The Top 7 Types of Salmon

  • 01 of 07

    So Many Salmon!

    Different Salmon Species
    Types of Salmon. Chris Arend / Design Pics/Getty Images

    If you want wild-caught salmon, you want Pacific salmon. That's not because wild-caught Atlantic salmon wouldn't be fabulous if we could get it, but the Atlantic salmon sold commercially are all farm-raised. Yep. All of them. Luckily, Pacific salmon are great fish. The Pacific Ocean is home to six types of salmon, and U.S. and Canadian boats fish five of them: King, Sockeye, Silver, Pink, and Chum. To confuse matters, each of these has at least one other name as well as their Latin name,...MORE as noted below. I've listed them by the most common names I see at markets.

    Oh, and that Copper River salmon you've heard so much about? It's not its own species; it can be king, sockeye, or coho. But on thing's for sure, it's always Pacific!

    Not so worried about what kind of salmon you have, but want to know how to cook it? See How to Cook Salmon to get started.

    Continue to 2 of 7 below.
  • 02 of 07

    Chinook Salmon / King Salmon

    Chinook Salmon
    King Salmon. Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

    Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha), also known as King salmon, are considered by many to be the best-tasting of the salmon bunch. They have a very high fat content and corresponding rich flesh that ranges from white to a deep red color.

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  • 03 of 07

    Coho Salmon / Silver Salmon

    Coho Salmon
    Silver Salmon. Sara Rosso/Getty Images

    Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) are sometimes called silver salmon or "silvers" because of their especially silver skin. They have bright red flesh and a slightly more delicate texture than Chinook salmon but a similar flavor.

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  • 04 of 07

    Pink Salmon/ Humpies/ Humpback Salmon

    Pink Salmon. Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

    Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbusha) are the most common Pacific salmon. They have very light colored and flavored flesh and a low fat content. Pink salmon are often canned, but also sold fresh, frozen, and smoked. They are sometimes called "humpies" or humpback salmon because of the distinctive hump they develop on their back when they spawn as you can see in the picture.

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  • 05 of 07

    Red Salmon / Sockeye Salmon

    Red Salmon
    Sockeye Salmon. Patrick J. Endres/Getty Images

    Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) salmon are noted for their bright red-orange flesh and deep rich flavor. They are known as "reds" both for their dark flesh color and because they turn deep red (from the bright silver pictured here, which is how you'll see them at markets since the commercial catch is caught at sea) as they move upstream to spawn. Learn more about sockeye salmon here.

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  • 06 of 07

    Salmo Salar / Atlantic Salmon

    Atlantic Salmon
    Salmo salar Salmon. Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst/Getty Images

    While the Pacific is home to several species of salmon, the Atlantic has but the one, the species Salmo salar, commonly known simply as Atlantic salmon. All commercially available Atlantic salmon is farmed. While farmed salmon has a bad reputation in terms of sustainability, salmon farming techniques have made great strides towards greater sustainability, so it's worth looking into the specific source if sustainability is important to you.

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  • 07 of 07

    Silverbrite Salmon/ Chum Salmon/ Keta Salmon/ Dog Salmon

    Keta Salmon
    Chum Salmon. Dave Blackey/Getty Images

    Chum (Oncorhynchus keta) is also called dog salmon for its dog-like teeth. Keta comes from its species name and is a way to get away from the negative association chum sometimes has. Keta is a smaller fish – averaging about 8 pounds – with pale to medium-colored flesh and a lower fat content than other salmon. Chum is usually canned or sold frozen to foreign markets.