Black Cod Vs Cod – Is There A Difference?

Black cod is becoming more popular. If you’re a cod lover and have heard about black cod, you may be wondering if they are the same as cod or what their differences are. Therefore, let’s answer the question, what is the difference between black cod and cod?

Black cod is another name for sablefish but is not part of the cod family. Black cod is found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean while cod can be found in the northern Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Black cod is a dark gray color and cod is brownish. Black cod is fattier than cod and tastes more buttery.

This article will compare the nutrients of the two fish side-by-side. I’ll examine their benefits, tastes, textures, mercury levels and costs. In addition, whether one can substitute for the other and cooking methods which can be used.

The Differences between Black Cod and Cod

Black cod and cod share almost the same name but there is more differences than similarities between the two fish. What are the differences between black cod and cod?

Black cod is a Sablefish from the Anoplopomatidae family while cod is from the Gadidae family. An average black cod grows to 23-36″ while cod between 27-34″ in length. Black cod is a dark gray color while cod is brownish. Black cod can live to 90 years and cod to 12 years.

Black cod gets its nickname due to the fact they inhabit the same waters as the Pacific cod and can appear similar to the untrained eye 1.


Black cod is found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean from northern Mexico to the Gulf of Alaska 2. Westward they can be found swimming to the Aleutian Islands and into the Bering Sea. They are most commonly found in the waters near Alaska 3.

Atlantic cod is found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean from Greenland to North Carolina and in the western Gulf of Maine. Pacific cod is found in the North Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to California in the east and to the Sea of Japan in the west 4.

fresh black cod
Black cod aka Sablefish


  • Black cod is from the Anoplopomatidea family.
  • Cod is from the Gadidae family.

Color and Appearance

  • Black cod is dark gray with a faint line running down the body and has two dorsal fins.
  • Cod is brownish, with dark spots and has three dorsal fins.

Size and Weight

  • Black cod grows an average of 23-36″ in length and weighs 6-10 pounds.
  • Cod grows an average 27-34″ in length and weighs 5-15 pounds.


  • Black cod up to 90 years.
  • Cod up to 12 years.
cod fish on ice
Regular cod

Black Cod and Cod Nutrition Facts

Nutrient Cod, raw (4 Ounces) Black Cod, raw (4 Ounces)
Calories 93 221
Fat 0.8 g  17.0 g
Protein 23 g  15 g
Omega-3 0.22 g  1.77 g
B-6 0.2 mg  0.3 mg
B-12 1.0 mcg  1.7 mcg
Thiamin 0.08 mg 0.11 mg
Riboflavin 0.07 mg 0.10 mg
B5 0.1 mg 0.8 mg
Iron 0.4 mg 1.4 mg
Niacin 2.3 mg 4.5 mg
Folate 7.9 mcg 17.0 mcg
Potassium 468 mg  405 mg
Magnesium 36 mg  62 mg
Phosphorus 230 mg  190 mg
Calcium 18.1 mg  36.9 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg 0.3 mg
Selenium 37.5 mcg  41.4 mcg

Nutrient Sources: Salmon 5 6

Although black cod and cod both contain many nutrients, vitamins and minerals, you may have noticed one contains more than the other. This may answer the question many people ask about the two. Is black cod healthier than cod?

Black cod is healthier than cod due to its 700% more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Black cod also contains more vitamins and minerals like B6, B12, B5, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, folate, magnesium, calcium and selenium.

Although, as most of us probably already know, cod is no slouch either. It contains more protein and less calories. Cod provides more potassium, phosphorus and zinc 7.

If counting calories is currently a main priority, black cod contains many more. You may want to consider a lower calorie side dish or choose the cod instead. It’s hard to argue against the greater number of nutrients in black cod for overall health.

Black Cod and Cod Health Benefits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Looking at the nutritional information of black cod and cod above, you will notice black cod has more fat than cod. However, the fat is healthy. Some of the fat in both black cod and cod are omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies can not produce on their own.

Why are omega-3 fatty acids so important to health? Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep cholesterol levels lower and arteries healthy. Two of the fatty acids, DHA and EPA are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 8.

