Difference Wiki

Prawn vs. Shrimp: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 3, 2023
Prawn and Shrimp are both crustaceans, but prawns typically have longer legs and a second pincers while shrimp have shorter legs and larger front pincers.

Key Differences

Prawn and Shrimp, while often used interchangeably in culinary contexts, possess biological and physical differences that distinguish them. Prawns usually have a larger body size compared to shrimp, often making them a desirable choice for certain dishes that require a more substantial presence. Shrimp, while generally smaller, are equally cherished in various global cuisines and bring a sweet and delicate flavor that enhances a myriad of dishes.
Prawn and Shrimp differentiate themselves in terms of anatomical structure as well. Prawns generally exhibit a slightly straighter body structure and have longer legs compared to shrimp. Shrimp typically have a more curved body and are distinguished by their larger front pincers, which become prominent in their appearance and are often illustrated in culinary presentations.
A noticeable distinction between Prawn and Shrimp lies in their gill structure. Prawns possess branching gills, which offer a notable point of differentiation when comparing them against shrimp which have lamellar (plate-like) gills. Though this distinction is seldom relevant in the culinary context, it is a significant marker for biologists.
In terms of habitat and biological characteristics, Prawn and Shrimp also exhibit variations. Prawns are typically found in fresh water, although there are exceptions, while shrimp predominantly inhabit saltwater ecosystems. These environmental disparities subtly influence their flavor profiles and textures, offering unique culinary experiences.
The interchangeability of the terms Prawn and Shrimp is somewhat attributed to regional language differences. In the United Kingdom, the term “prawn” is more commonly utilized, while in the United States, “shrimp” tends to be the preferred nomenclature. Despite these regional preferences, both crustaceans maintain a vital and celebrated role in global cuisine.

Comparison Chart


Generally larger
Typically smaller

Body Structure

Straighter body, longer legs
More curved body, larger front pincers


Branching gills
Lamellar gills


Often in fresh water
Predominantly in saltwater

Common Usage

More common term in the UK
Preferred term in the US

Prawn and Shrimp Definitions


A crustacean species often larger than shrimp.
Prawn curry is rich and flavorful.


Known for its sweet and delicate flavor profile.
The shrimp added a subtle sweetness to the dish.


A term commonly utilized in the United Kingdom.
In the UK, prawn cocktails are a classic starter.


A smaller, curved-body crustacean with larger front pincers.
Shrimp scampi is a beloved Italian-American dish.


Possesses branching gills biologically.
Biologists examine the prawn’s branching gills closely.


Characterized by plate-like, lamellar gills.
Shrimp have a distinctive gill structure.


Known for its straighter body and longer legs.
The prawn easily stood out due to its elongated legs.


Inhabitant predominantly of saltwater environments.
Coastal areas are renowned for their shrimp populations.


Typically found in fresh water.
The river is home to a healthy prawn population.


A term often utilized in American English.
Shrimp gumbo is a staple in Southern U.S. cuisine.


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.


A crustacean of the suborder Dendrobranchiata.


Derogatory Slang A person who is small in stature.


(Commonwealth) A crustacean, sometimes confused with shrimp.


Synonym of butterface: A woman with an attractive body but an unattractive face.
She's a prawn!


A fool, an idiot.


Alternative form of porn.


(intransitive) To fish for prawns.


Any one of numerous species of large shrimplike Crustacea having slender legs and long antennæ. They mostly belong to the genera Pandalus, Palæmon, Palæmonetes, and Peneus, and are much used as food. The common English prawn is Palæmon serratus.


Any of various edible decapod crustaceans


Shrimp-like decapod crustacean having two pairs of pincers; most are edible


Fish for prawns


What is the general size difference between Prawn and Shrimp?

Prawns are generally larger than shrimp.

Which crustacean has longer legs?

Prawns have longer legs compared to shrimp.

What is the typical habitat of Shrimp?

Usually in saltwater environments.

Are Prawn and Shrimp the same in culinary contexts?

They’re often used interchangeably in cooking, despite differences.

Can Prawn and Shrimp be used interchangeably in recipes?

Yes, often they can be swapped in recipes.

What is the gill structure of Shrimp?

Shrimp have lamellar (plate-like) gills.

Is the term “Prawn” commonly used in the US?

No, “Shrimp” is more commonly used.

Which one is more common in UK culinary terms?

Prawn is more commonly used in the UK.

Are there different species within the Prawn category?

Yes, there are multiple prawn species.

Can you usually substitute Prawn for Shrimp in a recipe?

Yes, they are often interchangeable, though there may be minor texture and size differences.

Where are Prawns typically found?

Often in fresh water.

What kind of gills do Prawns have?

Prawns have branching gills.

Do Prawns appear in famous dishes?

Yes, like Prawn Masala in Indian cuisine.

Are there different varieties of Shrimp?

Yes, including pink, white, and brown shrimp.

Which is biologically distinct: Prawn or Shrimp?

Both have distinct biological features.

Is it easy to differentiate Prawn from Shrimp in dishes?

It can be challenging due to their similar taste and appearance.

Is there a significant flavor difference between Prawn and Shrimp?

Both have a similar, slightly sweet taste, but differences in texture.

Is there a price difference between Prawn and Shrimp?

It can vary, but large prawns are often pricier.

Is Shrimp considered a staple in any national cuisine?

Yes, in various cuisines, like Cajun cooking in the USA.

What body structure does a Shrimp have?

Shrimp have a more curved body and larger front pincers.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons