Canned Fish v. Fresh Fish: Is One Better than the Other?

Canned salmon serving suggestion

When your day is busy and you need a quick, nutritious meal - many of us reach for a can of salmon, combine it with a few ingredients, and are happy to put a nutritious meal on the table for our family.

If this sounds familiar then you’ve likely also wondered if the canned salmon is as healthy as a meal made from quality fresh or flash-frozen wild-caught fish.

At Wild for Salmon we’ve asked ourselves that same question. We love nothing more than to reach for our two canned salmon options or our smoked salmon pouches. The question is - are we getting the same nutrition as a meal of fresh fish? Read on for the answer to that question along with:

- How canned fish is made (hint - it’s come a long way!).

- Is the nutritional value the same as fresh fish?

- The benefits of quality canned fish.

- When to choose canned fish over fresh.

- Plus recipes for the main meal needs of your day!

Sockeye salmon cannery plant

How Canned Fish is Made

The practice of canning fish was born out of necessity and the limited technology of the early 20th century.  It remains an excellent way of preserving fresh fish at its peak point of quality today, even in the era of refrigeration. 

The process has been perfected over the past one hundred years to create a delicious, healthy, sustainable and shelf-stable product that many rely on as a pantry staple. 

Canned fish is made when fresh, quality seafood is packed in tin cans and then pressure-cooked at high temperatures - cooking the product and sealing the can at the same time. This process is not too far off from home canning of jams and jellies, but it is typically done in large volumes and at much higher temperatures. There’s a lot of history to Bristol Bay Alaska’s canneries - learn all about it at the NN Cannery Project website (about the 129-year old NN Cannery).   

We’ve seen many improvements in canned fish since the industry first began relying on this method. What used to be a typical can of shredded tuna is now a methodically preserved product of excellent quality. Often, the fish are even canned in a variety of oils and spices to complement and enhance their natural flavor. 

Does Canned Fish Have The Same Nutritional Value as Fresh Fish?

We are excited to report that the short answer is YES! 

Fresh and canned fish have roughly the same nutritional value, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database. Notably, levels of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in both fresh and canned fish are similar, but most canned fishes generally provide more calcium because the calcium-rich bones are included in the can. The high-temp pressure cooking softens the small bones, which can be incorporated into most recipes and enjoyed. This is especially true for small fish canned whole, like sardines. In most dishes, you won’t even notice the bones! 

Both canned and fresh fish are good sources of protein and other important nutrients, and have the same amount of calories.. Plus canned salmon delivers the same high doses of healthy Omega 3’s and Vitamin D.

The real choice to be made when considering your health is wild salmon over farmed salmon. Both canned and fresh wild salmon are considered safer than farmed when it comes to pesticides and both are less likely to contain possible carcinogens called PCBs. 

canned sockeye salmon on salad greens

What Are The Benefits of Canned Fish?

Canned (or tinned) fish offers similar nutrition to fresh and frozen fish - plus quite a number of  additional benefits that you will likely enjoy  . 


Canned wild salmon or tuna is a highly-portable source of protein that you can take with you on-the-go backpacking, picnicking, or traveling. If you are worried about weight, you can try the smoked salmon foil pouch, which uses the same preservation technology, but is a more packable product than a can. 

Longer Shelf Life:

Canned salmon is good for at least four years. It’s an excellent way to have healthy, nutritious food available in your food storage - from home pantries, to prepping to cabin food and more.

Premium Quality Salmon:

At Wild for Salmon, the same quality and sustainability you trust in our frozen products is also true for our canned products; Wild for Salmon canned salmon is made with premium quality salmon, something that is not always true with other brands. We’re committed to providing you with a canned product that delivers superior taste along with the health benefits we all expect from sustainable, wild-caught seafood

An Easy Way to Get the Health Benefits of Salmon Bone and Skin:

The bones and skin of the salmon are rich in nutrients - similar to the sustenance created in broths made from chicken or beef bones. When you buy canned salmon you access a very easy way to incorporate the salmon skin and bones into your diet. The canning process softens these parts of the salmon. You’ll love how they dissolve in your recipes and are undetectable in the final dish. Such a simple, efficient way to sneak these nutritious ingredients into your diet! If you’d rather skip the bones and skin, we understand and we have covered for you - since we offer both skin-on/bone-in and skinless/boneless options.


These products also take one more step towards sustainable eating. Because canned seafood doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it requires less energy to preserve and store the product. Because tinned fish isn’t perishable until it’s opened, there is minimal food waste. These shelf-stable products are great for the RV or cabin, where fridge and freezer space is limited. The benefits of salmon continue no matter your lifestyle! 

When to Choose Canned Fish Over Fresh Fish?

The current food landscape in the U.S. can be confusing. One day we’re all supposed to be eating vegan, another day keto. 

But whatever diet you choose, it is helpful to recognize that many products and processes are improving. This situtation is true with canned seafood, and we are excited to clear up some misconceptions about this quality, fresh fish product that can really improve your pantry. 

Canned fish is as quick as a fast-food meal of hamburger and fries, but delivers much better nutrition. As a result it is fast becoming more popular as a healthy convenience snack. 

Canned fish is already cooked. Plus, a can of quality wild-caught salmon will only taste like salmon. Despite being stored in metal, there is little or no risk of toxins or the like to the canned product. 

Because it is preserved at high temperatures, you could eat it right out of the can. You can also create fun and delicious wild salmon recipes with our canned products, which is especially exciting in places where fresh fish just might not be an option. 

Five Canned Salmon Recipes for Fast and Healthy Meals!

It’s always helpful to have a few quality recipes to rely on. These five recipes are time-tested by our team and customers. Bookmark it for an easy reference tool the next time you are preparing a meal with canned salmon. And stock your pantry when needed with our canned and pouch salmon - for healthy food you can eat on the go! Remember also that many Wild for Salmon staple recipes can be made with thawed frozen salmon or our canned salmon.



Alaska Salmon Potato Breakfast Hash with Dill Cream

Cold Salad 
Salmon Avocado Salad by Wellness with Edie

Alaska Salmon Salad Baguettes with Tomato-Basil Mayo

Hot Meals 
Salmon Cakes (substitute fillet or ground salmon with canned)
Sockeye Salmon Croquettes (Gluten Free)




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  • I read the whole page and learned some things. I was hoping to find out a bit more about preservatives (salt) vs fresh…. I’m trying to keep sodium at a reasonable intake and when I think canned I think big servings of sodium. I’m not sure if that holds true with packaged salmon or not. Thanks!

    Kenneth 04-12-2024
  • This Web site is very informative

    Mary Gallagher 10-18-2023
  • As a registered dietitian and nutrition writer (and huge salmon fan), I have to say this web site is informative, entertaining, and very well done. Thanks for the useful information.

    Elizabeth Ward 08-31-2022

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