Different trout species have different flavors. Rainbow trout are probably the most commonly eaten trout. Rainbow are even found in grocery stores sometimes. Other trout, like brook trout and brown trout, are rarely found in stores. If you want to sample those, you generally have to catch them yourself. As freshwater fish, they are often more mild than saltwater ones. Many trout taste like milder salmon. When it comes to salmon vs trout, it really depends on individual tastes.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout often have a very mild taste. Some people described it as slightly nut-like. The flesh should be pale and flaky. If not white, then very light orange or pink. If there is a fishy taste or odor, it’s likely the fish has gone off.

Rainbow trout are similar to salmon in appearance and flavor. The fish are very similar and could even be caught in the same waters. Farmed trout may be considered too bland for some people. The trout tend to taste too plain.

Brown Trout

Brown trout are known to have a strong flavor. Especially larger brown trout. The taste can be a little fishy and off-putting to some people. As a result, some chefs recommend soaking filets in milk overnight. Brown trout have a high oil content. If you soak it overnight in milk, this will draw much of the oil out. That tames the fishy flavor and also tenderizes the meat a bit. Brown trout often tastes like whatever the fish has been feeding on.

Citrus pairs very well with brown trout. Also bolder flavors. Smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic and more will add a punch to brown trout. Even marinated with barbecue sauce and cooked on the grill.

Speckled Trout

Speckled trouts have a delicate, mild flavor. They pair nicely with sharper flavors and seasonings. Cooked in white wine or with lemon the speckled trout could be very delicious. If they are sauteed on high heat, the skin will get crispy and tasty as well. These trout taste more pleasant than browns to most people.

Dolly Varden

The flavor of Dolly Varden has been described as a cross between salmon and trout. The flesh can range from pale to a deep red shade. If you’re getting a muddy flavor, it’s possible you’ve caught a bull trout and mistaken it for a Dolly Varden. They do look very similar but they don’t taste like one another.

Lake Trout

Lake trout can grow very large and are fun to fish for. However, they are not prized for their flavor. Many anglers consider lake trout greasy. The flavor can be very fishy because of the fat content. Like brown trout, lake trout is good to soak in something like milk overnight.

The flavor of Lake trout depends on the fish’s diet, of course. In the Great Lakes, some lake trout can be quite tasty. Pale-fleshed lake trout will have a more unpleasant flavor than orange-fleshed.

Arctic Char

Arctic char has a rich flavor that borders on salmon. It tastes like a milder salmon, however. You could almost describe it as creamy as well. It has a fairly high fat content. However, it is not greasy like some fish. The flesh should be pink to red. Arctic char lends itself well to smoking. It also does very well on the grill. You can even use it to make sushi. You need to know that it should be frozen for 24 hours first before making sushi, however. That’s a precaution to kill any potential parasites.


People sometimes ask is steelhead a salmon or a trout. Because trout and salmon are both members of the same family of fish, it’s hard to tell. Steelhead is very much like a cross between the two in terms of taste. They are technically trout, but they behave like salmon. They also taste like mild salmon. The flesh has a medium flakiness. It also has an orange to pink color.

Best Seasoning for Trout

You can always eat trout plain or with a little salt and pepper. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it should still be tasty. But the right seasoning can really elevate the flavor. There are some seasonings that work especially well with trout.

Butter: Not a seasoning exactly, but fish always tastes great when you add butter. Because it’s fat, it adds richness. And the flavor of butter naturally compliments fish.

Lemon: The acidity and freshness of lemon is a great addition to trout. The acidity helps break down the protein and will play off the natural saltiness. Sour and salty are two prominent flavor combinations that work very well together. If you use butter, which is common with lemon as well, you add a bit of a sweet element to add further complexity.

You may have heard somewhere that lemon is used to mask fishy flavor. This is because it breaks down something called amines in fish. There are many websites that talk about this. It’s not technically true, however. If you’ve ever eaten fresh fish, you know it doesn’t have a fishy taste. That fishy smell people talk about means fish has gone bad. Amines are chemically similar to ammonia. They smell and are present when fish goes off. Lemon could cover this up. But that’s not why we add it to fish. It pairs well with fish because it tastes good. You shouldn’t have to use lemon to cover up the taste of bad fish. If your fish is bad, don’t eat it.

Dill: Dill is a classical herb pairing with fish. It adds brightness to the fish. Also, a freshness. because dill is a strong, slightly sweet herb flavor, it pairs well with mild tasting fish.

Garlic: Garlic is another classic combo with trout. It has a robust and pungent flavor. Roasted, it even adds sweetness to fish. This makes a subtle and dynamic flavor profile.

Best Ways to Cook Trout

Pan-Fried: Pan-frying is an easy and tasty way to cook trout. This application is great for mild trout like rainbows. If you like crispy skin, this is the best method. Pan-fried with butter and seasonings will infuse flavor into the fish. It’s also a fast way to get the fish cooked. This is a good method for milder freshwater fish that need a flavor boost.

Battered: Trout is delicious as one half of fish and chips. When you mix up a crispy beer batter and coat the trout it fries up well. The light flaky texture of trout works really well with the heaviness of a crispy batter. It’s not the healthiest method, but it tastes great.

Grilled: You can grill trout whole or as fillets. Because trout is so delicate, you need to make sure the grill is well oiled. You should brush the oil on the fish as well. When you grill whole trout, you can stuff the inside with seasonings. Lemon, garlic, and so on. You need to be using a very clean grill for trout. Any char or residue will cause the trout to stick. Because it’s so delicate, it will then fall apart easily. Make sure your grill is at a high enough heat to cook the trout quickly so that it will stay together. Fillets of trout should cook in about 8 minutes, while a whole trout should take no more than 10 or 12.

Baked: Because of how light trout is, many cooks choose to bake it. That reduces the chance to damage it before the cooking is done. You can put it in the oven with whatever seasonings are sauces you choose. It takes a little more time than frying or grilling, but is less work.

Final Thoughts

Most trout have a mild enough flavor that even those who don’t always like fish will enjoy. It’s best to eat when it’s still very fresh. Sometimes just a little salt and pepper is all you’ll need. Try some different recipes to see which flavor profiles you like best. Remember, if it smells or tastes fishy, it may be off.