3 Essential Facts That Differentiate Prawns From Shrimps

Many people usually confuse prawn and shrimp in many contexts because of how similar they look. However despite their similarities, these two creatures have some distinct differences that can help anyone tell them apart. Keep reading to learn more.

By Cookist

Prawn and shrimps are very common seafood that are prepared and consumed in many countries all over the world. The two terms are commonly used interchangeably in different places which makes it very confusing to know which one you're purchasing.

In places like the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, the term “prawn” refers to both true prawns and shrimp. Whereas in North America, the term “shrimp” is more often used, and the word “prawn” is usually used to describe larger species or those captured from fresh water.

Below are some ways the two crustaceans differ from each other:


1. They are scientifically different

Thanks to biological research, we know that prawns and shrimp come from different branches of the crustacean tree. They belong to the decapod order but shrimps belong to the pleocyemata suborder, while prawns belong to the dendrobranchiata suborder. Thus, there are some very distinct differences between their anatomies.

2. They have different preferences when it comes to their habitats

Prawns and shrimp can survive in both fresh and saltwater. However, most shrimp are found in salt water while many prawns reside in freshwater.

3. They have different sizes

Prawns are usually larger than shrimp but there are some large varieties of shrimp and small varieties of prawns. This is why it is not recommended to try to differentiate them using size alone.


From a culinary standpoint there are only a few differences between prawns and shrimp. But, on the matter of their nutritional benefits, they both provide similar nutrients and when it comes to appearance, there is barely any visible difference. Therefore, you can freely use them interchangeably while making dishes.


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