All posts by Jeff Fidler

low carb sausage meal pans

Healthy Low Carb Sausage Recipes – Meal Planning Ideas

5 Healthy Low Carb Sausage Recipes

Sausages are a wonderful ingredient to use as part of a wide variety of low carb recipes. They come in many different styles and flavours, and are a great source of protein. They are an important ingredient in many Italian recipes, contemporary American recipes, and many other types of cuisine from around the world. In this article, we share five fantastic recipes that use different kinds of sausage as a focal point of the meal, and are great low carb options to work in to your weekly meal plans.

Now, get right to the list of the most common kinds of sausages. We’ll take a look at their different characteristics, and provide an example of a great recipe that you can use them with.

Italian Sausage

Italian style sausages are usually made from seasoned pork and are extremely popular. They are commonly found in either spicy or sweet flavours. Spicy Italian sausages are available in varying levels of heat, from mild to very hot, so always check the label to ensure that you are getting ones that suit your tastes. Italian sausage is a common element in many different pasta recipes, as well as a delicious pizza topping, or tastes great simply grilled and served on a nice, toasty low carb bun with your favourite condiments.

One Pan Italian Sausage Dinner Skillet

This recipe from Vicky at Tasteaholics is an amazing meal full of big flavours that complement the bold taste of Italian sausages. It also has the added convenience of being made in a single skillet, so there are fewer dishes to clean up, which is always a bonus. This recipe is fast and easy to prepare and is the perfect dinner for two on a busy weeknight.

Kielbasa Sausage

This popular sausage type hails from Poland, and is made from pork that is typically smoked and can be served either hot or cold, making it a very versatile sausage for many types of recipes. Kielbasa is a great addition to any cold cut platter or charcuterie plate, and it pairs well with many kinds of cheeses. It’s also a handy way to add some protein to a lunch box that even kids will enjoy (just watch the garlic content, or the kids won’t be very popular at school).

Fried Cabbage with Kielbasa

We found this recipe at, and we echo the sentiments of the author, Kyndra, who says that you’ve got to love any recipe that “contains inexpensive ingredients, is quick to make, and tastes like you’ve spent hours on it.” This recipe definitely hits all of those marks, and is low carb and gluten free to boot. You can have this ready to serve in 30 minutes, and it’s sure to be a big hit each and every time.

Bratwurst Sausage

This is definitely one of our favourite types of sausage. A good ‘Brat’ on a soft low carb bun and smothered in sauerkraut is just about as close to perfection as you can get. Bratwurst is a German sausage made of pork and veal, mixed with a blend of seasonings such as salt and nutmeg, as well as a few others. Bratwursts are usually served either grilled or fried, and are a great addition to any low carb menu.

Bratwurst with Onions and Sauerkraut

Like we said, it’s hard to beat a perfectly grilled Bratwurst that’s topped with sauerkraut, and this recipe delivers on that promise. This particular recipe from the chefs at Atkins does away with the bun, however, and adds onions to the mix to create a fantastic one-pan low carb meal you can have ready in just 15 minutes that is packed with protein and delicious flavours.

Chorizo Sausage

This zesty sausage of Mexican origins, is typically made from either pork or occasionally beef, and is seasoned with a variety of spices and seasonings including chilies and garlic. Chorizo is a popular ingredient in Southwest style recipes since it is often hot and spicy, and works well with the other ingredients that are common in those kinds of dishes.

Easy Low Carb Chorizo Chili Recipe in a Skillet

This incredible recipe for a low carb chili goes the extra mile by using a chorizo sausage that is made from scratch, and tastes absolutely amazing. It’s perfect for all kinds of low carb diets, including paleo and keto, and is gluten free, too. Kim at created a home-run with this recipe, and we’re sure that once you try it, you’ll definitely be including it on many of your future meal plans.

Andouille Sausage

This smoked type of pork sausage is a staple of Cajun and Creole cuisine, and is seasoned from a blend of spices and ingredients that includes garlic, onions, and even wine. While it can be more difficult to find in traditional grocery stores, you simply can’t make jambalaya or gumbo without a nice andouille sausage. It’s got a nice spicy kick that you can use to heat up all kinds of other recipes, too.

