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What Does Walleye Taste Like? Must Know Facts

Quick Answer: What Is The Flavor Of Walleye?

Walleye has a very mild fish flavor that you wouldn’t expect from a fish. In addition to that, it has a very sweet yet subtle flavor that can be enjoyed in a meal alongside other delicate flavors. Some people have said that this fish is quite bland, but that is due to the natural flavors being so mild.

In the lakes and streams of the United States and Canada, walleye, a member of the perch family, can be found. If you’re curious about what Walleye Taste like, you’re in for a treat! It is becoming a more common high-end menu item on restaurant menus.

Walleye Taste is often heavily debated among these anglers due to its uniquely low-key nature. Does it taste like chicken, or does it possess its own unique flavor? That may all depend on where you catch walleye and the types of foods it may have eaten.

It is more sought-after since it has a unique flavor that no other fish can match.

You may have seen this type of fish advertised on a menu or in a dish and wondered what it tasted like. In this article, we will discuss what walleye tastes like and other facts you need to know about this fish.

About Walleye

There are other names for Walleye that you may come across. This includes pickerel, yellow pike, Dory, yellow walleye, freshwater perch, pike-perch and walleye pike.

The cat-like eyes of walleye fish, which are very reflecting, gave them their name.

Despite being present in both Canada and the United States. There are only two commercial fisheries in Canada, due to worries about overfishing.

Walleye can grow to a maximum weight of 20 pounds in the wild. Despite the fact that they often weigh up to 5 pounds in restaurants.

What Are Walleye?

Walleye are freshwater fish spread heavily throughout Canada and Northern United States.

They are commonly called the pikeperch in some areas and may also be called the yellow walleye to separate it from the blue walleye. Yellow walleye is considered the “true” walleye.

The walleye is known for having unique pearlescent eyes that help them see in low light to hunt during the night or in deep or hidden areas.

Walleye are hard to catch during sunny days and require a careful approach, including casting deep or under shaded areas.

A typical walleye is about 31 inches long and 20 pounds, though the largest known was 42 inches and 29 pounds.

They were once very common in the Great Lakes but have decreased in recent years due to over-fishing. Fish farms have yet to counter this troubling problem fully.

Flavor Of Walleye

The freshwater fish known as walleye are recognized for their distinct flavor. The delicately flaking fillets have a mild flavor that is pleasant and barely fishy.

It has a buttery mouthfeel and a robust yet delicate structure.

There aren’t many bones in this fish, which a lot of people enjoy. The interior of each thick and generously sized filet of walleye is moist and delicious when cooked properly.

The flesh is a brilliant pink color while raw, but turns white when cooked.

Overall, walleye has a mild fishy flavor. It is a light fish, with a low oil content. Additionally, it has moist but delicate flesh that can hold its shape.

What Do Walleye Look Like?

A living walleye has olive and gold colors throughout its scales that also includes large black patches throughout its sides.

They have simple dorsal and anal fins with spinous designs that give them a rather sharp appearance. Some fins have multiple black dots that give the walleye a distinctive look.

Walleye meat is white and flaky and typically rather fleshy. They have a surprisingly thick cut of meat, one that is denser than you might expect.

That gives the walleye a look and feel similar to lighter salmon cuts, though not quite as thick as that fish.

What Texture Does Walleye Have?

Walleye meat texture is fairly firm though not chewy or stringy. This texture is often highly acclaimed by fish fans and is one of the best aspects of eating walleye.

It should also have a juicy feel when cooked properly, making it very satisfying to bite into a slab of walleye.

Note that overcooking this fish may produce a rather mushy or soft texture that may be unappealing.

This mushiness also occurs if you freeze a walleye for too long and thaw it improperly. Be careful when cooking and freezing walleyes to ensure that you avoid these problems.

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Substitutes For Walleye

If your recipe asks for walleye, but you can’t find any, then yellow perch, snapper, or grouper make suitable substitutions.

They are good fallback possibilities even though they are not exactly the same. 

Remember that because they were caught in seawater, they will taste more strongly of the ocean. Being a freshwater fish, walleye has a more neutral flavor.

Types Of Walleye?

