Flounder and cod fillets sit on a wood cutting board.

Flounder vs. Cod: Which Is Better?

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You’re standing in the grocery aisle looking at fish options for your ‘new recipe of the week’ resolution and the Cod and Flounder are both looking pretty much the same. If you’re curious about all the details on Flounder vs. Cod (or just have ten minutes to burn until your next virtual meeting), let’s get aligned on some key takeaways.

Cod vs. Flounder: The Basics

Flounder and Pacific Cod are both saltwater fish that are popular protein choices of fish lovers worldwide.”Flounder is actually a group of flat fish that hang out on the bottom of oceans. Cod are saltwater lovers living in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. When prepared, both fish offer similar mild flavors and health benefits.

Pacific CodFlounder
FlavorMild, slightly sweet flavorDelicate and mild
TextureFirm and FlakySoft and delicate
Cooked ColorWhiteSlightly translucent
Ideal CookingBaking, frying, grilling, broilingPoaching, steaming, sautéing
Nutritional BenefitsHigh in vitamin B12 and seleniumRich in omega-3 fatty acids
Fish ColorBrownish with dark spotsTypically brown with red, orange, green, and blue markings
Fish ShapeTypical fish ‘torpedo’ shapeFlat with both eyes on one side
Fish Length24-36 inchesVaries, typically 12-14 inches
Fish Weight5-25 lbs4-22 lbs
Max Age18 years15 years
EnvironmentSaltwater OceansSaltwater, brackish water

Flounder vs. Cod Taste

While Flounder and Cod can be swapped out in many recipes, they are different in texture, flavor, and appearance. 

Flounder offers a mild and slightly sweet taste that’s like a subtle ocean breeze. It has a delicate, flaky texture that’s practically begging for your favorite seasonings. Grilled, baked, or pan-seared, Flounder keeps it classy with every bite.

Cod has a meatier taste and firmer yet still flaky texture. If you’ve ever had fish and chips, you’ve likely had Cod. Cod steps up with a robust flavor that’s not afraid to make a statement without being overly ‘fishy’.

Does Cod Taste Like Flounder?

Well, it depends on how you cook it and how sensitive your tastebuds happen to be. Cod naturally brings a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It’s smooth and versatile. Flounder has a more subtle taste, and texture. 

So, they’re exactly the same but definitely on the same vibes. I personally think you could use them interchangeably in recipes with strong sauces or base flavors.

Detail of a cooked cod fillet cut open to reveal the flaky interior.

Which Tastes Better Cod or Flounder?

Both Cod and Flounder are mild-flavored fish with delicate textures, making them a versatile choice for many meals. Cod typically has a clean, mild taste and a firm, flaky texture. It’s known for its ability to take on different flavors.

Flounder also has a delicate flavor and a tender, flaky texture. Some people appreciate Flounder for its subtle taste and the way it easily absorbs the flavors of accompanying ingredients.

Ultimately, the choice between Cod and Flounder in terms of taste depends on individual preferences, and on the specific cooking method. Some people (like myself) prefer the slightly firmer texture of Cod, while others prefer the more tender and mild nature of Flounder. 

Trying both options in different recipes and cooking methods is the best way to discover which fish you prefer.

Packaged fillets of cod and flounder sit side by side on a wood cutting board.

Are Cod And Flounder The Same Fish?

No, they’re not fishy twins. Cod and Flounder may share the same aquatic neighborhood, but they’ve got their own styles – an eye placement. (More on that later – it gets weird.)

Cod has that firm, flaky texture and a mild taste, while Flounder takes on an even more subtle flavor and a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture. 

They’re like the dynamic duo of the fish world, each with its own fan club. To get into it a bit more, both Cod and Flounder are demersal fish, meaning they love to hang out at the bottom of the ocean floor. 

A thin piece of flounder sits on wax paper in front of a thick cod fillet.

Differences Between Flounder and Pacific Cod Fish

Flounder and Pacific Cod are distinct species with some notable differences in terms of appearance, habitat, and taste. Let’s dive into these differences:

Species and Family:

‘Flounder’ is actually the common name for a group of species of flatfish. There are several types of Flounder, including winter Flounder, summer Flounder (fluke), and more. Flounder is part of the Pleuronectidae family.

Pacific Cod, scientifically known as Gadus macrocephalus, belongs to the Gadidae family. It is a specific species of Cod found in the North Pacific Ocean.

Appearance:

Flounder has a distinct flattened body and both eyes on one side of the head. Interestingly (or slightly off-putting) both of its eyes are on the same side of its head. It is usually camouflaged to match the ocean floor, while the lower side is pale.

