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Prawn vs Crawfish: What’s the Difference?

Have you recently stumbled upon prawns and crawfish in recipes but don’t know the difference between them? You’re not alone.

Knowing the subtle differences between these two crustaceans can help you make an informed decision next time you find yourself at the fishmonger.

Let’s dive into the difference between prawns and crawfish.

What is Prawn?

Prawn is a type of seafood that is commonly consumed around the world.

It belongs to the family of shellfish and is highly prized for its taste and texture.

Prawns can be found in various sizes and colors, but they are generally characterized by their elongated bodies, with long antennae and sharp claws.

As you can see from the table above, prawns belong to the family of shellfish, are characterized by their elongated bodies, come in various sizes and colors, and are highly prized for their taste and texture.

In terms of culinary usage, prawns are primarily used as an ingredient in various dishes such as soups, stews, curries, salads, and stir-fries.

They can be cooked using a variety of methods including boiling, grilling, frying or baking.

When it comes to eating prawns it is important to note that they should be properly cleaned before cooking to eliminate any harmful bacteria that may be present on the shell.

Additionally, it is best to avoid overcooking them as this can result in tough meat.

What is Crawfish?

Crawfish or crayfish is a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster.

They are also known as mudbugs, yabbies, and crawdads depending on the region.

Crawfish are an important part of many cultures and cuisines around the world, especially in regions like the southern United States where they are caught and consumed in large quantities.

When discussing crawfish, it’s important to note that they differ from prawns in several key ways.

For example, while both are crustaceans with multiple legs and antennae, prawns tend to be larger and are typically found in saltwater environments.

Additionally, crawfish have a more aggressive appearance with their oversized claws and segmented bodies.

Overall, understanding the differences between crawfish and prawns can help you choose the right type of seafood for your next meal or culinary creation.

Differences Between Prawns and Crawfish

Prawns and crawfish are two different types of freshwater crustaceans, but there are some notable differences between them.

Here, we will discuss the various physical and behavioral characteristics that distinguish these creatures from one another.

Prawns mainly live in saltwater habitats such as oceans or seas, while crawfish are predominantly freshwater creatures found in rivers or swamps.

The body shape of prawns is linear, sleek and slender, whereas crawfish have a curved shape with a noticeable hump on their back.

When it comes to size, prawns generally have medium-sized front claws that they use for feeding and defense.

Conversely, crawfish have larger pinchers that they employ for similar purposes.

Prawns also tend to have shorter legs than crawfish; however, their legs are usually thicker in proportion to their body size.

In contrast, crawfish possess longer legs that can be thin in comparison.

Finally, there is a distinction between the antennae of prawns and those of crawfish.

Prawns have straight antennae with little curvature or bend, while the antennae of a crawfish curve sensuously over its head region.

In summary, these subtle yet distinct differences help us differentiate between prawns and crawfish.

While they may appear similar at first glance due to their crustacean origins, once you take a closer look at each creature’s features – like body shape, claws, legs and antennae – it becomes evident that they are indeed two separate species.

Appearance and Size

Prawns and crawfish may look somewhat similar at first glance, but there are distinctive differences in their appearance and size.

Let’s take a closer look at the table below to understand the variations between these two crustaceans.

Prawns have a sleek elongated shape with a flattened abdomen, while crawfish has a rounded shell that is often hump-backed.

Also, prawns have ten slender legs that extend from their body while crawfish has eight walking legs plus two large claws.

Although both crustaceans have antennae on their heads used for sensing their environment, prawns’ antennules and antennae are longer, thicker and more whip-like compared to those of the crawfish.

When it comes to size, prawns are generally larger than crawfish in length measuring between six to sixteen inches while crawfish tends to be smaller about three-eight inches.

In terms of coloration, both creatures come in various shades like brownish-green or grey-brown for freshwater species giving them camouflage capabilities.

Saltwater varieties may possess blue-black hues or bright red colors when cooked.

However, some recognizable physical features differentiate one from the other.

So far we talked about what distinguishes them by mere sight.

Read further ahead to know much interesting facts about these creatures.

Habitat and Distribution

Prawns and crawfish are two different crustaceans that thrive in distinct habitats.

Prawns can be found in fresh, brackish, or saltwater environments worldwide, including oceans, rivers, lakes, and even farm ponds.

They tend to inhabit sandy or muddy bottoms and prefer warmer temperatures with a pH range between 7.



Crawfish, on the other hand, primarily live in freshwater bodies such as rivers, streams, swamps, and wetlands throughout the world.

They prefer to be in water sources with low to moderate flow rates and a pH range of 6.



Prawns are known for their adaptability in various aquatic environments from coastal regions to deep seas while crawfish tends to stay closer to shallow freshwater bodies like ponds and swamps.

Both have an extensive distribution range around the world with prawns commonly found in Asia-Pacific regions while crawfish is widely distributed across North America.

Taste and Texture

When it comes to taste and texture, prawns and crawfish differ quite a bit.

Prawns are known for their sweet, delicate flavor that can be enhanced with various seasonings and spices.

They have a firm texture that is slightly chewy but not tough, making them a popular seafood option.

Crawfish, on the other hand, have a distinct flavor that can be described as slightly earthy or muddy.

