When we think of salmon, we normally think of fresh or frozen salmon fillets. But what if we were to tell you that you could get the same flavor and nutrition in an easier and more affordable way?
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the best canned salmon brands to determine who’s the best in terms of nutrition, taste, and sustainability. Canned salmon is something that should be in every pantry, so we’ll also compare it to canned tuna and give you some recipe inspiration so that you can easily plan how to incorporate it into a meal.
The Natural Pink Salmon from Crown Prince is packed in the traditional way (with extra nutrients) and certified to be sustainable.
For some of the best sustainability and flavor (without skin and bones), we love the freshness of Wild Planet’s Wild Pink Salmon.
Quick Comparison: The 10 Best Canned Salmon
1. Crown Prince Natural Pink Salmon
Crown Prince Natural Pink Salmon is caught and packed under some of the strictest quality standards—and we can definitely taste the difference. The delicately-textured pink salmon has a flavor that is just as delicate and delicious.
With 1,415 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and a whopping 6.8 grams of protein per serving, this small can packs a delicious and nutritious punch. The bones contained in the can are soft and edible and do not need to be removed. We think they taste great and pets love them!
Since 1948, Crown Prince Inc. has been one of the most trusted names in canned seafood. Providing some of the finest-quality products for customers across the country, the family-owned business prioritizes meeting the needs of American seafood lovers.
2. Wild Planet Wild Pink Salmon
Sustainability is just as important as taste and nutrition for Wild Planet. The fishing families who work with Wild Planet take special precautions to only catch the Alaskan salmon during a harvest period, which prevents overfishing and supports a healthy population.
Wild Planet Salmon has been recognized by Clean Eating as one of the top choices for taste and health benefits, and they’ve been ranked by Greenpeace as sustainably-caught seafood. While purse seine fishing has been associated with bycatch and endangering other species, the “free school” method minimizes this.
Some of us aren’t a fan of bones and with the pink salmon from Wild Planet, there’s no need to remove them. You don’t even have to drain the can because everything inside is 100% edible and delicious.Every 3 oz serving contains a massive amount of protein—18 ounces! It’s also equipped with 50% of your daily recommended value of vitamin D, along with many other essential nutrients.
3. StarKist Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
StarKist is one of the world’s most famous canned fish brands. Their focus on healthy and shelf-stable products has allowed them to win awards like America’s Favorite Tuna.
When it comes to their 14.75 oz can of wild Alaskan pink salmon, it’s enough lean protein for the entire family! It’s one of the easiest types of fish to incorporate into a variety of meals—it’s versatile and a great way to liven up a salad, pasta, tacos, or even pizza. With a mild fishy flavor, it’s even great on its own or as a snack.
Their commitment to sustainability, quality, and consumer trust isn’t new—StarKist celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2017! Over the years, they’ve played a key role in sustainable fish stocks and healthy ecosystems. They’re even a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).
4. Bumble Bee Skinless and Boneless Pink Salmon
Since 1899, the Bumble Bee Seafood Company has been producing some of the world’s most delicious seafood products. While they want families around the globe to enjoy and celebrate their tasty seafood, they also want to nurture the oceans from which they get their products.
They used science-based initiatives to make sure that when they harvest/farm their products, they’re doing so in a way that preserves aquatic resources. They also consider their environmental footprint in other aspects of their operation and constantly make improvements in their supply chain and packaging. They’re also a founding member of the ISSF!
Healthy living is just as important for Bumble Bee. With 20 grams of protein per can, the skinless and boneless pink salmon from Bumble Bee contains around 39% of someone’s recommended daily value. This is a perfect way for someone tight on time (and money) to boost their protein intake.
5. Rubinstein's Red Sockeye Salmon
For anyone looking for rich salmon flavor, red salmon is the way to go. It’s a great way to accent a meal or appetizer. With its rich red appearance and taste, it’s a favorite choice for the seafood lovers in my family.
Harnessing all of its nutrition and flavor, the wild Alaskan blueback red salmon is canned immediately after it’s caught. This provides a fresher and more flavorful taste that’s great either on its own or in gourmet meals. While it contains bones, I find that it’s not even noticeable when you make salmon burgers or patties.
Trident Seafoods is behind the Rubenstein’s Brand. They started in 1961 and are now one of the largest seafood companies in North America. Working with several independent, family-run businesses, they prioritize the best Alaskan wild-caught species—like what’s found in their Red Sockeye Salmon.
It appears that Trident Seafoods really cares about their customers. Aware of concerns regarding Bisphenol A (BPA) in cans, the brand does not use any epoxy-based materials that may generate BPA in their packaging.
6. 365 Everyday Value Alaskan Wild Red Sockeye Salmon
The 365 Everyday Value brand from Whole Foods provides customers with some of the quality found in Whole Foods products at very affordable prices. Their canned salmon product uses fancy-grade salmon which not only tastes better, but also has a lot of nutritional benefits.
This canned salmon is a source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, and protein. Its dark red color looks great in a summer salad or as part of a tasty pasta.
Buying anything from Whole Foods Market comes with an assurance that their products have met stringent quality standards and are free of more than 100 harmful chemicals. If you want to eat natural, and do so affordably, you might want to give this canned salmon a try.
7. Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
Canned salmon doesn’t get more simple than this. If you’re looking for a light and fresh taste and don’t want to have to deal with bones and skin, then your lunch and dinner can be made easy with the Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon.
As a good source of protein and with 360 mg of omega-3s per serving, I’d suggest this salmon for anyone trying to improve their nutrition (and do so easily).
For those of us who care about the environment as much as we care about our health, we can rest assured that this canned salmon comes from a Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) model, which means that it uses principles to be as sustainable and transparent as possible.
The Kirkland brand works with biologists from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to ensure that they’re maintaining a healthy and sustainable ecosystem from the Alaskan coastline where they source their salmon. The salmon is caught using purse seine nets before heading to a cannery where the bones and skin are removed.
8. Redhead Wild Sockeye Salmon from Alaska
In an effort to provide the best nutrition and flavor, the Pure Alaska Salmon Co. (Redhead) sources their red sockeye at the last stage of their complete life cycle. They’re fished in the cold waters of the pristine Bristol Bay (one of the best areas for Alaskan salmon). Processing takes place just a few hours afterwards, so the salmon retains as much nutrition and flavor as possible.
Speaking of nutrition, there’s about 21 grams of protein and 1400 mg omega-3s in each 3.5 oz serving—with only 190 calories! While it’s a little higher in sodium (440 mg) it’s also an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D.
9. Chicken of the Sea Traditional Pink Salmon
Who hasn’t heard of Chicken of the Sea? This famous canned tuna brand uses the same exceptional standards and appreciation for taste in their canned salmon products.
As a trustworthy household name, we’re always happy to have a can of Chicken of the Sea Traditional Pink Salmon in our pantry. It’s great out of the can or in salmon cakes (blended with some carrot and zucchini for some additional flavor and nutrition).
While you can trace the products using the code printed on the top of the can, this is one of the few canned salmon brands that sources some of their salmon in the Pacific then freezes it before delivering it to a processing facility (it’s not packed fresh).
10. Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
Vital Choice specially selects their wild Alaskan sockeye salmon to provide only the best to eaters. Every can of their salmon is fully cooked and packed with protein, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3s. In fact, just one serving provides 2 to 3 times more DHA and EPA omega-3s than is recommended by most health authorities!
Even better, this salmon provides unrivaled levels of astaxanthin (3.39 mg), a carotenoid-class pigment with antioxidant power.
The salmon is caught off the coast of Alaska and their fishing practices meet some of the highest standards and regulations. Also, by buying wild salmon from Vital Choice, we’re not only enjoying tasty salmon, but also supporting small-scale and family fisheries.
Things to Consider Before Buying Canned Salmon
Canned salmon brings together the best of both worlds—it can be part of a highly nutritious snack or meal and it’s one of the most convenient ways to eat.
Similar to canned tuna (of which Americans eat 1 billion pounds every year), canned salmon offers the same convenience but is better on nearly every metric. Canned salmon is healthier, more sustainable, and tastier. It is a true pantry powerhouse.
Canned Salmon Nutrition
Like other protein-rich foods like canned lentils, chickpeas, or black beans, canned fish is something that should be in everyone’s pantry.
For some reason, canned tuna has been the more popular canned fish option throughout the years, but there’s more than one reason that canned salmon should take its place.
Canned salmon is rich in protein. Don’t get us wrong, canned tuna (and other types of canned fish, for that matter) are all pretty healthy. However, when canned tuna and canned salmon are compared side-by-side, we find that canned salmon is a little bit better.
First of all, canned salmon has two more grams of protein than tuna (approximately 21 grams in total). While it also has slightly higher amounts of calories and fat, canned salmon is the perfect protein source to go with your lunch or dinner.
Canned salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. If you’ve read anything about nutrition over the past couple of years, it’s likely that you’ve heard something about omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3’s, as they’re known, are just one of the healthy fats that we consume and they’re great to support heart and brain health. In fact, they’re pretty essential for good overall health, so much so that eating foods like canned salmon is recommended at least two times per week.
Compared to canned tuna, canned salmon provides amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats at rates nearly five times higher.
In just a 100-gram serving of canned salmon, you’ll consume 150 mg of omega-3s, which is already halfway to meeting the recommended dietary allowance of 250-500 mg!
Concerned about mercury? Canned salmon is better. One of the biggest worries people have when it comes to canned fish is mercury. Traces of mercury are found in nearly all types of fish and shellfish and, as a toxin associated with health concerns like Alzheimer’s, autism, depression and anxiety, it’s no wonder that people want to avoid this.
Fortunately, canned fish can still safely make it into our pantries. Compared to canned tuna (0.128 ppm) and fresh fish like cod (0.111 ppm) the concentration of canned salmon is much lower, at just 0.022 parts per million.
Canned salmon is better for the planet. If we’re not worried about toxins like mercury in our canned seafood, we’re probably worried about the unsustainable fishing methods used. Fortunately for seafood lovers, there are a few ways that canned salmon is superior in terms of sustainability.
