Delicious Whitefish Salad Recipe – A Comforting Meal

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I recommend this homemade Whitefish Salad Recipe . It’s one of the easiest yet most effective ways to enjoy fish. Start with delicately smoked whitefish, flaked to perfection. Mix in crisp celery and tangy capers, adding texture and zing. A dollop of creamy mayo and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice brings it all together. If you’re worried about blandness, a pinch of dill and pepper resolves that issue. It’s best to serve chilled.

I embarked on a culinary journey through Middle-Eastern and European flavors and stumbled upon the Whitefish Salad Recipe. This dish, a delightful blend of smoky fish and crisp veggies, wasn’t just a dish, it was an experience. Imagine sitting in a quaint, bustling Mediterranean café, the aroma of fresh ingredients mingling in the air.

Whitefish Salad Recipe

Often, finding the perfect balance in a fish salad can be challenging. Too dry or overly fishy salads are common pitfalls. But here’s where this recipe shines. I remember a friend’s gathering where this salad was the star. 

Its creamy texture, combined with the right hint of tanginess, was a revelation. The secret? It lies in the choice of whitefish and the harmony of flavors that accompany it. 

This recipe is not just about mixing ingredients; it’s about creating a symphony of tastes that reminds you of a Mediterranean escapade. So, let’s dive into how you can bring this exquisite dish to your table and impress your palate and guests.

What Is Whitefish Salad?

Whitefish Salad is a classic deli staple, renowned for its creamy, savory, and slightly smoky flavors. 

At its core, this salad features flaked whitefish, typically smoked, blended with ingredients like mayonnaise, lemon juice, and fresh herbs for a rich, balanced taste. 

Often, it includes crunchy elements like celery or onions and a hint of capers or dill for extra zest. This salad is popular in Jewish and American cuisine. 

It is a go-to for bagel spreads, brunches, or light lunches. It’s a delightful combination of textures and flavors, making it a favorite for many.

What Is The Origin Of Whitefish Salad Recipe?

The origin of Whitefish Salad can be traced back to Jewish culinary traditions, particularly those rooted in Eastern Europe. 

This dish evolved as a staple in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, where smoked fish was a popular delicacy. 

The choice of whitefish, a freshwater species native to the Great Lakes in North America, became prominent among Jewish immigrants in the United States, especially in cities like New York. 

These communities blended traditional European smoking techniques with local fish, creating a unique and flavorful salad

Over time, it became a beloved part of American Jewish deli culture, often served with bagels and enjoyed at gatherings.


Ingredients List

Whole or Filleted Smoked Whitefish2 pounds
Mayonnaise1/3 cup
Lowfat Sour Cream (or substitute with additional mayo)1/3 cup
Celery Ribs, Minced1/2 cup
Fresh Minced Dill2 tablespoons
Fresh Minced Chives2 tablespoons
Salt and Pepper to TasteTo taste
Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (1-2 lemons)To taste

What Are The Variations Suitable For The Whitefish Salad Recipe?

Elevate your whitefish salad with these delicious variations:

Dill Delight

Mix in finely chopped fresh dill for a burst of herbaceous flavor.

Zesty Lemon

Add lemon zest or a splash of fresh lemon juice to enhance the citrusy profile.

Caprese Fusion

Incorporate cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cubes, and basil for an Italian-inspired twist.

Smoked Sensation

Use smoked whitefish for a more intense and savory taste.

Greek Goddess

Introduce Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and oregano for a Mediterranean flair.

Crunchy Veggie Medley

Toss in diced cucumbers, bell peppers, and red onions for added texture and freshness.

What Are The Tips For The Whitefish Salad Recipe?

  • Quality of Whitefish: Choose high-quality smoked whitefish. The freshness and smoking process greatly affect the flavor.
  • Flaking the Fish: Carefully flake the fish to remove bones. This ensures a pleasant texture.
  • Balance of Creaminess: Mix mayonnaise and sour cream for a balanced, creamy texture. Avoid overdressing to maintain the fish’s flavor.
  • Fresh Herbs: Use fresh dill and chives. They add brightness and complement the fish’s smokiness.
  • Seasoning: Adjust salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. The right acidity can enhance the overall flavor.
  • Add Crunch: Finely chopped celery adds a much-needed crunch.
  • Serving: Best served chilled. It’s usually paired with bagels or crackers.
  • Variations: Experiment with capers or red onions for an additional zing.
  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge. It usually keeps well for a few days.
  • Taste Before Serving: Always taste and adjust the seasoning to ensure the best flavor profile.

Are There Any Unusual Or Exotic Ingredients That Work Well With Whitefish Salad Recipe?

