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Best Halibut Substitutes

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

If you’re looking for a substitute for halibut, a white meat fish, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several options such as Striped bass, flounder, haddock and sole.

What is Halibut?

Halibut Fish

Halibut is the largest member of the flatfish family and lives on the seabeds of the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Arctic oceans. This sweet-tasting, firm-textured fish is an excellent lean fish best served baked, fried, grilled, or steamed. They’re low in fat and calories and are rich in protein, selenium, omega-3s, Vitamin B, and other minerals.

Additionally, halibut is one of the most expensive delicacies on the market, high in demand for its nutritional properties. Consider using a halibut substitute if you have a dish that requires halibut but can’t find any at your local market.

Related: Recommended Anchovy Substitutes

1. Striped Bass

Striped Bass as halibut substitute
Striped Bass

Striped bass spend most of their adult lives in the ocean and travel to freshwater locations to respawn several times. Named after the horizontal stripes on their bodies, this silver-bellied Atlantic coastline fish measure between 16 to 30 inches long and weigh up to 69 pounds.

One reason this type of bass works as a halibut substitution is its texture and appearance. Like halibut, it’s a white fish with firm and tender meat. However, it also shares similar leanness, making it more susceptible to overcooking, so paying attention to its temperatures would be wise.

Flavor-wise, striped bass is mild and sweet, like halibut, and doesn’t have a potent fishy flavor like mackerel or herring, making it a go-to ingredient for recipes requiring halibut steaks.

For instance, you can add lemon, olive oil, butter, sea salt, or other seasonings to striped bass to create a savory meal. You can also pair it with a side of sautéed vegetables or quinoa to add more nutritional value.

The best cooking methods for striped bass include baking, broiling, grilling, poaching, and oven or pan-frying.

2. Flounder

Flounder as substitute for halibut
Flounder Fish

Another fish that makes an excellent substitute for halibut is flounder. It’s another member of the flatfish family, consisting of about 30 species, and you can find them throughout the bottom of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Their skin varies from tan to white, but their meat is moist and white.

Like halibut, it’s low in calories and fat and rich in omega-3s, selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. In addition, many people enjoy using flounder as a halibut substitute due to their flatfish connection. However, unlike halibut, flounder meat is more tender, making it unsuitable for grilling.

Flounder has a mild and sweet flavor, similar to halibut’s taste properties. However, its subtlety allows you to experiment with your seasonings to create a flavor that matches your preferences. While most filets don’t have a fishy taste, their overall flavor depends on the type of flounder used.

Additionally, flounder has a flaky texture, and its skin is flavorfully sweet. When cooked, it retains its moisture and texture. Although you can’t grill flounder because of its delicate tenderness, the best cooking methods for flounder preparation include broiling, baking, frying, and poaching. Wrapping it in foil is another step to consider when cooking it.

Herbs and lemon juice can enhance your flounder’s flavor when using it for a halibut recipe; dishes also work best when coupled with a small bowl of vegetables or salad. You can also bread filets to enhance their flavor when baking or frying them.

3. Haddock

Haddock fish similar to halibut
Haddock Fish

Haddock is a member of the cod family found in the cool waters of the North Atlantic. They grow fast, measure between one to three feet long, and weigh two to seven pounds. They can produce between 850,000 to three million eggs per year.

It has a mild taste, but it has a hint of sweetness like our other top substitutes. Its texture is soft yet firm and doesn’t contain lots of fat. However, its delicate characteristics make it prone to overcooking and undercooking, so measuring its temperature is essential to cook it properly.

It makes an excellent substitute for halibut when you want to bake, fry, poach, sauté, or broil it. However, its low oil content makes it unsuitable for grilling and dries out quickly when steamed.

Haddock is primarily used for fish and chips, but you can serve a filet with roasted vegetables or potatoes. Adding a pinch of garlic powder or cayenne pepper for a zesty contrast is another fun way to experiment with your flavor possibilities.

