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What Is Salmon Roe?

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What Is Salmon Roe?

If you're just discovering the joys of roe and caviar, you might be unsure of their differences. We'll cover everything you need to know about comparing salmon roe versus caviar and what these delicacies are. Let's explore roe from salmon and why you should consider regularly enjoying salmon roe and caviar. 

Key Facts About Salmon

One of the most famous fish around, salmon is the common name for several fish species. With one species of Atlantic salmon and seven species of Pacific salmon swimming around, it's no wonder this is a highly popular fish for eating. 

Like many fish species, salmon come in a variety of colors and sizes depending on where they live. The Atlantic salmon is the largest salmon species, growing up to almost 3 feet in length on average. Due to their size, nutritional value and variety, salmon are labeled "keystone species," — meaning they're essential parts of their ecosystems.

While we often associate salmon with the pink color of their insides, they aren't all pink on the outside. Salmon species come in a beautiful array of colors — saltwater and freshwater both influence the color a fish turns. When migrating to freshwater, Pacific salmon go from silver to black or maroon. Atlantic salmon also turn silver in saltwater but are typically spotted and brown in freshwater. 

Salmon are cousins of trout and char and live in the ocean after being born in streams and rivers, migrating to rivers once more during their spawning season. Male and female Pacific salmon die after spawning, but some female Atlantic salmon survive spawning and return to the ocean. 

Salmon is the most popular fish in the U.S., with Americans enjoying almost 450,000 tons a year. This massive consumption of fish has put the species at risk, which is why many groups, like Imperia Caviar, have turned to more sustainable farming practices to improve the harvesting process for consumers and the environment. 

Salmon Roe vs Caviar

Salmon is a tasty, popular fish, but do salmon eggs count as caviar?

First, let's consider roe. Roe is the term for the ripe and ready egg masses of fish, squid, scallops, sea urchins and squid. All roe is mature and, specifically, unfertilized. Almost all fish roe is safe for raw consumption, although pasteurizing or cooking roe extends its shelf life. While all unfertilized and raw fish eggs are considered roe, only specific roe is considered caviar. 

What is Roe? Roe fish eggs definition

Caviar is the term for roe from sturgeon fish. To be precise, it's from sturgeon in the family Acipenseridae. These 27 sturgeon species have their roe harvested and salt-cured, creating the delicious food we know as caviar. Caviar is highly labor-involved, time-consuming and cost-intensive to produce, which contributes to its price. Additionally, several Acipenseridae sturgeon species have become extinct, so caviar farmers follow specific aquaculture techniques and regulations to ensure caviar can be sourced responsibly and sustainably. 

While many restaurants and vendors will label their roe as "caviar," only sturgeon roe is true caviar. It will look bronze, gray or black if it's true caviar from a sturgeon. 

Salmon roe isn't considered caviar, but it's a delicious food nonetheless. With several salmon species to choose from, there's a good variety of salmon roe available for consumers to try. A lot of salmon roe is offered at lower price points, while some roe from species like Atlantic salmon will have higher costs due to a more limited supply.

Salmon Roe Characteristics

Learn about the features of salmon roe and what makes it stand out from the crowd. 


Salmon roe is a red roe like trout and cod, although its exact color might vary from a deep red-orange to a lighter yellow-orange. Egg color is influenced by many factors, including species, water temperature, age, sediment type and more. Salmon roe mainly gets its color from carotenoids in the fish's diet. 

Salmon roe size can also vary greatly. Larger roe can average almost one-half inch in size, while the smaller sizes average around a quarter of an inch. The highest grades of salmon roe will usually feature these larger pearls with vibrant, deep red hues. Salmon roe isn't completely transparent or opaque — it falls somewhere in between. 


Like all caviar and roe, salmon roe has a salty, slightly fishy taste that might catch you off guard at first. Once you're used to the initial taste of salmon roe, you'll discover a bitterness combined with a subtle, sweet flavor. Since roe is fish eggs, it has a slippery, creamy texture when eaten. It's a tender and soft food that pairs well with soft cheeses. 

Salmon roe is a somewhat unique roe flavor-wise. Its bitterness is balanced by the natural taste of salmon, bringing out the salty sweetness of the sea with every bite. The bitterness might be a bit much for some super tasters, but it's a one-of-a-kind roe that you can learn to love. 


In addition to being delicious, salmon roe is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. Salmon roe is high in calcium, vitamin A and crucial omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin A has excellent antioxidant effects, making it essential for supporting eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health, while calcium is vital for bone support. Eating salmon roe boosts your levels of these important nutrients for a healthier, stronger body

How to Get Excellent Salmon Roe

Like most roes and caviar, salmon roe is challenging to get in stores. It's considered a specialty item, so you'll probably have to order it online. The best way to find a salmon roe you enjoy is by taste-testing a few different brands. Look around online and sample salmon roe from several brands at various price points to find your favorite. 

How Much Does Salmon Roe Cost?

Salmon roe has a range of prices since different salmon species are more or less rare to get. Salmon roe can range anywhere from $20 to $150 a jar, depending on the species and amount you're getting. Shop around online and find the salmon roe that works best for your budget and tastes and start sampling. 

Discover Delicious Caviar at Imperia Caviar

Discover Delicious Caviar at Imperia Caviar

If you find you enjoy salmon roe, consider treating your palate to high-quality caviar. It opens up a whole new world of flavor and texture for food lovers everywhere. Explore our Kaluga Hybrid Reserve and Royal Ossetra caviar online today.




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