Shrimp Or Prawns? Here's How To Tell Them Apart

The difference is more than just about size.

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Are these shrimp? Or prawns? While many know that shrimp is smaller than prawns, the differences are more physical than just how big or small it is.


Shrimp and prawns are almost interchangeable in most recipes, but here’s how you can tell a prawn from a shrimp and why a prawn isn’t always bigger than a shrimp.


1 Prawns can be small; shrimp can be large.

Generally, shrimp is smaller than prawns but there are small prawns and there are large-sized shrimp, too. To find out which is which, you’ll have to take a closer look at other physical characteristics to determine the differences.


2 Prawns have three sets of clawed forelegs.

No matter the size, take a good look at the legs of the shrimp or prawn. You may think it’s a shrimp but if you see more than two sets of the forelegs with claws, it’s a prawn. A shrimp will only have claws on two forelegs.



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3 Shrimp have longer forelegs but less number of swimmers.

While looking at the forelegs, if you notice that the forelegs are longer than usual, you may be looking at a shrimp. Take a look at the other legs attached to the body and if there are less in number, it might be confirmation it’s a shrimp and not a prawn.


4 Shrimp bodies have a distinct bend.

Stretch out the shrimp or the prawn and if the body suddenly bends at an angle around the third segment, it’s a shrimp. Prawns when stretched out gradually curls into a smooth curve rather than at a sharp angle.


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5 Prawns have overlapping segments.

The segments of the prawn overlap each other in sequence. If you notice that the second segment is larger than the other segments and is actually on top of the segments it follows and precedes, it’s a shrimp.



While all these differences are tell-tale signs that you’re either looking at a prawn or a shrimp, it’s undeniable that both are delicious shellfish. Take your pick because whichever one you choose would make a great dish. 




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