Black cod contains about eight times the amount of omega-3s than cod. This difference is what really separates the two and gives black cod the edge over cod.

B Vitamins

Black cod contains many more B vitamins than cod. These include B6, B12, B5, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate). These B vitamins helps support the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • Digestion
  • Brain function
  • Nerve function
  • energy levels
  • Cardiovascular health


Black cod almost provides twice the number of magnesium as cod. Adding magnesium to your diet could be instrumental in improving your sleep quality. More so, it helps keep blood pressure levels balanced and stable 9.

Magnesium relaxes and calms the whole body including the blood vessels. A recent study researched 22 studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 3-4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2-3 mm Hg 10.


Black cod contains twice the amount of calcium than cod. Calcium, like magnesium is important for blood pressure and the heart. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure because it helps to control the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 11.

While cod may not be as healthy as black cod, what about cod vs tilapia? Check out the battle of these heavyweights in my article here, Cod Vs Tilapia – A Complete Comparison.

Black Cod and Cod Tastes and Textures

Black cod has a rich buttery flavor. Due to the buttery flavor many people call it a butter fish. It’s very rich and has a silky texture. The buttery, silky texture is due to its high fat content. After one bite you’ll realize why people call it the butter fish.

Cod has a mild, milky flavor. Atlantic cod may be slightly sweeter than Pacific cod. Many people say the texture of cod is similar to chicken due to its firmness. Cod has large flakes and is good for various cooking methods.

Can You Substitute Cod for Black Cod?

Sometimes you won’t have the exact fish for a recipe, or the seafood section of the supermarket doesn’t have what you need. Therefore, can you substitute cod for black cod?

Black cod and cod can substitute for each other although their tastes and textures are different. Cod cannot cook as long as black cod because it will dry out quicker. Black cod can be cooked using the same methods as cod like roasting, poached, broiled or grilled.

What is a good substitute for cod? Good substitutes for cod include pollock, haddock, halibut, striped bass, tilapia and mahi mahi.

What is a good substitute for black cod? Good substitutions for black cod include salmon, white perch, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, White Sea bass. When substituting one fish for the other always stick to the following:

  • Same size and weight.
  • Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
  • Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 12.

Due to black cod’s high fat content, it’s very forgiving while cooking and it’s difficult to overcook it. Most fish will dry out right away when cooked too much, that won’t happen with black cod. Black cod can be cooked grilled, broiled, roasted, sautéed, poached or smoked 13.

Black Cod and Cod Mercury Levels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them 14. This is especially important for pregnant women, breastfeeding or for young toddlers and infants.

They established a list of best and good choices of fish based on their mercury levels. They also have a third section which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels. Therefore does black cod or cod have more mercury?

Black cod has more mercury than cod. Cod is listed on the FDA’s best choices and black cod (sablefish) is listed as a good choice in regards to mercury levels. The FDA recommends eating cod no more than two servings a week and black cod once per week.

Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

The Cost of Black Cod and Cod

The cost of either black cod or cod will differ depending on the location, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Which is more expensive, black cod or cod?

Black cod is more expensive than cod. The average cost for cod is $11.49 per pound while the average cost for black cod is $26.49 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

I checked Freshdirect for the current prices of each.

  • Fresh farm black cod
    • $24.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild caught Alaskan black cod fillet
    • $27.99 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised cod
    • $9.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild caught cod
    • $12.99 per pound

The availability of black cod will be extremely difficult to find in your local supermarket. You’d have a better chance finding it in a fish market. Black cod is more available to order online.

Read Next – More Cod vs Fish Articles!

Halibut vs Cod: The Differences In Detail

Scrod vs Cod: There’s More To The Story

Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Cod[]
  2. Wikipedia: Sablefish[]
  3. NOAA Fisheries: Sablefish[]
  4. Wikipedia: Cod[]
  5. Nutrition Value: Cod, raw[]
  6. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, sablefish[]
  7. NOAA Fisheries: Pacific Cod[]
  8. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  9. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  11. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  12. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  13. Alaska Seafood: Black Cod[]
  14. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]

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