Whether you want to pan-sear, grill, fry, or bake halibut, it will always turn out delicious with its luscious flake. Halibut is delicate but meaty with a subtly sweet flavor and a firm texture that retains its shape with several cooking methods.
This is why it’s one of the most popular seafood choices, and it doesn’t take much time to cook until it reaches a succulent texture that everyone loves.
But if you’re looking for a more affordable halibut substitute or simply don’t have halibut within reach, choose one of our recommended alternatives and you can still enjoy your favorite recipe.
The best halibut substitutes
Halibut is a large and firm white flatfish that lives in the ocean. It has a mild sea flavor, so it’s an excellent choice for anyone who doesn’t like fish that tastes too strong.
Thanks to its delicate taste, halibut can be served with several types of red, white, and rosé wine for a fancy dinner.
At the same time, halibut is an excellent choice if you want to add more seafood to your family’s dinner, even if your kids don’t like the strong fishy flavor. You can broil or grill it, and it can be used to make famous fish and chips.
Because it has a mild and slightly sweet flavor, halibut will pair well with strong seasonings like lemon, pesto, and different spices.
You can also bake, deep-fry, pan-sear, sauté, poach, or steam this fish. Its tender texture makes it also a great choice for preparing sushi and sashimi.
Halibut turns into a beautiful, mouth-watering color once cooked and it doesn’t take much time to get ready, making it a practical choice for busy households. Moreover, it doesn’t contain too many bones, so it’s a safe choice for children.
This fish is sometimes sold in fillets because it’s a rather large fish and can be accessible all year round. However, the best time to buy halibut would be spring through winter, when it’s more abundant.
Nonetheless, this fish is a bit hard to catch since it spends most of its time near the ocean floor. It’s also a strong fish that puts up a fight, which is another reason it might not be the most affordable option.
So, if you can’t find high-quality halibut in the winter season, or if you find that halibut is too expensive for you, there are several tasty halibut substitutes that you can use instead.
Flounder is a flatfish, like a halibut, and can be used as a halibut substitute because it has the same meaty, firm texture and mildly sweet flavor. Even when cooked, flounder retains its delicate texture and stays moist.
You can use flounder if you don’t like fish that taste too fishy, so it will be an excellent choice for children. The best way to cook this fish is to bake it, as this cooking method helps it retain its mild flavors.
A whole flounder can be sautéed, roasted, or steamed, and you can bread the fillets if you want to deep-fry or pan-fry them. You can also boil or poach it if you want to add it to fish soup.
However, it doesn’t work for grilling because the meat is too tender.
Cod is a cold-water fish that lives in the ocean and is often used to replace halibut because it has the same sweet and mild taste. As a result, it can be a getaway fish for those who don’t like the strong fishy taste.
It’s a fish similar to halibut but it’s usually more affordable. Compared to halibut, cod has slightly more tender flesh. Cod pairs well with fresh sides like salads, coleslaw, and sautéed greens. You can bake cod or butter it and serve it with grilled veggies.
Because it has tender flesh, you need to make sure not to overcook your cod. It’s best to wrap cod in foil and cook it for only 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
If you want to grill it, you need to cook it covered on medium heat until the skin is crisp before flipping it so it doesn’t fall apart. However, it’s best to bake, broil, steam, deep-fry, or sauté cod, so it doesn’t get too stiff.
Fluke has tender white meat and a subtle flavor, just like halibut. However, it has a distinctively smooth and delicate texture.
Simple cooking methods that don’t involve a lot of heat work best to highlight the tenderness of fluke. Broiling in lemon butter or baking it with vegetables is enough to prepare a nice tasty dish.
Its tender meat cooks very quickly, so it’s an excellent choice for 10-minute recipes once you add the right seasoning. You can bread fluke and pan-fry it or sear it and serve it with capers and tarragon with a sprinkle of lemon juice and crushed garlic.
Fluke’s tender meat makes it a perfect choice for sushi and sashimi preparations. However, we don’t recommend it for grilling or broiling because the tender meat can become too hard.
4. Striped Bass
Striped bass or striper is one of the most sought-after fish because it’s incredibly versatile. It has a buttery texture with enough meatiness to work perfectly with various cooking methods.
This fish has a subtly sweet and briny flavor with no strong fishiness. The meat is white, firm, and flaky, so it’s a good halibut alternative for the grill.
You can bake your whole striped bass in salt crust or pan-sear the fillets. Just season the fillets with herbs and lemon juice and bake it or fry it and serve it with sauteed veggies and French fries.
We don’t recommend striped bass for deep-frying, poaching, or steaming, but it’s a great option for grilling, broiling, and baking.
You can use dogfish fillets as a substitute for halibut because the fish has a mild and subtly sweet flavor.
