Haddock vs. Halibut: What's the Difference?

In the haddock vs. halibut battle, both size up as delicious white fish that belong in your culinary arsenal. However, they sport subtle differences and unique characteristics that may dictate your cooking methods, side preparations, and drink pairings.

If you want to expand your knowledge of white fish, you’ve come to the right place. Learn the differences between haddock and halibut and how best to prepare them.

What’s the Difference Between Haddock and Halibut?

While haddock and halibut may appear similar at face value, these culinary gems demonstrate ample differences. Here’s an overview of each fish:




Physical Appearance

Smaller with silver-grey coloration and a black tripe

Longer with a flat, diamond-shaped body


Cold, deep waters and rocky seabeds

Deeper waters and muddy ocean floors


Generally smaller, commonly 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) in length

Larger, can reach significant sizes, with some exceeding 8 feet (2.5 meters)


12 - 20 years

25 - 50 years


Mild, slightly sweet flavor with a flaky texture

Firm, dense flesh with a mild, sweet flavor


Rich in protein and low in fat

Fattier but with essential vitamins and nutrients


Cheaper because of availability

More expensive because of scarceness


Physical Appearance

Haddock and halibut differ notably in their physical appearance. Haddocks are relatively smaller, ranging from 1 to 3 feet long, and have a slender, elongated body with silver-gray coloration and a distinct black lateral line along their sides. They are adorned with a black stripe running from their gills to the base of the tail and often have a distinctive black spot or "thumbprint" near the pectoral fin.

On the other hand, halibut are significantly larger, growing up to 8 to 10 feet, and possess a flat, diamond-shaped body. Their upper side displays shades of brown to olive, aiding in camouflage with the ocean floor.


Haddocks are common in the North Atlantic Ocean, particularly in cold, deep waters ranging from 40 to 200 meters deep. They favor rocky or gravelly seabeds and often dwell near the continental shelf.

Halibut, on the other hand, are typically found in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. They prefer deeper waters ranging from 20 to 900 meters and often dwell on sandy or muddy ocean floors. Halibut inhabits coastal and offshore areas, with juveniles usually found in shallower waters and adults in deeper regions.

Both species adapt their habitat preferences based on age, feeding, and spawning requirements.


Haddocks are generally smaller than halibut, with adults ranging from 45 to 70 centimeters (18 to 28 inches) in length and weighing between 0.5 to 1.5 kilograms (1 to 3.3 pounds).

In contrast, halibut are among the largest flatfish, and their size can be impressive. Halibut can grow to enormous proportions, reaching lengths over 2.7 meters (9 feet) and weighing more than 227 kilograms (500 pounds).

The disparity in size reflects their distinct biological characteristics and ecological roles within their respective marine ecosystems.


Haddocks generally have a shorter lifespan, living for about 12 to 20 years, with some individuals occasionally reaching up to 25 years.

In contrast, halibut are known for their significantly longer lifespan, often 25 to 50 years or more, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Growth rates, maturity ages, and overall life history strategies dictate the lifespans of these two distinct fish species.


Chefs who prefer slightly sweet fish with a delicate, flaky texture love haddock’s flavor profile. Its white and lean flesh makes it versatile and suitable for various cooking methods, including baking, grilling, or frying.

On the other hand, halibut has a firm, meaty texture and a mild, sweet taste. The flavor is often described as clean and slightly buttery, making it a popular choice for grilling, broiling, or pan-searing.


Haddock is a lean fish, rich in high-quality protein, low in fat, and a good source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, phosphorus, and selenium. A serving of haddock provides essential nutrients while being relatively low in calories.

While halibut is also a lean fish, it tends to be more substantial in texture and often provides slightly more calories and fat than haddock. Halibut is an excellent source of high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins like B12 and B6.


Haddock is generally more affordable than halibut, as they are smaller and more readily available. It also takes haddock a shorter time to grow into a marketable size, making them easier to breed.

Halibut, being larger and having a more extended growth period, is more scarce and requires more effort and time to catch or farm, thus making it a higher-priced option in seafood markets. The taste, texture, and nutritional differences also influence the price disparity between these two fish species.

Related: Factors Affecting Halibut Price Per Pound in 2023


Whether you prefer something milder and sweeter or firmer and meatier, both haddock and halibut make an excellent addition to your fish freezer.

If you’re after halibut for its mellow flavor, Alaskan Salmon Co stocks wild-caught Alaskan halibut jam-packed with micronutrients and health benefits. Get yours delivered flash-frozen in time for your potluck or family dinner!

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