Walleye is typically considered a singular species, one that is spread throughout mostly cool-weather areas.

However, the blue walleye is the name of a related fish, which may confuse some anglers or chefs. Typically, yellow walleye are considered the “true” walleye by most specialists.

You can tell the difference between the two fish by their colors, which match their names.

The blue walleye is blue and silver throughout its body, along with black patches and dots. Their meat looks basically the same but should be labeled in fish markets to avoid confusion.

Where Do Walleye Come From?

Walleye are a North American relative of the European zander and are found primarily throughout the northern United States and Canada.

They tend to prefer cooler waters, which makes them prevalent throughout many Great Lakes areas. Smaller lakes, rivers, and ponds may also have walleye.

Note that if you’re fishing throughout Canada and ask about walleye, residents may be confused. They often refer to this fish as the yellow pike or the yellow pickerel.

So if you’re in that region and looking for walleye to catch and eat, make sure that you ask for them by those names.

Is Walleye Healthy? Or Dangers Of Eating Walleye?

Walleye is a very lean fish with a reasonable amount of calories and protein-dense meat. It is also very low in fat while containing reasonable levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorous.

That makes it a good fish to eat if you’re watching your weight or cutting back on carbs.

Note that walleye does have a small but present risk of mercury poisoning. All fish have this risk, but walleye is, thankfully, at a lower-than-average danger and is not considered poisonous.

Walleye also suffer from several parasites, making it important to carefully clean and prepare them if you catch them in the wild.

How Do You Eat Walleye? Best Cooking Method?

Walleye is typically cooked in one of several different ways, such as baking, frying, broiling, or pan-searing.

Each method provides different benefits, such as baking keeping most of its nutrients and frying adding a little more taste.

Walleye serves well with many side dishes, including:

  • Roasted Potatoes – Roasting or frying diced potatoes is a great way to improve your walleye meal. Flavor them with seasoning salt or other herbs to give them an even better taste.
    Note that you can also try sweet potatoes, which go particularly great with walleye.
  • Soup – Many soups go perfectly with fish because it adds a little extra flavor and fluid to the meal. Mushroom soup is probably the best option because mushrooms often match the texture of walleye for a better overall taste.
    Note that tomato soup may also work well for many people.
  • Steamed Veggies – Vegetables go well with most fish dishes, though green veggies typically mix the best.
    For example, steamed asparagus and broccoli provide a simple side that gives your walleye even more flavor.
    It also has minimal calories, making it perfect for the weight-conscious.
  • Sauces – Walleye’s low-key taste means that it blends well with many sauce types, particularly tartar and even mayonnaise!
    It is even great when served flavored with a dill sauce, as this gives it a bit more kick.
    The sauce should be fairly light so as not to overwhelm the walleye’s taste.
  • Rice Pilaf – A rice pilaf is always a great combination with a fish meal and goes particularly well with walleye.
    Try to serve it as fresh as possible and mix it with various veggies to give it an even better taste. Some people even cook the rice right with the fish in the oven to enhance its taste.

These are just some of the most unique side dishes you can add to your walleye.

Try to experiment with different foods that you may enjoy and blend them with your favorite walleye recipe, such as adding steamed veggies to your rice pilaf!

Note that baking walleye is the best cooking method because it brings out its complex array of flavors and textures.

Can You Eat Walleye Raw? Does It Have Worms?

Walleye is rarely eaten raw, though it can be done so if safely prepared. Unfortunately, walleye may have worms that make it a dangerous fish to eat without proper cleaning. Avoid eating walleye raw, if possible.

What Kind Of Flavors Pair Well With Walleye?

When you have Walleye, you may wonder what you should pair with this fish. It is important to remember that this fish is subtle and delicate.

Therefore, you don’t want to pair this fish with any powerful or strong flavors that will overpower the Walleye.

When it comes to seasoning your Walleye, you want to stick to the following flavors:

  • Garlic,
  • Cumin,
  • Lemon Pepper,
  • Basil,
  • Paprika.

Walleye is a great fish to have as your main dish. Yet you still need the sides to compliment the fish. The following are tasty side dishes to pair alongside your walleye:

  • Garden salad,
  • Coleslaw,
  • Onion rings,
  • Sautéed vegetables,
  • Potatoes,
  • French Fries.

