Farmed barramundi has a sweet, mild flavor with a firm, moist texture and large, meaty flakes. It is an excellent choice for people who don't enjoy strong-flavored fish.
If you can't get your hands on barra fillets or they’re too expensive, there are plenty of other options that are just as good in the kitchen. Keep reading to get our favorite barramundi substitutes. They have a similar taste profile and may be easier to source from your local fishmonger.
What are the best barramundi alternatives?
To replace ocean-farmed barramundi in your next dish, choose mild, whitefish varieties like grouper, snapper, halibut, cod, or mahi-mahi. They offer a similar taste and texture and will tolerate similar cooking techniques.
Grouper has a similar mild flavor and firm, white flesh that you’d get from barramundi. Their fillets are moist and provide a buttery texture that few can resist.
Keep in mind that there are different types like red and black grouper which have different characteristics. To get more info on this seafood check out our article about what groupers taste like.
The snapper is a fairly common fish that can vary in flavor depending on the variety. To get a similar-tasting replacement for barramundi use red snapper or yellowtail. Their delicious slightly sweet, nutty flavor and moist, delicate flesh makes the snapper a popular fish. They are sought after by anglers, restaurants, and home cooks.
Halibut is a type of flounder that has firm pinkish-white meat that is mild in taste. Once cooked, you’ll find the fish has delicious large flakes that most people will enjoy.
Keep in mind that frozen halibut has less moisture than fresh ones so they’re easier to overcook.
Related reading: what does a haddock taste like?
Cod is an everyday fish, easily found in stores. Its thick, moist fillets make it a popular choice of fish in many parts of the world. You may find cod is less sweet and firm compared to barramundi, but it still makes a handy replacement.
A Pacific cod will usually contain higher moisture content than Atlantic cod and the fillets are often thicker. You may find the Atlantic species a little sweeter than Pacific cod; it’s also easier to batter or bread as its flesh has less moisture.
If you decide to cook Atlantic cod then watch the cooking time closely. With less moisture, they’ll dry out quickly if over-cooked.
Mahi-mahi is mild and sweet with delicious large, moist flakes. It may not always be as easy to find this alternative, but if you can source it locally then give it a try.
While crispy skin barramundi is a popular recipe, you’ll find mahi-mahi has a thick skin that is best removed before cooking.
When buying fresh mahi-mahi, pay attention to the bloodline which should be bright red. Avoid a dull, browning bloodline as it is a sign that the fish is old.
Tilapia is a lean, mild fish that has white, flaky meat once cooked. Compared to barramundi, a tilapia has less flavor, which may appeal to some. People enjoy the fish as it carries other flavors well and won’t overwhelm other ingredients.
Tilapia also has softer flesh than a barra. You won’t get the same firm, large flakes once the seafood is cooked. For some, this probably won’t be a deal-breaker.
People searching for a cheaper alternative to barramundi will find tilapia is an economical option in most parts of the world.
You can read our in-depth article on what tilapias taste like for cooking ideas, food it pairs with, and more.
A sole is another whitefish that is mild and delicate. Do you want a firm texture that’s similar to barramundi? Sole will work better than some other fish on this list like cod or tilapia.
Sole is excellent baked as a whole fish with lemon and a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. If you prefer a fish fillet, try pan-frying, broiling, or deep frying.
8. Sea bass
For a luxurious barramundi replacement try Chilean sea bass. Seafood connoisseurs around the world love this fish for its succulent meaty texture, rich flavor, and buttery mouthfeel. Make sure you’re buying this variety of fish from reputable sellers who offer sustainable stock.
9. Nile Perch
Like the barramundi, Nile perches are from the family Latidae and are a large freshwater species. They offer large, meaty fillets that have a clean flavor.
Barramundi health benefits
Compared to other whitefish, a barramundi is high in omega-3 fatty acids. A 6 oz serving (skin off) will provide 950mg of DHA and EPA fatty acids. The fish is also high in omega-6, excellent for assisting with omega-3 absorption.
Barramundis are an excellent source of lean protein and provide fewer calories than other popular fish like Atlantic salmon.
Barramundi Nutrition (3 ½ oz, 100g)
Commonly asked questions
What type of fish is a barramundi?
The Australis barramundi (Lates calcarifer) is also known as the Asian sea bass and is native to Australia and Southeast Asia. They are catadromous fish in the family Laridae.
Where are barramundi farmed?
The largest producer of barramundi is Indonesia with other commercial farming operations in Vietnam, Australia, and the United States. Other areas where they are commonly found include southern Japan and along the coast from China to the Persian Gulf.
Is the Barramundi sustainable?
Barramundi can be farmed or caught in wild fisheries, however, farmed exceeds wild by roughly 2500mt. Compared to carnivorous species like arctic char or salmon, farmed barramundi has a superior 'wild fish in to farmed fish out' ratio. A useful measure for determining the sustainability of a fish species.
Where can I buy barramundi?
While whole barramundi is easy to find in Australian supermarkets, they may be a little trickier to find in some parts of the United States. You’ll find fillets available at Wholefoods, Instacart, and well-stocked fishmongers.
Fast facts about barramundi
- Barramundi is a sea bass variety that is diadromous, meaning they spawn in saltwater then move to other marine environments like brackish water, freshwater, or marine waters.
- The fish is highly valued by recreational anglers. In Australia, they can be caught in rivers, offering a more “muddy flavor” (similar to some catfish).
- The flesh of a barra is pearly pink when raw, but turns a clean white shade once cooked.
- Barramundi skin is edible and crisps up deliciously when seared in the pan.
- Barras are protandrous hermaphrodites which means they begin life as males and then morph into a female at around year five.
Although the barramundi is a tasty fish that’s likely to appeal to many, it’s relatively expensive and often hard to find. If you need to replace them in a recipe then try grouper, snapper, halibut, cod, or mahi-mahi. They’re all popular whitefish that are mild and versatile in recipes.
If you want barramundi but there’s none in your town, do an online search. Some nationwide seafood retailers will ship the fish to your door on ice.