  • Pomegranate Seeds: Their sweet-tart flavor and crunch offer a surprising contrast.
  • Preserved Lemons: Common in North African cuisine, they add a deep, citrusy tang.
  • Wasabi or Horseradish: A small amount brings a fiery kick, complementing the smoky fish.
  • Pickled Ginger: Often used in Japanese cuisine, it introduces a sweet, spicy twist.
  • Capers Berries: Larger than capers, they add a salty, vinegary flavor.
  • Fennel: Thinly sliced, it contributes a mild anise-like taste and crunchy texture.
  • Sumac: This Middle-Eastern spice offers a lemony zing.
  • Tarragon: Its unique, slightly sweet flavor pairs well with fish.
  • Roasted Red Peppers: Their smoky sweetness complements the whitefish.
  • Truffle Oil: A few drops for a luxurious, earthy aroma.
Bowl and Salad

Recipe Directions

Prepare The Whitefish

  • Purchase a whole smoked whitefish of about 2 lbs. Smoked whitefish can be found at kosher markets or your local deli.
  • Peel the skin from the whitefish. It should come off easily, like paper.
  • On each side of the fish, locate a center line running from tail to gill.
  • Using a fork, pull the meat outward from that center line, following the diagonal grain of the meat. This method helps avoid tiny bones.
  • Place the meat in a pile beside the fish.

Flake The Meat

  • When the fish is cleaned, flake the meat into small pieces in a mixing bowl, checking for bones with your fingers.
  • Shred the meat with a fork and your fingers, removing any additional bones.

Mix The Salad

  • Add mayonnaise, sour cream, celery, dill, and chives to the whitefish.
  • Use the fork to blend everything.
  • Season the salad with pepper and fresh lemon juice to taste.


  • Serve atop rye bread, bagels, vegetable crudites, crackers, or get creative with your serving style.
  • Core a fresh tomato, scoop out the seeds/pulp, and fill with whitefish salad. Garnish with dill.
  • Spread salad on a cracker, garnish with pickle slices and dill.
  • On a toasted bagel, layer cream cheese, lox, sliced onions, and a scoop of whitefish salad. Serve open-faced or as a sandwich. ​

The key to an exceptional whitefish salad recipe is the perfect blend of flavor and nutrition.

What Herbs And Spices Work Well In Whitefish Salad Recipe?

  • Dill: Its fresh, slightly sweet taste complements the smokiness of the whitefish.
  • Chives: They add a mild onion-like flavor without overpowering the fish.
  • Parsley: Offers a fresh, clean taste that brightens the salad.
  • Lemon Zest: Adds a bright, citrusy note.
  • Black Pepper: For a subtle heat that enhances the other flavors.
  • Paprika: A pinch can add a mild, smoky depth.
  • Celery Seed: Its earthy flavor pairs well with the crunchy celery.
  • Thyme: Brings a subtle, earthy aroma.
  • Horseradish: A small amount lends a spicy kick.
  • Capers: Their briny flavor complements the fish’s smokiness.
Whitefish Salad Recipe

Nutritional Values

Whitefish Salad is not only delicious but also nutritionally beneficial. Thanks to the whitefish, it’s rich in protein, which supports muscle health and repair. 

Omega-3 fatty acids, prevalent in the fish, are crucial for heart and brain health. The addition of celery and herbs contributes to dietary fiber and essential vitamins. 

While the salad is relatively low in carbohydrates, the mayonnaise and sour cream add some fats, making it a balanced, satisfying meal.

What Are The Total Calories In The Salad?

The total calories in Whitefish Salad depend on the specific ingredients and their quantities. Generally, a serving of this salad, considering the recipe provided, can range between 200 to 300 calories. 

The smoked whitefish, being lean, contributes significantly to the protein content with minimal calories. 

However, mayonnaise and sour cream are the primary sources of calories coming from fats. The fresh herbs and vegetables add minimal calories, making it a moderately calorie-dense dish.

Health Benefits Of The Whitefish Salad Recipe

Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids in whitefish promote heart health by reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels.

Lean Protein

Whitefish is an excellent source of lean protein, essential for muscle building and repair.

Weight Management

High protein content can aid in satiety, helping with weight management.

Brain Health

Omega-3s also support brain function and mental health.

Low In Carbohydrates

Suitable for low-carb diets.

Vitamins And Minerals

Fresh herbs and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Digestive Health

The celery in the salad adds dietary fiber, promoting digestive health.

Immune Support

The antioxidants in fresh lemon juice and herbs support the immune system.

Bone Health

Fish is a good source of vitamin D and calcium essential for bone health.

Skin Health

Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to healthy skin.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

What Dressings Are Best Served With Whitefish Salad Recipe? 