It’s easier to track salmon, so we can see the impact of fishing and make changes if need be. Every year, salmon go to the same place to spawn, so it’s easy for scientists to determine the population and track if there’s been any decrease in their numbers.
Salmon can be caught in ways that are more environmentally friendly. Unlike other seafood species, most of the salmon we find in cans is wild caught. Even better, there are many ways we can responsibly catch salmon without harming other fish (the same can’t be said for tuna).
You can keep canned salmon for a long time. The shelf-life of canned salmon is about five years! It doesn’t need refrigeration before it's opened, either. It’s one of the most shelf-stable sources of protein out there, and a great thing to have in any pantry.
Canned, fresh, or frozen—it doesn’t matter. Fish is hands-down one of the best things we could put in our bodies. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the easiest.
When it comes to things like fresh or frozen salmon, many of us don’t know how to prepare it. Even if we do, some of us might not be able to afford it, either. For higher-quality salmon, we may expect prices of more than $6 per pound (although in some cases it’s much more expensive).
If you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget, canned salmon is the way to go. Not only is it much more affordable than its fresh and frozen counterparts, but it’s nutritionally similar to fresh and frozen salmon.
As we’ll see in the following recipes, it’s also much easier to prepare, too.
Canned Salmon Recipes
The options are endless when it comes to eating canned salmon. If you’re in a time crunch or want something simple to pack for lunch, canned salmon is tasty and delicious. It doesn’t even need to be cooked!
Think of it like tuna, it can be used in similar ways on sandwiches, in salads, or even baked into a dish. For more inspiration, here are a few of our favorite recipes that incorporate canned salmon:
- Spicy Canned Salmon Cakes (recipe from The Kitchn): If you’re in the mood for a spicy summer dinner, you can whip up this crab cake-like dish in no time. Combined with mayonnaise, spices, and breadcrumbs, these patties taste great with a simple salad and make for a healthy (and delicious) meal.
- Seared Salmon Poke Bowl (recipe from Food Network): Poke bowls are all the rage these days and incorporating canned salmon (instead of fresh) into this recipe allows you to experience the burst of flavor in less time—and with less of an impact on your wallet.
- Garlic Salmon Linguine (recipe from Taste of Home): Sometimes we just need a quick and tasty meal—and this recipe is perfect for that. This delicious dish only takes 20 minutes! PRO TIP: make it a little healthier by adding broccoli or halved cherry tomatoes.
- Salmon Scrambled Eggs (recipe from Betty Crocker): Tired of the same old breakfast every morning? Mix it up with this. This meal is protein-packed and a perfect way to start the day.
Why Does it Look Like There’s Glass in My Canned Salmon?
While you may find tiny glass-like crystals in your canned seafood, don’t worry. These harmless crystals are called struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate) It’s a naturally occurring material that sometimes forms in the cans during storage.
If you eat these, you may notice a slightly gritty texture but rest assured that this is not harmful and the digestive juices in your stomach will have no trouble breaking them down.
What Type of Salmon to Look For
When you’re shopping for the best canned salmon, you’ll generally see a few different varieties: chum, pink, red, coho, chinook, and sockeye. In America, we’ll generally see pink, red, and sockeye salmon most often.
If you want to choose the most ethically sourced and environmentally friendly salmon, there are a few other words you can look for on the label:
- Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) Certified: This FAO-based certification scheme assures consumers that their Alaskan salmon has been sustainably harvested.
- Wild caught: From a health and a sustainability standpoint, wild caught canned salmon is superior. Farmed salmon is associated with species extinctions and it also has higher levels of pollutants and toxins like PCBs. PRO TIP: if you’re buying Alaskan sockeye, pink salmon, or red salmon, you’ll know that it’s wild caught by a sustainable Alaskan fishery.
- Pole and line fishing method: Pole and line fishing (i.e. using a fishing rod) is selective. When most fishing operations source their wild fish, they use large nets (called purse seines). These trap, and generally kill, several different species—not just salmon. When pole and line fishing is used they’re able to take only the species they’re fishing for and return the rest to the water unharmed. Similarly, this method also prevents overfishing.
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Certified Fishery: If you see the MSC symbol on the label, you can be certain that the fishery used is managed well and is sustainable. Conservation groups and scientists are behind the standards and they make sure that every fishery keeps enough fish in the ocean, minimizes their environmental impact, and manages the fishery so that it complies with laws and environmental regulations.
- Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Certified Salmon Farm: ASC focuses on things like biodiversity, feed ingredients, pollution, disease outbreaks, and labor conditions to ensure that the products with their label are truly the best canned salmon out there.
We understand that grocery shopping can sometimes be overwhelming. There are nutrition labels to read, certification labels to look for, and special considerations to make about things like BPA and sodium. When it comes to canned salmon, we’re happy to report that these brands are doing their best to provide salmon products that are healthy for humans and the environment.We hope that this article reminds you that canned salmon is a convenient, affordable, sustainable, nutritious, and delicious thing to have in any pantry. Some of the best canned salmon brands are providing eaters with super tasty products that don’t harm our planet (or pockets!). We can’t wait for you to try some yourself—feel free to share your favorite canned salmon recipe in the comments below!