Tilapia vs. Cod – Which Is Better? [Taste, Nutrition, Price]

Fish is an integral element of the diet of almost all people. Fish is rich in minerals, omega acids, and phosphorus and has a lot of health benefits. Eating fish 2-3 times a week is a good habit to increase your heart health. Cod and tilapia are one of the most popular fish species in the world. They are both white fish, but they are slightly different. So it is time to compare these two popular types of fish and find out which one is better.

Which Is Better, Tilapia or Cod?

If we compare nutrition values, both types of fish are considered good for your diet, however, cod is richer in protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B6, thiamin, phosphorus, and calcium. Cod has less fat and calories in comparison to tilapia. But tilapia has more vitamin B12, iron and niacin.

What Is Tilapia?

Tilapia is the fourth-most consumed fish in the US mainly due to its low price, easy cooking, and taste. Tilapia is a fresh-water species living in shallow streams, lakes, and ponds. Now it is grown all over the world, but it is originally native to the Middle East and Africa. Tilapia had an important place in Egyptian mythology and art. It was believed to accompany the sun god during his daily trips across the sky. The pictures of tilapia also can be found in Egyptian tombs.

The three main species of tilapia are Nile (or Black) Tilapia, Mozambique (or Red) Tilapia, and Blue Tilapia. Despite all of the rumors, tilapia is rich in protein, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and potassium. Those are important for cancer prevention, good heart health, and a stable nervous system.

Tilapia is controversial because of the large-scale farms in China. These farms are unsustainable, and the fish are kept in horrific conditions. However, you can enjoy fresh and healthy tilapia from Mexico and Honduras.

What Is Cod?

While Tilapia is a fresh-water fish, cod lives in the salt water of oceans. There are three species – Atlantic cod, which live in the cold deep waters of the North Atlantic Ocean; Pacific cod which inhabits eastern and western regions in the Northern parts of the Pacific Ocean, and Greenland cod. However, because of overfishing in the Atlantic, Canada radically reduced fishing in 1992, and now only small commercial fisheries operate, catching a strictly limited amount of cod. And the most common cod you can now see in the shops is Pacific or Greenland.

Cod is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and other nutrition elements beneficial for heart health and blood pressure. It is low in calories and fat; therefore, it can be a good diet product for those who are watching their weight.

Due to its mild taste and flaky texture, it is widely used in cooking, in fish and chips, for example, fish nuggets or baked lemon garlic cod.

Tilapia vs. Cod Taste Comparison

Tilapia Cod
Since Tilapia is fresh-water fish, it has a mild taste without a strongly distinguished fish flavor. It is a bit sweet. Due to the absence of strong taste, tilapia is perfect for people who do not like the fishy taste. Tilapia is pink when raw and completely white when cooked.  Atlantic cod is also mild but has a milky taste. Atlantic cod, in comparison to the Pacific one, is sweeter and softer. The texture is firm. Although having slightly different textures, tilapia and cod have similar tastes and can sometimes be substituted. 

What Does Tilapia Taste Like?

Tilapia has a mild, slightly sweet taste, sometimes even flavorless. However, its mild tender taste is the reason why people like it since it does not have a “fish” taste and smell. The closest fish to the tilapia’s taste is Red Snapper. 

What Does Cod Taste Like?

Cod’s taste is mild with notes of milky flavor. Also, the taste is different based on the species. Atlantic cod is slightly sweeter than Pacific. But overall, the taste is tender and delicate. 

As you can see, the taste of the fish depends on the habitat of the fish. Freshwater fish does not have a distinctive “fish” taste and smell. In general, if we compare tilapia and cod, they both have a mild taste, but tilapia is sweeter, and cod has a more milky taste. Also, sometimes the taste of cod is compared to chicken.

Does Cod or Tilapia Taste Better?

Cod tastes better than tilapia but is not as soft. Tilapia often lacks flavor, while Cod has a smooth, slightly salty, fishy flavor with some subtle sweetness and milky flavor. Tilapia is a good choice if you are looking for a very mild fish.

Tilapia vs. Cod Texture

In the battle of tilapia vs cod texture, cod wins since it has a more firm texture with large flakes of flesh. Cod is easier to prepare at home even without any cooking experience. Tilapia, on the other hand, has a softer and more tender texture that melts in your mouth. 

It is believed that there is no winner in the tilapia vs cod battle since both fish are pretty similar. The same also goes for their texture. There are some slight differences. Tilapia has a flaky texture but a tender and soft flesh. It is pink when raw and completely white when cooked. In most cases, tilapia is sold when it is 1-1.5 pounds.

However, cod has larger flakes and firm flesh. Pacific cod has thicker flesh but is softer than Atlantic cod. Some even say that cod filet is like chicken meat.

Tilapia vs. Cod Nutrition Comparison

Tilapia and cod indeed are different differ in nutritional value. Here in the table, you can find their basic nutrition information.

Tilapia – 4 oz Cod (Atlantic cod) – 4 oz
Calories 109 93
Fat 1.9 g 0.8 g
Protein 23 g 20 g
Carbohydrates 0 g 0 g
Sodium 59 mg 61 mg
Omega-3 0.19 g 0.22 g
Vitamin B6 0.184 mg 0.278 mg
Vitamin B12 1.79 mcg 1.03 mcg 
Iron 0.64 mg 0.43 mg
Potassium  342 mg  468 mg
Phosphorus  193 mg 230 mg

As you can see, the nutritional value of both fish is quite similar, however, we can spot some differences. Tilapia has more calories and is fatty. Also, it is higher in protein, Vitamin B12, and iron. Cod is richer in sodium, Omega-3, Vitamin B6, potassium, and phosphorus. 