Low Carb Cajun Style Sausage Recipe with Cauliflower Rice

With a Cajun style sausage, you’ve got to have a Cajun style recipe to use it in, right? Well, this delicious creation from Jenni at definitely falls in to that category. This flavourful dish combines the spiciness of the andouille sausage with plenty of fresh vegetables, a bold and creamy Cajun sauce, and serves it all on top of a fluffy bed of cauliflower rice. Absolutely delicious!


Using sausages as a main ingredient produces some amazingly flavourful low carb meals that the whole family will love to have as part of your weekly meal plans. In addition to these fantastic recipes, don’t forget about the classic breakfast sausages that we all know and love.

If you’re in the mood for something different from bacon to accompany your morning meal of scrambled eggs, sausages are a delicious way to get some more protein and start your day off right. We hope that you’ve found these recipes inspiring, and that your next meal plan might just include some of these ideas. Happy eating!

low carb jerky recipes

Make Your Own Jerky with Meat, Fish and More

How to Make Your Own Jerky from Beef, Turkey, Fish, and More

Jerky is a favourite snack of low carb dieters everywhere. It’s high in protein, convenient, portable, and available in a huge range of flavours and styles. However, many people shy away from jerky as a snack since so many of the typical store-bought varieties contain added sugars and carbs. Fortunately, jerky is easy for you to make yourself at home, allowing you to completely customize the ingredients to ensure that your jerky is low in carbs but big on flavour. In this article, we’ll help guide you through the different kinds of meats that you can use to make jerky, as well as explain how to achieve certain flavours, and what common methods you can use to make it in the convenience of your own kitchen.

For starters, let’s take a look at some of the most popular meats that people use to make jerky, and how their taste and textures are different.

Popular Meats to Use for Jerky


Undoubtedly, beef is the most popular meat that is used to make jerky. It’s an excellent choice to work with as it is extremely common and has a great base flavour and texture for this type of food. As you’d expect, the quality of the beef you use will determine how good the jerky will be, so make sure you choose lean, fresh beef to get the best results. A popular choice for a cut of beef to use for jerky is a nice flank steak, but you could also use brisket or another cut that has low fat content. Look for cuts with less marbling to ensure the fat content is as low as possible.


Another popular meat for jerky is turkey. Many people prefer the lower fat content of turkey, but it also has a milder flavour than beef, so depending on what your desired flavour is, it may be a better choice. This is a fantastic way to use up those turkey leftovers after big holiday dinners like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and can be seasoned in many different ways to boost and accentuate the milder flavour of the meat.


There are plenty of different types of fish that can be used to make jerky, but the most popular choices are salmon, trout and tuna. Fish is extremely healthy and a great source of protein and fatty acids. Fish jerky is often flavoured using sweeter marinades like teriyaki, but is equally good when flavoured with spicy or smoky ingredients. Smoked salmon jerky in particular is an absolutely wonderful taste experience that is a favourite of jerky lovers all over the world.

Other Meats for Making Jerky

Jerky isn’t just limited to those meats, however. You can make it from nearly every kind of meat you can imagine, from boar and bison, to snake and alligator. Here is a great list of 17 different types of meat that you can make jerky from. The next time you feel inspired to make something completely new and unusual, try experimenting with some of these ideas to make some jerky that’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Marinades and Sauces for Jerky

Jerky flavours come in a very wide range, and you’ll find different variations to suit virtually any flavour preference that you may have. Some are bold, others are mild, some are sweet, others are spicy, but they’re all delicious. Here are some of the most common and popular jerky flavours you can try.

Sweet Jerky

If you like a sweeter taste to your jerky, you may want to try a marinade like teriyaki or honey garlic, or create your own. It’s important for low carb dieters to be careful with sweeter sauces and marinades, as they can contain high amounts of sugar. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-sugar and sugar-free marinades available for low carb dieters to use for making homemade jerky. For example, this sugar-free Teriyaki sauce from Seal Sama has a great flavour, and will definitely produce a great tasting teriyaki jerky.

Spicy Jerky

Whether you like just a little heat or a lot of it, there are countless options for spicy marinades to use for making jerky. While many spicy sauces and marinades are inherently low in carbs, there are still some that you’ll need to be wary of as they may contain added sugar. Check the labels carefully to be sure, or make your own spicy marinade using your favourite low carb hot sauces. Here’s a great list of hot sauces that are perfect for low carb dieters.

