Sockeye vs King Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Sockeye and King salmon are both popular choices when it comes to specific types of salmon. What are the similarities and differences between Sockeye and King salmon?

Sockeye salmon has fewer calories, less fat, less cholesterol and more protein than king salmon. However, king salmon has less sodium, more calcium and potassium than sockeye salmon. King salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids and has a less pronounced flavor than sockeye salmon.

Now you know about some of the differences, you are likely wondering how they’re similar or different in taste and texture. In addition, I’ll examine if you can substitute one for the other, their costs, mercury levels and a side-by-side nutrient comparison.

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Sockeye vs King Salmon Flavor

Sockeye salmon has a lot of flavor that is rich 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 king salmon.

King salmon has a rich and luxurious flavor and is considered to be one of the best tasting varieties, although sockeye is a close second. King salmon doesn’t taste or smell as fishy as sockeye salmon, especially when it is freshly caught and used soon afterward.

It is also slightly sweet and very fresh, and it has a very strong flavor that appeals to many people. However, it tastes less fishy.

King salmon has a flavor profile that is emphasized, not hidden, by many spices and seasonings, so many chefs enjoy cooking with it. It’s possible to bring out its various flavors when it’s cooked properly.

Sockeye vs King Salmon Texture

Sockeye salmon has a rich, slightly fatty texture many people enjoy. The flesh is quite firm and compact, and it has a denser texture than king salmon does. Sockeye salmon is slightly less fatty in texture compared to the king salmon, but it is the second most fatty species of salmon.

King salmon is considered high-quality and decadent, so meals featuring this fish are typically found in high-class restaurants. It has a dense, smooth, moist and meaty texture many people enjoy. It also has a rich, fatty consistency making it easy to cook with.

This makes it very appealing to most fish-lovers. The fatty consistency of the king salmon is aided by the fact it is the fattiest species of salmon.

Both sockeye and king salmon are flaky when they are cooked properly, although the king has larger flakes when it’s cut into.

Now you know about the taste and texture of sockeye and king salmon you are likely wondering about the nutrition information of a serving of both fish. Keep reading to find out what the nutrition information is.

Sockeye and King Salmon Nutrition Information

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

Nutrient King Salmon, raw

(4 Ounces)

Sockeye Salmon, raw

(4 Ounces)

Calories 212 149
Fat 13 g  5.3 g
Saturated Fat 2.1 g  0.9 g
Cholesterol 69 mg 58 mg
Protein 23 g  25 g
Omega-3 1.45 g  0.96 g
B-6 0.3 mg  0.8 mg
B-12 8.3 mcg  5.3 mcg
Thiamin 0.18 mg 0.15 mg
Riboflavin 0.19 mg 0.23 mg
B5 1.1 mg 1.2 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.4 mg
Niacin 9.5 mg  9.6 mg
Folate 17.0 mcg  6.8 mcg
Potassium 419 mg  416 mg
Magnesium 27 mg  34 mg
Phosphorus 235 mg  291 mg
Calcium 47.6 mg  10.2 mg
Zinc 0.59 mg 0.52 mg
Selenium 35.2 mcg  33.8 mcg

Nutritional value sources 1 2

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

King salmon is healthier due to its higher number of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. King salmon contains 1.45 grams of omega-3 per 4 ounces compared to 0.96 grams for sockeye. King salmon contains a higher percentage of B12, thiamin, iron, folate, potassium, calcium, zinc and selenium.

It’s hard to discount sockeye, as it’s no slouch itself. Sockeye contains less calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, although it’s due to its less omega-3s. Sockeye contains more B6, riboflavin, B5, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus.

The main reason why king salmon is healthier than most is the higher number of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure and other heart-related issues 3.

Omega-3s keep the arteries strong and healthy. They also help keep bad cholesterol levels low 4.

Whichever of the two salmons you pick, your meal will contain a high percentage of healthy nutrients 5.

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?

Ways to Cook Sockeye and King Salmon

Sockeye salmon and king salmon are both quite easy to cook. Although cooking them the right way is ideal to properly bring out all of the flavors of both types of fish.

