Trout Meat Colors Explained (Raw, Cooked, Stocked vs Wild-Caught)

Trout Meat Colors Explained (Raw, Cooked, Stocked vs Wild-Caught)

If you are an avid angler or simply enjoy the taste of trout you have probably wondered why some trout have a different color of meat than others. As well as how do you know when trout is properly cooked.

The flesh of most trout species is white, pink, or orange. When trout meat is cooked the color of the meat washes out and becomes more pale and flakey. The color of flesh is determined by a trout’s diet, type of species it is, and the environment where it lives. 

In this trout meat color guide we will discuss what colors trout meat should be, why they are often different colors, what it looks like when it’s cooked and other important related trout meat questions. 

Trout Meat Color

In general most trout species’ color of flesh is some type of white, pink or orange based color. With that being said each trout species has a slightly different color of meat and there are other contributing factors to their color which we will discuss later on in this article. 

Here is a simple guide that I’ve put together that will give you an idea of the type of color of meat you should expect to see with each species of trout. 

Trout SpeciesMeat Color
Brown TroutDeep Orange, Gray or a Whitish Color
Rainbow TroutWhite, Pink or Orange
Lake TroutPale Yellow, or Cream, to Bright Orange Or Pink
Brook TroutOrange & Pink
Cutthroat TroutPink or a Whitish Pink Color

What Color is Brown Trout Meat?

It might surprise you that the color of brown trout flesh may vary depending on their diet, the environment where they live, and the type of water they are found in. In general, most brown trout meat will look white, pink or a deep red color depending upon where it was caught. 

What Color is Rainbow Trout Meat?

The color of rainbow trout flesh is typically a pink, white or orange color. Most rainbow trout flesh will fall somewhere within these ranges. The reason why the meat color may vary is because of their diet, location, and whether or not they are stocked or wild rainbow trout. 

What Color is Lake Trout Meat?

The color of lake trout meat tends to range from a pale yellow, or cream color, to a bright orange or pink color. The color of their flesh will vary due to their diet, location and environment.

What Color is Brook Trout Meat?

The exact color of brook trout meat depends upon their diet, location, environment and other factors . In general, most brook trout will have a pink/orange color of meat. I’ve caught brook trout where their meat is a bright orange, but I’ve also seen others have a light pink color to them. The color of brook trout meat may vary but they will usually be an orange or pink color. 

What Color is Cutthroat Meat?

Cutthroat filets range between a white/ cream to a pink/red color. Like other trout the color of the cutthroat meat will mainly depend upon their diet, the type of water they live in and whether or not they are stocked or wild. 

What Color is Raw Trout Meat?

The color of raw trout flesh ranges from a white cream color to a dark red or pink. Most trout flesh ranges between these colors and is some shade of white, pink or orange. If you do see trout meat that doesn’t fall within this range you probably shouldn’t eat it.

What Color Should Cooked Trout Be?

When trout meat is cooked it turns to a more pail color than it was when it was raw. For example, trout meat that is pink when its raw will turn into a more beige pail color when it’s properly cooked. In addition to its color change, when trout meat is cooked it also becomes more flakey. 

For more insight on how to tell if your fish meat is cooked check out this article

Factors That Contribute to the Color of Trout Meat

Rainbow Trout

The coloration of both the outer and inner appearance of trout can be fluid. Their colors can easily be changed, and many things contribute to this. In general, trout found in clear water with a lot of cover tend to be vibrant and colorful. Fish from dirty water tend look more dull and “washed out”

Here are the main factors that contribute to the color of trout meat. 

Type of Trout

As you already know different trout species vary in color, size and patterns. This is also true when looking at their flesh. Some trout are naturally more white and pink while others tend to be more of a dark pink and red color. 

Wild vs Stocked

Another factor that can influence the color of trout flesh is whether or not they were stocked meaning they were raised in a fish hatchery or if they were born naturally in the wild. The color of stocked trout flesh tends to be a whiter, while wild-caught trout is often more of a pink color. 


A trout’s diet can influence both the outer appearance of a fish as well as the color of its flesh. If a trout’s diet consists of forage rich in carotenoid pigments their flesh will have a bright pink color. Trout that consume prey like crustaceans and aquatic insects tend to have  a more orange-colored trout meat. 

Watery Clarity 

Another factor that will play a role in the color of trout meat is the type of water clarity found on the body of water where they live. In general, clear water trout will have a brighter color. Trout found in dirty water tend to be darker and dull. 

Trout Meat by Color


In general, trout that have a pink pigment to their flesh have probably been eating scuds, crawdads or other things that have astaxanthin that causes the meat to turn pink . Female trout also tend to have meat that is more pink than males. Most people that eat trout prefer the meat to be either pink or an orange color.


If a trout has flesh that is an orange color it generally means that their diet has consisted crustaceans. Crustaceans have a high amount of astaxanthin which gives the meat an orange/red color. Orange meat is commonly found in brook trout, rainbow trout, some cutthroats and brown trout.


The color of trout meat is largely influenced by their diet. When a trout has a white pigment to their flesh they most likely eating a lot of insects or are stocked trout that have been raised on trout feeder pellets. The contents found within these two food sources give a trouts flesh a white color. Male trout meat also tends to be a white meat.

Trout Meat vs Salmon

Although trout and salmon have a lot in common there are some differences when it comes to the color of their meat. Salmon is typically a deeper or brighter orange color. While trout meat is generally lighter in color and can be a white, orange or light red color. Both are considered to taste delicious and are a great source of protein. 

Final Thoughts

As we discussed in this article trout meat should be a white, pink or orange color when it’s raw. When trout meat is cooked it will turn into a lighter more pail color and will be flakey. With that being said the are a wide variety of things that can contribute to a trouts outside and inside appearance. So don’t be surprised if the next trout you catch has slightly different color or shade than what we discussed.

Other Fishing Related Resources

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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