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Haddock vs. Halibut: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson & Harlon Moss || Updated on March 4, 2024
Haddock and halibut are both popular seafood choices, with haddock being smaller and known for its lean, white flesh and mild flavor, while halibut, significantly larger, offers a firmer, denser texture and a sweet, rich taste.

Key Differences

Haddock is a saltwater fish primarily found in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a key species in the fishing industry, especially in the northeastern United States and Canada, as well as in Europe. Halibut, on the other hand, is one of the largest flatfish species, inhabiting the cold waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans.
Haddock is smaller compared to halibut, typically weighing up to 5 pounds, and is distinguished by its dark lateral line and a black spot on each side of its body. Its flesh is lean, white, and flaky with a subtle sweetness, making it a favorite for frying, baking, and in seafood dishes like fish and chips. Halibut can grow to be quite large, with some individuals weighing over 500 pounds, though market-sized fish are usually between 10 to 50 pounds. The fish has a mild, sweet taste with a firm and dense texture, making it versatile for many cooking methods, including grilling, roasting, and pan-frying. Halibut's larger size and meaty texture often make it a more expensive option compared to haddock.
While both fish are valued for their taste and texture, their culinary uses differ due to their texture and flavor profiles. Haddock is often preferred for its delicate flavor in traditional fish dishes, whereas halibut's meaty texture makes it suitable for a wider range of recipes that require a firmer fish.

Comparison Chart

Size & Weight

Smaller, up to 5 pounds
Larger, can exceed 500 pounds


North Atlantic Ocean
North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans


Lean, white, and flaky
Firm, dense, and meaty


Mild with a subtle sweetness
Sweet and rich

Culinary Uses

Frying, baking, fish and chips
Grilling, roasting, pan-frying


Dark lateral line, black spot on the side
Large, flat body


Generally more affordable
Often more expensive due to size and texture

Haddock and Halibut Definitions


Ideal for light, delicate fish recipes.
Baked haddock with lemon and herbs is a popular dish for its delicate flavor.


Found in cold waters, known for its firm texture.
The dense texture of halibut makes it perfect for roasting or grilling.


Popular in northeastern American and European cuisines.
Haddock is often used in traditional New England seafood chowder.


A large, meaty fish with a sweet, rich flavor.
Grilled halibut steaks are a summertime favorite for seafood lovers.


A lean, flaky white fish known for its mild taste.
The chef prepared a classic beer-battered haddock for the fish and chips dish.


Can grow to be quite large, offering substantial fillets.
The halibut fillet served was impressively thick and satisfying.


Typically smaller and more affordable.
Haddock serves as an economical choice for family dinners.


Versatile in cooking methods.
Pan-seared halibut with a buttery sauce showcases the fish's rich flavor.


Recognized by its distinctive markings.
You can identify haddock by the dark line running along its side and a black spot.


Often pricier due to its size and texture.
Despite its higher price, halibut is a sought-after choice for special occasions.


A food fish (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) of northern Atlantic waters, closely related to and resembling the cod, but having a dark spot above each pectoral fin.


Any of several large edible flatfishes of the genus Hippoglossus and related genera, of northern Atlantic or Pacific waters.


A marine fish, Melanogrammus aeglefinus, of the North Atlantic, important as a food fish.


A large flatfish of the genus Hippoglossus, which sometimes leaves the ocean floor and swims vertically.


A marine food fish (Melanogrammus æglefinus), allied to the cod, inhabiting the northern coasts of Europe and America. It has a dark lateral line and a black spot on each side of the body, just back of the gills. Galled also haddie, and dickie.


A large, northern, marine flatfish (Hippoglossus vulgaris), of the family Pleuronectidæ. It often grows very large, weighing more than three hundred pounds. It is an important food fish.


Lean white flesh of fish similar to but smaller than cod; usually baked or poached or as fillets sauteed or fried


Lean flesh of very large flatfish of Atlantic or Pacific


Important food fish on both sides of the Atlantic; related to cod but usually smaller


Marine food fish of the northern Atlantic or northern Pacific; the largest flatfish and one of the largest teleost fishes


How do you best cook halibut to preserve its texture?

To preserve halibut's texture, avoid overcooking; lightly grilling, baking, or pan-searing works well.

Can you substitute haddock for halibut in recipes?

Yes, but consider the texture difference; haddock is flakier, while halibut is firmer. Adjust cooking times accordingly.

Which fish is healthier, haddock or halibut?

Both are healthy options, rich in protein and low in saturated fat. Halibut may have a slight edge in omega-3 fatty acids, but both are nutritious choices.

Is haddock or halibut better for frying?

Haddock is traditionally preferred for frying, especially in dishes like fish and chips, due to its lean, flaky texture.

What are the sustainability concerns with haddock and halibut?

Sustainability varies by region and fishing practices. It's important to source both from fisheries that use sustainable methods, as indicated by certifications like MSC (Marine Stewardship Council).

Are there any cooking methods that are not recommended for these fish?

Deep-frying can overwhelm the delicate flavor of haddock, while overcooking halibut (regardless of method) can dry it out due to its low fat content.

What distinguishes haddock from cod?

While both are white, flaky fish, haddock typically has a slightly sweeter flavor than cod and can be recognized by its dark lateral line and a distinctive black spot on its side.

Why is halibut more expensive than haddock?

Halibut's higher price is due to its larger size, meatier texture, and the demand for its rich flavor.

Can haddock and halibut be eaten raw in dishes like sushi or ceviche?

Halibut is more commonly used raw in dishes like sushi due to its texture. Haddock can be used in ceviche but is less commonly served raw otherwise.

Are there any cultural or traditional dishes that feature halibut?

Halibut is featured in various cultural dishes, including Scandinavian and Native American cuisines, often grilled, smoked, or used in stews.

What are the key nutritional differences between haddock and halibut?

Both fish are low in fat and high in protein. Halibut contains more omega-3 fatty acids, making it slightly higher in calories.

Is haddock suitable for grilling?

Haddock can be grilled, but due to its lean and flaky texture, it's best to use a grilling basket or foil to prevent it from falling apart.

What makes halibut a preferred fish for chefs?

Chefs prefer halibut for its firm texture, rich flavor, and versatility in culinary applications, from grilling to roasting.

What's the best way to thaw frozen halibut?

The best way to thaw frozen halibut is in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.

How do you store fresh haddock and halibut?

Store both in the coldest part of your refrigerator and consume within two days, or freeze immediately for longer storage.

Can haddock be considered an eco-friendly seafood choice?

Haddock can be eco-friendly if sourced from fisheries that follow sustainable practices, particularly those certified by environmental organizations.

How can you tell when halibut is perfectly cooked?

Halibut is perfectly cooked when it's opaque throughout and flakes easily with a fork, usually reaching an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).

How does the flavor of haddock change with cooking methods?

The mild flavor of haddock can become more pronounced when grilled or smoked, while frying or baking tends to preserve its delicate taste.

What are common seasonings or marinades for haddock?

Lemon, butter, dill, and parsley are popular choices that complement haddock's mild flavor without overwhelming it.

How does overcooking affect halibut?

Overcooking halibut can dry it out due to its low fat content, making it tough and less flavorful. It's crucial to monitor cooking times closely.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Co-written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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