Some people find this flavor unappealing while others enjoy it.

Additionally, the texture of crawfish meat is much softer than that of prawns, with some people describing it as almost mushy.

Overall, when choosing between prawns and crawfish in terms of taste and texture preference, it really comes down to personal preference.

Some people may prefer the sweeter taste and firmer texture of prawns while others enjoy the unique earthiness of crawfish meat.

Nutritional Value

When it comes to seafood, many people are curious about the nutritional value of their favorite dishes.

In this section, we will analyze the nutrient content of prawns and crawfish to see which one is more beneficial for our bodies.

Prawns have slightly higher calories, total fat, and cholesterol than crawfish.

However, prawns also provide more protein per serving compared to crawfish.

Both prawns and crawfish are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have numerous health benefits such as reducing inflammation in the body and improving heart health.

In addition to protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both shellfish contain important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12 and selenium that can help support overall health.

Overall, both prawns and crawfish can be included in a healthy diet due to their high nutrient content, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference when deciding between the two.

Culinary Uses and Preparation Methods

Prawns and crawfish might look similar, but they have different cooking techniques.

As you can see from the table above, both prawns and crawfish can be grilled, broiled or fried either deep or shallow.

Both require boiling before consumption.

However, baking is only possible with prawns that are typically stuffed before being baked whereas crawfish cannot be baked due to their small size.

It’s important to handle shellfish with care when preparing them as overcooking may result in the meat becoming tough in texture.

They must be cooked for just the right amount of time until their natural juices start flowing out.

When cooking live crawfish, it is essential to cleanse them thoroughly first by soaking them in salted water for at least 20-30 minutes.

This helps in removing any mud, debris or unwanted odours from them.

Overall, whether grilling or boiling your prawns or crawfish, make sure to not overdo it and cook them till they’re just perfectly done.

Popular Prawn and Crawfish Dishes

When it comes to preparing seafood, prawns and crawfish are two of the most versatile options.

There are numerous types of dishes that one can create with them, ranging from appetizers to main courses.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular prawn and crawfish dishes out there.

To begin with, boiled crawfish is a quintessential dish that is especially popular in southern states like Louisiana.

It involves seasoning crawfish in hot water along with potatoes, corn on the cob, and other vegetables to create a flavorful mix.

In contrast, prawn cocktails are usually served as an appetizer or starter course at dinners or parties.

They consist of boiled prawns tossed in cocktail sauce made from ketchup, horseradish cream, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.

Another popular prawn dish is garlic butter prawns which have become an all-time favorite for seafood lovers around the world.

It consists of succulent jumbo tiger prawns pan-fried in butter and chopped garlic cloves until tender and coated evenly in garlic butter sauce.

Moving on to crawfish étouffée which is another Southern-style specialty comprising chopped onions, celery, green bell pepper sautéed in a roux of flour & butter which forms a base for the dish then crawfish tails are added as well as seasonings such as paprika, thyme leaves & cayenne pepper until cooked perfectly considering its thickness whereas Prawn stir-fry is yet another classic recipe that involves quickly sautéing prawns with vegetables like bell peppers and zucchini.

In summary, these dishes only scratch the surface when it comes to what you can do with these sea creatures.

From po’boys to curries and crevices stuffed with crab legs or lobsters – there are endless possibilities.

How to Buy and Store Prawns and Crawfish?

When it comes to buying and storing prawns and crawfish, there are a few things to keep in mind.

For starters, you want to make sure that you’re getting the freshest seafood possible.

This means looking for live prawns or crawfish, if possible, or purchasing frozen options instead.

When choosing live prawns or crawfish, you want to look for lively animals with clear eyes and intact shells.

It’s also important to keep them as cool as possible until you’re ready to cook them.

For storing prawns or crawfish at home, it’s best to keep them on ice in a cooler or refrigerator.

If they’re already cooked, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Overall, the key is to make sure that your prawns or crawfish are as fresh as possible before cooking them.

By following these guidelines for buying and storing seafood, you can ensure that your dishes turn out delicious every time.


To conclude, it is clear that prawns and crawfish have several differences in their appearance, taste, texture, and habitat.

While both are highly nutritious and versatile seafood options that can be used in a variety of recipes, they are not interchangeable.

It is important to understand how to purchase and store them properly to ensure the best quality and flavor.

As seen in the table below, prawns are generally larger and have longer antennae than crawfish.

They are also found in a wider range of habitats and tend to have a milder flavor than crawfish.

On the other hand, crawfish have smaller bodies and tend to be more flavorful and slightly sweeter than prawns.

They are also typically found in freshwater environments.

Prawn vs Crawfish: What’s the Difference?

Andrew Gray
Wondering about the distinctions between Prawn and Crawfish? We've got the answers! Explore the differences between these two crustaceans to inform your seafood choices.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course This vs That
Servings 1 Serving


  • Prawn
  • Crawfish


  • Choose between two items based on your preference and availability.
  • Follow the cooking directions for your chosen option, using the appropriate ratio of ingredients.
  • Prepare it according to your desired recipes.
  • Incorporate them into your dish, adjusting the amount to suit your taste.
  • Enjoy the unique taste experience and experiment with different dishes to explore their versatility.
Keyword Prawn vs Crawfish
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