Prawn vs. Shrimp

What's the Difference?

Prawn and shrimp are both crustaceans that belong to the same family, but they have some distinct differences. Prawns are generally larger in size, with a more elongated body and a slightly sweeter taste. They also have three pairs of claw-like legs, with the first pair being the largest. On the other hand, shrimp are smaller in size and have a more curved body shape. They have two pairs of claw-like legs, with the second pair being the largest. In terms of taste, shrimp have a slightly more delicate and mild flavor. Both prawns and shrimp are popular seafood choices and can be cooked in various ways, such as grilling, boiling, or frying.


Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash
SizeVaries, can grow up to 12 inchesVaries, can grow up to 12 inches
ColorTypically pink or redTypically pink or gray
ShellHard exoskeletonHard exoskeleton
Legs10 legs10 legs
AntennaeLong and thinLong and thin
HabitatFound in freshwater and saltwaterFound in saltwater
FeedingScavengers, eat decaying matterScavengers, eat decaying matter
Commercial ValueHighly valued in culinary dishesHighly valued in culinary dishes
Photo by Fernando Andrade on Unsplash

Further Detail


Prawns and shrimp are two popular types of seafood that are often confused with each other due to their similar appearance and taste. While they belong to the same family, they have distinct differences in terms of size, habitat, taste, and culinary uses. In this article, we will explore the attributes of prawns and shrimp, highlighting their unique characteristics and helping you understand the differences between these delicious crustaceans.


One of the key differences between prawns and shrimp lies in their size. Prawns are generally larger than shrimp, with an average length ranging from 6 to 12 inches. They have a more elongated body shape and longer legs compared to shrimp. On the other hand, shrimp are smaller, typically measuring around 2 to 6 inches in length. Their bodies are more compact, and they have shorter legs in comparison to prawns.


Prawns and shrimp also differ in terms of their habitat preferences. Prawns are commonly found in freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes, and ponds. They thrive in both warm and cold water, depending on the species. Shrimp, on the other hand, are predominantly found in saltwater habitats like oceans and seas. They are highly adaptable and can be found in various coastal regions around the world.

Taste and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture, prawns and shrimp offer distinct culinary experiences. Prawns have a sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to shrimp. They are often described as having a buttery and slightly nutty taste. Prawns also have a firmer texture, which makes them ideal for grilling, sautéing, or using in dishes that require a more substantial bite. On the other hand, shrimp have a milder taste and a slightly softer texture. They are known for their subtle sweetness and tenderness, making them perfect for stir-fries, curries, and seafood pastas.

Culinary Uses

Both prawns and shrimp are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be used in a wide range of dishes. Prawns are often the star of seafood platters, grilled skewers, and pasta dishes. Their larger size and firm texture make them suitable for grilling or barbecuing, as they hold their shape well. Prawns are also commonly used in Asian cuisine, such as in stir-fries, soups, and noodle dishes. On the other hand, shrimp are popular in dishes like shrimp scampi, shrimp cocktail, and shrimp gumbo. Their smaller size and tender texture make them perfect for quick cooking methods like sautéing, boiling, or frying.


While prawns and shrimp may look similar at first glance, there are subtle differences in their appearance. Prawns have a more pronounced curve in their bodies, with a distinct bend in their abdomen. They also have longer legs and claws compared to shrimp. Shrimp, on the other hand, have a straighter body shape and shorter legs. Their claws are typically smaller and less prominent than those of prawns. These visual distinctions can help differentiate between the two when purchasing or preparing them.


In terms of availability, prawns and shrimp can be found in various parts of the world, but their availability may vary depending on the region. Prawns are more commonly found in Asia, particularly in countries like India, Thailand, and Indonesia. They are also prevalent in parts of Africa and Australia. Shrimp, on the other hand, are widely available in North America, South America, and Europe. They are also extensively farmed in countries like China, Ecuador, and Vietnam to meet the global demand for shrimp products.

Nutritional Profile

From a nutritional standpoint, prawns and shrimp offer similar benefits. They are both low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice for seafood lovers. Prawns and shrimp are excellent sources of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals. They are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health and brain function. Both crustaceans also provide important nutrients like selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, it's worth noting that the exact nutritional content may vary depending on the species and preparation method.


In conclusion, prawns and shrimp may share some similarities, but they have distinct attributes that set them apart. Prawns are generally larger, have a sweeter taste, and are commonly found in freshwater habitats. Shrimp, on the other hand, are smaller, milder in flavor, and predominantly inhabit saltwater environments. Understanding these differences can help you make informed choices when selecting and cooking these delicious crustaceans. Whether you prefer the firm texture of prawns or the tender bite of shrimp, both options offer a delightful seafood experience that can be enjoyed in a variety of culinary creations.

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