What Does Walleye Taste Like?

Walleye is amongst many species of fish that are often farmed or caught in lakes, and provide a great seasonal taste. The fish is most popular in northern states like Minnesota where it is native and caught by individual fisherman and fishing companies.

While the walleye gets it’s distinctive name from the appearance of it’s eyes, it also has a flavor that makes it one of the most popular to find in grocery stores and fish markets.

Walleye has a unique flavor for a fish with a sweet, subtle flavor. Walleye’s flavoring isn’t especially strong, and it’s well known for its softer delicate texture.

What fish does walleye taste like?

Walleye is a slightly unusual fish in that it doesn’t taste particularly like fish, at least compared to other fish caught in the same areas, like perch. Walleye is more sweet, and doesn’t carry the same strong flavor that you might expect growing up eating fish sticks. 

For people who don’t normally like the taste of fish, walleye is a great choice because while it does taste like fish to an extend, it tastes less like the ocean or lake than others. 

What is the texture of walleye?

Well prepared walleye actually tastes buttery and flakey. Others also describe a deboned walleye as smooth.

Note that walleye is a boney fish, so if you don’t remove the bones, you should expect the same texture while needing to pick around the fish skeleton.

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The mouth feel of a nicely cooked walleye is soft and tender. Good walleye should be fork tender to the point where you can tell if it’s done by attempting to flake the fish flesh with a fork – and getting a little flake off.

One note: Fish can be a little bit of a challenge to cook correctly. If overcooked, fish can become more rubbery. Thankfully, our above mentioned method of using a fork can be done repeatedly without actually releasing any of the moisture from the fish.

What does walleye smell like?

Walleye, especially while cooked, tends to smell more fish like than it tastes. If someone in your household does not like the smell of fish, it will be a reminder of how fish often smell – but they might be pleasantly surprised with a taste.

Just keep in mind that fish are going to smell like fish. Adding lemon can help overwhelm the fish smell with some citrus. Maple syrup, even in a little amount, can sweeten the smell too.

How can I use walleye?

Walleye is most commonly eaten by itself as a filet, usually with some spices or condiments.

Popular spices and condiments that enhance the buttery flavor of walleye often include lemon, pepper, basil, herbs – and slightly less good for you – maple syrup. These kinds of additions are common because the walleye itself doesn’t provide much depth of flavor, and adding lemon, butter, and others makes it more exciting.

Walleye can also be used in soup or stew, though it’s not as commonly added to these kinds of dishes as beef, chicken, or other meats.

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Walleye is most often pan fried or baked. Adding some breading to walleye can also add to the buttery taste in addition to adding more softness or even a crunch.

At restaurants, walleye is most often served with a side of vegetables like green beans, or a carbohydrate like mashed potatoes. 

In higher end restaurant, it’s not uncommon to see walleye baked or presented on a plank of wood, like maple. This adds some sweetness and dimension to the flavor.

We have one more suggestion for you in flavoring walleye: Use a ziploc bag to marinade it. Walleye itself is not overly flavorful, though it’s pleasant. Like with other meats, sealing it with your choice of marinades can give it some extra zest of your choice.

Is walleye healthy for you?

Like many other fish, walleye is actually really good for you. Walleye and other fish are generally excellent sources of protein. The fish is also nearly fat free with an average of 1 gram of fat per serving. 

Walleye also provides calcium and is a good alternative for people who can’t drink milk and other dairy products. 

Note that adding condiments like butter and breading do alter the nutrional value and can add significant fat to the fish. For a healthier meal, we suggest adding spices and lemon. Cilantro and other spices can add some unique flavors to walleye without adding fat content.

Finally, walleye also is lower in cholesterol than other meats, and about on par with other fish. While walleye won’t help lower your cholesterol, it won’t add much.

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A cooking suggestion to help keep walleye healthy: Grill it. People who fry walleye or bake it tend to use oils to keep it from sticking to the pan. Wrap walleye in foil (you can also press it bare against the grill to get some marks) and you’ll reduce the need to add fatty oil.

Where can I find walleye?

In a lake! Well, you certainly could catch your own walleye, but most walleye eaters can find some filets at the local grocery store or butcher shop. Walleye is a fairly common, well liked fish.

You also have options online. Though we aren’t naming any here, there are wild walleye farms and private fishers who offer their walleye catchings online. They can often ship them in cold containers to preserve freshness too.


When cooked right, walleye is the melt in your mouth fish. The fish itself tastes a bit like buttery, and has a mild sweet flavor that shouldn’t offend those who aren’t big fans of fish. In a filet with some spices and lemon, it’s a great meal that’s also health conscience. 

Walleye is popular amongst fish eaters for a reason – the taste and flavors don’t overwhelm you, and it’s a healthy fish with plenty of protein and vitamins.