Scrod vs Cod: There’s More To The Story

Anyone who’s been to a seafood restaurant in the New England area of the United States has seen scrod on the menu somewhere. Whether they ordered it or not, they were probably left with many questions after the experience.

Scrod is a New England regional term meaning any young cut of white fish. Scrod typically includes young cod, haddock and pollock. Scrod is mostly served as a fillet cut. In terms of scrod, while some scrod is cod, it may be haddock or pollock. In contrast, the word cod always refers to cod.

This article will dive deeper into what scrod is and answer all the questions. In addition, I’ll examine the differences between all scrod and cod including nutrients, taste, textures, mercury levels and preparation.

What Is Scrod?

Scrod with asparagus and potatoes.
Scrod with asparagus and potatoes

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including scrod and cod. I purchase and consume cod almost every week. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine them closely.

To understand the story of Scrod and Cod, you must first understand the term “scrod.” The word’s genesis is shrouded in mystery, but its contemporary meaning is also shrouded in mystery.

Scrod is any fresh cut of juvenile white fish. Most scrod are young cod, haddock or pollock. Scrod is typically served as a fillet cut.

The most official definition of the term is in the wholesale fish business. There the fish scrod is the smallest category of white fish with different size parameters given for different fish to be considered scrod. Unfortunately, the job of figuring out what the word means only gets harder from there.

If you get scrod from a restaurant, the fish could still technically be any white fish. However, in practice, it will almost always be either cod or haddock as they are virtually indistinguishable from one another without any context.

A waiter may be able to ask the chef what kind of scrod they’re serving on a particular day. This way you may know if the scrod you’re actually eating is a cod or haddock.

But if you start asking New Englanders what they mean when they say the word scrod, you’ll get different answers for each person you ask. It will usually include scrod being some kind of white fish.

Although they may use the term to mean anything from a specific recipe for cod to an especially bad cut of fish from the market.

For this article, we’ll be using the clearest definition out there, which is any juvenile white fish. We’ll be comparing and labeling the scrod as scrod/cod, scrod/haddock or scrod/pollack when discussing nutrients and other factors.

Are you interested in how the name scrod came about? Read lower in the article for the answer.

Scrod Vs. Cod: What’s The Difference?

Cod dinner with potatoes.
Cod dinner with potatoes

Now you can begin grasping some of the reasons comparing scrod to cod might be difficult1. Much of the time, if you order scrod you may get cod. However, this is not a consistent because scrod is a blanket term used for many different kinds of young, white fish.

Scrod is not the same as cod unless the scrod is a young cod. Scrod is a term used for a young cod, haddock, pollack or other white fish. Scrod which is haddock, pollack or a white fish other than cod, is not the same as cod.

The only reliable difference between cod and scrod is the way it’s prepared. Scrod is always filleted, while cod can be prepared in a variety of different ways.

Aside from being filleted, the term scrod also refers exclusively to juvenile white fish, meaning a fillet of cod will only be scrod if it is taken from a young cod fish2.

Therefore, a fillet of young cod would be scrod3. In addition, a fillet of young haddock or a fillet of young pollock would be scrod. Only the fillet of a young cod would be considered cod. Scrod refers to the entire class of fish while cod refers only to the specific cod species.

Scrod includes the following:

  • A young cod.
  • A young haddock.
  • A young pollock.
  • Other young white fish.

As for the differences in terms of things like flavor, texture and nutrition, sometimes these things are identical to cod because sometimes scrod is cod.

As it turns out, all three of the common white fish (cod, haddock, and pollock) are pretty much the same fish in all but name4. This is why it’s possible to get away with literally using the same word for all three of them on restaurant menus.

Because of this, if you don’t have one type of scrod but you do have any of the three fish often used in scrod dishes, you can just use those. The biggest thing about scrod is it’s meant to be fresh.

Therefore, as long as you buy it fresh from the store, your scrod experience will not be lacking.

Scrod and Cod Nutrition Values

Since scrod may be a young cod, haddock or pollock, the table below compares each scrod to cod.

