Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: What’s the Difference?


There are so many different types of salmon in the world like coho and sockeye. Each one has its own flavor, texture and nutritional uses. Therefore, what are the main differences between coho and sockeye salmon?

The main difference between coho and sockeye salmon is coho has more minerals and omega-3 fatty acids than sockeye. Sockeye have a stronger fish-like taste than coho and is a darker shade of red. Coho’s texture is more soft than sockeye’s firmer more meaty flesh.

This article will dive into the main differences between the two fish starting with a side-by-side nutrient comparison. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, costs, mercury levels and if one can substitute for the other.

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Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: Nutrition Comparison

The following table shows the nutrients contained in 4 ounces of raw coho and sockeye salmon.

Nutrient

Coho Salmon, raw

(4 Ounces)

Sockeye Salmon, raw

(4 Ounces)

Calories 166 149
Fat 6.7 g  5.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g  0.9 g
Cholesterol 51 mg 58 mg
Protein 25 g  25 g
Omega-3 1.49 g  0.96 g
B-6 0.6 mg  0.8 mg
B-12 4.7 mcg  5.3 mcg
Thiamin 0.12 mg 0.15 mg
Riboflavin 0.15 mg 0.23 mg
B5 0.9 mg 1.2 mg
Iron 0.6 mg 0.4 mg
Niacin 8.1 mg  9.6 mg
Folate 10.2 mcg  6.8 mcg
Potassium 479 mg  416 mg
Magnesium 35 mg  34 mg
Phosphorus 297 mg  291 mg
Calcium 40.8 mg  10.2 mg
Zinc 0.46 mg 0.52 mg
Selenium 41.4 mcg  33.8 mcg

Nutritional value sources 1 2

According to the above table, coho and sockeye salmon have similar nutritional value, making it extremely difficult to answer, which is healthier, coho or sockeye salmon?

Coho salmon is healthier than sockeye due to its higher number of omega-3 fatty acids. Coho provides 55% more of the heart healthy omega-3. Coho contains more iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and selenium than sockeye salmon. Sockeye contains more cholesterol than coho salmon.

It’s the omega-3 fatty acids which give coho the slight edge over sockeye. Sockeye is no slouch and provides many of the same nutrients. Sockeye contains more B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, niacin and zinc than coho salmon.

Why is omega-3 fatty acids the tie breaker between the two fish? Omega-3s help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and several other heart-related issues 3.

This is primarily because omega-3s keep the arteries strong and healthy. They also help keep bad cholesterol levels low 4.

Coho contains approximately 55% more omega-3 fatty acids than sockeye. In addition, coho provides four times the amount of calcium and 50% more folate. The remaining vitamins and minerals are close and similar, whether coho or sockeye have more.

I wrote another article comparing two salmon powerhouses, Keta and Sockeye. How does sockeye compare in this battle? Check it out here, Keta vs Sockeye Salmon: What’s The Difference?

coho salmon vs sockeye salmon

Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: Taste, Texture and Appearance

If you want to get a general idea about the taste, texture and appearance of more salmon, check out the video towards the end of this article.

Taste

Sockeye salmon has a rich flavor and very pronounced. They smell and taste very similar to many other varieties of salmon and have a pronounced fishy flavor.

If you really like other salmon varieties, then you will enjoy the flavor of sockeye salmon. Sockeye has a more pronounced fishy flavor compared to coho salmon.

For those that are not a big fan of intense salmon flavor, the Coho salmon may be a better option.

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

Texture

The texture of these two salmons is slightly different as well. Coho salmon is very soft when it is raw. Once it has been cooked, it is much more flakey. If it feels firm, you probably haven’t cooked it right.

Sockeye salmon on the other hand has a firm and compact meaty flesh. It is also very thin and lean. Sockeye salmon only flakes a little bit once it has been cooked.

Appearance

The main differences between these two salmons are what they look like. Coho salmon has a pretty light and pink flesh. When cooked, it stays about the same color and might get a little lighter in color.