They are both eaten in the form of fillets, but sockeye salmon can also be found in burger form while king salmon are typically only seen as fillets.

Ways to Cook Sockeye Salmon:

  • Grill (not charcoal)
  • Smoked
  • Oven
  • Pan-fried
  • Slow-roasted in oven
  • Fry

Sockeye salmon doesn’t do well when cooked on a charcoal grill because, although it has a strong flavor, the charcoal grill overpowers that flavor. No one wants to taste charcoal when they are eating fish, especially a high-quality fish like the sockeye salmon.

King salmon can be cooked in similar ways, but the flavor of the king salmon will withstand a charcoal grill, so feel free to use yours when preparing king salmon. Although the texture of king is less firm, so care needs to be taken when grilling.

Ways to Cook King Salmon:

  • Grill
  • Smoked
  • Oven
  • Pan-fried
  • Slow-roasted in oven
  • Fry
  • Sushi
  • Steamed
  • Roasted

King salmon has a high fat content which helps keep the meat moist and the consistency buttery when it is fried. You can cook king salmon in more ways than sockeye salmon because the flavor can withstand harsher cooking methods without losing its original taste.

When planning on cooking these two types of fish, keep in mind that king salmon typically takes longer to cook than sockeye salmon. This is because king salmon fillets are larger than sockeye fillets as the two fish are vastly different in size.

Now that you know how to cook king salmon and sockeye salmon, you are likely wondering what flavors you should pair with each type of fish. Keep reading to find out.

Flavors that Pair Well with Sockeye and King Salmon

sockeye salmon vs king

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. Luckily, there are many things you can add to or pair with sockeye salmon bringing out the flavor.

What to Add to Sockeye Salmon

  • Lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Maple sugar
  • Rosemary
  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Tarragon
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Coriander

What to Add to King Salmon

  • Lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Maple sugar
  • Rosemary
  • Dill
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Tarragon
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Coriander
  • Sesame

You can add most vegetables to a dish featuring sockeye or king salmon as the meat, but asparagus works particularly well with these two fish species.

Sockeye Salmon and King Salmon Substitutes

Sometimes it is difficult to find time to get sockeye or king salmon, especially if you don’t live near a fish market and want to purchase fresh fish. Luckily, many types of fish can serve as a substitute for sockeye or King salmon.

You can use any of the fish below as a substitute for these fish.

Substitutes for Sockeye and King Salmon:

  • Pollack
  • Hake
  • Halibut
  • Cod
  • Trout
  • Seabass

Although there are many substitutes for sockeye and King salmon, if you use a substitute, the dish won’t taste exactly the way it originally would because the fish is different from the one the recipe you are using requires.

Even if you use a good substitute, the fish you use will have a different flavor profile than the sockeye or king salmon. Can sockeye substitute for king salmon?

Sockeye 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. Sockeye’s firmer texture will hold up better when grilling. When substituting sockeye for king, certain sauces that go well with an oily fish like king salmon won’t go as well with sockeye 6.

Differences in the Appearance of Sockeye and King Salmon

King salmon and sockeye salmon look similar after they have been cut. Both sockeye and king salmon meat are red in color, but sockeye salmon is a bright red color while king salmon is a deep red or pinkish-red color.

Sockeye salmon flesh range in color from orange to or bright red, although the red color can be very dark depending on the diet of the sockeye salmon. Sockeye salmon eat plankton and crustaceans, and the more they eat, the darker their flesh color will be 7.

If you don’t want to identify sockeye salmon by the color of their meat, then you can identify them by their smell. Sockeye salmon has a stronger fish scent than king salmon.

King salmon flesh ranges in color from white to deep red, although the red-colored king salmon flesh is more popular and is often considered to be better than white-fleshed king salmon 8.

King salmon fillets are larger than sockeye salmon fillets because king salmon are much larger than sockeye salmon. King salmon is actually one of the largest species of salmon, and sockeye salmon are much smaller and denser in size and texture.

