There are dozens of reasons to add more fish to your diet. It’s a healthy source of protein and many types are lean on calories and fat. But the real perk is all the omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that our bodies don’t produce autonomously. Omega-3s can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure and triglycerides and reduce inflammation. In fact, studies have shown that one to two three-ounce servings of fatty fish a week can potentially reduce your risk of fatal heart disease by 36 percent. Fish also works wonders for your brain: Researchers have found that eating baked or broiled fish once a week can significantly lower your risk of Alzheimer’s. Read on for 20 different types of fish to eat along with a few of our favorite seafood recipes—your body will thank you.
Texture and taste: rich, tender, buttery
It’s a weeknight mainstay for a reason. Salmon is beloved for its versatility, quick cook time and mild flavor. Even fish haters can get down with its subtle taste, especially if it’s in a creamy sauce or coated in spices or fruit salsa. Like most fish, salmon can be baked, broiled, pan-fried, sauteed, slow-cooked and grilled. It’s versatile enough to pair with everything from a crisp salad to lemon pasta. Wild salmon tends to be a bit lower in fat and higher in protein, vitamins and minerals, so choose it over farmed when possible.
Texture and taste: fatty, meaty, firm
Tuna is another popular choice, thanks to its mild but luxurious flavor and versatility. The light canned kind—which is typically skipjack tuna—is the leanest and lowest in mercury. Bluefin, yellowfin and white tuna (aka albacore) tend to be higher in mercury, but not detrimentally so—it’s still safe to eat them all in moderation. Tuna steaks are prime for searing in a pan or popping on the grill. Tuna is also popularly served raw in poke bowls and sushi.
Texture and taste: flaky, mild
Due to its minimal fishiness and subtle flavor, tilapia is our go-to recommendation for people who don’t think they like fish. Because its natural taste is so bland, tilapia can seamlessly lend itself to a wide range of ingredients and flavors. It’s one of the leanest and most versatile options on the market, as well as one of the lowest in mercury. Tilapia is particularly great for pan-frying, baking and freezing for later use. It’s a common choice for fish tacos, ceviche and fish and chips.
Texture and taste: firm, mild, slightly sweet
If you’re searching for a low-calorie protein that cooks up in a flash, look no further than cod. Every three-ounce serving contains less than 100 calories and a single gram of fat. It’s also high in bone-boosting phosphorus. Odds are you can find both Atlantic and Pacific cod at your supermarket; Atlantic is a bit drier, firmer and sweeter than Pacific, which is super delicate in texture, but it’s typically only available from January to March. Cod is great for baking, broiling or frying, as well as in seafood stews and chowders.
5. Red Snapper
Texture and taste: flaky, slightly sweet
Odds are you’ll see red snapper cut into fillets with the skin still on at the supermarket. If you want to make the most sustainable choice, go for a cut caught near Texas, Louisiana, Alabama or the Florida Gulf instead of Mexico (it’ll be easiest to find over the summer). Red snapper can be baked, broiled and poached just like any other fish, but it’s particularly delicious grilled or fried whole. Cut the fish down the middle and make slits into the sides for citrus, herbs and aromatics, wrap it in foil or banana leaves, then steam or grill it until it’s crisp and cooked through.
Texture and taste: oily, dense, meaty
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Don’t knock tinned fish until you try it. Not only is it delicious and a low-lift way to get some protein, but tinned fish is packed with vitamins and nutrients. For instance, there are more omega-3s in a serving of sardines than a serving of salmon or tuna, plus the added bonus of calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Sardines also contain minimal mercury since they’re tiny and their only source of food is plankton. Their flavor depends heavily on what they’re packed in, but they’re typically oily and dense across the board in texture. Sardines pair well with citrusy, acidic foods like capers and lemons; they can be grilled or roasted whole, chopped and mixed into pasta, used as a fancy toast topper or eaten straight out of the tin.
Texture and taste: oily, bony, delicate
Herring is beloved around the world, but it’s especially commonplace in Sweden. There, it’s eaten both fresh and pickled, and it’s commonly consumed on New Year’s Day for good luck. Herring is also popular in Germany, where it’s served pickled, rolled and stuffed in a dish called rollmop. Herring is rich with omega-3s (about one-and-a-half grams for every three-ounce serving), iron and antioxidants, plus it’s low in mercury due to its small size. There are many types of fish in the herring family, including shad, which is oily and great for serving whole. (Shad is also beloved for its salty roe.) Snack on tinned herring fillets or buy them whole for frying, grilling, smoking or pickling.
Texture and taste: oily, salty, umami-rich
The savory secret to a killer Caesar dressing is ready to make its dinnertime debut. Like herring and sardines, anchovies boast a ton of omega-3s in a teeny-tiny package—nearly one-and-a-half grams per serving. Anchovies are also the key to the bold umami in fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce. They’re so salty and savory that they even make a solid substitute for capers in a pinch. Many chefs keep them on hand canned or jarred in olive oil and salt, so they can quickly be added to a recipe for depth and complexity. Smash anchovies into a paste to take your next marinade to a whole new level.
Texture and taste: firm, tender, mildly sweet
Even the pickiest of eaters just might be able to get behind this whitefish, thanks to its mild flavor, flaky but meaty texture and minimal fishiness. Better yet, it’s also nutritious, since it boasts 57 percent of your daily vitamin B12 and 21 grams of protein in every three-ounce serving, and it’s low in mercury to boot. Haddock is great for breading and frying (we’re partial to a Southern-style buttermilk breading), but you can also braise, bake, roast or pan-fry it.
