Coho Salmon vs King: What’s The Difference?

Salmon is known to be a healthy and delicious type of meat. However, many may not know there are multiple breeds of salmon with varying flavor and texture characteristics. King and Coho salmon are both great for high-quality meals, but it’s important to understand their differences.

King and Coho salmon vary in size, flavor, and color, making them easy to distinguish from one another. King salmon has a more intense flavor profile, a darker meat color and grows larger in comparison. Coho salmon is mildly flavored, grows up to 12 pounds and has light red meat.

There are a few qualities that really set King and Coho fish apart from one another. This article will compare their nutrients side-by-side and examine their tastes, textures, costs, mercury levels and if one can substitute for the other. Let’s explore these differences below.

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Coho and King Salmon Taste

King salmon is known for its intense flavor profile whereas the Coho salmon has a much more mild flavor profile in comparison. The King salmon has a higher fat level, which is where the intense flavor derives from.

In fact, the King salmon has the highest fat content of all the salmon species. This is what makes the flavor of the King Salmon much more iconic than any other salmon variety.

For those that are not a big fan of intense salmon flavor, the Coho breed may be a better option for you. A common question that comes up, is Coho salmon good to eat?

Coho salmon is good to eat due to its lower oil and fat content which gives it a milder taste. Although the Coho’s flavor is milder than most other salmons, it’s still more flavorful than a mild white fish like cod or halibut.

Coho and King Salmon Color and Texture

The King Salmon is instantly recognizable by its deep red color while the Coho is known for its reddish-orange color. It’s important to note the colors of the fish can vary.

In some cases, King salmon can have a white flesh, but the Coho salmon is typically lighter in color compared to King salmon.

The texture of a King Salmon is known for having a “melt in your mouth” effect due to the tender flesh. In fact, when King salmon is cooked to medium-rare, some people have compared the center of the fish to custard.

The Coho salmon is more lean, but it still has a good amount of firmness and its oil content can be used in a variety of dishes. When Coho salmon is cooked, it’s a bit more firm than King salmon, but it still has medium flakes comparable to King salmon.

Coho and King Salmon Nutrition

Different salmon breeds have varying nutrition labels and there is no exception to the King and Coho salmon breeds. Take a look at the following tables to see the nutritional difference between a 4 oz. King and 4 oz. Coho salmon.

Nutrient King Salmon, raw (4 Ounces) Coho Salmon, raw(4 Ounces)
Calories 212 166
Fat 13 g  6.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.1 g  1.4 g
Cholesterol 69 mg 51 g
Protein 23 g  25 g
Omega-3 1.45 g  1.49 g
B-6 0.3 mg  0.6 mg
B-12 8.3 mcg  4.7 mcg
Thiamin 0.18 mg 0.12 mg
Riboflavin 0.19 mg 0.15 mg
B5 1.1 mg 0.9 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.6 mg
Niacin 9.5 mg  8.1 mg
Folate 17.0 mcg  10.2 mcg
Potassium 419 mg  479 mg
Magnesium 27 mg  35 mg
Phosphorus 235 mg  297 mg
Calcium 47.6 mg  40.8 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg 0.4 mg
Selenium 35.2 mcg  41.4 mcg

Nutritional value sources 1 2

According to the above table, King and Coho salmon have similar nutritional value, but which is better for health, Coho or King salmon?

Coho salmon is slightly healthier than King due to its less total fat and unhealthy saturated fats even though they have a similar number of omega-3 fatty acids. Coho contains less calories and cholesterol than King salmon. Coho salmon contains more protein, B6, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium than King.

That being said, both of these fish breeds are considered to be very healthy and can be incorporated into most diets. King is no slouch and contains a wide variety of nutrients 3.

King salmon contains more of the B vitamins like B12, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, folate and niacin. In addition, King provides more iron and calcium. Both fish contain similar amounts of zinc and the all important omega-3 fatty acids.

The main reason why Coho, King and other salmon out performs most fish is the high percentage of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and several other heart-related issues 4.

This is primarily because omega-3s keep the arteries strong and healthy. They also help keep bad cholesterol levels low 5.

Whichever of the two fish you pick, you’ll gain a good number of healthy nutrients 6.

I wrote another article comparing two other salmon powerhouses, Keta and Sockeye. Check it out here, Keta vs Sockeye Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Coho and King Salmon Prices

If you have ever been in the supermarket for seafood, you have probably seen King salmon with an extremely high price tag. I’ve seen a 12 pack of 6 oz. King Salmon priced at $219.95 (about $18 per piece).

The reason for this high price is due to its high demand and how difficult it is to catch the fish. Since King salmon are so popular, there are laws and regulations to keep the breed from being overfished, which makes the price of King salmon skyrocket.