  • Lemon Dill Vinaigrette: A tangy, herby dressing that complements the smoky flavor of the whitefish.
  • Horseradish Cream Sauce: Offers a spicy kick, enhancing the richness of the salad.
  • Tzatziki: The cucumber and yogurt in tzatziki bring a cool, refreshing contrast.
  • Honey Mustard Dressing: Adds a sweet and tangy note, perfect for balancing the savory fish.
  • Caper Aioli: This creamy dressing with a briny touch of capers works wonderfully.
  • Chive and Sour Cream Dressing: A creamy, onion-flavored dressing that pairs well with the fish’s texture.
  • Remoulade Sauce: A bit more complex, with a tangy, spiced flavor profile.
  • Balsamic Reduction: For a sweet and tart accent.
  • Green Goddess Dressing: Herby and vibrant, it can brighten up the salad’s flavor.
  • Classic Vinaigrette: Simple yet effective, especially if you prefer a lighter dressing.
Whitefish Salad Recipe

Whitefish salad recipe combines the delicate flavors of fish with freshness for a delightful taste.

Are There Any Unique Toppings That Can Elevate The Crunch Factor Of Whitefish Salad Recipe?

  • Toasted Almonds: Adds a nutty crunch.
  • Crispy Fried Shallots: Offer a sweet and savory bite.
  • Pomegranate Seeds: Burst with juice and provide a crunchy texture.
  • Radish Slices: Thinly sliced for a peppery crunch.
  • Sesame Seeds: Toasted for a subtle, nutty crunch.
  • Water Chestnuts: Provide a refreshing and crisp texture.
  • Fried Capers: When lightly fried, they become crispy and add a briny crunch.
  • Croutons: For a classic, bread-based crunch.
  • Jicama: Julienned for a mild, refreshing crunch.
  • Crispy Bacon Bits: For a smoky, savory crunch.

What Is The Difference Between Homemade And Store-Bought Whitefish Salad Recipe?

  • Freshness: Homemade salad often uses fresher ingredients, ensuring a more vibrant taste.
  • Flavor Control: When making it at home, you can adjust seasonings and ingredients to personal preference.
  • Preservatives: Store-bought versions may contain preservatives to extend shelf life, which are absent in homemade salads.
  • Texture: Homemade salad allows for customized texture, from chunky to smooth, unlike the more uniform texture of store-bought.
  • Cost: Making it at home can be more cost-effective, especially if you buy ingredients in bulk.
  • Ingredient Quality: You can choose high-quality, sustainably sourced fish and organic produce for homemade salads.
  • Variety: Homemade versions allow for creative variations and experimentation with flavors.
  • Healthier Options: You can make healthier choices, like using low-fat mayo or yogurt in homemade salads.
  • No Added Sugar: Store-bought salads may have added sugars, which you can avoid at home.
  • Personal Touch: Homemade salads carry the added value of personal effort and care, often making them more satisfying.

How Can You Store Or Preserve The Whitefish Salad Recipe Leftovers?

  • Airtight Container: Store in an airtight container to prevent contamination and odor absorption from the fridge.
  • Refrigeration: Always keep the salad refrigerated at a consistent, cold temperature.
  • Consume Quickly: Best consumed within 1-2 days to ensure freshness.
  • Avoid Freezing: Freezing can significantly alter the texture and flavor, making it less desirable.
  • Separate Components: Store dressings or crunchy toppings separately to maintain texture.
  • Check for Freshness: Before consuming leftovers, check for any off smells or discoloration.
  • Stir Before Serving: Gently stir the salad before serving to redistribute flavors.
  • No Room Temperature: Never leave the salad at room temperature for extended periods.
Whitefish Salad Recipe

Special Tools & Equipment List

  • Mixing Bowls: Various sizes for mixing ingredients.
  • Fork and Tongs: For flaking the fish and mixing the salad.
  • Sharp Knives: Essential for finely chopping herbs and vegetables.
  • Cutting Board: Preferably separate boards for fish and vegetables.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate ingredient measurement.
  • Lemon Juicer or Squeezer: To extract fresh lemon juice efficiently.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: Useful for rinsing and draining capers or herbs.
  • Plastic Wrap or Airtight Containers: For storing leftovers.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: For blending ingredients smoothly.
  • Gloves: Optional, for handling the fish and keeping hands clean.
  • Fish Bone Tweezers: To remove any tiny bones from the fish.
  • Serving Platter or Dishes: For an appealing presentation.
  • Refrigerator: Essential for chilling the salad before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Canned Whitefish Instead Of Smoked Whitefish?

While canned whitefish can be used as a substitute, the flavor and texture will differ significantly from smoked whitefish. 