Fish and wine are a great combination. When it comes to serving wine alongside Walleye, there are a couple of wines you should consider over others. They include:

  • Champagne,
  • Moscato,
  • Riesling,
  • Sauvignon Blanc,
  • Pinot Noir,
  • Pinot Gris.

Nutritional Information

The following information is nutritional information for a 3 oz or 85 gram Walleye. Thus, for those of you that are watching what you eat, this information is valuable. It’ll let you be aware of how many calories or fat this fish contains. 

Omega 3329 mg
Cholesterol60.4 mg
Saturated Fat0.1 gm
Total Fat0.7 gm
Sodium84.1 gm

Walleye Compared To Other Types Of Fish

Walleye Compared To Other Types Of Fish

In order to have a clearer understanding about Walleye, we have compared Walleye against other popular and common types of fish that you may come across. 


This is a freshwater fish. It has a delicate and moist texture, alongside a sweet and mild flavor.  Fishy flavors are kept at a minimum. 


Trout is another freshwater fish, just like Walleye. It has a similar texture to Walleye, as it can be firm and moist. When it comes to the flavor of trout, it has a nutty and mild flavor. Again, like Walleye, fishy flavors are at a minimum. 


Cod can either be a saltwater or freshwater fish. This is a flaky fish which is quite firm and lean. Flavor-wise, it has a savory and mild flavor. As long as the cod is fresh, then it has a very mild fish-like flavor. 

Northern Pike

This is a freshwater fish, with a much stiffer texture compared to Walleye. Alongside that, it has a much fishier flair when compared to Walleye. Also, it contains a lot more bones as well. 


Halibut is usually found in saltwater. Similar to cod, it has a lean texture. This is a sweet and subtle flavored fish. 


Catfish can be found in either saltwater or freshwater. You need to be careful with the texture of this fish. This is because if you overcook the flesh, then the fish can become rubbery, when it should be moist. 

The flavor of this fish can vary, depending on where it has been caught. Farmed catfish have a mild yet sweet flavor. While, wild catfish have a much more fishy flavor.


Grouper are saltwater fish, with large flakes and firm texture. Alongside this, they have a similar flavor to crab, due to being quite sweet. 

How Can I Store Walleye?

If you catch or buy fresh walleye, it is important to place it in your refrigerator right away to keep it cool.

Wrap it in paper or plastic to prevent smell leakage, and store it for up to three days before throwing it away. Use this same storage method for cooked walleye meals.

Note that you can also pickle and smoke walleye, which naturally extends its lifespan. Pickled walleye is good for at least a month and is a unique culinary option.

Smoked walleye may last a few weeks and should be thrown away when it shows signs of spoiling.

Can You Freeze Walleye?

Freeze walleye by wrapping it in plastic and storing it in a freezer-safe container. Placing it towards the back of your unit will put it in the coldest area and help it stay fresher longer.

Make sure that you throw away any walleye after six months, as it may suffer from freezer burn.

Thaw your walleye by taking it out of the freezer and putting it on a plate in your refrigerator overnight. This gives the walleye time to thaw and avoid meat mushiness.

Never thaw and refreeze walleye, as this may lead to even mushier meat.

How To Tell If Walleye Is Bad?

Spoiling walleye will have a fairly fishy smell that gets more intense as the fish continues to spoil. Fresh walleye should have almost no smell or a very mild one.

Once you start noticing a fishy smell that intensifies with time, you should throw away your walleye.

You should also look for signs of mold throughout the walleye’s meat. These include blackening skin, softness through the meat, and a moldy smell.

Toss your walleye when it shows these signs to avoid food poisoning risks.

Walleye Vs. Cod

Walleye and cod have very similar tastes that make them comparable in many ways.

Walleye has a slightly sweeter flavor and a touch more fishiness than cod, though not by much. Both offer about the same amount of meat and fairly similar nutrition levels.

That said, walleye offers more protein and phosphorous than cod, with cod offering more potassium and sodium.

Their other nutritional values are so similar that it likely comes down to your preference for fishy aftertastes. If you like sharper-tasting fish, go with walleye.