Smoky Jerky

The best way to get a smoky flavour in your jerky is to actually smoke it. If you have a smoker or a barbecue that is capable of smoking, then you’ll get best results if you use that to finish your jerky. Hickory is a popular wood used for smoking jerky, and it has a great flavour that really accentuates the flavour of the meat. You can also use maple or mesquite for some different smoky flavours to try. If you don’t have the ability to actually smoke the jerky, there are flavours you can add to your marinade that simulate a smoky taste. As with any other flavour or marinade, be sure to check the bottle of liquid smoke flavouring to make sure it doesn’t contain sugar or other added carbs.

How to Make Jerky at Home

Making jerky at home is actually quite simple, and can easily be done in the oven. The key to making great jerky is patience. The marinade needs a good amount of time to really soak in to the meat, and the drying needs to be done in an oven low and slow to get the best results. Here are the basic steps to making jerky in your oven.

1 – Slice the meat into long, thin strips and place them in your desired marinade to soak.

2 – Marinate the meat strips in the refrigerator for no less that 4-5 hours and up to a full day to ensure complete saturation of the flavours in to the meat.

3 – Preheat the oven to a very low setting. Under 200ºF is essential, and around 160º is best.

4 – Remove the jerky from the marinade and use a paper towel to absorb any excess sauce from the meat strips. They should be somewhat dry before going in to the oven.

5 – Hang the jerky on bamboo skewers on the oven racks and place a foil-lined pan underneath to catch any errant drips from messing up your oven.

6 – Bake the jerky for at least 4-6 hours, depending on the thickness of your strips. This may take as long as 12 hours for thick jerky, or if your oven temperature is lower than 160º.

Check in occasionally until the jerky has a firm, but not hard or crispy, texture. A good way to test is to remove a strip and bend it. It should be dry to the touch and crack slightly when bent.

Once you’ve achieved the desired texture and consistency, your jerky is ready to remove from the oven and start enjoying.

Be sure to keep any leftover jerky refrigerated or in a cooler at all times.


As a snack for low carb dieters, jerky is simply perfect. It’s got everything that low carb dieters need, and tastes absolutely delicious. Once you start making your own jerky at home, we’re sure that you’ll have a lot of fun experimenting with different flavours and other types of meat to discover your own unique combinations. We certainly hope that you’ve found this article helpful.


zoodles low carb noodles

Zoodles – Low Carb Noodles – Recipes & More

All About Zoodles: What are they and how do you use them?

Pasta lovers, we have some great news for you! If you’ve never heard of zoodles before, prepare to be surprised. Made entirely from zucchini, zoodles are the perfect low carb noodle alternative that can be used in virtually any pasta dish that you can imagine. In this article, we’ll explain some of the different ways you can make zoodles, as well as provide a couple of delicious recipe ideas to try.

As we’ve discussed in our previous article, Tips for Making Delicious Pasta Meals the Low Carb Way, there’s no reason that low carb dieters need to avoid pasta as part of their meal plans. There are plenty of options available for low carb noodles, but with zoodles you also get the benefits of a pile of nutrient-rich vegetables as well.

How to Make Zoodles

There are three basic methods that are commonly used to make zucchini noodles. First, you can simply use a standard vegetable peeler to create long, flat strips of fresh zucchini noodles. While this may work fine at producing a nice pile of zoodles, it’s definitely not the fastest method, especially when you need to prepare a larger meal. To create a lot of zoodles in less time, you can use a kitchen mandolin to speed up the process. In addition, since mandolins allow you to adjust the thickness, you can customize your style of zoodles much easier than with a hand-held peeler.

The third common method of making zoodles is to use a spiralizer. Here’s a great article from that reviews 5 fantastic kitchen spiralizers, and outlines the different accessories that allow you to create multiple styles of spiraled vegetables. Using a spiralizer produces a much longer zoodle if you want a more ‘spaghetti’ style format to use for your pasta meal. Regardless of what tool you use to create your zoodles, they will all taste the same, so it really comes down to your personal preference.

How to Cook Zoodles

Once you have your zoodles ready, there are a few different ways you can cook them depending on the type of recipe you will be using them in, or how you prefer them to taste. Here are the most common ways to prepare zoodles for a wide variety of meal types and recipe styles.

