Halibut vs. Cod: What’s the Difference?

As some of the most prominent names in the fishing industry, the halibut vs. cod debate is far from over. These fish have distinct characteristics and are favored by culinary enthusiasts and anglers alike. Here, we will delve into a comparative analysis of halibut vs cod, exploring their physical attributes, flavor profiles, textures, nutritional compositions, availability, and prices.

Join us as we explore the unique characteristics of halibut and cod, shedding light on their flavors, textures, nutritional values, as well as their availability and pricing in the culinary market. Discover the differences that set these two fish species apart and gain insights into their individual culinary merits.

What is Halibut?

Halibut is a large flatfish found in the colder coastal waters of the Northern Hemisphere. They belong to the Pleuronectidae family of right-eye flounders.

Halibut have a distinct body shape with both eyes on one side, usually the right side. Their upper side is dark brown to olive green, while the lower side is white, helping them blend in with the seabed. They can reach impressive sizes, over 8 feet long and weighing more than 700 pounds.

This species is prized for its delicious, mild-flavored white flesh and is popular in the culinary world. They are opportunistic predators, feeding on fish, squid, crustaceans, and other marine organisms.

Halibut fisheries exist in various countries, with both commercial and recreational fishing. Some species are managed and regulated to ensure sustainability due to their popularity and the impact of fishing on their populations.

What is Cod?

Cod is a group of fish in the Gadidae family commonly found in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. The most well-known species is the Atlantic cod, native to the North Atlantic. They are medium to large-sized fish, reaching lengths of 2 to 3 feet and weighing up to 50 pounds.

Cod have a slender body with greenish-brown coloring on the back and sides. Their white, flaky flesh is mild in flavor and highly prized in cooking.

They are bottom-dwelling carnivores, feeding on smaller fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Historically, cod fishing has been significant for both commercial and subsistence purposes, but overfishing and habitat degradation have caused population declines. Measures are now in place to regulate and manage cod fisheries for sustainability and recovery.

What is the Difference Between Halibut and Cod?

For a quick rundown of the differences between halibut and cod, refer to this table.

 Differences Halibut Cod
Physical Characteristics Flat shape with eyes on one side Streamline shape with a broad square tail fin
Flavor Mild and delicate Strong and meaty
Texture Firm and meaty Soft and flaky
Nutrition High in omega-3 fatty acids and protein Low in fat and calories
Availability Less abundant and found primarily in cold, coastal waters Widely distributed and readily available in most markets
Prices More expensive due to its scarcity Cheaper due to its availability

Physical Characteristics

Halibut and cod have some distinct physical differences. Here are some of the key characteristics that set them apart:

  • Body Shape: Halibut have a flat, diamond-shaped body, whereas cod have a more elongated and cylindrical body.
  • Eye Placement: Halibut are "right-eyed" flatfish, which means both of their eyes are located on the same side (typically the right side) of their body. In contrast, cod have eyes on opposite sides of their head, like most other fish.
  • Size: Halibut are generally larger than cod. While cod typically reach lengths of 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 centimeters), halibut can grow much larger, with some species reaching lengths of over 8 feet (2.4 meters).
  • Coloration: Halibut have a distinctive coloration, with the upper side (eyed side) being dark brown to olive green, and the lower side (blind side) being white. In comparison, cod have a more uniform coloration, with greenish-brown on their back and sides, fading to a lighter color on the belly.
  • Dorsal Fin: Halibut have a continuous dorsal fin that extends along their entire back, while cod have two separate dorsal fins—a shorter one closer to the head and a longer one toward the tail.
  • Habitat: Halibut are primarily found in colder coastal waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, while cod have a wider distribution, inhabiting the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean.

These physical differences reflect the unique adaptations of each species to their respective habitats and lifestyles.

halibut vs. cod physical characteristics


Halibut and cod have distinct flavors that can be appreciated in culinary preparations.

Halibut has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. Its white flesh has a delicate and tender texture. The flavor of halibut is often described as mild and buttery. It is known for being versatile and pairs well with various seasonings and sauces. Halibut's subtle flavor makes it a popular choice for those who prefer a milder taste in seafood.

Cod has a mild and slightly stronger flavor compared to halibut. In addition, its texture is firm and flaky. Cod often boasts a clean, slightly sweet, and somewhat nutty taste. It is a classic white fish with a versatile flavor that lends itself well to various cooking methods and flavor combinations. Cod is often used in fish and chips, fish stews, and baked or grilled dishes.

Both halibut and cod are prized for their flavor and culinary versatility. Still, personal preference plays a significant role in determining which fish's flavor one prefers. Some may enjoy halibut's delicate and buttery taste, while others may prefer the slightly stronger and nutty flavor of cod.


Halibut and Cod have different textures that can influence the eating experience.

Halibut has a firm yet tender texture. Its flesh is dense and meaty, with large flakes that hold together well when cooked. The texture of halibut is often described as delicate, smooth, and buttery. It has a pleasant mouthfeel that is not too chewy or rubbery. Halibut's texture makes it versatile and suitable for various cooking methods, including grilling, baking, and sautéing.