Texture and taste: mild, slightly sweet, firm
If you like fish like tilapia or halibut, put flounder on your grocery list, stat. It’s just as versatile, mild and delicate with that signature subtle sweetness in flavor. Flounder is also minimally oily, which makes it lower in omega-3s than some other options. Nevertheless, it’s still a healthy choice overall and can be cooked in a variety of ways, from steaming to baking to broiling. Flounder also takes well to breading and frying. Keep an eye out for summer flounder (aka northern fluke) in the early spring—its texture is extra fine and its skin is edible.
11. Rainbow Trout
Texture and taste: delicate, nutty, flaky
Your gut may tell you wild fish is better than farmed, but that’s not always the case. Wild-caught fish can sometimes have a bigger environmental impact. All U.S. rainbow trout are farm-raised for this reason, usually in freshwater ponds or flow-through raceways. (It doesn’t hurt that farm-raised fish tend to be less expensive too.) Rainbow trout is packed with protein and omega-3s, and it’s often sold whole since the fish is on the smaller side. Other types of trout include steelhead trout and Arctic char, but they may be tougher to find at a supermarket near you. Trout is delicious grilled, baked, pan-fried and roasted.
Texture and taste: mild, sweet, moist
Named for their “whiskers” (they’re called barbels BTW), catfish are beyond simple to cook at home. They can be poached, baked, grilled or even chopped and added to stew, but it’s most famously enjoyed breaded and fried. Just take care not to overcook it so it stays flaky and delicate; otherwise, it could turn dry or chewy.
13. Alaskan Pollock
Texture and taste: flaky, mild
Odds are you’ve had Alaskan pollock without even knowing it: Its mild flavor and light body makes it a common choice for frozen fish sticks and other battered fish foods. Alaskan pollock is super flaky, making it ideal for sauteing, baking or frying. It has minimal fishiness, so it’s a solid option for fish haters and picky kids. (It’s also a cheaper but uncanny substitute for cod.) Opt for wild-caught Alaskan pollock when you can, as it has some of the lowest mercury content of all wild fish.
Texture and taste: firm, mild, lean
There are *tons* of bass varieties out there, from black sea bass to sunshine bass. (Even branzino is a type of bass, but more on that later.) You might think the most popular type in the U.S. is Chilean sea bass, or Patagonian toothfish, but it isn’t actually part of the bass family at all, despite also having firm flesh and a rich taste. Generally, all types of bass are sturdy, versatile and full of flavor, making them great for grilling and pan-frying. Search for striped bass if you want a sustainable type.
15. Pacific Halibut
Texture and taste: firm, meaty, mild
If you don’t consider yourself a fish person (heck, even if you consider yourself a fish hater), Pacific halibut is a nice place to start. It has minimal fishiness in flavor, as well as a palatable, firm mouthfeel that makes it feel meatier than some other fish, thanks to its higher collagen content. Pacific halibut is also loaded with potassium and vitamin D. Like flounder, halibut is a flatfish, meaning it swims sideways and has both eyes on one side of its body. Its texture makes it great for roasting and broiling, since it won’t dry out, but you can also pan-sear, bake, grill or braise it. Avoid Atlantic halibut if possible, as it’s already overfished.
Texture and taste: meaty, dense, oily
Needless to say, swordfish are named for their sharp “sword” bills that they use to hunt. Thanks to their meaty texture and dense flesh, swordfish are great for cubing and grilling or searing by the steak. Because of how they’re caught, swordfish tend to be on the pricy side, so save it for the menu for your next fancy dinner party to justify the splurge.
Texture and taste: lean, firm, dry
Pike is popular in Canada, but well worth a try if you can find it near you stateside. Due to its naturally dry texture, pike is prime for poaching and stuffing since those methods will make it juicier. It can also be fried or seared. Of course, you can always douse it in an acidic or vinegary sauce to impart some moisture too. Whatever you do, just be sure to ask the fishmonger to skin it (or carefully skin it yourself); its exterior has a distinct smell and taste that could taint the flesh if it’s cooked skin-on.
18. Atlantic Mackerel
Texture and taste: flaky, oily, rich
Some of the vitamin-rich fish on this list may make this surprising, but not many foods contain a ton of natural vitamin D. Then there’s mackerel, which is not only packed to the gills with it, but it also contains 21 grams of protein per fillet. It has a rich, soft texture and a pronounced flavor that’s sweet and fishy, kind of like tuna. The darker parts of its meat have a stronger taste, so feel free to cut them out for a milder flavor. It’s commonly roasted, baked, pan-seared and even fried. Atlantic mackerel is our pick for its low mercury content (king and Spanish mackerel alternatively have high mercury levels).
19. Branzino (European Sea Bass)
Texture and taste: firm, mild, meaty
You’ve definitely seen this fish on the menu at a fancy restaurant, likely roasted or grilled whole. But branzino is easy to cook at home, too. When cooked with its skin on, the outside turns crisp while the meat inside stays juicy and moist. Despite usually being served whole, branzino is also easy to fillet.
20. Mahi-Mahi (Dolphinfish)
Texture and taste: firm, sweet
This pick is super lean since it’s only 1 percent fat by weight. Mahi-mahi has sweet, moist flesh that makes it a solid alternative to tuna or salmon. A tropical fish, mahi-mahi is often paired with warm spices, acidic marinades and fruit salsas starring mango or pineapple. Even better, its firm structure means it can hold its shape against any marinade or cooking method, even grilling. Look for mahi-mahi sourced from Ecuador if you’d like to shop sustainably.