Raw Zoodles

Sometimes, the best way to cook your zoodles is to not cook them at all! Fresh, raw zucchini noodles are crisp and delicious, and are a fantastic way to make cold pasta salads in a new and exciting way with very few carbs and lots of flavour. You can also top cold zoodles with any of your favourite hot pasta sauces for a different kind of pasta experience.

Fried or Sautéed Zoodles

Frying or sautéing your zoodles is a great way to prepare them, and allows you to add extra seasoning or flavour in the form of oils, such as olive oil or avocado oil, and a sprinkle of salt or vegetable seasoning. The key to preparing zoodles this way is to keep the time short. If they are heated for too long, they become mushy, so pay close attention to the zoodles as they cook, which usually only takes about 2 minutes.

Boiled Zoodles

Another way to prepare your zoodles is to boil them just like any other type of noodle. Just like frying and sautéing, you’ll want to keep the time very short to avoid ending up with a pile of mush. Really, all you’re doing is heating them up, so all you need is about one minute of time in boiling water. Then, simply drain and serve as you normally would.

Delicious Recipes Using Zoodles

Now that you’re a zoodle expert, we thought we’d share a couple of tasty recipes that you can use to try out your skills. These healthy zoodle creations are easy to make and taste absolutely delicious. Give them a try as part of your next meal plan!

Zucchini Noodles with Mini Chicken Feta and Spinach Meatballs

Wow! This recipe is an amazing mix of flavours and textures that is a real culinary adventure. Jessica at hit it out of the park with this creation, which is an absolutely perfect example of how zoodles can work to create a truly unique and tasty low carb meal. It’s loaded with protein, vegetables, and big flavours.

Spicy Sesame Zoodles with Crispy Tofu

If you’re a lover of all things spicy, then Lindsay over at has created a recipe that is sure to bring the heat! This delectable zoodle recipe combines a thick and spicy sesame peanut sauce with crunchy raw zoodles to create a marriage of opposites that works amazingly well. The addition of crispy fried tofu further adds to the experience and keeps the carb count low.


Well, there you have it! Next time you cook up some of your favourite pasta sauce, or are looking for a new twist to put with an Asian stir fry, give zoodles a try. It’s a simple and easy way to incorporate more vegetables in to your pasta meals, and cut out even more carbs. We’re sure that you’ll love using zoodles in all kinds of creative low carb recipes. We hope you found this article helpful!

5 low carb cookbooks

5 Low Carb Cookbooks That You Will Want

5 Amazing Low Carb Cookbooks You Need to Own

No low carb kitchen would be complete without a set of fantastic cookbooks to help you craft a diverse meal plan full of delicious recipes and healthy foods that the whole family will love. Of course, once you start scanning the cookbook shelf at your local bookstore or online shop, you may find yourself lost in an endless pile of books and not much clarity on which ones are worth picking up.

We’ve simplified your search for great low carb cookbooks by listing 5 of the best by some of the most trusted authors in the world of low carb eating.

In this list, you’ll find cookbooks for a variety of different cooking styles, including recipes that are fast and easy, some that focus on a short list of ingredients, some that keep things simple with slow cookers, and more.

We’ve found these cookbooks to be easy to follow and packed with delicious, healthy recipes for low carb and keto dieting lifestyles.

The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Jen Fisch

This cookbook is incredibly popular right now, and with good reason. With just 5 ingredients, these recipes fit the keto and low carb lifestyle and are absolutely delicious. Author Jen Fisch has pulled together a fantastic resource that is perfect for people just getting started on the low carb or keto diets by keeping things simple without sacrificing taste or health value. Even experienced low carb and keto dieters will love the recipes in this book, and it will definitely become one of your favourite places to go for quick and easy meal ideas.

The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook by Colette Heimowitz

It’s hard to argue that Atkins is an authority in the world of low carb. As the most well-known low carb brand and diet plan, Atkins has a reputation of providing quality products, healthy living tips, and great recipes. In this cookbook, author Colette Heimowitz has gathered together a fantastic collection of 200 fast and easy low carb recipes that are on the table in 30 minutes or less. You’ll find ideas for any meal of the day as well as tons of snacks, appetizers, and desserts that are sure to be a big hit with your family.