The flesh of sockeye salmon has a bright and vibrant red color to it when it hasn’t been cooked 5. Once you cook sockeye salmon, it may lighten up and bit and turn a pinkish color. The inside may still be fairly red.

Sockeye gets its deep red color from their diet. They eat crustaceans and plankton 6. The more they eat of these two, the more red and darker the sockeye flesh becomes 7.

Sockeye and Coho Pairings

Seasonings

The best flavors and seasonings you can mix with sockeye or coho salmon to make them taste good include:

  • Rosemary
  • Lemons
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic
  • Fresh herbs
  • Paprika
  • Honey
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Basil
  • Parsley

Sockeye salmon has a pronounced flavor before it is seasoned and cooked, and many don’t want to mess with the flavor. Instead, they want to emphasize it.

All of these will complement salmon’s flavor no matter what type of salmon you use. Just make sure to look up a recipe beforehand and don’t just guess which seasonings go well with others.

Sides

The best sides that go specifically with sockeye and coho salmon are:

  • Asparagus
  • Potatoes
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Peas
  • Chickpea salad
  • Broccoli
  • Rice

Dipping salmon in a garlic sauce is also a great way to add some flavoring to your salmon when it’s served over rice.

Other typical salmon sides include:

  • Lemon pasta
  • Green beans
  • Rosemary potatoes
  • Bok choy
  • Cilantro-lime rice
  • Coleslaw
  • Snap peas
  • Carrots
  • Mashed potatoes

Can You Substitute Coho for Sockeye Salmon?

coho and sockeye substitutes

Your local grocery store may not always have the type of salmon you’re looking for. If you are looking for a substitution for sockeye salmon, can you substitute coho salmon for sockeye?

Coho salmon and sockeye 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.

Any other type of dark red salmon will also work. Substitutions for coho salmon can include regular pink salmons.

If they are out of all types of salmon at the store, you can substitute other fish. Those substitutes include:

  • Swordfish
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Albacore
  • Marlin
  • Striped bass
  • Trout
  • Arctic char
  • Cod

If you have recently become vegan and are looking for substitutes for your favorite fish, you can try these foods:

  • Marinated carrots
  • Algae (gives fishy smell and taste)
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Jackfruit
  • Banana blossom
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Mushroom
  • Tapioca

Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: Size, Weight and Habitat Differences

What is the difference between coho salmon and sockeye?

Sockeye salmon are slightly longer and heavier than the coho salmon. The average coho is between 7-11 pounds while the sockeye is 4-15 pounds. Coho salmon average 28 inches long and the sockeye from 18-30 inches. The coho salmon and sockeye inhabit the north Pacific Ocean and are both fresh and saltwater fish.

Coho have dark blue backs and silver sides when they are in the ocean. During spawning and back at the rivers, 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 8, around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska and south to California 9.

Coho salmon has been introduced to all the Great Lakes located between Canada and the United States 10.

While spending their time in the ocean, sockeye have silver sides, white bellies and greenish-blue on their backs. Back in the freshwater, during spawning, their bodies turn bright red and the head green. They also develop a hump on their backs 11.

Sockeye can be found in northwest Alaska to the west coast rivers in Oregon 12.

Coho Salmon or Sockeye: Which One Has More Mercury?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued warnings regarding mercury levels. They also provide recommendations about how often people should consume 13.

This is especially important for young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding. Mercury is harmful to children to consume because it can have a negative affect on their development, both physically and mentally.

The FDA established a list of fish that are best choices, good choices and ones to avoid. Therefore does coho salmon or sockeye have more mercury?

Coho salmon and sockeye have similar levels of mercury. Both fish are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. They recommend consuming them no more than two to three servings a week.

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

If you’re interested in finding out how the coho salmon compared to king salmon, check out my article here, Coho Salmon vs King: What’s The Difference?

Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: Which Costs More?

When you are purchasing coho salmon or sockeye, be sure to check the label to see if the fish is caught in the wild or farm-raised. It makes a difference with the price. Therefore, which is more expensive, coho salmon or sockeye?

