020

    Hi Loinerlad,

    Wow, any praise between a Lancastrian to a Yorkshireman is pretty big news. I’ll definitely have to give it a try! 😀

    All the best!

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    Richard Clark

    Nov 29, 2021

    Albert

    In West and North Yorkshire, its fried in beef dripping almost exclusively, gives a lighter, nicer, less stodgy batter.

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    Barry

    Feb 25, 2022

    I live in the south east of England now but when ever I get back to Ireland the first thing I do is get Cod or Haddock and chips cooked in lard and skinned as they do in Ireland and the North of England. It just doesn’t taste at all the same down here.

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Bob Sekhon

Aug 4, 2020

Which is better for curry? I tried Haddock and it failed because it was prone to breaking up. I have not managed to get fresh Atlantic Cod in Australia yet. 😳

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    Sean

    Aug 4, 2020

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for reading.

    Cod is a fantastic option for curry. The flesh is a lot firmer compared to that of a Haddock, and it doesn’t overcook as easily. The only issue is that, as you pointed out, fresh Cod is sometimes hard to come by.

    Hope you find a good supplier soon. We’re sure that the curry will turn out great.

    Have a good one!

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Chris

Jul 17, 2020

I actually prefer Cod over Haddock 😅

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    Sean

    Jul 17, 2020

    Hey Chris,

    We won’t argue with that! Cod are milder tasting, and easier to prepare, so for most people, they will be the preferred choice.

    You can’t go wrong with either of the two, if you ask us, but to each their own, as they say.

    Thanks for sharing, and have a good one!

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    Beada

    Oct 18, 2020

    I’ would also choose cod over
    haddock though I’d leave them both for other white fleshed fish or Pacific salmon. I have bad memories of sitting at our dining room table, with my mother telling me “just one taste” of the breaded haddock she had prepared. She was a good cook, and I was a stubborn New England kid. Each to their own!

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    Albert

    Oct 19, 2020

    Hi Beada,

    Each to their own as you say. Personally, I’m a huge fan of oily fish like Mackerel, but a lot of people can’t stand them. At the same time, I’m not huge on Salmon or Trout, although most people love it.

    All the best!

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Karen Armadillo

May 16, 2020

I agree! Haddock is much better than cod. Taste, texture, quickness of cooking. Any fish around my locale is spendy & difficult to find good quality. Most of my neighbors don’t know the difference between Atlantic & Pacific fish! The salmon is colored pinkish with chemicals! Good fish makes great meals

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    Sean

    May 18, 2020

    Spot on, Karen!

    Good fish makes the greatest of meals, if you ask us.

    Quality fish does cost a bit more, there’s just no getting around it. Thankfully, even someone who doesn’t know the difference between Atlantic and Pacific fish can appreciate the superior taste and texture of a natural, freshly caught fish.

    Thanks for sharing, and have a great day!

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George Stevens

Feb 17, 2020

Nothing like Fresh baked haddock smothered in bread crumbs and butter. Cod isn’t bad but has a tendency to be tougher (less flaky).

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    Kimberly Marques

    Feb 20, 2020

    Totally agree with George!

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    Wolfcub Ware

    Apr 29, 2020

    Couldn’t agree more mate, Haddock is the best!

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    Bettina

    Jan 4, 2021

    what’s the best fish for Beer battered Fish, Cod, Pollock or hedgehog

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    Albert

    Jan 5, 2021

    Hi Bettina,

    Each to their own, but for me, “Hedgehog & Chips” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    By the way, if you were looking for info on Pollock vs Cod, we’ve got a whole separate article on that. No info on adorable garden critters though, I’m afraid.

    All the best!

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    Flappy Haddock

    Jul 10, 2021

    Hi there,
    My favourite is Cod. Haddock does have more flavour and smells more fishy (well it is a fish lol) and very delicate and flaky. Cod is more versatile, like if you wanted to make a fish curry or stew it would handle it better. I prefer the thick white chunks of cod especially when battered with chips. I think Pollock is a cod wannabe and is a cheaper version of it. But each to their own.

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