American Caviar: Types, Brands and Tasting Guide

Caviar has long been associated with luxury, exclusivity and fine dining. However, most of the caviar enjoyed around the world comes from sturgeon species native to the Caspian Sea region, primarily in Iran and Russia. In recent decades, a new source of sustainably farmed caviar has emerged in the United States. American caviar offers a fresh, high-quality product while promoting responsible aquaculture.

This guide will explore the background, varieties, brands, tasting notes and culinary uses of caviar produced in America. With its distinctive flavors and textures, American caviar brings new possibilities to the global caviar market.

History of Caviar in America

The commercial production of caviar in the US only gained traction in the 1990s and 2000s. Before that, most of the caviar consumed in America was imported. 

In the 1980s, overfishing and habitat loss caused Caspian Sea sturgeon populations to plummet. This availability crisis made caviar extremely expensive and led American entrepreneurs to explore domestic aquaculture solutions.

Pioneer farms in CaliforniaIdaho and the South focused on species like white sturgeon and paddlefish. Advanced recirculating aquaculture systems allowed for sustainable breeding. Strict regulations also ensured the welfare of the fish.

Today, American caviar operations continue to grow. Innovations in farming techniques and product diversity have expanded the industry.

Types of American Caviar

There are 5 main types of caviar produced in the US:

1. Paddlefish Roe

The American paddlefish is native to the waters of the Mississippi River basin. Its firm, large eggs produce a mild, buttery caviar. Paddlefish caviar accounts for around 30% of US production.

2. Hackleback Roe

Hackleback caviar from the hackleback sturgeon makes up over 60% of American caviar. Its small to medium grains have a silky texture and nutty, earthy flavors.

3. Bowfin Roe

Bowfin caviar comes from the hearty bowfin fish found across North America. It has a distinctive, lingering taste often described as mushroom-like.

4. White Sturgeon Roe

Farmed primarily on the West Coast, white sturgeon caviar has large, firm beads that pop with a rich, smooth flavor.

5. Salmon Roe

Salmon caviar is a smaller-grained roe with a bright orange hue. It provides a salty, tangy pop of flavor.

Top American Caviar Brands

Here are 5 leading producers crafting unique American caviars:

1. California Caviar Company

Based in Northern California, this company produces caviar from white sturgeon. Their Odyssey line features a range of different cures.

2. Tsar Nicoulai Caviar

Tsar Nicoulai sustainably farms multiple sturgeon species in California to create caviars with varying flavors and textures. Their Almas is a premium Osetra-style caviar. 

3. Sterling Caviar

Operating in Kentucky since 2013, Sterling specializes in hackleback caviar. Their carefully monitored sturgeon produce delicious black caviar. 

4. Island Creek Oysters

This acclaimed seafood company in Massachusetts offers osetra and hackleback caviar sourced from regional sustainable aquaculture farms.

5. Marshallberg Farm

Marshallberg pioneered paddlefish caviar in the 1990s. They hand-process American Paddlefish Caviar in small batches.

How to Taste and Serve American Caviar

When tasting caviar, take time to appreciate its subtle flavors and textures. Use a non-reactive spoon to avoid metallic flavors. Allow the beads to spread across the palate to detect salty, sweet, buttery or nutty notes.

Caviar is best consumed chilled directly from the tin for maximum freshness. It can be served on its own with some toast points or crackers. For an elegant presentation, serve caviar on blinis with crème fraîche and accoutrements.

Pairing Suggestions for American Caviar

The adaptable flavor profile of American caviar pairs well with a variety of foods and drinks:

  • Buttery oysters or scallops
  • Silky smoked salmon 
  • Crisp sparkling wines or chilled vodkas
  • Creamy soft cheeses like brie
  • Minerally extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh eggs, buttermilk or sour cream

Where to Buy American Caviar

Due to regulations, caviar can’t be purchased directly online. But many farms sell through approved online caviar retailers that overnight ship the product. Local high-end grocers and fish markets may also carry American caviar.

Sustainability of American Caviar Production

American caviar stands out for its sustainable aquaculture practices. Sturgeon thrive in closely monitored, recirculating tank systems. No antibiotics or hormones are used. The fish are handled with care to minimize stress. These conscientious methods allow for caviar production without threatening wild fish populations.


Driven by a spirit of innovation, the American caviar industry offers a delicious, responsibly produced alternative to imported varieties. The unique flavors and sustainable origins of American caviar make it an excellent option for caviar connoisseurs and everyday gourmands alike.