Coho salmon is slightly more expensive than sockeye. The average cost for wild caught coho salmon is $19.99 per pound while the average cost for wild-caught sockeye is $18.83 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

I checked my local shoprite and stop and shop supermarkets and found coho and sockeye. The following are the prices for Coho and sockeye salmon:

  • Wild Coho fillet
    • $19.99 per pound
  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $20 per pound.
  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $18 per pound

I checked FreshDirect and found the following prices for coho and sockeye salmon:

  • Wild Coho fillet
    • $19.99 per pound
  • Wild Sockeye fillet
    • $18.50 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.

Eating Coho Salmon or Sockeye on These Diets

You may be reading this article and wonder if coho, sockeye or any salmon will work with the diet you want to try or are currently doing. Below, we’ll go over various diets and talk about whether or not salmon works for it and why.

Paleo

You can eat coho salmon or sockeye on a paleo diet. You should try to find more wild-caught salmon instead of farm-raised salmon because paleo has a focus on omega-3 intake and wild-caught fishes may have more omega-3s. 

Vegan

You can’t eat any salmon on a vegan diet. Some substitutes for salmon that are vegan friendly include marinated carrots, algae, and jackfruit.

Low-Carb

If you are on a low-carb diet, salmon is the way to go. Both coho and sockeye salmon do not have any carbs, so they are a great meal to have while following a low-carb diet. Most other fish and kinds of seafood also have little or no carbs as well.

If you’re eating low-carb or want to give keto a try, many of my clients have followed this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success. Visit their website and check it out.

Ultra-Low-Fat

For the low-fat diet, you are allowed to eat salmon, and it may even be recommended as one of the main foods for this diet. Although coho, sockeye and other salmons have a variety of grams of fats, they have a lot of omega-3s which is the main focus for the low-fat diet.

Atkins

Atkins has a big focus on protein as well as cheeses. Coho salmon and sockeye are great sources of protein so it is perfect for the Atkins diet as well.

A good meal to make for this diet is a buttery salmon and asparagus because it meets the requirements for Atkins and all of these taste really great together.

Zone

The zone diet does allow salmon as one of the foods you can eat because it isn’t high in sugars, starches or carbohydrates. Since it is full of protein, omega-3s and vitamins it is a perfect meat to eat on the zone diet.

Intermittent Fasting

Salmon is perfect for intermittent fasting because of all the valuable nutrients it provides for you before you begin your fast.

One of the most ideal meals for intermittent faster is salmon served over rice. Therefore, there’s no doubt you can eat coho or sockeye while you’re on the intermittent fasting diet.

Keto

Salmon is a keto-friendly food due to its richness in vitamins B6, B12, and potassium. Since it is also carb free, it is great for the keto diet

Smoothie Tip: Adding frozen fruit like clementines, instead of ice, enhances the flavor and nutrient content of the drink.

The secret to an easy smoothie with frozen items is having a blender powerful enough to handle the workload. The blender I recommend has a 6 blade, multi-tiered blade, check it out and the current price on Amazon, Nutri Ninja BL685 with Auto-iQ Technology.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Salmon Articles!

Sockeye vs King Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Pink vs Red Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Atlantic vs Pacific Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Atlantic vs Wild Salmon: Which Is Better?

Farm Raised Salmon Compared To Wild Caught Salmon

 

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. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, sockeye, salmon[]
  2. Nutrition Value:Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, coho, salmon[]
  3. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects[]
  5. Britannica: Sockeye salmon[]
  6. Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Sockeye Salmon[]
  7. University of Washington: Studying Sockeye Salmon[]
  8. USDA: Coho Salmon Thrive in More Established Neighborhoods[]
  9. Wikipedia: Coho salmon[]
  10. NOAA Fisheries: Coho Salmon[]
  11. NOAA Fisheries: Sockeye Salmon[]
  12. Oceana: Sockeye Salmon[]
  13. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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