Habitat:

Flounder species thrive in the brackish waters of coastal areas and estuaries, and enjoy hanging out at the ocean floor. They are often associated with sandy or muddy bottoms.

Pacific Cod is typically found in the North Pacific Ocean, inhabiting both shallow and deeper waters. They are known to migrate to spawn.

Illustration of a flounder and a cod both swimming to the right.

Colors:

Cod fish appear vaguely brownish with dark spots.

Flounder colors vary based on their habitat however they are usually a brown base with the variety in the markings on their bodies ranging from reds and oranges, to greens and blues. 

Size:

Pacific Cod generally reaches lengths of about 2 to 3 feet and weighs anywhere between 5 to 25 pounds. Their size can vary a lot based on age and environment.

The term ‘Flounder’ actually encompasses various species, and their sizes can vary:

  • Winter Flounders average around 12 to 14 inches, but can grow up to 24 inches.
  • Summer Flounders (Fluke) range from about 12 to 25 inches or more.
  • Gulf Flounders are typically smaller, with lengths around 12 to 20 inches.

These are general size ranges, and individual fish within each species may fall within or outside of these ranges. Specific species of Flounder have different size characteristics.

Age:

Winter Flounder can live up to 15 years while Summer Flounder typically average only 8 years.

The lifespan of Cod species also varies between different types of Cod. Atlantic Cod can live up to 25 years (or more) in ideal conditions. Pacific Cod tend to have a shorter lifespan, typically around 12 to 18 years.

Detail view of a fillet of cod sitting on a cutting board next to a fillet of flounder showing the size differences.

Can I Use Flounder Instead Of Cod?

You can absolutely substitute Flounder for Cod and vice versa. Flounder is your trusty substitute if you’re in the mood for that mild, slightly sweet fishy flavor but with an extra touch of delicacy. Other good substitutes for Cod and Flounder include:

  • Haddock: Haddock is a close relative to Cod with a mild flavor and flaky texture. It’s a popular choice for fish and chips.
  • Pollock: Pollock has a mild taste and a texture similar to Cod. It’s often used as a more affordable alternative in various recipes.
  • Branzino: Also known as Mediterranean sea bass, branzino has a delicate flavor and flaky texture, making it a great substitute for Flounder.
  • Halibut: Halibut is a firm and meaty fish with a mild flavor. While it can be pricier than Cod, it’s a great choice for a heartier fish.
  • Trout: While trout has a slightly stronger flavor than Flounder, it works well in recipes complemented by bold flavors.
  • Hake: Hake is another white fish with a mild taste and a texture that’s comparable to Cod. It’s commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine.
  • Sole: Sole has a similar tender texture and mild flavor, making it a great substitute for Flounder or Cod in many recipes.
  • Tilapia: Tilapia is a budget-friendly option with a mild flavor that’s versatile in recipes.
  • Catfish: Catfish has a slightly stronger flavor than Cod, but it’s a good substitute, especially in Southern-style dishes.

When substituting fish choose options that most closely match what you’re substituting:

  • Match size and weight 
  • Skinless vs skin-on
  • Filets vs cross-sections 
Top view of flounder and cod fillets in a white baking dis sit on a gray granite countertop.

Is Flounder A Good Fish To Eat?

Absolutely! Flounder is like the unsung hero of the seafood world, quietly stealing hearts with its mild, white flesh. It’s a nutritious saltwater superstar, plus it’s versatile – you can bake it, saute it in your favorite pan, or stuff it. Flounder is a favorite fish worldwide.

Flounder vs Cod Nutrition Comparison

If you’re trying to add more fish to your typical meals, both Flounder and Cod are great options. 

They are both high-protein / low-calorie options – making them excellent choices for anyone prioritizing lean proteins. While Cod tends to have slightly higher levels of certain nutrients, both fish are great choices.

While it’s a close call, Cod is slightly healthier than Flounder overall because it offers more protein, vitamins, and minerals while containing less fat.

Flounder vs Cod calories

3 oz Flounder: 100 calories / 21 g protein / 1.5 g fat

3 oz Cod: 90 calories / 20 g protein / <1 g fat 

Graphic of a top view of cod vs flounder fillets.

Is Cod Or Flounder Healthier?

When it comes to the health benefits of Cod and Flounder, it’s a pretty close match. Both are lean, high-protein options that offer many health benefits. 

Cod brings more essential nutrients to the party, rocking vitamin B12, niacin, and phosphorus.

Meanwhile, Flounder is an excellent source of vitamin D and selenium. However, it takes a step back on calcium and iron compared to Cod.

