Anchovy Vs Smelt: What's the Difference?

If you’re a seafood lover, you’ve probably heard of both anchovies and smelt. But what’s the difference between these two fish?

And which one is better? Let’s take a look at the facts to find out in this quick anchovy vs smelt comparison.

What are anchovies?

Anchovies are small, oily fishes that are often used as a flavoring agent in food.

Usually found in saltwater in temperate climates, they can be either wild-caught or farmed. These fishes can be canned or jarred, and are a common ingredient in pizza and Caesar salad.

Though they have a strong, salty flavor, anchovies can also be used to add umami richness to dishes. When used in moderation, they can be an excellent way to enhance the flavor of many different recipes.

What are smelts?

Smelts are a small, sleek type of fish that typically measure between five and seven inches in length. They have a forked tail and a small mouth, and their body is covered with shiny scales.

One of the most distinguishing features of smelts is their silvery coloration, which helps them to blend in with their surroundings. This camouflage also makes them very difficult for predators to spot.

Smelts are found in both fresh and saltwater, and they are widely distributed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. In the United States, they are most commonly found in the Great Lakes region.

Smelts are often eaten whole, and they can be fried, baked, or grilled. They have a delicate flavor that you would definitely enjoy.

Anchovy vs smelt – Main differences


The first thing to note about the difference between anchovies and smelt is that they come from different habitats.

Anchovies are found in saltwater, while smelts are found in both fresh and saltwater. This difference is likely to impact the flavor of the fish, as well as the texture.


Another key difference between these two types of fish is that anchovies are very salty, while smelts are not. This is due to the fact that anchovies are preserved in salt, while smelts are not. As a result, smelts are likely to have a more delicate flavor.


When it comes to texture, anchovies are very soft and can easily be mashed. Smelts, on the other hand, have a firmer texture. The main reason is that they have less fat than anchovies.


Anchovies are typically smaller than smelts. The reason is that smelts are a type of freshwater fish, while anchovies are saltwater fish. This difference in size is likely to impact the flavor and texture of the two types of fish.

Fishing methods

Another difference between these two types of fish is the way in which they are caught. Anchovies are typically caught using nets, while smelts are often caught using hooks.


When cooked, anchovies have a very strong, salty flavor. Smelts, on the other hand, taste more delicate.

Health benefits

Both anchovies and smelts are good sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, smelts are a better source of these nutrients than anchovies. This is due to the fact that they are a type of freshwater fish, while anchovies are saltwater fish.

Calories per serving

Per serving, anchovies are higher in calories than smelts. One serving of anchovies (100 grams) contains approximately 200 calories, while one serving of smelts (100 grams) contains approximately 150 calories.


Anchovies are typically more expensive than smelts. You can often buy a can of anchovies for around $5, while a bag of frozen smelts typically costs less than $10.

How to use them in recipes

Anchovies can be used in many different recipes, including pizza and Caesar salad. They can also be canned or jarred. Smelts can be baked, grilled, or fried.

They are often eaten whole, and they can be used as an alternative to many other fishes in different recipes.

A simple anchovy recipe to try

Here is one of our favorite ways to make use of anchovies:


– 1 can (2 oz) of anchovies, drained

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil

– 2 cloves of garlic, minced

– 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

– 1/2 cup of dry white wine

– 1/4 cup of chopped parsley


1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

2. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook until the anchovies are melted into the oil, about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the black pepper and white wine. Raise the heat to high and bring it to a boil.

4. Cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

5. Serve over your favorite pasta dish. Enjoy!

What not to do when cooking anchovies?

When cooking with anchovies, be sure to avoid the following:

– Adding too much salt

– Overcooking them

– Using them in dishes that are already very salty

– Not rinsing them properly before cooking

– Not storing them properly after opening the can or jar

All of these things can ruin the dish and make it too salty, fishy, or just unpalatable. So be careful and take your time to get it right.

A simple smelt recipe to try

If you want to eat smelt, try this recipe:


– 1 pound smelt, cleaned

– 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 lemon, juiced

– Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. Place the smelt in a large, resealable plastic bag.

3. In a small bowl, mix together flour, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the smelt, and seal the bag. Gently shake the bag to coat the smelt with the flour mixture.

4. Place the smelt on a lightly greased baking sheet.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is easily flaked with a fork.

Smelt is a delicious, delicate fish that can be enjoyed in many different ways. This recipe is a simple way to try smelt for the first time, and it’s also healthy and low in calories. Give it a try.

What not to do when cooking smelts?

For starters, do not overcook them. Smelts are done cooking when they turn opaque and flake easily. Beyond that, here are a few more tips on what not to do when cooking smelts:

– Do not use too much oil. A little bit of oil goes a long way in cooking smelts. You don’t want your smelts to be greasy.

– Do not overcrowd the pan. If you overcrowd the pan, the smelts will not cook evenly.

– Do not forget to season them. Season your smelts with salt, pepper, and any other spices you like.

– Do not forget to Flip them. Flip your smelts halfway through cooking so that they cook evenly on both sides.

– Do not overcook them. As mentioned before, smelts are done cooking when they turn opaque and flake easily. Overcooking them will make them tough and dry.

Now that you know what not to do when cooking smelts, go out and cook up a delicious batch.

Anchovy vs smelt – Conclusion

In conclusion, both anchovy and smelt are small, oily fish that can be used in many different recipes.

Anchovies are more pungent and have a stronger flavor, while smelts are more delicate and mild-tasting. Both fish are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

So, whether you’re looking for a strong flavor or a milder taste, give anchovies and smelts a try. You might just find your new favorite fish.

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