Keto One Pot Wonders Cookbook by Elizabeth Jane

If you love the ease and convenience of one-pot cooking, then this cookbook is for you. These 50 recipes from author Elizabeth Jane are all keto-friendly, and cover a wide range of cuisine styles to bring lots of exciting flavours to your table. In this book, you’ll find stews, stir frys, baked casseroles, ribs, soups, and many more. These recipes aim to keep things simple and easy, and focus on fresh and healthy ingredients to produce amazing meals that will definitely satisfy you and your family.


The Big 15 Ketogenic Diet Cookbook by Megan Flynn Peterson

You’d never guess that 15 simple ingredients could produce hundreds of different meal variations, but this incredible cookbook by Megan Flynn Peterson proves that you definitely can, and the results are amazing. This cookbook includes 150 recipes and 300 different variations that bring the carb count down or the fat content up, depending on what stage of the low carb or keto diet you are in. Choose from tasty classics like BLT wraps, or explore interesting new creations like cauliflower pizza to add some unique flavour experiences to your meal plans.

Easy Low Carb Slow Cooking by Robin Donovan

We love our slow cookers, and the convenience that they bring to the kitchen. It’s always nice to come home at the end of the day to find that dinner is already prepared and ready to serve. These recipes are easy to follow, and amazingly satisfying meals for low carb, keto, and paleo diets. Author Robin Donovan pays close attention to making these 125 recipes healthy, fast to prep, and extremely delicious. With recipes like Bacon-Wrapped Chicken, Thai Red Curry Beef, and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake, you’ll definitely see lots of smiles around the table when you serve up these meals.

Meal Planning Tips and Advice

Now that you’ve got all these amazing low carb recipe ideas, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed in trying to figure out where to fit them in your weekly meal plans.

We suggest checking out our article on Tips and Tricks for Low Carb Meal Planning to help you put together a meal plan that is easy to follow and includes a wide range of healthy foods like those found in these cookbooks.


It’s always helpful to have lots of different options to select from when you are crafting your weekly low carb meal plan, and with these cookbooks in your kitchen, you’ll have hundreds of healthy, delicious, and easy recipes at your fingertips. Each of these books delivers plenty of advice, tips, and tricks to save time, customize flavours, and more.

If your low carb recipe archive is getting boring and repetitive, we’re sure that you’ll find the meals contained in these cookbooks to be exactly what you need to inject some fun and excitement back in to your healthy eating habits. We hope that you are inspired to give some of these a try as a part of your low carb lifestyle.

low carb deli meats for diets

Deli Meats for Low Carb Diets

Delicious Deli Meats for Low Carb Dieters

There’s a reason why sandwiches and wraps are such a popular item for lunch. Not only are they fast and easy to make, but they taste great, can be made in a million different combinations, and are totally customizable to your personal preferences. That’s the great thing about sandwiches & wraps; you can make them however you want, and no two ever need to be the same if you don’t want them to be.

There are many kinds of sandwiches to choose from, like the classic peanut butter and jelly, a nice toasty grilled cheese, tuna & mayo, to name a few, but the most wide-spread kind of sandwich or wrap is the type made with sliced deli meat.

Deli meats are a staple of lunch counters, restaurants, and grocery stores all across the world, and are available in dozens of different varieties to appeal to a broad range of tastes. In this article, we’ll review the main differences between the different kinds of meats that are common at most deli counters to help you choose the right meat for your low carb diet.

Exclusive Blog Reader Discount!   $15 off sub-total $100.00* + Free Shipping!
Just enter the following code during checkout: ALZDTC

  • Minimum purchase of $100.00 required
  • To qualify for free shipping – orders subtotal must be greater than, or equal to $100 (up to 10Kg)
  • This offer may not be combined with other offers, limit 1 per customer

Low Carb Concerns?

Fortunately for low carb dieters, the deli counter is one of the few places where you can pretty much choose whatever you want, and you can count on it being suitable for the low carb diet. Deli meats rarely contain any carbs, thanks to the fact that they are made from simple ingredients like meat, seasonings, and salt.

Occasionally you may find small amounts of carbs or sugars in the form of glazes or similar flavourings on some deli meats, like a honey glazed or Vermont-style ham for example, but even these will be very minimal in carb count, so be aware of the ingredients used for the types of deli-meats you select.

