Halibut vs Flounder

You’ve probably heard of halibut and flounder if you enjoy seafood. Both fish are well-liked and frequently substituted for one another in dishes. You should be aware of a few significant distinctions between the two before using them in a recipe. We will examine the distinctions between halibut and flounder in this article, including their habitat, flavor, and look.

flounder fish raw seafood cooking snack meal pescetarian diet vegetarian copy space rustic

Large, flat fish known as halibut can be found in the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

It has a solid, white flesh with a mild, sweet flavor that is well-known.

The smaller, thinner fish known as flounder can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

It tastes slightly sweet and has a delicate, flaky texture. Despite the fact that both fish are tasty, they differ in ways that make them more suitable for particular meals.

The anatomy and habitat of halibut and flounder can also be compared, in addition to flavor and texture.

The bodies and tails of flounder and halibut are dissimilar, and their habitats are separate sections of the ocean.

By being aware of these variations, you may select the ideal fish for your dish and maximize its special features.

These differences will be discussed in more detail, along with some frequently asked questions concerning halibut and flounder, in the sections that follow.

Key Takeaways

  • Halibut and flounder are both popular fish with different characteristics that make them better suited for certain dishes.
  • Halibut has a firm, white flesh and mild, sweet flavor, while flounder has a delicate, flaky texture and a slightly sweet taste.
  • Differences in anatomy and habitat can help you choose the right fish for your recipe and make the most of their unique qualities.

Halibut Overview

Halibut is a preferred option for many individuals when it comes to seafood.

fresh steak raw fish halibut on the stone with the salt and herbs on steel background

The mild, sweet flavor and firm, flaky texture of this flatfish, which may be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, are well-known. Here is a synopsis of halibut:


Large flatfish known as halibut can reach lengths of up to 8 feet and weights of over 500 pounds.

It features a long, tapering body that tapers to a thin tail, and a broad, flat head.

The fish is white on the underside and dark brown on the top. The halibut has a small mouth, fine scales, and smooth skin.


In both shallow and deep waters, halibut is a bottom-dwelling fish.

In particular, Alaska, Canada, and Russia are where it is most frequently found in the North Pacific Ocean.

The temperature ranges from 37 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit where Pacific halibut reside at depths of 20 to 1000 feet.


Omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, and important vitamins and minerals can all be found in halibut.

Cooked halibut has 93 calories per 3-ounce serving and about 20 grams of protein. Additionally, it is a good source of selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.


Halibut is a flexible fish that can be prepared in many different ways, such as on the grill, in the oven, under the broiler, or in a sauté pan.

It can be coupled with a number of sauces and marinades but is frequently eaten with only salt and pepper.

Fish tacos, fish and chips, and ceviche are all common dishes made using halibut.

Flounder Overview

A species of flatfish in the Pleuronectidae family is the flounder.

Raw fish flounder with salt and basil on a kitchen board close-up

It is a well-liked seafood that is eaten by many people all over the world.

Flounder is a fantastic option for a range of meals because of its delicate, sweet flavor and fragile, flaky texture.


A flatfish with a recognizable diamond form is the flounder. On one side of its head, usually the left, it has both eyes.

Its opposite side has no distinguishing traits and is either white or very light in color.

Flounder can weigh up to 26 pounds and reach lengths of up to 36 inches.


The world’s waters and seas are home to flounder. They live in estuaries, bays, and rocky shorelines and prefer shallow waters.

Rivers and lakes that contain freshwater as well as saltwater include flounder.


Fish high in protein and low in calories are flounder. Additionally, it is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals like selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

Additionally a good source of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, flounder is.

Culinary Uses

The versatile fish flounder can be prepared in a number of different ways. It can be broiled, grilled, fried, sautéed, baked, or fried.

For fish tacos, fish and chips, and seafood stews, flounder is a well-liked option. Additionally, it is frequently used in sashimi and sushi meals.

Comparative Anatomy

The fact that both fish are members of the flatfish family is significant when comparing halibut and flounder.

Delicious fresh halibut steaks on slate with lemon and parsley.

This describes their body form, which is laterally compressed and enables them to swim and rest on the ocean floor.

In terms of their anatomy, there are a few variations between the two.

Body Shape

Halibut and flounder differ from one other most obviously in terms of their body types.

With a broad, flat head and a tapering, narrow tail, the body shape of halibut is more elongated.

Contrarily, flounder has a more rounded appearance, a more oval body, and a fan-shaped tail.


The placement of the fishes’ eyes is another distinction between the two.

While the flounder has both eyes on the left side of its body, the halibut has both eyes on the right.

Both fish are able to lie flat on the ocean floor while keeping their eyes pointed upwards to look for prey because of this adaptation.


Additionally, the mouth forms of halibut and flounder differ.

The huge, toothy mouth of the halibut is located at the end of its head.

On the other hand, a flounder has a smaller mouth that is situated more in the middle of its body.


Additionally, the scale types on halibut and flounder vary. Large, noticeable, and simple to feel and touch scales cover the halibut.