Tips For Buying The Best Walleye

Don’t check for freshness using the eyes. The eyes of the majority of fish are a great indicator of freshness. Even when it is newly caught, walleye have opaque, flat eyes, which makes it unique.

To assess freshness, examine the skin. It should appear strong and bright rather than dull.

A great filet should have juicy flesh that appears to have just been sliced. 

Fish having a strong or extremely fishy smell should be avoided.

Cooking Walleye

The flexible walleye can be served in a variety of ways. They are all easy, delectable options such as poached, smoked, pan fried, grilled, baked or added to chowder.

It’s important to respect the delicate flavor of the fish because it will be overpowered by thick sauces and excessive spice.

The cooking process must be closely monitored. Otherwise, overdone walleye is chewy and unpleasant.

Pan Frying Walleye

The easiest way to cook Walleye is by pan frying it. Also, it is the quickest way as well, as it takes just as few minutes to cook. 


  • 4 walleye fillets
  • Lemon wedges
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 5 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme


Step 1 – After making sure the files are completely dry using paper towels, season them with salt and pepper.

Step 2 – Add oil to a big skillet and heat it up over a high heat.

Step 3 – Add your Walleye to the heated skillet and reduce the heat to a medium heat. Cook the fish for 2 minutes on one side, until it becomes nicely brown. Then you flip it.

Step 4 – Once you have flipped the fish, you can add the thyme and butter to the pan. Spoon the melted butter and herbs over the fish for 1 to 2 minutes, until the fish is fully cooked.

The filet should have a golden exterior and a delicious, moist interior.

Step 5 – Once cooked, remove the fish from the pan. Add lemon wedges and parsley to the fish and serve straight away.

Tips To Help You Cook Your Walleye Perfectly 

If your fillets still have skin on them, add the fish to the frying pan, skin side down. This will help to get a nice crispy skin, and prevent the skin from sticking to the pan to begin with. 

To prevent the filet from curling up, gently press down on the fish for 20 to 30 seconds with a fish slice. Thus, this will also help the fish to cook evenly as well. 

Use these time durations as a general guide because frying times for fish will vary based on the thickness of the fillets. Also, your cooking time can differ depending on the cooking method you are using as well.

Hence, keep an eye on your fish as it cooks, to prevent it from overcooking. 

It is known that fish will keep cooking after being taken out of the pan. Therefore, turn off the heat before it’s fully done. This will help prevent you from overcooking and drying out your fish. 

Can You Limit The Fishy Flavor Of Walleye?

Either you catch the walleye yourself or you get it from a reliable vendor. These are the two best options when it comes to the quality and freshness of a Walleye filet. The fillets become more fishy as they get older.

Add the Walleye to a bowl with half a cup of vinegar to create a milder fishy flavor for your Walleye. You want to completely coat the Walleye in this mixture. Then you can move the fish into the refrigerator. 

You need to give the vinegar time to absorb into the fish. Thus, it is advised you leave the fish for around 30 minutes in this mixture. 

The results will be a Walleye that has a much less fishy flavor and smell. You could use this method on all kinds of fish. It is perfect for reducing the fishy flavor that particular fish are known to have. 

How Do You Cook Walleye?

You can cook walleye in many ways, but you should always clean them before preparing a full fish.

Cleaning includes removing their skin, taking out their skeleton, and carefully filleting the edible meat from their interior. This should leave you with several good slices of tasty meat.

It is wise to season the walleye fillets with various herbs and spices, such as lemon juice, to ensure that they taste as juicy as possible.

Marinating them in this way also helps to give their flesh a little more flavor, as the walleye can easily absorb many different tastes.

RELATED: 25 Mexican Seafood Recipes With Balanced And Effortless Style!

Quick Table: Get Ultimate Walleye Recipes

RecipesCalories (per serving)Preparation Time
Grilled Walleye Tacos333 Kcal 30 Minutes
Foil Wrapped Grilled Walleye 101 Kcal 25 Minutes
Pan Fried Walleye238 Kcal35 Minutes

1. Grilled Walleye Tacos

Are you a taco fan looking to change up your favorite meal? This recipe is a great option for you! It takes delicious walleye and converts it into a surprisingly delicious taco that works well for many diets. 