Pork Deli Meats

Pork deli meats are usually prepared by either salting and curing the meat to create ham, prosciutto or pancetta, or as a roasted pork which is typically seasoned on the outside with a variety of ingredients such as herbs or mustards. Most ham and pork deli meats will be served cold and sliced thin to be used in a wide range of ways, not just limited to sandwiches or wraps. Prosciutto for example, can often be found on charcuterie plates accompanied by a selection of other deli meats and assorted cheeses. Black forest ham works very well as an ingredient for many different types of appetizers, too.

Beef Deli Meats

Beef deli meats include such popular varieties as corned beef, pastrami, and Montreal smoked meat. They are typically made from a cut of beef such as brisket that has been roasted and then seasoned to achieve different flavours. Smoking is used to add additional character and flavour to some types of beef deli meat, and they can also be coated on the outside with spices, such as peppercorns. Beef deli meats are delicious when served either hot or cold, with many people preferring them to be served hot as it tends to enhance the flavours and provide a different type of sandwich experience.

Chicken and Turkey Deli Meats

Most poultry that you’ll find at the deli counter will be either chicken or turkey, prepared most commonly in one of three ways. Chicken and turkey deli meat can be prepared by standard oven roasting, slow rotisserie cooking, or by smoking to achieve different tastes and textures. Chicken and turkey deli meats can be served hot, but are most commonly served cold, either sliced or shaved very thin.

Most chicken and turkey deli meats are made from white meat, which results in very high protein content and low fat.

Sausage, Salami, and Others

Listing all the different types of sausages and salami would be a daunting task, so we’re just going to focus on the main types that you’ll find most often. These types of deli meats are made from several types and cuts of meat depending on their preparation methods. For example, soft mortadella is made from minced pork and pork fat, while the firmer capocollo is made from dry cured pork shoulder.

Chorizo is a Spanish style of sausage that is often included as a spicy ingredient in some recipes, but is just as good on its own as part of a meat and cheese plate.

Pepperoni and salami can be made from either beef or pork, and are frequently used on submarine sandwiches as part of an assortment of cold cuts to give the sandwich zesty flavour.

Recipe Ideas for Deli Meats

Even though deli meats are most commonly found between two slices of low carb white or whole wheat bread and buns, or wrapped up in low carb tortilla shells, there are several other ways that you can use them to prepare healthy and delicious low carb meals.

We found this fantastic article on 5 Delicious Low Carb Ways to Enjoy Deli Meat by Amy at, and she’s included some fun and easy ideas the whole family will love to try as a tasty snack or as part of a healthy summer lunch.

Also, you should check out another one of our articles, Tips for Great Low Carb Sandwiches, for more advice on how to make a fantastic deli sandwich, along with other delicious recipes to try. In that article, you’ll find helpful recommendations for low carb breads and other alternatives, as well as some tasty sandwich toppings you’ll definitely want to try.

While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to try some interesting and unusual combos of your own making. Getting creative with your sandwiches or wraps and experimenting with new flavours can be a lot of fun, and you never know, you just might end up creating something that catches on and becomes world famous!


Navigating the deli counter shouldn’t be a chore, and with these tips we hope that you’re looking forward to your next trip to your local deli to discover some different types of meats that perhaps you’ve never tried. With so many types of delicious meats to choose from, there’s bound to be a few that will become some of your new favourite sandwich and wrap ingredients. Have fun, and happy eating!

Exclusive Blog Reader Discount!   $15 off sub-total $100.00* + Free Shipping!
Just enter the following code during checkout: ALZDTC

  • Minimum purchase of $100.00 required
  • To qualify for free shipping – orders subtotal must be greater than, or equal to $100 (up to 10Kg)
  • This offer may not be combined with other offers, limit 1 per customer

how to choose the best fresh fish

Choosing the Best Fresh Fish

The How-to Guide for Choosing the Best Fresh Fish

Fish is renowned as being a great option for all types of healthy diets, and is a perfect fit for the low carb lifestyle. Fish is high in protein, and is a very versatile ingredient for many different styles of cuisine from around the world. It’s also an ingredient where freshness is absolutely critical to its taste and how well the final dish turns out. Choosing fresh fish is an important skill to have, but it’s not always clear on what to look for, especially since there are so many ways to buy fish. The things you look for in a whole fish are different from what you need to see in a filet. Fortunately, in this article, we will detail all the tips you need to know in order to choose the best fresh fish at your local grocery store or fish market.