Cod has a slightly firmer texture compared to halibut. Its flesh is also flaky, but the flakes are usually smaller and more delicate. Cod has a meaty and succulent texture that is moist and tender when properly cooked. It is known for its pleasant mouthfeel and smooth bite. Cod's texture makes it well-suited for dishes like fish and chips, fish stews, and poaching, as it holds its shape well during cooking.

Both halibut and cod offer enjoyable textures, but there are subtle differences. Halibut tends to have larger and more substantial flakes with a buttery texture, while cod has smaller and more delicate flakes with a meaty and succulent texture. The choice between the two may depend on personal preference and the desired texture for a particular recipe or dish.


Halibut and cod are both nutritious fish that offer several health benefits. Here's a comparison of their nutritional profiles:

Halibut (Raw, Atlantic, Cooked, Dry Heat, 100g serving)*:

  • Calories: 111
  • Protein: 22.5g
  • Fat: 1.6g
  • Saturated fat: 0.4g
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.3g
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 0.2g
  • Vitamin D: 8.8 IU
  • Vitamin B12: 2.3 mcg
  • Selenium: 44.2 mcg
  • Phosphorus: 239 mg
  • Potassium: 528 mg

Cod (Raw, Atlantic, Cooked, Dry Heat, 100g serving)*:

  • Calories: 105
  • Protein: 23g
  • Fat: 1.0g
  • Saturated fat: 0g
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 0.2g
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 0.1g
  • Vitamin D: 8.9 IU
  • Vitamin B12: 1.1 mcg
  • Selenium: 38 mcg
  • Phosphorus: 140 mg
  • Potassium: 240 mg

Both halibut and cod are excellent sources of high-quality protein, essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. They also provide important vitamins and minerals. Halibut tends to be slightly higher in calories, protein, and fat compared to cod. It also contains slightly more omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and brain function.

Both fish are good sources of vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients play roles in bone health, immune function, metabolism, and various physiological processes.

When it comes to nutrition, both halibut and cod can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, it's important to note that nutritional values can vary depending on the specific species, preparation method, and cooking techniques used.


The availability of halibut and cod can vary depending on the region and fishing seasons.

Halibut is typically more limited in availability compared to cod. It is primarily found in colder coastal waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. Some notable halibut fishing areas include the coasts of Alaska, Canada (British Columbia), Norway, and Iceland. The availability of halibut can be seasonal, with peak fishing times varying depending on the location. Due to its popularity, halibut is often sought after by both commercial and recreational fishermen.

Cod is generally more widely available than halibut. It has a broader distribution and can be found in the North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and other regions around the world. Some significant cod fishing areas include the coasts of Norway, Iceland, Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador), the United Kingdom, and the United States (New England). Cod availability can also be seasonal, with fishing typically taking place during specific times of the year.

Both halibut and cod can be found in seafood markets, grocery stores, and restaurants, but the availability may depend on the region, local fishing regulations, and the specific time of year. It's always a good idea to check with local suppliers or fishmongers to determine the current availability of halibut and cod in your area.


The price of halibut and cod can vary depending on several factors, including the region, seasonality, fishing regulations, and market demand.

Halibut is a higher-priced fish compared to cod. Its larger size, limited availability, and popularity contribute to its higher cost. The price of halibut can also fluctuate depending on the season and market conditions. In some regions, fresh wild-caught halibut can be more expensive than farmed or frozen varieties. The price per pound or per kilogram can range from moderate to high, with premium cuts or fillets often commanding higher prices.

Cod is more affordable compared to halibut. Its wider distribution, larger populations, and higher availability contribute to its lower cost. The price of cod can also vary based on factors such as the fishing method (wild-caught or farmed), the location of the catch, and the presentation (whole, fillets, etc.). Fresh wild-caught cod is typically more expensive than frozen or farmed cod. The price per pound or per kilogram can range from low to moderate, making it a more accessible option for many consumers.

Prices of both halibut and cod can vary significantly depending on the specific market, location, and current market conditions. Factors such as seasonality, quality, and local demand can influence the pricing. It's always a good idea to check with local suppliers, fishmongers, or seafood markets for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information in your area.


The comparison between halibut and cod reveals intriguing insights into these two popular fish species. From their distinct physical characteristics to their unique flavor differences and textures, each fish brings its own culinary merits to the table.

Halibut's flat, diamond-shaped body, right-eyed nature, and larger size make it an impressive and sought-after catch. On the other hand, cod's elongated, cylindrical body and uniform coloration contribute to its appeal. Both fish offer delicious white flesh, but halibut's delicate flavor and firm texture stand in contrast to cod's slightly stronger taste and flakier consistency.

Understanding the nutritional compositions, availability, and pricing further helps in making informed choices. Whether you prefer the versatility of cod or the exquisite qualities of halibut, both species provide delectable options for seafood enthusiasts.

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