Cod vs. Haddock: All You Need to Know
Mar 12, 2021 | 3 minute read Comments
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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 (41)
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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

      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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  • 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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  • 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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