For starters, it’s essential that you know the telltale signs of truly fresh fish, and what to be wary of if the fish may be past its prime. Some of these factors are visible to the eye, but some rely on touch or smell. If the fish is sealed up, you may not be able to smell it or touch it, which reduces the number of signs you can rely on to make your choice. So, while you may not be able to use them all each time you shop, using as many as you can will help ensure that you get the best insight in to the freshness of the fish.

Is It Really Fresh?

Figuring out the freshness of a fish is essentially as simple as going through a checklist and seeing if the fish hits all the right marks. This list of factors is slightly different for whole fish and for filets, since whole fish will usually include the head and gills, which give additional indications of freshness. Here’s how to check for freshness for both types of fish you’ll find at a typical market.

Freshness of a Whole Fish

Check the eyes – The eyes of a fresh fish will be clear, bright, and shiny. If the eyes have taken on a dull, grey, or cloudy appearance, this is an indication that the fish is no longer fresh.

Examine the skin and scales – Similar to the eyes, the scales and skin of a fresh fish will be clear and shiny, with a metallic appearance. Avoid it if the skin and scales look dull or dry.

Have a look at the gills – If you can examine the gills of the fish, they should be a vibrant red. If they’ve started to take on a pale hue or brownish tinge, then skip this fish.

Smell check – Ironically, a fresh fish shouldn’t smell ‘fishy’, but rather will have very little odour to it at all. If it does have a scent, it should be very light and similar to brine or simply like fresh water.

Freshness of a Fish Filet

Colour of the flesh – This is easier to see on coloured fish like salmon, tuna and trout, but the flesh of the fish should be a vibrant colour. If it appears faded or dull, this could indicate the fish is no longer fresh.

Firmness of the flesh – Fresh fish meat will spring back quickly to shape if you gently press it with your finger. If it feels spongy or mushy, it’s not fresh and should be avoided.

Examine the skin and scales – If the filet is still on the skin, check it for the same signs you look for on a whole fish. Shiny, clean, and metallic scales are signs of freshness.

Smell check – Filets should not have any strong smells to them at all. If they smell the least bit fishy, they aren’t fresh and you should choose something else.

If you want an additional bit of guidance on choosing the best in fresh fish, you’d be hard pressed to find better advice than this video featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay as he dishes all the details on choosing the perfect fish.

Different Types of Fish

Now that you know what to look for in a fresh fish, how do you know what kind of fish you really want to buy? Well, if you’re not using a recipe that calls for a specific type of fish, and just want to try something new to grill or pan-fry for dinner tonight, there are three main types of fish you can choose from that each has unique characteristics.

Dark Coloured Fish

Dark coloured fish tends to be very flavourful and is more oil-rich, and comes from fish that are generally open-ocean and long-distance swimmers. Examples of dark fish are Bluefin tuna, Chinook salmon, herring, and mackerel.

Medium Coloured Fish

Medium coloured fish are also quite rich in oils, and include fish such as Arctic char, mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, and sockeye salmon. These fish tend to have a stronger flavour than white fish, but are generally not quite as strong as the darkest fish types.

White Coloured Fish

White fish is the lightest tasting fish type, and comes in a wide variety of textures and oil content. Some white fish, such as halibut, rockfish, haddock and catfish are lean in oil and have a firm feel. Others, such as tilapia, sea bass, and flounder have a flaky texture and are lean in oils. You can also find white fish that are firm and oil-rich, such as sturgeon, lake whitefish, and albacore tuna.


We certainly hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, and that you’ll put them to good use the next time you visit your local fresh fish market. As with any type of food, however, you’ll find that choosing a fish is as much a personal preference as how you like your steak done or what toppings you want on your burger. Sure, some fish lend themselves to certain styles of cooking, but ultimately the choice is yours when it comes to what ends up on your plate.

We suggest trying fish from different categories and exploring the different tastes and textures to find what you truly enjoy in fish. Regardless of the type of fish you desire, we know that with these tips you’ll be better equipped to get a nice, fresh fish that will definitely taste great in whatever recipe you use it in.