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Are Shrimps and Prawns the Same Thing


Shrimp, prawn, lobster, and crab all sound synonymous when you are new to these terms. However, they are entirely different from each other. Lobsters are longer than others, while crabs are rounder and have claws. Moreover, shrimps and prawns are smaller and differ majorly in size. If you have also thought that shrimps and prawns are the same sea creatures known by these two alternate names in different parts of the world, you will be surprised to know that they vary distinctively.

Let’s tell you all the differences between shrimps and prawns.

Taxonomical Classification

The similarities in the structure and shape of these organisms put them in the same group – decapods. As the name indicates, both organisms have ten legs. They also have external skeletons like arthropods. However, these are the only similarities between shrimps and prawns as they are further categorized into different sub-orders. Prawns belong to Dendrobranchiata, while Shrimps are a part of the sub-order Pleocyemata.

Organisms belonging to Dendrobranchiata have a robust body divided into pleon and cephalothorax. The head and thorax are fused and then joined to the abdomen. The body is also slightly flattened. Pleocyemata have a lamellar gill structure compared to the branched gills in Dendrobranchiata.


While this may or may not be a distinguishing factor depending on the species, prawns are typically larger than shrimps.



Taste is not one of the best characteristics to judge whether you are having prawns or shrimp. Some prawn species might be sweeter than shrimps, yet they taste incredibly similar.


Prawns are the largest organisms in these categories, but shrimps have a wide variety of species and options to choose from. Shrimps offer a lot more edible options than prawns.

Body Structure

Shrimps and prawns have a similar body structure as they belong to the same class. However, the thorax in shrimps overlaps with the head and the abdomen. Alternatively, prawns have a unique structure in which the lead overlaps the thorax, which overlaps the abdomen.

Legs and Claws

If you do not know much about shrimps and prawns, their legs and claws may seem similar to you as they both have ten legs. But they vary in their claws and pincers. Shrimps have claws on two pairs of legs, while prawns have claws on three pairs of legs. Furthermore, the front pincers are the largest in shrimps compared to the second pincers largest in shrimps.



Gills are not visible on the surface, but you can observe them when you cut through shrimps and prawns. Shrimps have flat, plate-like gills as opposed to branching gills in prawns.


Shrimps are widely found in saltwater habitats, and they might also be present in freshwater. On the contrary, prawns are freshwater organisms. Shrimps residing in cold regions are smaller than in warmer regions.

Can you Use Shrimps and Prawns Interchangeably?

Yes. That’s the best part about shrimps and prawns; they are so similar in taste that no one can tell if they are eating prawns or shrimps. The nutritional value of both sea creatures is also a lot similar, making them a suitable substitute for the other. That also means that they are equally harmful to people with allergies to either of them.

The Bottom Line

Shrimps and Prawns are quite similar in taste but vary in species, habitats, size, and body structure. If you want to add them to your recipe for texture or taste, using any of them will not make much difference. But prawns are more presentable on the plate when cooked whole. It is suggested to buy fresh ones instead of keeping the prawns and shrimps in the fridge to receive the most nutrition and taste.


Do shrimp turn into prawns?

Shrimps and prawns are two different species and do not turn into one another. Prawns are typically larger in size thus people think that shrimps become prawns when they grow.

Are prawns more expensive than shrimps?

The price of both the seafood option depends on the habitat and selling area. It is also influenced by the demand for seafood in that region. But, typically, prawns are considered to be more expensive than shrimps.

Which is the tastiest prawn?

Larger prawns are believed to be tastier than their smaller counterparts. For that reason, king prawns are the tastiest prawns with firm flesh and rich flavor.

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