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Ocean Bounty: What Does Mackerel Taste Like?

Mackerel has always had a fishy reputation. The fish is full of healthy fats, omega 3, to be precise.

However, mackerel is also infamous for its quick propensity to turn nasty.

So unless you live close to the sea, putting fresh mackerel on the table is not really possible.

This brings us to the question, what does mackerel taste like. It is a fish, after all. But different fish species have their own distinct taste.

We are going to address this question about mackerels in this post. We will also share our top tips on cooking this fantastic saltwater fish.

What is Mackerel?


Mackerel is a marine fish that is popular as food for humans. It belongs to the family Scombridae.

Mackerels have greenish-blue hue as well as stripes on its back. Their bellies are a striking silver. These fishes are very distinct with a deep fork in their tails.

This family of pelagic fish lives in tropical as well as temperate waters. They essentially love the offshore and the coast of the oceanic environment.

Mackerels hold an important place as commercial food for humans. Up to 8 million tons of mackerels are harvested every year worldwide.

But apart from humans, mackerels also serve as food for other animals.

These include sharks, dolphins, whales, and seabirds. Large fishes such as tuna also feed on mackerels.

There are about 21 species of mackerels. All of these species have different geographical locations and remain restricted to their areas.

Only a few stocks of mackerel undertake an annual migration.

What Does Mackerel Taste Like? Does Mackerel Taste Good?


If you’re wondering what does mackerel taste like, it is similar to a tuna.

Mackerel also tastes slightly similar to salmon, especially when it is fresh.

Compared to other fishes, mackerel also has a sweet taste. This fish has a decent amount of bones, and it is not overly salty.

This is why the taste of fresh mackerel is reminiscent of the ocean’s authentic taste.

Mackerel flesh is also rich in oils. Therefore, freshly prepared mackerel has a chewy and firm texture but tender.

You cannot also ignore that mackerel is quite oily, especially if it is freshly caught and cooked. It is also very bold in flavor, which is an acquired taste.

This is why some folks refer mackerel as the fishy-tasting bass. The combination of fats and the darkish looking flesh is also what keeps many people from tasting fresh mackerel.

Nonetheless, fresh mackerel has a distinct taste that is different from a canned one.

Canned mackerel is milder than other canned varieties such as a tuna.

Of course, the final taste is dictated by the solution or brine in the can. However, it is still chewy and has a firm texture.

Nutrition value of mackerel compared to others.

Mackerel has excellent nutritional value compared to other saltwater fishes.

According to the USDA, mackerel is high in omega-3 fats. But apart from this, it has other nutrients as well.

Nutritional value of 100 gm of uncooked mackerel is as follows:

Protein – 18.60 gm

Fat – 13.89 gm

Vitamin D – 107% of RDI*

Phosphorus – 31% of RDI

Magnesium – 21% of RDI

Iron – 13% of RDI

Potassium and zinc – 7% of RDI

Sodium – 6% of RDI

Calcium -1% of RDI

Water – 63.55 gm

*RDI=Recommended Daily Intake

How to Cook Mackerel


If you are familiar with cooking salmon, you can adopt the method for cooking mackerel too.

There are many ways to cook mackerel, and we are sharing one of the traditional ways to cook mackerel.

Prepare the fish by filleting. Keep the skin as it adds a nice texture to the fish.

Use good quality salt and season the fish. You can also dip the fish in milk before salting it.

Allow it to rest for about 30 minutes, preferably in the fridge.

The seasoned mackerel fillets can be fried or grilled according to your choice.

Mackerels are also the ideal fish to prepare various Asian dishes such as Japanese and Thai.

The fish works perfectly with herbs and flavors such as lemon and soy sauce.

Cooking mackerel is pretty straightforward. So there are no precautionary measures as such that you need to follow.

The most important thing about cooking mackerel is to ensure it is fresh. Ideally, this fish should be consumed within 24 hours of getting caught.

According to BBCgoodfood, a fresh mackerel is firm to the touch with shiny skin and a bright eye.

Another thing to watch out about mackerels is consuming too much of it.

Regular consumption of mackerels can increase the level of mercury in the blood.

This can have a lot of side effects, including blurred vision and brain impairment in infants.

The USDA suggests eating no more than 8 oz of fatty fish, such as a mackerel. So keep it within this figure.


For many years mackerels were truly the underdog of the seafood cuisine.

Although mackerels are delicious and extremely beneficial for health, they had a bad rep. It was mostly due to the fact it got spoilt very easily.

However, this is not a problem anymore. There are many ways to keep mackerels fresh for longer without risking scombroid poisoning.

Mackerels are rich in nutrients and gentle in taste. They are also much more affordable than their exotic cousins; salmons.

It is no surprise that mackerels are a common sight in many dishes all over the world.


What Does Mackerel Taste Like? Does Mackerel Taste Good?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Food Taste
Servings 1 Serving


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