Nutrient Cod, raw(4 Ounces) Scrod/Cod, raw(4 Ounces) Scrod/Haddock, raw(4 Ounces) Scrod/Pollock, raw(4 Ounces)
Calories 93 93 84 64
Fat 0.8 g 0.8 g 0.5 g 0.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g 0.1 g 0.1 g 0.1 g
Cholesterol 49 mg 49 mg 61 mg 52 mg
Protein 23 g 23 g 19 g 14 g
Sodium 61 mg 61 mg 242 mg 378 mg
Omega-3 0.22 g 0.22 g 0.16 g 0.19 g
B-6 0.27 mg 0.27 mg 0.31 mg 0.07 mg
B-12 1.03 mcg 1.03 mcg 2.08 mcg 1.85 mcg
Thiamin 0.08 mg 0.08 mg 0.02 mg 0.03 mg
Riboflavin 0.07 mg 0.07 mg 0.06 mg 0.09 mg
B5 0.17 mg 0.17 mg 0.45 mg 0.26 mg
Iron 0.43 mg 0.43 mg 0.19 mg 0.25 mg
Niacin 2.33 mg 2.33 mg 3.81 mg 0.74 mg
Folate 7.94 mcg 7.94 mcg 13.61 mcg 9.90 mcg
Potassium 468 mg 468 mg 324 mg 181 mg
Magnesium 36 mg 36 mg 23 mg 18 mg
Phosphorus 230 mg 230 mg 257 mg 322 mg
Calcium 18.14 mg 18.14 mg 12.47 mg 17.01 mg
Zinc 0.51 mg 0.51 mg 0.36 mg 0.35 mg
Selenium 37.5 mcg 37.5 mcg 29.4 mcg 18.0 mcg

Nutrition Sources567

While examining the table above, all four fish contains a wide variety of nutrients. When discussing nutrients, let’s examine which one contains more.

Cod is better than scrod from young haddock or pollock. Cod contains more omega-3 fatty acids and less cholesterol and sodium. Cod also contains more protein, selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and thiamin. When comparing cod to scrod from young cod, the two fish are similar and contains the same number of nutrients. 

Scrod, from a young cod, and cod contain the same number of nutrients since they are the same fish. Scrod from a young cod is healthier than scrod from a young haddock or pollock due to its greater number of protein, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and less sodium and cholesterol.

Scrod from haddock contains more of the B vitamins like B6, B12, B5, niacin and folate than the other scrod.

Scrod from pollock contains more phosphorus than other scrod.

Find out how another small fish, sardines, faired against salmon in my article, Sardines vs Salmon: A Complete Comparison.

Cod dinner with vegetables.
Cod dinner with vegetables

Scrod and Cod’s Flavor And Texture

Because cod and scrod from a young cod are the same fish, they taste the same. By nature of pollock and haddock also being similar enough to cod to be interchangeable, they don’t taste all that different either.

There are only very minor differences in flavor and texture between the three fish commonly called scrod.

Cod has a mildly sweet flavor and is both firm and flaky. Haddock has slightly finer flakes than cod, while pollock has a little more oil.

Substituting Cod for Scrod

Cod and scrod can substitute for each other due to their similar tastes and textures. Both fish can be prepared the same way and cooked using the sam methods like fried, baked, pan seared, steamed or poached.

When substituting ((Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions)) one fish for the other always try the following:

  • Pick similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Always choose the same weight and size.
  • If the recipe calls for skinless, choose skinless and visa versa.
  • When grilling a firm texture is more important.
  • Substitute a fatty or lean fish for the same.

Outside of New England, the term scrod will only very rarely be used. You can safely prepare ordinary cod in the same way you would use scrod in any recipe calling for it. However, if you want to make something recognizably scrod, you will have to cut your cod in a very specific way.

First, buy some juvenile cod8. Nobody should notice if you use adult cod instead, but if you want to make truly authentic cod it will need to be a young fish.

Next, fillet the cod (or haddock if you prefer). Congratulations, you now have scrod! Scrod is usually baked, although it can be fried or cooked pretty much any way you want to. Any method you use to cook cod will also work on scrod, as they are the same fish.

Check out the video near the end of the article where a Cape Cod chef prepares a scrod.

Cod and Scrod Pairings

Any dish that goes well with cod will also go well with scrod because they are similar fish.

French Fries

This is the classic pairing, you can spice them up with anything from garlic and parmesan to cajun seasonings. Experimenting with different kinds of fries can yield some exciting results on their own, just be careful you don’t overshadow the fish.

