Food preservation

Why does my chicken taste like fish?

Chicken is a staple in most households. It is versatile, easy to prepare, and you can serve it for both lunch and dinner.

Unfortunately, there are instances where the chicken can acquire funny tastes. If you cook chicken and it ends up having a strange taste, you may ask, why does my chicken taste like that?

The main reason is that farmers fed the chicken with fish-based food called fish meal. Other reasons are; poor quality chicken, contamination, improper storage, the frying process, and the serving method. Your chicken may have gone bad.


This article gives you a detailed explanation of the various reasons why chicken tastes like fish.

Additionally, we will discuss the various signs of spoilage and what to do to eliminate the fishy smell in chicken.

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Possible reasons why your chicken tastes like fish         

Here are a few explanations why your chicken tastes like fish.

What the chicken fed on


Some farmers feed their chicken with fishmeal. Fishmeal started gaining popularity in the 1960s when farmers wanted to add extra protein to the meat.

Therefore, your chicken may taste like fish because farmers fed it with fishmeal, fish-based food.

Quality of the chicken

The quality of your chicken may be responsible for its fishy taste.

Low-quality chicken, mostly imported, can have an unnatural aroma or taste after cooking.

Low-quality chicken is safe to eat, but you most likely won’t enjoy the meal.



Contamination may be the reason why your chicken tastes funny. If you use dirty utensils or cookware, the chances are that your chicken will have a weird taste.

To avoid this, make a point of using clean utensils, including the knife, chopping board, and frying pan.

If you use the knife to chop anything else, make sure you wash it before using it on the chicken. This way, you will not contaminate your chicken.

Other than that, ensure that the chicken does not come into contact with any other kind of meat. Different meats have different kinds of bacteria, and your chicken may end up contaminated.

Improper storage


Failure to properly store your chicken may result in the chicken tasting strange. Therefore, you must always store the chicken properly.

Before placing the chicken in your refrigerator, store it in an airtight container. Alternatively, you could wrap it with cling film.

In the refrigerator, do not store the chicken close to other meats. The meats have different bacteria; thus, their contact will result in contamination and eventually a fishy smell.

It would also be best to store freshly bought chicken separately from the batch you had bought before.

Frying process


The frying process determines whether your chicken will taste fresh or fishy. If you use a dirty pan to fry your chicken, it may taste fishy. It will also taste fishy if you fry it in used oil.

Some fatty acids are oxidized when you fry chicken, resulting in volatile compounds with a distinct fishy aroma.

To prevent this, it is recommended that you deep fry your chicken and not shallow fry or stir fry it.

Serving method

How you serve your chicken determines how it tastes.

If you want your chicken to taste fresh, serve it before you serve any other kind of meat. 

It is spoilt


If your chicken smells or tastes fishy, it may be spoiled. Chicken that has gone bad may smell and taste fishy.

You should check for signs of spoilage.

Signs that your chicken has gone bad

Chicken can go bad when you store it for an extended time. Consuming spoiled chicken can harm your health.

Therefore, be on the lookout for these signs of spoilage.

  • Change in color

Fresh chicken should be pinkish. If you notice that your chicken has turned dark, it is spoiled, and you should discard it.

  • Unpleasant smell

If your raw chicken has an alkali-like or crude smell, it has gone bad, and you should discard it.

  • Foul smell during cooking

If your chicken doesn’t have any other sign of spoilage but you notice a foul smell as you are cooking it, it has gone bad, and you should throw it out.

  • Mold

When bacteria grow on chicken meat, mold may appear on the surface. The presence of mold is a sign that it has gone bad and is no longer safe to consume.

What to do to remove the fishy smell in chicken


No one likes eating chicken that smells like it’s not it.

Luckily, there are a few techniques you can use to get rid of the fishy smell. You can use a salt & flour mixture, vinegar, or tomatoes.

You can also change your frying technique and clean your fridge so that the chicken doesn’t pick up the unwanted smell. Let’s discuss these techniques in detail.

Salt and flour mixture


A mixture of salt and flour can help get rid of the fishy smell in chicken. First, wash the chicken thoroughly.

When it is clean, sprinkle one tablespoon of salt and two tablespoons of flour on the chicken, then use your hands to rub the ingredients all over the chicken. Do this for approximately ten minutes, then wash the chicken again.

After rinsing off the flour and salt, fill a bowl with water, add ½ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup of white vinegar, and one tablespoon of salt. Stir the mixture till the ingredients are completely combined, then soak your chicken in it for twenty minutes.

Remove the chicken from the mixture after 20 minutes and rinse it with clean water. Your chicken won’t have any fishy aroma or flavor.

This method takes time, so you’ll have to be patient, but the results are worth it.



Vinegar is lauded for its ability to get rid of unpleasant aromas and flavors.

Fill a bowl with water, submerge your chicken, then add three tablespoons of vinegar. Stir the water so that the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the chicken.

Let the chicken soak for 20 minutes, then remove it and rinse thoroughly under running water.

Try using tomatoes

Tomatoes do not necessarily eliminate the fishy smell, but they mask it perfectly.

Smash two tomatoes and mix them with two tablespoons of lemon juice and one tablespoon of salt. Rub the tomato mixture on the chicken and let it sit for approximately fifteen minutes.

Rinse the chicken to remove the tomato mixture before cooking it.

Use fresh oil


As discussed above, frying chicken in used oil can result in a fishy and somewhat unpleasant taste.

Therefore, it would help if you used fresh oil every time you fry your chicken.

Clean your fridge

Most times, chicken picks up the smell of what you have stored in your refrigerator.

Therefore, if your chicken has a fishy smell, the chances are that it picked the smell from your refrigerator. It would help if you cleaned your refrigerator thoroughly.

Use a mixture of water and baking soda to clean it. The baking soda gets rid of any foul smell in the refrigerator.

What will happen if you eat chicken that smells or tastes like fish?


Chicken that smells or tastes like fish may or may not be safe to consume. If you bought vacuum packaged chicken, it might have an unnatural odor even when you cook it.

In this case, the chicken is perfectly safe to consume because the smell is merely a result of the gases manufacturers use during packaging.

Chicken can also have a slightly unpleasant smell because of dried blood. This is why it is important to wash the chicken thoroughly.

Eating spoiled chicken puts you at risk of food poisoning. You may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, among others.



There are several possible reasons why your chicken tastes the same as fish. The most common culprits are contamination, improper storage, and the frying process.

Since you are now conversant with what can make chicken taste like fish, try not to make those mistakes.

If your chicken smells fishy, use any of the techniques discussed above to do away with the unpleasant aroma.

Also, Check out: Do mung beans smell? (5 reasons why)

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