On the other hand, Coho salmon is slightly more affordable per oz. For an 8 oz. pouch of Coho salmon, expect to pay approximately $19.95. Even though the price is a bit lower in comparison to King Salmon, Coho is still a great quality fish.

The price of Coho or King salmon can vary depending on the run of the salmon and whether they were farm-raised or caught in the wild.

I checked my local shoprite supermarket and found Coho but not king. This was the price of Coho:

  • Wild Coho fillet
    • $19.99 per pound

I checked FreshDirect and found the price for Coho and King salmon:

  • Wild Coho fillet
    • $19.99 per pound
  • Farm-raised King salmon fillet
    • $29.99 per pound

To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.

Coho and King Salmon Availability

Generally speaking, Coho and King salmon are wild-caught fish breeds. You can catch the King species in Alaska or you can purchase the salmon from your local grocery store (fresh or frozen) year-round.

Although it might be easy to hunt down fresh King salmon all year, the fresh Coho breed might not be as easy to find in your local fish market.

The Coho salmon can be found in the frozen section of stores all year, but the fresh meat is only available from June to October.

However, some farms raise both Coho and King salmon, although there are only a small number of farms allowed to raise King Salmon. This means you can still purchase farm-raised King and Coho salmon all year-round.

Consuming Coho and King Salmon

coho salmon vs king: which is better?

You can eat Coho or King salmon raw, or you can cook them in the oven, smoker or grill. No matter how you may choose to eat it, there are a few things to look out for to ensure your King salmon is safe to eat. Taking these precautions will help you avoid health risks like tapeworm.

If you decide to eat King salmon raw, it would be best to freeze the fish at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for several days or -31 degrees Fahrenheit for below 15 hours.

There is always some risk involved when eating seafood raw, even it has been frozen. However, if you freeze the fish, you reduce the risk of contracting parasites.

If you decide to cook your salmon, be sure to cook it until it is flakey, opaque and has an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to consume salmon once it has been cooked because this is the safest way to consume any type of seafood.

Can Coho Salmon Substitute for King?

How about substituting one fish for the other? Sometimes one fish cannot be found, or you may already have one kind of fish but wasn’t called for in a recipe. Therefore, can you substitute Coho salmon for King salmon?

Coho salmon and King salmon can substitute for each other when cooking seafood, although they have different textures and tastes. They both can be cooked using the same methods like pan-fried, slow-roasted, poached, baked or searing in a pan.

King salmon may not be as good for grilling. Coho’s firmer texture will hold up good when grilling. When substituting Coho for King, certain sauces that go well with an oily fish like King salmon won’t go as well with Coho 7.

When substituting Coho or King salmon, try following these tips:

  • Match the weight and size of the fish according to the recipe.
  • Always try choosing the same type of fillet cut, whole or cross section.
  • When grilling a firmer texture, like Coho is more important.
  • Choose skinless or skin as per the recipe.

King Salmon and Coho Salmon Differences

What is the difference between King salmon and Coho salmon?

King salmon are longer and weigh more than the Coho salmon. The average King is between 10-50 pounds while the Coho is 7-11 pounds. King salmon grows up to 36 inches long and the Coho up to 28 inches. The King salmon and Coho inhabits the north Pacific Ocean and are both fresh and saltwater fish.

The King salmon, also typically called Chinook salmon, is the largest of the Pacific salmon. They are native to the North Pacific Ocean and the rivers located in western North America.

They range from California to Alaska and from northern Japan to northeast Siberia.

King salmon have silvery colored sides with red, purple or blueish green on their back and top of the head. They have black spots and silver on the tail 8.

The average King adult is between 24-36 inches long and weighs 10-50 pounds. Although they can grow up to 58 inches long and weight up to 130 pounds 9.

Coho salmon have silver sides and dark blue backs when in the ocean. During spawning, they develop red sides and blueish green heads and backs.

Coho adults average 28 inches in length and weigh 7-11 pounds. Although they can weight up to 36 pounds.

They range along both sides of the North Pacific Ocean from Japan and eastern Russia 10, around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska and south to California 11.

Coho salmon has been introduced to all the Great Lakes located between the United States and Canada 12.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

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Sea Bass vs. Salmon: Which Is Better?

Pink vs Red Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Atlantic vs Wild Salmon: Which Is Better?

Pink vs Red Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Sardines vs Salmon: A Complete Comparison

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  1. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, coho, salmon[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, (Alaska Native), king (chinook), salmon[]
  3. USDA: Chinook King Salmon[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects[]
  6. USDA: Fish, salmon, coho, wild, cooked, moist heat[]
  7. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  8. NOAA Fisheries: Chinook Salmon[]
  9. Wikipedia: Chinook salmon[]
  10. USDA: Coho Salmon Thrive in More Established Neighborhoods[]
  11. Wikipedia: Coho salmon[]
  12. NOAA Fisheries: Coho Salmon[]

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