Tartar Sauce

If you live in any coastal region of the United States, you already know tartar sauce is delicious with pretty much any kind of seafood. Cod or scrod are no exception, especially if you bread it up fish and chips style.

Lemony Mashed Potatoes

Lemons go fantastic with most fish, and combined with the mashed potatoes (we already know how good potatoes are with cod) these are a real treat. A fantastic meal any day of the week.


Coleslaw adds a much-needed dash of color to the often bland-looking white dish. Not only that, but it also adds a strong flavor to the mildness. The two complement each other very well, and what makes coleslaw a good side dish for cod.

Asian coleslaw also works very well in this spot with soy sauce, lime and peanuts.

Hush Puppies (Deep Fried Dough)

Hushpuppies are a classic dish to pair with cod in the south. Of course, they still taste great no matter where you eat them. Therefore, wherever you live you should give them a shot.

If you’re feeling a little dangerous you can add a little bit of jalapeño to them. You may cause some controversy among guests and/or close family, but if nothing else you can experience the exquisite spiciness you desire.


Cornbread is very good with many different foods. Cod happens to be one of those foods. The sweetness of the cornbread pairs incredibly well with the scrod and it will never steal the stage which is a big plus.

Scrod and Cod Mercury Levels

The FDA and Environmental Protection Agency have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them9.

The FDA established a list of fish best and good choices based on their mercury levels. They also included a third section of fish which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels.

Cod and scrod from young cod, haddock or pollock have similar levels of mercury. They are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels.

If a scrod is from another white fish like halibut, grouper or striped bass, it is considered a good choice.

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

The Cost of Scrod and Cod

The cost of either scrod or cod will differ depending on your location, supermarket, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. In addition, whether the scrod is from a cod, haddock or pollock will change the price of the scrod.

Scrod from haddock is slightly less expensive than cod and scrod from cod is the same price as cod. The average cost for haddock is $15.99 per pound while the average cost for cod is $16.99 per pound. Scrod made from cod is also $16.99 per pound.

I checked FreshDirect online for the current prices of each.

  • Fresh, wild caught cod fillet
    • $16.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild haddock fillet
    • $15.99 per pound

Why Is It Called Scrod?

The different folk etymologies behind the word can give some great insight into the ways scrod has historically been used.

The most popular (and apocryphal) story of scrod’s origin is the word was born from the prestigious Boston Omni Parker Hotel, where quality was its greatest selling point. The hotel would only purchase the best fish from the market. This usually meant whichever fish hadn’t been left at the bottom of a pile of fish for several days.

This allegedly meant they would buy only the young, firm fish that sat on top of the piles, which would be perfect to serve filleted.

These fish were called scrod because of their high quality regardless of species. It was simply the luck of the draw what kind of fish happened to be on top.

Of course, the recorded use of the word dates back to decades before the Omni Parker Hotel even opened its doors. This makes this account of the term’s origin somewhat obviously false.

Other commonly cited origin stories tend to hinge on the word being an acronym. The most widely circulated of these is “Select Catch Ready On Dock.” This reflects the way the term is usually used to refer to relatively high-quality fish and any of several different kinds of fish.

However, experts say it’s in fact incredibly rare for acronyms to pass into normal phraseology in that way. This makes this story for the word’s beginnings significantly less probable. It is, however, a part of many people’s narratives on the topic.

This certainly affects how the word is used in the modern-day, even if it isn’t the origin of the phrase.

The academically accepted etymology of the term is an evolution of the archaic dutch word “scrood,” which means something like “cut up into small pieces.” This makes sense, as one of the only things about scrod seems to be consistent is it’s always filleted.

It could also be derived from the Cornish word “scraw,” which means to “split, salt and dry”

This doesn’t make as much sense as scrod isn’t usually dried or salted, only split. However, there could be any number of reasons this might have changed over time.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Fish vs Fish Articles!

Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

White Bass vs Striped Bass: The Key Differences

Steelhead vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Char vs. Salmon – A Complete Comparison

  1. Wikipedia: Cod []
  2. Wikipedia: Scrod []
  3. Britannica: scrod []
  4. Learn about Atlantic cod []
  5. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic, cod []
  6. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, haddock []
  7. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, pollock []
  8. NOAA Fisheries: Atlantic Cod []
  9. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish []

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