4. Sole

Sole as substitute for halibut
Sole Fish

Another fish similar to halibut you should consider using for your recipes is sole, another member of the flatfish family. The most common type of sole, also known as the Dover sole, lives in sandy seabeds in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. They weigh at least ten pounds and measure up to 30 inches long.

It has smooth skin with a white underbelly and meat. In addition, it contains several vitamins and nutrients vital for your health, including vitamin B and magnesium.

Sole has a mild, sweet, and buttery flavor that many cooks desire. Its richness increases when cooked with its skin on. It makes an excellent alternative to halibut if you want to create dishes that don’t taste too fishy.

Topping sole fish with capers, lemon, or black pepper is an excellent way to add variety to your dish. The best methods for cooking sole meals include baking, steaming, and grilling. You can also fry it with or without its skin.

5. Cod

Cod Fish

Cod live in the colder waters of the Atlantic Ocean, stretching across the United States’ east coast. They can measure up to almost 50 inches and weigh up to over 70 pounds. Although they prefer swimming in cold water during the day, they’re active year-round and commonly found after a storm.

Their most prominent physical features include:

  • Brown or olive skin
  • A lateral line running across their bodies
  • A barbel underneath their jaw

As one of the most popular fish used for cooking, it makes an excellent substitute for halibut due to its similar sweet and mild taste and nutrient composition. Cod tends to be more affordable than halibut, although the prices can shift during a great fishing season.

You can serve cod with fresh vegetables, coleslaw, or french fries on the side. Enhancing its flavor with basil or paprika can make your dish look appealing and give it a subtle flavor boost. Thanks to its flaky skin, it’s a fish that offers lots of versatility.

You can bake, broil, sauté, poach, and fry cod to make several unique dishes from halibut recipes. However, it might be challenging to grill cod because of its tender flesh, so it would be wise to cook it until its skin is crispy, so it doesn’t fall apart when turning it over when placed on a grilling rack.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Tell if My Fish is Cooked to Its Ideal Temperature?

As your halibut substitution cooks, it becomes opaque. Additionally, its texture becomes more firm and flaky, depending on what fish you cook.

You can test this out by twisting a fork at a 45-degree angle and pulling bits of meat out from the thickest portion of the fish. If the texture becomes too hard, it’s overcooked.

Why Can’t I Put Some Fish on the Grill Like I Do When Cooking Halibut?

Some halibut alternatives have more delicate skin than halibut. As a result, their meat is more prone to overcooking and falls apart more easily when flipped over on a grill. One method you can try to avoid this is by broiling your fish with breadcrumbs.

Should I Buy My Halibut or Substitutions Fresh or Frozen?

While using fresh or frozen fish depends on your cooking preferences, the nutrients remain the same in both. However, storing a frozen fish fillet or steak keeps it fresh for extended periods, making it more convenient to gather your additional ingredients without worrying about it spoiling quickly.

Which Nutrients Should I Look For in a Fish Similar to Halibut?

Halibut is high in lean protein and low in calories and fat. When looking for a substitute for your dishes, consider using one with phosphorus, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin D, and selenium. Some examples of fish with similar nutritional value include cod, haddock, and sole.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating These Fish?

The benefits of eating white fish like halibut and cod include:

Preventing inflammation
Boosting your immune system
Enhancing your bone density and strength
Balancing your cholesterol
Any of the fish you pick from this list will give you these benefits when eating them.


Halibut makes an excellent main course for any occasion but might not always be available at your local market or within your price range. Although it might be challenging to find a substitute for your recipes, it’s not impossible.

Several types of fish share the same sweet yet mild taste this flatfish has and can be prepared through the same cooking methods. Additionally, they don’t have a potent fishy flavor, like salmon or sardines. However, some fish can be more sensitive to overcooking because of their delicate texture.

Although our top alternatives share several similar vitamins and minerals, each one lets you experiment with several seasonings, spices, and sides to create the best-tasting meals for you and your peers.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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