Let’s quickly talk about the health benefits of some vitamins and minerals of cod and tilapia. 

Fats. Omega-3 is an essential element in preventing heart diseases. It is famous for its property of keeping low blood pressure, preventing the development of plaque in the arteries, and reducing the chances of heart attacks. 

Minerals. Iron is one of the most important minerals, especially for our blood cells. It produces hemoglobin that helps to transport oxygen through the whole body. Iron deficiency can have serious health consequences, such as anemia. Phosphorus is the main element for bone and tooth formation. It is needed for the organism’s growth and repair. Potassium reduces blood pressure and protects against stroke and kidney stones. 

Vitamins. B6 plays an important role in metabolism and the nervous system. It helps to transform food into the energy the body uses for daily activities. Also, it helps to create serotonin and dopamine. B12 is essential for DNA building and nervous system health. 

There are a lot of benefits of eating tilapia. If the fish is grown in safe and sustainable conditions, it brings benefits for your heart health and brain functioning. Due to its high level of phosphorus, it is crucial for bones, their development, and growth. Bones, teeth, nails – everything is better if you have tilapia on the menu. 

There are also plenty of benefits of eating cod. Cod is less fatty than tilapia, therefore, it is better for people who want to control their weight. Cod is a vital source of omega-3 acids, which our organism needs but cannot produce on its own. Omega-3 acids decrease blood pressure and reduce the risks of heart diseases. Some studies also suggest that regular cod consumption may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

Which Is Healthier: Cod or Tilapia?

If there is still a question of who wins in the battle of cod vs tilapia, we can all agree that cod is slightly healthier than tilapia. Even if overall the nutrition value is similar, cod has a higher level of omega-3 acids, fewer fats and calories, and a bit higher amount of vitamins and minerals. 

Cod vs. Tilapia Mercury Levels

Mercury content of fish is of particular importance here since the high amount of mercury coming from food may cause poisoning and bad implications for the health. Mercury is especially dangerous for pregnant, breastfeeding women and children.

The amount of mercury in fish depends on the species and fish habitat. Thus, predatory and long-living fish usually have a higher level of mercury.

According to U.S Food and Drug Administration, both cod and tilapia have a low level of mercury. And according to the recommendation, a weekly menu should include not more than 2-3 servings of fish. 

Tilapia vs. Cod Price Comparison

Which Is More Expensive, Tilapia or Cod?

Tilapia (3-8$ per pound) is typically less expensive than cod (8-13$ per pound). However, the prices for cod and tilapia depend on several factors – location, the method of growing – farm-raised or wild-caught, and the condition of fish – fresh or frozen.

Tilapia is almost two times cheaper than cod. Of course, the price depends on a couple of factors, such as logistics (where you live and how far away from the water resources), the way the fish was grown – on the farms or in the wild waters, and of course, if the fish is fresh or frozen. 

The average price for frozen tilapia is 4-8$ per kg and around 6$ per pound. It should be noted that in most cases, the tilapia you see in the shops is farm-raised because it is very hard to find wild-caught tilapia. If we are talking about cod, its price for 1 pound of fresh farm-raised fish is around 9.99$ with a slightly higher price for 1 kg. And for 1 pound of fresh wild caught, you will cost 12.99$. 

Tilapia vs. Cod In Cooking

Both tilapia and cod are very easy and fast to cook. So it is a perfect choice for people who want to eat healthily and do not want to spend much time or effort.

You have probably tried cod in fish and chips. However, it is far from the only cod dish. Baking is the easiest way to cook cod, particularly frozen filets. Just remember that if you defrost fish, it should be cooked as soon as possible. Baked cod with lemon is particularly tasty. Cod perfectly absorbs lemon aromas. Other ways of cooking cod include baking in foil, grilling, frying, and even boiling and steaming.

Tilapia is cooked in similar ways. The soft white flesh is the indicator of perfectly cooked tilapia. Tilapia works well with rice, green beans, and asparagus. If you have 30 min of free time, tilapia, garlic, and lemon, you can try delicious garlicky lemon baked tilapia or garlic butter tilapia.


In the end, the choice between cod and tilapia is a matter of preference. Both have similar nutritional value and taste. However, cod is a bit healthier and more flavorful, but tilapia is cheaper and has softer flesh. Both fish are a great contribution to your healthy diet and taste great!

Tilapia vs. Cod FAQ

Is Cod or Tilapia Less Fishy?

Tilapia is less fishy than cod and has more tender fish. Cod has a bit stronger salty, briny and sweeter taste. This is because tilapia is a freshwater fish while cod is a saltwater fish.

Which Is More Mild Cod or Tilapia?

Both tilapia and cod have a mild taste. Tilapia is definitely milder and can often be tasteless. Cod tends to be a bit saltier and has a stronger briny flavor.

Is Tilapia or Cod Better for Building Muscle?

Tilapia is better for building muscle since it has higher protein content, which is essential for muscles. But tilapia is only slightly higher in protein, so cod is also a great choice if you are looking for a healthy muscle-building protein source.

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