Even if you’re not normally a walleye fan, you may love this recipe.

Mix extra virgin olive oil with chili-lime, fresh lime juice, garlic salt, and black pepper to create your marinade. 

Brush your fillets with this mixture and cook each walleye fillet’s side for 6-7 minutes or until they are brown. 

Serve on taco shells topped with your favorite ingredients.

We strongly recommend this meal to people who love finger food or Mexican dishes. It also works well as a great weight-loss dish because its ingredients are so healthy. 

Note that it will take a little longer to make than beef tacos and doesn’t have quite the same flavor.

Calories: 333 Kcal 

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

2. Foil-Wrapped Grilled Walleye

Foil-wrapped dinners are a uniquely old-school cooking method that places multiple ingredients in tin foil and bakes them in the oven. 

This recipe gives you a delicious walleye meal that traps various flavors in your ingredients and maximizes their quality.

Combine the orange juice concentrate, canola oil, and fresh dill in a large plastic bag before throwing in your fish. 

Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes for a quick marinade, and then place the walleye fillets in a sprayed tinfoil wrap. Add veggies to the wrap and grill or bake, flavoring with paprika.

What we love about this meal is its simplicity. Anybody can make this dish because it doesn’t require any specialized cooking methods or techniques. 

Even your kids can help you out with this meal by combining their favorite toppings into the foil wrap.

Calories: 101 Calories

Preparation Time: 25 Minutes

3. Pan-Fried Walleye

While the recipes above are definitely great, there’s nothing in this world like pan-fried walleye

You’ll find many options for cooking your fish in this way. We strongly recommend this recipe because of the unique flavors and tastes that it produces.

Start by beating eggs in a dish and combining flour, seasoning, and bread crumbs in a second. Put your fish in the eggs and then in the flour and coat them as fully as possible. 

Now, pan-fry them over medium heat, flipping them after cooking for at least three minutes on a side.

You can now add seasonings like paprika, onion powder, and even garlic to the fish to give it more flavor. 

The choice is yours, and you can produce just about any fish dish you want in this way. 

Try to serve this meal with rich roasted and seasoned potatoes to have a great fish and chips day.

Calories: 238 Kcal

Preparation Time: 35 Minutes


Walleye is a tasty fish with a delicate flavor. Since it doesn’t have a strong fishy flavor, people adore this fish. We hope that this information has helped you gain a better understanding of the flavor of this fish.

Alongside, all the essential knowledge required to prepare this fish for cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Walleye Found Around the World?

Walleye are specifically found in North America and not in other parts of the world. This gives them a more limited scope and makes them harder to find in other areas, such as Europe.

While fish farms may be available for this species in other parts of the world, they are still most commonly found in the wild in North America, particularly along the Canadian border.

How Long Should I Marinade Walleye?

A good marinade should include at least one or more different sauces and usually provide the most flavor benefits when soaking for 24 hours.

While you can soak your fish in a marinade for just one hour and get some flavor, more extended periods give better flavor.

Put your fish and marinade in a bowl in your refrigerator and cover it with plastic to ensure it stays fresh.

Is Walleye Comparable To Tilapia?

Walleye has firmer flesh and a sharper taste than tilapia and is typically richer in protein. Tilapia may work well as a substitute for walleye when mixing it with various flavors because it tastes slightly better than walleye.

However, a plain tilapia steak or fillet will lack the potency of walleye and may be a little bland for some people.

What’s The Best Walleye Recipe?

The best walleye recipe will vary based on your taste, but many agree that grilling walleye brings out their flavor the best.

Grilling and pan searing minimizes the risk of soft meat and let you cook walleye more quickly than baking or broiling.

Note that baking and broiling also help you add things like vegetables to your meal and minimize nutrient loss while cooking.

 Get Three Ultimate Walleye Recipes

 Find the best Walleye recipes for your next gathering. From appetizers to desserts, we have everything you need.


  • Pick a recipe from the list above
  • Click the recipe name and visit the website
  • Collect the ingredients and cook the food
  • Enjoy – don’t forget to leave a review

Recipe Video

Jess Smith