What's the difference between "roe" and "caviar". Wikipedia has two different articles, however, the difference is not explain in the either one.

  • 1
    Caviar is roe from sturgeons. This is explained in the first sentence of the Wikipedia article. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 12:37
  • 1
    Caviar refers to the salted eggs or roe of the sturgeon. Roe is the generic term for fish eggs.
    – Graffito
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 12:38
  • 5
    Caviar is more expensive.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 13:02
  • @HotLicks - :) :)
    – brilliant
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


From an article on “What is the Difference Between Caviar and Roe?” at www.culinarylore.com:

They refer to the same thing: fish eggs. However, the term roe refers to the fish eggs (or male fish sperm) themselves while caviar is roe that has been salted or "cured" and then placed in tins for storage and aging. In the United States and Canada, any product that is only labeled caviar must come from sturgeon roe. If it contains the roe from any other fish, such as whitefish, it must be labelled with the name of the fish, such as whitefish roe, salmon roe, carp roe, trout roe, etc. The roe of shellfish is also used. In Europe, however, the term caviar is reserved exclusively for the roe of sturgeon. Roe from other fish must be called caviar substitute.

Here is a pictorial comparison of them, with salmon eggs on the left and sturgeon caviar on the right:

image of salmon eggs left and sturgeon caviar right

  • 3
    In the United States and Canada, [...]caviar must come from sturgeon roe. [...] In Europe, however, the term caviar is reserved exclusively for the roe of sturgeon. ?!? Culinary Lore needs better writers.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 19:05
  • @Jim: I agree. It sounds though that the difference is that in NA, you could legally sell something as "salmon roe caviar" while in Europe, you'd have to call it " salmon roe caviar substitute."
    – herisson
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 22:42
  • Yes, the picture compares salmon and sturgeon caviar. Thanks for sharing the article. I would like to point out the source of the picture (as given in the article) so the owner of the image gets proper credit: Image by Thor via flic.kr/p/7ByGkK Eric from CulinaryLore :) Sorry to reply as a new answer..this was meant as a comment. You'd think I'd know better.
    – Eric Troy
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 20:31

From an article https://www.markys.com/Caviar/what-is-caviar.html
Traditionally, the designation “caviar” was only used for sturgeon roe obtained from wild sturgeon species living in the Caspian and Black Seas: Beluga, Osetra (Russian Sturgeon & Persian Sturgeon) and Sevruga, so called the “True Sturgeons”.

Depending on a country’s national laws, the word “caviar” can also be used to describe the roe of other sturgeon species and non-sturgeon fish, such as salmon, steelhead, trout, lumpfish and whitefish.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, roe from any fish not belonging to the order of Acipenseriformes are not caviar, but caviar substitutes. This position was also adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the World Wide Fund for Nature, the United States Customs Service and the Republic of France. However, if the name of the fish is identified, the word “caviar” can be used. For example: “Salmon Caviar”, ‘Bowfin Caviar”, “Lumpfish Caviar”, “Trout Caviar” etc.

  • Nice first post. Please enjoy the tour and when you have a moment, read-up in the help center about how we work. Welcome to the site tanyssimo. Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 17:28

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