Dogfish has white and dense meat and can be grilled, baked, broiled, poached, pan-seared, or fried.
The meat is flaky but stays firm, so it can withstand higher cooking temperatures. As a result, you can add dogfish to your soup, combined with celery and other greens.
The meat is buttery but not too oily, so it will taste amazing when grilled. You can also use it to make stews or fish and chips.
Sole has a mild and subtly sweet flavor and delicate meat with no strong fishiness. It’s a flatfish, and when cooked with the skin on it, you’ll enjoy a richer and more delicious flavor. However, you can also remove the skin if you want to bread it and fry it.
There are different types of soles on the market, but the most popular ones are the Dover sole and the Lemon sole. Both are extremely versatile fish and have clean-tasting flavors that make them popular among chefs and cooking enthusiasts.
The best way to cook sole is to pay-fry it or bake it. You can also steam it or grill it with some grilled veggies.
Because it has a delicate flavor, it’s best not to mask it with too many spices. However, some lemon juice, salt, garlic, pepper, or chopped jalapenos can be enough if you want to serve a nice dish of the sole.
Haddock has a mildly sweet taste and lean white flesh. It has tender flakes and a slightly firm texture which becomes more delicate when the fish is cooked.
It works as a halibut substitution because it doesn’t have a strong fishy flavor. So, you can use it if you or anyone in the family likes clean-tasting fish.
Because it has a lower oil content, haddock doesn’t work for grilling. It can also be too dry if you steam it.
You can use haddock to substitute halibut if you want to bake, broil, deep-fry, sauté or smoke it. To bring out the mild flavor of haddock, you can serve it with crushed onions, garlic, and avocado cubes. The fillets can also be served with grilled vegetables or potatoes.
Turbot is a flatfish with a white and firm flesh like halibut. However, it has a slightly stronger fishy flavor, and you need to pick the right cooking method to bring out this tasty flavor and aroma.
You can use turbot to replace halibut if you think that halibut doesn’t taste fishy enough. Nevertheless, it still has a subtly sweet flavor, so it’s not overpowering.
Because it has rather delicate meat, gentle wet heat cooking methods like steaming, poaching, or cooking en papillote work best. You can also pan-fry it or bake with veggies as the moisture from the veggies keeps the flesh tender.
Grilling this fish should be done with care so it doesn’t turn chewy.
Tilapia can be used as a halibut substitute if you’re looking for an affordable option. It has lean flesh with a medium-firm and flaky texture, so it’s a bit firmer than halibut. Nevertheless, it can be used to replace it if you need a budget-friendly option for dinner.
The other difference between halibut and tilapia is related to the flavor. Unlike halibut, which has a very subtle sweet flavor, tilapia has a slightly more fishy taste.
We recommend that you buy tilapia from a reputable source because the fish tastes like what it eats. In general, high-quality aquacultured tilapia tastes better than wild tilapia because the latter feeds on algae.
Tilapia is a versatile fish that you can bake, broil, sauté, pan-sear or steam. However, we don’t recommend grilling or deep-frying tilapia because the meat can be too chewy if you overcook it.
10. Orange Roughy
Although it’s not always easy to find, orange roughy can actually substitute halibut when cooked correctly. Orange roughy is a deep-sea fish, and this makes it an expensive choice. However, if you want a slightly different texture than halibut, it will work for you.
It has a mild, delicate flavor and moist large-flaked meat that stays intact even after the fish is cooked. Frozen orange roughy are also good and cook beautifully.
Because its skin isn’t that tender, orange roughy tolerates most cooking methods. You can bake, broil, poach, or steam your orange roughy. It can be served with a side dish of rice, pasta, or vegetables because it’s so versatile.
A simple seasoning of herbs and garlic butter will highlight the delicious flavor of this fish. We don’t recommend it for deep-frying or grilling.
How to choose a halibut substitute.
Luckily, finding a fish like a halibut for your different recipes isn’t such a difficult task because there are several options that you can use if you can’t find halibut or want to try a new flavor and texture.
Some of the halibut substitutes on our list will work best for specific cooking methods, so you need to think about how you want to prepare your fish before picking a halibut alternative.
All the options on our list work if you want to bake or roast your fish. However, turbot and tilapia will offer a slightly more fishy flavor.
If you want to deep-fry, pan-sear, or pan-fry your fish, you can choose flounder, cod, fluke, striped bass, sole, haddock, or turbot.
For sautéing, we recommend that you go for flounder, cod, striped bass, haddock, or tilapia.
You can steam or poach flounder, cod, sole, turbot, tilapia, and orange roughy.
If you prefer to grill your fish, you can try striped bass, dogfish, or sole. Preparing sushi and sashimi will turn out great if you choose fluke because it has tender flesh.