Can You Eat Raw Trout? Step-By-Step Guide + Recipes

Sushi has gained a lot of popularity in the U.S. over the years and many are learning to prepare it in their own kitchens

That is because raw fish can be very healthy to eat as it provides you with a higher dose of protein and Omega-3s.

However, there is still some risk to eating raw fish depending on the environment where you catch them.

Many anglers catch saltwater species like Spanish mackerel or tuna and eat them raw on their boats. However, it’s different with predominately freshwater species like trout.

So, can you eat trout raw? You can eat trout raw if you freeze the fish at -35°C for at least 15 hours. You also need to clean the trout fish properly before consuming it. There’s always a risk when eating freshwater species like trout because they’re more prone to carrying parasites because of the environment they live in.

Keep reading to learn when is it safe to eat raw fish, how to make sure trout is safe to eat, and how to clean and cook properly.

When Is It Safe to Eat Raw Fish?

raw trout to answer can we eat raw trout or not

To determine if a raw fish is safe to eat, you need to make sure it’s freshly caught. You can tell if the fish is fresh if its eyes are clear and its gills are bright. Fresh fish is also firm to the touch and has a natural slimy layer.

When eating raw fish, you also need to keep in mind that you’ll be consuming the aftermath of the fish’s diet as well as the environment it lives in.

Freshwater vs Saltwater

The environment the fish lives in, whether it’s freshwater or saltwater, significantly affects if it can be eaten raw.

It’s highly unadvised to eat freshwater fish species raw. There are many types of infections that can be transmitted through food and freshwater species are prone to carrying parasites, bacteria, and viruses that are common in the waters they live in.

Saltwater fish is much better for eating raw because the high levels of salt in the water can kill many of the parasites that might make you sick. Saltwater is also better for persevering the fish, so it won’t rot or spoil as quickly.

How to Make Raw Fish Is Safe to Eat?

According to the FDA guidelines, most freshwater fish species can be considered safe to eat raw only if they are frozen beforehand in specific temperatures to ensure all the harmful parasites are killed.

Keep in mind that simple refrigeration is not a good method of killing parasites as the temperature of the refrigeration might be as cold as the environment they came from so it won’t effectively kill them.

Check the following table to learn what temperatures you need to freeze your fish at and for how long to make sure they’re safe to eat raw:

Frozen and stored at a temperature of -20°C or belowAt least 168 hours (7 days) 
Frozen at a temperature of -35°C or below until solid and stored at a temperature of 20°C or belowAt least 24 hours
Frozen and stored at a temperature of -35°C or belowAt least 15 hours

Can You Get Sick from Eating Raw Trout?     

You can get sick from eating raw trout. Since trout are predominately freshwater species, they might carry parasites, bacteria, and viruses which can cause illness in humans if they consume raw meat.

Some of these illnesses may include food poisoning or stomach viruses with severe symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. There is also the possibility of infection from parasites which leads to intestinal problems such as anisakiasis, trichinosis, and tapeworms.

However, if the trout has been caught in saltwater, then it can be eaten raw without risking getting sick as they’re much less likely to have any harmful parasites or bacteria in them.

Are Trout Good to Eat?

Trout is good to eat and it can be cooked in various ways. However, it needs to be properly cleaned before cooking to get rid of any fishy or muddy flavors.

It’s also good to eat because of its many health benefits.

Trout fish are low in calories and highly nutritious. They’re rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids and they are also a good source of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), vitamin D, phosphorus, iodine, and iron.

What Kind of Trout Tastes the Best?

The different types of trout -Learn more about trout colors and types here

As mentioned before the taste of trout, like that of many fish species, depends on the environment where they live and feed.

Several trout species live in muddy bottoms and feed on the vegetation there, so this will reflect in the quality of their meat.

Trout can have a muddy taste mainly caused by a chemical compound called geosmin which mainly comes from algae, some kinds of bacteria, and decomposed organic material. You can remove this and make it taste better, and you can learn how to remove the muddy taste in trout here.

The best tasting trout are those living in clean waters and eating clean vegetation. That’s why you need to fish for trout in the cleanest water possible and make sure the fish is stored in ice and cleaned properly to reduce any muddy flavors.

Some of the most popular trout species in North America are rainbow, brook, brown, and golden trout. Their size can range from 12 inches to 30 inches long and they have similar flavors with subtle variations depending on their origin and environment.

Rainbow and brook trout have firmer meat and a mild flavor profile compared to the other trout species as brown or golden trout. While brown trout can have a strong fishy flavor and golden trout has a more bitter flavor.

How to Clean Trout?

Once you’ve caught a trout that you’re planning to eat, you need to keep it fresh in a bucket of ice or a live well right after you land it. You also need to immediately cut its gills to let it bleed out. This will preserve the good flavors in the meat and remove some of the unpleasant flavors in the blood.

