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Prawns vs. Shrimps — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 5, 2023
Prawns and shrimps are both crustaceans, but they differ in body structure, size, and habitat. While often used interchangeably in cuisine, they are distinct species with unique characteristics.
Prawns vs. Shrimps — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Prawns and Shrimps


Key Differences

Prawns typically have a slightly larger and elongated body compared to shrimps. While both prawns and shrimps possess ten legs, prawns' front pincers are generally larger than the subsequent ones, whereas shrimps' second pincers are usually the most prominent.
Prawns are primarily found in freshwater, while shrimps predominantly inhabit saltwater environments. This distinction affects their taste, with prawns often having a sweeter profile compared to the more briny flavor of shrimps.
In many cuisines, prawns and shrimps are used interchangeably, making it confusing for consumers. However, chefs might prefer prawns for certain dishes due to their meatier texture, while shrimps can be favored for their distinct taste.
In seafood markets, prawns are generally larger and can be sold either with their heads on or off. Shrimps, on the other hand, are commonly sold headless and are available in a range of sizes.
From a biological perspective, prawns and shrimps belong to different suborders within the crustacean family. Prawns belong to the Dendrobranchiata suborder, while shrimps are part of the Pleocyemata.

Comparison Chart

Body Structure

Slightly elongated body; larger front pincers
Compact body; prominent second pincers


Primarily freshwater
Predominantly saltwater

Taste Profile

Often sweeter
Typically briny

Market Presentation

Often sold with heads
Commonly sold headless

Taxonomical Suborder


Compare with Definitions


Large crustaceans related to shrimps but distinct in body structure.
The chef used prawns for the seafood pasta due to their meaty texture.


Typically sold headless in seafood markets in varied sizes.
He purchased a pound of medium-sized shrimps for the salad.


Freshwater inhabitants often used in culinary dishes.
The freshwater prawns added a sweet flavor to the curry.


Small to medium-sized crustaceans with a compact body.
The shrimps were perfectly sautéed in garlic and butter.


Decapod crustaceans with elongated bodies and large front pincers.
I was amazed by the size of the prawns' pincers in the aquarium.


Decapod crustaceans known for their second set of prominent pincers.
I noticed that the shrimps' second pincers were especially large.


Often larger compared to shrimps and sold with their heads on.
She bought some large prawns, complete with their heads, for grilling.


Saltwater inhabitants popular in various cuisines.
Shrimps from the ocean often have a delightful briny taste.


Belonging to the Dendrobranchiata suborder within crustaceans.
Biologists classified these as prawns due to their Dendrobranchiata characteristics.


Part of the Pleocyemata suborder of crustaceans.
The biologist identified them as shrimps from the Pleocyemata suborder.


Any of various shrimps, especially one that is large or inhabits fresh water.


Any of various small, chiefly marine, often edible decapod crustaceans that have a laterally compressed, elongated body with long antennae and long legs used for swimming. The shrimps include species belonging to the superfamily Penaeoidea of the suborder Dendrobranchiata and to the infraorder Caridea of the suborder Pleocyemata.


The flesh of a prawn, used as food.


The flesh of one of these crustaceans, used as food.


To fish for prawns.


Any of various similar crustaceans, such as a fairy shrimp.


Plural of prawn


Derogatory Slang A person who is small in stature.


To fish for shrimp.


Plural of shrimp


Infl of shrimp

Common Curiosities

What are prawns?

Prawns are large crustaceans related to but distinct from shrimps.

Can prawns and shrimps be used interchangeably in cooking?

While often used interchangeably, they have unique flavors and textures that might suit certain dishes better.

Which is meatier, prawns or shrimps?

Prawns typically have a meatier texture compared to shrimps.

Do prawns and shrimps belong to the same biological family?

Yes, both prawns and shrimps are decapod crustaceans but belong to different suborders.

How do shrimps differ from prawns?

Shrimps are typically smaller, inhabit saltwater, and have a distinct body structure compared to prawns.

Which is sweeter in taste, prawns or shrimps?

Prawns generally have a sweeter taste profile compared to the brinier shrimps.

Are prawns only found in freshwater?

Primarily, yes. Prawns predominantly inhabit freshwater environments.

Where are shrimps commonly found?

Shrimps are predominantly found in saltwater habitats.

How should prawns and shrimps be stored?

Both should be refrigerated and consumed quickly or can be frozen for longer storage.

Is it easy to distinguish between prawns and shrimps visually?

Yes, by noting the size, body structure, and pincers, one can distinguish between the two.

Is there a significant price difference between prawns and shrimps?

Depending on the region and market, prawns can be pricier due to their size and perceived premium quality.

Which is preferred for grilling, prawns or shrimps?

Both can be grilled, but prawns are often preferred due to their size and meatiness.

Which has more varieties, prawns or shrimps?

Both have numerous species, but shrimps have a wider variety due to their global distribution.

Are there any known allergies associated with prawns and shrimps?

Yes, some people are allergic to shellfish, which includes both prawns and shrimps.

Is there a significant difference in nutritional value between prawns and shrimps?

Both are rich in protein, but there might be minor differences in micronutrient content based on their habitats.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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