Now that you know how to identify king and sockeye salmon, you are likely wondering which one is better than the other and which one is more expensive.

Sockeye vs King Salmon: Size, Weight and Habitat Differences

What is the difference between sockeye salmon and king salmon?

King salmon are longer and weigh more than the sockeye salmon. The average king is between 10-50 pounds while the sockeye is 4-15 pounds. King salmon grows up to 36 inches long and the sockeye up to 31 inches. The king salmon and sockeye inhabit 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 9.

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 10.

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.

king salmon vs sockeye

King Salmon and Sockeye Availability and Costs

Sockeye salmon can be found fresh at your local fish market or frozen at your local grocery store. Sometimes, you can find fresh sockeye salmon at your grocery store, but it varies depending on the grocery store and the demand for sockeye salmon at that location.

King salmon is slightly harder to find and can mainly be found at local fish markets rather than at your local grocery store.

King salmon is more expensive than sockeye salmon because it is quite hard to successfully catch them. Also, the fish are quite large which means the fillets are large and cost quite a bit of money.

The exact price of a king salmon fillet will vary depending on where you are getting it from. In addition, how fresh it is and the weight of the fillets you choose to purchase.

Although sockeye salmon is cheaper than king salmon, it is still quite expensive. Sockeye salmon typically costs $15 to $25 per pound, although that varies on where you are getting it from and how fresh it is.

King salmon has a more luxurious, buttery flavor than sockeye salmon and people tend to prefer king salmon over sockeye salmon because of that fact. The demand for king salmon contributes to the high price.

I checked my local Shoprite for the current prices of each. I was unable to find king salmon there.

  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $20 per pound.
  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $18 per pound

I checked FreshDirect and found the price for sockeye and king salmon:

  • Wild sockeye fillet, frozen
    • $16.50 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.

Sockeye vs King Salmon: Which One Has More Mercury?

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration have issued warnings regarding mercury levels in fish. They also provide recommendations about how often people should consume them per week 12.

This is especially important for pregnant women, developing children and breastfeeding. Mercury is especially harmful to children to consume because they are in crucial stages of development both physically and mentally.

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

Sockeye and king salmon 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 king salmon compared to coho salmon, check out my article here, Coho Salmon vs King: What’s The Difference?

Wrapping Up The Sockeye and King Salmon Comparison

King salmon has a less poignant fishy smell and taste than sockeye salmon, so people who don’t like the fishy taste of salmon tend to choose King salmon.

However, sockeye has a stronger flavor than King salmon, so people who enjoy eating foods with strong flavors tend to prefer eating sockeye salmon over King salmon.

King salmon has more omega-3 fatty acids than sockeye salmon, so people who are trying to prevent heart disease tend to choose king salmon over sockeye salmon 13.

However, sockeye salmon has fewer calories and more protein than King salmon. Therefore, people who are trying to lose weight and are on a high protein diet tend to choose sockeye salmon over king salmon.

Both King and sockeye salmon are great salmon choices having much flavor and a wonderful texture, but king salmon is more buttery in texture. Both salmon are quite easy to cook as well.

Overall, which one is better is up to you, your preferences, and your needs in the fish you eat. Go to your local fish market and look at the king and sockeye salmon they have available for you to purchase.

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 Fish Articles!

Coho Salmon vs Sockeye: What’s The Difference?

Pink Salmon vs Sockeye: The Complete Comparison

Salmon Oil vs Fish Oil: Which Is Better?

Sea Bass vs. Salmon: Which Is Better?

Tuna vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Tilapia vs Salmon: A Comparison

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: Fish, raw, (Alaska Native), king (chinook), 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. USDA: Chinook King Salmon[]
  6. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  7. University of Washington: Studying Sockeye Salmon[]
  8. Alaska’s Wild Salmon[]
  9. NOAA Fisheries: Chinook Salmon[]
  10. Wikipedia: Chinook salmon[]
  11. NOAA Fisheries: Sockeye Salmon[]
  12. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  13. FDA: Seafood Nutrition Facts[]

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