What Do Kippers Taste Like? A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever tried a kipper? If not, you’re missing out! Kippers are a delicious type of smoked fish. They’re perfect for breakfast or as a snack.

But what do kippers taste like? They have a salty, smoky flavor and a slightly fishy taste. And how do we eat them? Keep reading to find out!

What Do Kippers Taste Like?

kippers breakfast with toast
Kipper breakfast with butter and toast. Credit: canva

So what do kippers taste like? They have a salty, smoky flavor and a slightly fishy taste.

Some people say they taste like bacon, while others find them somewhat bland. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that kippers are an interesting culinary experience!

Are kippers tasty?

This is a matter of opinion. Some people love kippers, while others find them too fishy or salty.

The finest kippers are pale copper and have delicate flesh that pulls away readily from the bone when cooked.

If you’ve never had a kipper before, we recommend you try them! You might just be surprised by how much you like them.

Do sardines taste like kippers?

No, sardines do not taste like kippers. As we mentioned, kippers are herring that have been smoked, while sardines are small, oily fish that have been canned or pickled.

Kippers are less salty, milder in flavor, and drier than sardines. However, this is due to the curing and smoking, not a hard-and-fast rule.

Sardines have a strong flavor that some people compare to anchovies. They are often used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine.

Sardines may be packed in plain water but are commonly immersed in oil, mustard, hot sauce, or tomato sauce, which becomes the prominent flavor of the can.

So, if you’re wondering what kippers taste like, the answer is that they have a salty, smoky flavor with a slightly fishy taste.

About Kippers

kippering process
Kippering process. Credit: canva

If you’ve never had a kipper, you’re in for a treat! Kippers are a type of smoked herring that is popular in the United Kingdom.

They are usually eaten as part of a full English breakfast menu, but they can also be enjoyed as a snack or an appetizer. 

Kippers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a natural source of vitamin D. They are also a good source of protein and low in calories.

What kind of fish are kippers?

Kipper, also known as British kipper, is an iconic British breakfast dish. It is a whole herring that has been sliced in half from head to tail, gutted, salted or pickled, then is typically smoked.

Herring is a saltwater fish that belongs to the family Clupeidae. This family also includes anchovies, sardines, and sprats.

How to prepare

Kippers are usually prepared by gutting and filleting the fish, then salting and smoking it – a process known as the “kippering process.”

The smoking process can be done either by hot-smoking or cold-smoking. Hot-smoking involves cooking the fish, while cold-smoking does not.

Are kippers and sardines the same thing?

No, kippers and sardines are not the same things. Kippers are herring that have been smoked, while sardines are small, oily fish that have been canned or pickled.

Sardines can grow larger, but larger fish are reserved for sale as fresh whole sardines rather than canning.

However, they both belong to the family Clupeidae, so they’re similar in many ways.

Most kippers are Atlantic Herring, while sardines are usually Pilchard or Sprat. Much different fish within and outside the family Clupeidae are sometimes labeled as sardines, including Atlantic Herring.

kipper snack with crackers
Kipper snack with crackers. Credit: canva

How to Eat

How do you eat kippers?

There are many different ways to enjoy kippers! They can be eaten hot or cold and with a variety of different accompaniments.

They can be grilled, baked, or fried. Kippers can also be eaten cold, directly out of the tin.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try for breakfast!

Some people eat them with eggs, toast, and tea for breakfast. Others enjoy them as a snack or sandwich with crackers or bread.

Kippers can also be used in recipes, such as kipper pate or kipper fishcakes.

Can you eat kippers raw?

No, you should not eat kippers raw. Kippers are cured, which means they have been treated with salt or brine to preserve them.

This also makes them safe to eat without cooking. However, we do not recommend eating them raw because of the strong flavor.

If you’re looking for a milder taste, try cooked kippers instead.

Best way to cook

scottish breakfast fried kippers scrambled egg
Scottish breakfast with fried kippers and scrambled eggs. Credit: canva

There are many different ways to cook kippers, but we think the best way is to fry them.

