8 Best Halibut Substitutes According to Chefs

Halibut is a nutritious, versatile fish you’ll likely find in any seafood lover’s ingredients list. However, when push comes to shove, the time may come to find a halibut substitute when your local fishery is fresh out.

If your supermarket is currently out of halibut or you simply want to expand your cooking horizons, these halibut alternatives will make your palette sing with delight!

What is Halibut?

Halibut is a lean fish with a mild and semi-sweet flavor profile. Compared to cod, it has a firmer texture and a gentle, fishy taste that pairs well with many seasonings, marinades, and garnishes. There are many ways to cook halibut, including pan-searing, baking, grilling, poaching, and steaming.

Halibut also boasts numerous health benefits, as it contains high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids, ideal for building and repairing muscles.

The fish is highly available nationwide, and you’ll likely find sustainable options at your local supermarket or fishery.

8 Best Substitutes for Halibut

Are you looking for a substitute for halibut in a recipe due to dietary preferences, allergies, or unavailability? Here are some alternatives:

1. Cod

Cod is a viable halibut substitute because of its comparable mild flavor and similar white, flaky texture. Both fish share a neutral taste that blends well with various seasonings and accompaniments.

Additionally, cod is widely available and often more affordable, making it a practical choice for those seeking a suitable alternative for halibut in a wide range of recipes, from grilling to baking.

Related: Halibut vs. Cod: What’s the Difference?

2. Haddock

Haddock has a mild flavor and texture akin to halibut. Both fish possess a delicate taste profile, making haddock a versatile replacement in recipes calling for halibut. The white, flaky flesh of haddock closely mirrors the texture of halibut, allowing it to be prepared similarly, whether baked or pan-seared.

Note that because of its lower oil content, haddock may grill poorly. It may also dry up if steamed.

3. Mahi Mahi

Mahi mahi is a strong halibut substitute because of its firm texture and mild, sweet flavor. While mahi mahi has a bit more pronounced taste than halibut, its versatility allows it to adapt well to various seasoning and preparation methods.

However, mahi mahi is not as firm or dense compared to halibut. It also boasts a slightly sweeter undertone.

4. Grouper

Grouper is an excellent halibut substitute due to its dense, white flesh and mild flavor. It shares a similar texture to halibut, with a firm and flaky consistency. Grouper's mild taste allows it to absorb flavors and seasonings well, making it versatile in various recipes that typically call for halibut.

By comparison, grouper holds more moisture than halibut, which can dry out quickly if overcooked.

5. Sea Bass

Sea bass, like halibut, has a mild taste profile. The white, flaky flesh of sea bass resembles halibut, providing a similar mouthfeel and versatility in preparation.

If you’re a fan of grilling halibut, sea bass will hold up equally well. You can also bake the bass whole or pan-sear fillets as you would with halibut.

6. Tilapia

Tilapia is an affordable halibut substitute with a flaky texture. Firmness-wise, tilapia is a little firmer. In addition, it has a slightly fishier taste.

However, tilapia is highly inexpensive and widely available. It’s also versatile, holding up well if you bake, grill, or pan-fry it.

7. Swordfish

This similarity in texture makes swordfish an excellent alternative to halibut, especially for those who enjoy a more robust seafood flavor.

Swordfish is also slightly denser and meatier, allowing it to adapt well to various cooking methods like grilling, baking, and pan-frying, much like halibut.

8. Salmon

While salmon has a richer taste than halibut, both fishes have a firm and flaky texture, making them suitable for similar cooking techniques like grilling, baking, or broiling. Salmon's slightly stronger taste can complement various seasonings and sauces, adding a different dimension.

Alaskan sockeye salmon is an excellent option for those seeking a substitute with a bold flavor profile, offering an alternative seafood experience while maintaining the desired texture in various recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which halibut substitute is closest to halibut in taste and texture?

Among halibut substitutes, cod is the closest in taste and texture. It shares a mild, delicate flavor and a white, flaky flesh similar to halibut.

What halibut substitutes work well for grilling or baking recipes?

Sea bass and swordfish are excellent halibut substitutes for grilling or baking recipes. Both have a firm texture that holds up well to grilling or baking, providing a delightful culinary experience comparable to halibut.

How do I adjust the cooking time or method using a halibut substitute?

When using a halibut substitute, adjust the cooking time and method based on the thickness and texture of the replacement. Generally, aim for a similar cooking time as you would with halibut, but monitor closely and adapt based on the substitute's unique characteristics.

Thicker cuts require slightly longer cooking, while thinner cuts need less time to avoid overcooking. Check our complete guide on how to cook halibut at the right temperature for more tips.

Which substitute is more affordable than halibut?

Tilapia is often more affordable than halibut, making it a budget-friendly substitute. Tilapia is widely available and priced lower than halibut, making it an accessible option for those seeking a cost-effective alternative without compromising too much on taste and texture.


If you’re looking for the best alternatives to halibut, we hope this comprehensive list has saved your plans for a seafood cookout!

Don’t let your pantry fall short of the high-quality halibut you deserve. Our premium Alaskan halibut has a perfectly mellow flavor, and we can ship your order fresh from the sea!

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