Contrarily, flounder has smaller, more fragile scales that are practically imperceptible to the unaided eye.

While halibut and flounder may initially appear to be identical, there are really a number of significant anatomical distinctions between the two.

Habitat Differences

Different habitats are preferred by halibut and flounder. You can find and capture these species more successfully if you are aware of these differences.

Raw flounder plaice fish

Halibut Habitat

Deeper waters are normally where you’ll find halibut, and they like it chilly.

For instance, Pacific halibut can be found from the northwest of the United States all the way down to the western coast of Alaska [1].

They are bottom-dwellers that inhabit both rocky and sandy terrain. According to the season, halibut are also known to move to other locations.

Flounder Habitat

In contrast, flounder can be found in shallow seas and likes warmer weather.

They are frequently observed in muddy or sandy places and are known to blend in with the ocean floor [2].

Both freshwater and saltwater settings are home to flounder, which is frequently found in estuaries and bays.

You can improve your chances of capturing halibut and flounder by being aware of their habitat preferences.

While flounder may need to be fished in shallower, warmer waters, halibut should be sought after in deeper, colder waters.

Dietary Differences

There are a few significant distinctions to take into account between halibut and flounder when comparing their nutritional worth.

The olive flounder, bastard halibut or Japanese halibut

The following are some of the primary dietary variations between the two varieties of fish:

Calories and Protein

Compared to flounder, halibut has more calories and protein.

Approximately 140 calories and 23 grams of protein are found in a 3-ounce portion of cooked halibut, while 119 calories and 16.8 grams of protein are found in the same quantity of cooked flounder.

Halibut can be a better option if you want to improve your protein consumption.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Additionally, halibut contains more omega-3 fatty acids than flounder.

Among other things, omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for heart health and brain health.

A source claims that cooked halibut has about 1.1 grams of omega-3s per 3-ounce dish, while cooked flounder has about 0.5 grams per serving.

Halibut is the best fish to eat if you want to improve your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Other Nutrients

Halibut and flounder are both excellent suppliers of a number of vital minerals, such as selenium, vitamin D, and B12.

In addition, halibut is a strong source of niacin and vitamin B6, while flounder is a healthy supply of potassium and phosphorus.

Both kind of fish can be a beneficial addition to your diet overall.

Mercury Levels

It’s important to keep in mind that both halibut and flounder have the potential to contain mercury, a poisonous element that can be dangerous if taken in excessive quantities.

Halibut and flounder are also thought to be low-mercury fish, so most people can choose them with confidence, according to a source.

However, you should see your doctor before consuming either type of fish if you’re expecting, nursing, or have a health issue that affects your capacity to handle mercury.

Frequently Asked Questions

Flounder baked with garlic and vegetables

What is the difference between halibut and flounder?

Halibut and flounder are both flatfish, but they have some key differences. Halibut is generally larger than flounder and has a more elongated body shape. Halibut also has a broad, flat head and a tapering body that ends in a narrow tail. Flounder, on the other hand, has a more rounded body shape and a smaller head. Flounder is also usually thinner than halibut.

Which one is more flavorful?

Both halibut and flounder have a delicate flavor, but some people prefer the taste of one over the other. Halibut has a slightly sweet, mild flavor, while flounder has a milder, more delicate taste. Ultimately, the flavor of each fish can vary depending on how it’s prepared and cooked.

Which one is healthier?

Both halibut and flounder are good sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health. Halibut is generally higher in fat and calories than flounder, but it also contains more vitamin D. Flounder, on the other hand, is lower in fat and calories but still provides important nutrients.

Can you substitute one for the other in recipes?

Halibut and flounder can be used interchangeably in many recipes, but keep in mind that they have different textures and flavors. Halibut is firmer and has a meatier texture, while flounder is more delicate and tender. If you’re substituting one for the other, you may need to adjust cooking times and methods to get the best results.

Where can you find halibut and flounder?

Halibut and flounder can be found in different parts of the world, depending on the species. Halibut is typically found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans, while flounder can be found in both saltwater and freshwater environments around the world. If you’re looking to catch your own halibut or flounder, be sure to research the best locations and seasons for each species.

Atlantic halibut fish, raw steaks on wooden board with herbs.

Conservation Status

The sustainable options halibut and flounder are both seen as being good ones. It’s crucial to remember that sustainability might vary based on the species and the particular stocks.

Although the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) views some halibut supplies as sustainable, it’s crucial to confirm the exact origin of the fish you’re purchasing.

This is due to the fact that there are three different species of halibut and numerous distinct stocks, many of which are poorly managed.

By selecting halibut from a sustainable source, you can contribute to promoting ethical fishing methods and preserving the ocean’s health.

In a similar vein, while some flounder stocks are sustainably maintained, others are not.

Because of sustainable fishing methods and conservation initiatives, the Summer Flounder stock, for instance, is not overfished as of 2021 and is not anticipated to be in the future.

Other flounder species, however, might experience more conservation difficulties.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.