Are Shrimp and Prawns the Same Thing?

If you order shrimp, are you getting prawns? Are they the same animal? What are the differences between a shrimp and a prawn?

If you order shrimp, are you getting prawns? Are they the same animal? What are the differences between a shrimp and a prawn?

The Short Answer:

No, shrimp and prawns are completely different animals.

The Long Answer:

You might look at a shrimp and a prawn and think they’re the exact same thing. Biologically speaking, you would be wrong. They are completely different animals. However, their taste and use in cuisine are practically identical. While not the same animal, shrimp and prawns are completely interchangeable when it comes to cooking.

So, what’s the difference between these tiny shellfish? Prawns have claws on three of their five pairs of legs, whereas shrimp have claws on two of their five pairs of legs. The shape of their bodies and gills also differ.

Many people consider prawns to be larger than shrimp, but that’s not necessarily true. Some variations of prawn are indeed larger than shrimp, but there are tiny prawns and big shrimp as well.

If you’re hungry for some tasty shellfish, try out our Garlic Shrimp or Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp! We’ve even got you covered if you forgot to take the shrimp out to defrost with the best way to Cook Shrimp from Frozen.

Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp

If you order shrimp, are you getting prawns? Are they the same animal? What are the differences between a shrimp and a prawn? #shrimp #prawns
If you order shrimp, are you getting prawns? Are they the same animal? What are the differences between a shrimp and a prawn? #shrimp #prawns

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.