You need to make sure the fish is properly cleaned out as it might affect how it tastes. So, here are the steps you can follow to properly clean trout:

  • Begin by holding the trout with its belly facing up then use a knife to cut from the anal fins towards the head. Try to keep your blade shallow to avoid puncturing damaging the meat.
  • You can cut the head off just before the pectoral fin, however, this step is optional as some might prefer to cook the trout with the head.
  • Use pliers to spread the trout’s body open to remove all of the entrails. You can also use an old toothbrush to clean the blood vein that runs along the fish’s spine. 
  • Rinse the trout thoroughly (inside and out) in freshwater to wash out any remains of blood.
  • To fillet the trout, you need to cut across the tail on both sides, then cut across the spine and through the skeletal bones.
  • Try to remove as many of the pin bones as you can, as they might make the trout more difficult to cook.
  • It’s also recommended to remove the skin from the trout fish before cooking it, however, if you prefer to keep the skin you need to remove all the fish scales.
  • To remove the scales, you need to hold the trout firmly by its tale and scrape over its skin several times on both sides of its body using a sharp knife.

Here is a simple video that shows you how to clean trout:

How to Cook Trout?

Some might find it difficult to cook trout because they have many bones in their bodies, however, once they’re properly cleaned, they will be a lot easier to cook.

 The best method to cook trout is usually by baking them in the oven or frying them. That is because their flesh is firm enough to handle being baked or fried without losing its flavor. These are also the easiest and most common methods of preparation.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the best trout recipes and cooking tips that will help you prepare a delicious meal.

Best Trout Recipes

Oven-Baked Trout


  • Olive oil
  • 2 small trout fish, cleaned and filled
  • Sliced lemons
  • Fresh parsley or dill sprigs
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Preheat the oven at a temperature of 400 degrees F.
  • Cut two large sheets of aluminum foil, then place the trout fish fillets on each sheet.
  • Oil both sides of the trout fish fillets and season them thoroughly with salt and pepper.
  • Add the parsley or dill sprigs and the lemon slices down the middle of each fillet.
  • Fold up the foil firmly to make a packet then place the packets on a baking sheet.
  • Bake the fillet packets in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Take the packets out of the oven and let them cool for 2-3 minutes.
  • Place each packet on a plate and serve them with more fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Pan-Fried Trout


  • Olive oil or butter
  • 4 whole trout fish, cleaned with the head and tail intact
  • All-purpose flour or Cornmeal
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Heat the oil or butter in a large skillet over medium temperature.
  • Mix the flour or cornmeal with salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
  • Put the trout fish in the flour mixture and mix them thoroughly to make sure they’re completely covered on each side
  • Adding the trout fish into the heated skillet and raise the heat to a higher temperature
  • Fry the trout fish for about 4 to 6 minutes on both sides. Wait until meat flakes slightly before taking them out of the oil.
  • After taking the trout fish out of the skillet, dab them with some paper towels to reduce their oiliness then serve them with a fish-friendly side dish.

Trout Cooking Tips

  • Make sure that you are using the proper temperatures to cook the trout as it can be easy to overcook. It’s best when it’s slightly moist but fully cooked.
  • To ensure that the trout is cooked evenly, it’s recommended to slash the thickest part of the meat a couple of times on each side so that the heat can fully penetrates the meat.
  • To check if the trout is fully cooked, you can insert a fork into the thickest part of the flesh and see if it comes out hot to the touch.
  • You can also tell the trout is fully cooked by whether the flesh is opaque and if it makes a slight resistance when it’s prodded.
  • Steaming the trout fish will help retain the moisture in the meat and bring out its full flavor.
  • Use butter or lemon to enhance the trout’s flavor and reduce its oiliness.

What Flavors Are Best to Serve with Trout?

Sometimes butter and lemons are all you need to bring out the trout’s flavor and reduce their oiliness. However, there are some foods and flavors that you can serve with trout that will help bring the meal to its full potential

Since trout has an earthy flavor, it’s best paired with similar flavors such as potatoes and garlic. If you want the meal to be slightly more interesting, consider using Japanese flavors like shiso, sesame, or wasabi.

If you’re serving trout with rice, it’s recommended to add herbs such as dill and parsley. If you’re serving trout with other kinds of seafood, it’s recommended to go for salt cockles or clams.

Can You Eat Trout as Sushi?

You can eat trout prepared as sushi. It’s often prepared by leaving it to marinate in a sauce or a dressing such as soy and lemon, then fish is cut into small pieces.

It’s best served with traditional sushi toppings such as rice vinegar, chopped green onion, and pickled ginger, wasabi paste, ikura (salmon roe), nori seaweed strips, shiso leaves, or salmon skin strips to fully enhance its flavor.

Related Questions

How Soon Can You Get Sick from Eating Raw Fish?

The symptoms can take about 20 to 30 minutes to develop after you eat raw fish that contain any parasites or bacteria. The symptoms usually include flushing of the face, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms can be very similar to some allergic reactions, however, it does not mean you are allergic to fish.

How to Remove Muddy Flavor in Trout?

To remove the muddy flavor in Trout, it’s recommended to soak the fish in clean cold water and vinegar for over a day. That is because the geosmin compound that causes the muddy taste will break down in acidic conditions and cold temperatures.

How Long Does It Take to Bake Trout?

It can take between 10 and 15 minutes to bake small to medium trout fish. Typically, the bake time usually depends of the size of your fish. If you have an extra-large trout fish the bake time will be longer. It also depends on whether the oven is heated at a suitable temperature for the size.

Helpful Resources 

Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (you can check the book on Amazon here)

How to catch trout more easily

Trout Guides

Fish Poisoning

Is Raw Seafood Safe To Eat?

Is Eating Raw Fish Safe and Healthy?

Level Up your Trout Fishing

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