Heat some oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the kippers and cook for about three minutes per side.

If you want crispy skin, try flouring or breadcrumbing before cooking. Serve with lemon wedges, and enjoy!

Easy Recipe

Smoked Kippers With Scrambled Eggs

This special breakfast is on the day of freshly smoked kippers and scrambled eggs, with lashings of hot buttered toast and mugs of steaming tea.

Kippers are not just breakfast food but can be served for lunch or supper.


  • 2 kippered herring fillets
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • white pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1⁄4 cup milk
  • 2 slices of whole-wheat toast (per person)
  • 1⁄2lemon, cut into wedges


  1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat and cook the kippers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, curry powder, milk, 1 tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  3. In a second frying pan/skillet, gently scramble the eggs.
  4. Serve the kippers and scrambled eggs with the hot buttered toast and lemon wedges.

Smoked fish sliders with kippers

These little smoked fish sliders are perfect for a summer party.


  • 12 slider buns
  • 24 slices of cucumber
  • mayonnaise, to taste
  • Dijon mustard, to taste
  • 24 kippered herring fillets
  • lettuce leaves (optional)


  1. Mix the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Slice the cucumber into thin rounds and set them aside.
  3. Cut the herring fillets into small pieces and set them aside.
  4. Assemble the sliders by spreading some of the mayonnaise mixtures on each bun, then top with a piece of kippered herring, a slice of cucumber, and a lettuce leaf (if used).
  5. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


How to store kippers

Fresh kippers are best consumed within a week, but they may be kept for longer if frozen.

Vacuum-packing will also extend their shelf life and prevent pungent or fishy smells from tainting your refrigerator.

Where to buy kippers

If you’re looking for fresh kippers, your best bet is to head to a local fish market or order them online.

Canned kippers can be found in most supermarkets.

How long do kippers last?

Kippers will last up to two weeks if stored properly in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze kippers for up to three months.

How to choose the best kippers

When buying kippers, look for ones that have a bright orange or pink color.

They should also be free of any dark spots or blemishes. Avoid kippers that smell too fishy, which is a sign of spoilage.

If you’re unsure how to choose the best kippers, ask your fishmonger for help.


What’s the difference between sardines and kippered snacks?

There are a few key differences between sardines and kippered snacks. For one, sardines are typically smoked whole, while kippered snacks are made from fillets. Sardines are also often canned, while kippered snacks come fresh or frozen. Finally, sardines have a more intense flavor than kippered snacks.

How should I eat kippered snacks?

There are many different ways to enjoy kippered snacks. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or canned. Kippers are often served with eggs, toast, and lemon wedges. They can also be used to make sliders or sandwiches.

Can I eat kippered snacks if I’m pregnant?

Yes, you can eat kippered snacks when you’re pregnant. However, choosing fresh, high-quality kippers is essential to avoid foodborne illnesses. You should also cook them thoroughly before eating.

Do kippers have bone?

Yes, they have a bone. However, the bones are typically removed before they are sold. If you’re concerned about bones, ask your fishmonger for boneless.

What does canned herring taste like?

Canned herring has a strong, fishy flavor. It is often salty and may have a metallic taste. If you’re not a fan of fish, you may not enjoy canned herring. However, some people find that the taste of canned herring improves with time.

You can likely find pickled herring in the seafood department of your local supermarket.

Are kippers better than sardines?

There is no clear consensus on whether kippers or sardines are better. It depends on your personal preferences. Some people prefer the intense flavor of sardines, while others find kippers to be more mild and palatable.

Also, eating kippers will get the same health benefits as eating fresh sardines.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which type of fish you prefer.

Are kippers similar to mackerel?

Kippers and mackerel are both types of oily fish. They have a similar taste and texture, but kippers are typically smoked while mackerel is fresh. Kippers are also usually filleted, while mackerel is often sold whole.