In the omega-3 fatty acid department, Flounder tends to steal the spotlight with higher levels. But don’t count Cod out; it’s still playing a solid role in delivering those heart-healthy omega-3s.

So, in the grand health scheme, both Cod and Flounder are A-listers. The choice between them can come down to personal preference, taste, and what nutritional profile suits your personal dietary goals. 

Whether you opt for Cod or Flounder, you’re treating your body to a healthy dose of lean protein and essential nutrients.

Flounder and Cod Health Benefits

Both Flounder and Cod offer a range of health benefits due to their nutrient-rich profiles. Both offer lean protein rich in essential nutrients. And both have low mercury levels compared to some other fish options.

Detail of a seasoned and baked piece of flounder sits on a white plate.

Flounder and Cod Mercury Levels

Flounder and Cod contain similar mercury levels and are both listed on the FDA’s “best choices” category for mercury levels. Some fish have higher mercury levels than others due to environmental factors, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or feeding young children should be especially aware of fish mercury levels and recommended serving limits

Cod vs Flounder Costs

Like everything else, the costs of Cod and Flounder will vary greatly. Factors that impact fish pricing typically include your location, fresh vs. frozen options, and if you choose farm-raised or wild-caught fish (always opt for wild-caught when you can).

Overall frozen Flounder and Cod tend to be similarly priced. Fresh Flounder is typically slightly more pricey than Cod and may be harder to find. I’m in the midwest so my seafood options are usually very limited. Here are a few examples of current prices for frozen options: 

$0.67/oz. Kroger® Wild Caught Boneless & Skinless Frozen Flounder 12 oz | $7.99

$0.59/ oz. Kroger® Wild Caught Boneless & Skinless Frozen Pacific Cod 32 oz | $18.99

$0.34/ oz Walmart Great Value Wild Caught Flounder Skinless, 32 oz (Frozen) | $10.78

$0.45/ oz. Walmart Great Value Frozen Wild Caught Pacific Cod, 32 oz (Frozen) | $14.46

Sustainability of Cod and Flounder 

When I’m picking out my seafood, sustainability is a factor in how I make decisions. I keep an eye out for certifications from solid organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) because they tell me that the seafood meets some high sustainability standards.

A bite-sized piece of flounder sits on a wood cutting board.

Flounder vs Cod Cooking Methods

Cod is a firmer fish meaning it can handle more cooking methods. It’s often baked, fried, grilled, and even used in soups without breaking down. (A stable queen.)

Flounder is a bit more delicate and holds it together best when handled gently. (Same.)  Flounder is often baked and steamed, often with sauces or stuffed.

Popular Cod Recipes:

Classic Fish and Chips: Dive into the ultimate comfort food with crispy battered Cod served alongside golden fries. Don’t forget the tangy tartar sauce for the perfect dip!

Baked Cod with Lemon and Herbs: Elevate your weeknight dinner with this simple yet sophisticated dish. Baked Cod infused with zesty lemon and aromatic herbs.

Cod Tacos with Cabbage Slaw: Give your taste buds a fiesta with Cod tacos. Crispy Cod, vibrant cabbage slaw, and a drizzle of zesty sauce – each taco is a flavor explosion.

Popular Flounder Recipes:

Stuffed Flounder with Crabmeat: Elevate your dining experience with a decadent dish. Flounder stuffed with succulent crabmeat. Each bite is a celebration of flavors and textures.

Pan-seared Flounder with Lemon Butter Sauce: Indulge in the exquisite simplicity of pan-seared Flounder drizzled with a velvety lemon butter sauce.

Baked Flounder with Mediterranean Herbs: Transport yourself to the shores of the Mediterranean with baked Flounder infused with aromatic herbs. Fresh, vibrant coastal cuisine.

A baked and seasoned piece of cod sits on a white plate with diced new potatoes in the background.

Final Thoughts on Flounder vs Cod

In the world of seafood options, Flounder and Cod each have their own unique flavor and texture. Whether you’re looking for the delicate, flaky nature of Flounder or the meaty, robust taste of Cod, one thing is for sure – they both can shine as the star of your next fancy-ish fish dinner.

About Author

TiaGoodnight

Hey! I'm Tia, and I started this site to bring you the best information on all things kitchen so you can enjoy and elevate your everyday life.

I love trying new techniques and tools, living for the thrill of pulling off a new skill. On weekends you'll find me at the local farmer's markets or hosting friends and family for an evening of yard or card games and delicious food.

If you're looking for honest, real-world advice on all things kitchen and cooking, you're in the right place!

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