Canned whitefish tends to be softer and less smoky, which might affect the overall taste of the salad. 

For the best results, using freshly smoked whitefish is recommended to achieve the distinctive smoky flavor and firmer texture that this salad is known for.

 Is Whitefish Salad Healthy?

Whitefish Salad can be a healthy option, especially due to the whitefish’s high protein content and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart and brain health. 

However, mayonnaise and sour cream, which are high in fats, can increase the calorie count. For a healthier version, substitute mayonnaise with Greek yogurt or low-fat mayo, and be mindful of the portion size.

How Long Can I Store Whitefish Salad In The Refrigerator?

Whitefish Salad can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. It should be kept in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent it from absorbing other flavors from the refrigerator. 

It’s essential to check for freshness before consuming leftovers and to avoid leaving the salad at room temperature for extended periods.

Can I Freeze Whitefish Salad?

Freezing Whitefish Salad is not recommended. Freezing can significantly alter the texture of the fish and the creaminess of the mayonnaise and sour cream, leading to a less desirable consistency upon thawing. 

It’s best to prepare the salad in quantities that can be consumed within a couple of days to enjoy its optimal flavor and texture.

What Are Some Serving Suggestions For Whitefish Salad?

Whitefish Salad is versatile in serving options. It pairs excellently with bagels, especially with a cream cheese base, making a classic brunch item. 

It can also be served on rye bread, crackers, or as a filling in stuffed tomatoes or avocados for a low-carb option. 

Additionally, it makes a great appetizer when served on cucumber slices or endive leaves. A more filling meal can be a side dish with a light soup or salad.

Delicious Whitefish Salad Recipe - A Comforting Meal

Delicious Whitefish Salad Recipe – A Comforting Meal

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Salads

6 – 8

Prep time



200 – 300


The Whitefish Salad Recipe is a delightful blend of smoked whitefish, creamy mayonnaise, tangy sour cream, and an array of fresh herbs and vegetables. It offers a harmonious mix of smoky, creamy, and crisp textures, making it an exquisite choice for a sophisticated yet comforting meal. Ideal for serving on bagels, crackers, or as a standalone dish, this salad is versatile and perfect for various occasions, from brunches to picnics.


  • 2 Pounds 2 Whole or Filleted Smoked Whitefish

  • 1/3 Cup 1/3 Mayonnaise

  • 1/3 Cup 1/3 Low Fat Sour Cream (or Substitute With Additional Mayo)

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Celery Ribs, Minced

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Fresh Minced Dill

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Fresh Minced Chives

  • Salt And Pepper (To Taste)

  • Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (1-2 Lemons)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Purchase The Whitefish
    Find a whole smoked whitefish, approximately 2 lbs, at a kosher market or local deli.
  • Prepare The Fish
    Peel off the skin from the whitefish. It should remove easily.
    Locate the center line on each side of the fish, running from tail to gill.
    Use a fork to gently pull the meat away from the center line, following the diagonal grain. This helps in avoiding tiny bones.
    Place the removed meat beside the fish.
  • Flake The Meat
    Once the fish is fully cleaned, flake the meat into small pieces in a mixing bowl. Check and remove any bones with your fingers.
  • Shred The Meat
    With the meat in the bowl, further shred it using a fork and your fingers. Ensure all bones are removed.
  • Mix The Salad
    Add mayonnaise, sour cream, minced celery, dill, and chives to the shredded fish.
    Blend the ingredients well with a fork.
    Season the salad with pepper and fresh lemon juice according to your taste preference.
  • Serving Suggestions
    Serve the Whitefish Salad on rye bread, bagels, vegetable crudites, or crackers.
    Core a fresh tomato, remove seeds and pulp, and fill it with the salad. Garnish with dill and serve with sliced Persian cucumbers.
    Spread the salad on rye or whole grain crackers. Add half-sour pickle slices and fresh dill on top.
    Toast a bagel and spread cream cheese on one half. Add slices of lox, some onion, and a scoop of the salad. Garnish with chives and serve open-faced or as a sandwich.

Recipe Video


  • Fish Selection: Opt for high-quality smoked whitefish for the best flavor.
  • Herb Freshness: Fresh herbs like dill and chives significantly enhance the taste.
  • Bone Removal: Take care to remove all bones thoroughly for a pleasant texture.
  • Seasoning Adjustments: Adjust lemon, salt, and pepper to taste for the perfect balance.
  • Serving Suggestions: Experiment with different serving styles, such as stuffed tomatoes or atop a toasted bagel.
  • Healthier Options: For a lighter version, substitute mayonnaise with Greek yogurt.
  • Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container and consume within 1-2 days.

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