Seafood is a delicacy well-liked among various cuisines that many people enjoy. Even seafood with toxic properties â€”such as certain blowfishâ€” is prepared by many.
The most popular culinary crustacean with an impressive nutrition profile is shrimp. It’s relatively low in calories, but provides great amounts of vitamins and minerals.
If you somehow can’t find shrimp in your local seafood stalls, one of the following will suffice:
Before we go into the full list of potential shrimp substitutes, let’s understand a bit more about this common cooking ingredient.
20 Best Substitutes for Shrimp
Shrimp are crustaceans under the shellfish family. They have minimal carbs but are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, and more [Source].
Shrimp is also notorious for its high cholesterol content, but studies show that it’s not harmful to most people.[
Source] Plus, compared to most food high in cholesterol, shrimp has minimal saturated fats.
Another downside to shrimp is that numerous people are allergic to it. Not only that, but there are vegetarians, vegans, or people who don’t prefer seafood at all.
So, if you’re planning to make a dish that includes shrimp, but is worried about guests with health conditions or specific preferences, try replacing it with any of the substitutes below:
Shrimps are crustaceans, so the majority from this family will be of similar taste and/or texture as shrimp. Crab meat is one of the shellfish substitutes for shrimp.
Its texture is a little tougher and flakier than shrimp, but it has the salty, slightly fishy taste that shrimp has. The contrast in texture can be enjoyable and works well with various dishes with shrimp, such as pasta or tacos.
Crabmeat replaces chopped shrimp best rather than whole shrimp. It doesn’t work well for those with an aversion to seafood, though.
A lobster’s sweet, classic taste â€”specifically its tailâ€” is a fantastic alternative to shrimp. This is since the tail is much more delicate compared to the other parts of a lobster.
Lobster tails have a sweet and buttery flavor, which means there is almost no difference in taste, allowing them to work well in recipes like scampi. Even though lobsters are on the more expensive side, they do well in recipes with shrimp.
If you happen to have a great shrimp recipe and no reactions to shellfish, try lobster tail instead of shrimps. It can be used to replace shrimp while following the constant volume in recipes.
A shellfish awfully identical to shrimp is prawns. The two are identical, but prawns are normally larger than shrimp.
They are usually found in freshwater, while shrimp reside in saltwater. However, their flavor and feel are incredibly comparable, as well as their cooking methods.
If you are in areas prone to having more prawns than shrimp, it’s a less expensive alternative. They are perfect in broth, and are nutritionally identical to shrimp.
Crayfish â€”a. k. a. crawfishâ€” is a great stand-in for shrimp for those not sensitive to shellfish. They give the impression of mini lobsters and have many names; crawdads, craydids, freshwater lobsters, etc.
Cooked crayfish have a mildly sweet, yet salty taste, and a consistency similar to shrimp. They’re also bite-sized and are a suitable alternative for shrimp in recipes like shrimp cocktails or shrimp pasta.
Crayfish have about the same amount of calories equivalent to shrimp but are lower in cholesterol. You may apply equivalent measurements of crayfish in place of shrimp in any recipe.
Tail parts of langostino are probably the best alternatives for shrimp. A langostino is a crustacean that appears to be a lobster, a prawn, and a crab together.
The looks, when cut, are almost completely identical to shrimp. The flavor and feel of langostino tails are like shrimp, which make them a seamless replacement for shrimp.
It has the mild sweetness and tenderness of shrimp, but its cholesterol levels are lower than shrimp. You can substitute shrimp with a consistent volume of cut langostino.
It can be an affordable alternative to other shellfish as the flavor and texture are really close to shrimps. Regrettably, if you’re sensitive to shellfish, this isn’t for you.
Mussels are mollusks, a branch of the shellfish family, but different from crustaceans. This can mean that shellfish-allergic people may be able to tolerate mussels if consumed [source].
Mussels are a good replacement for shrimp in recipes where they aren’t centered. You can substitute mussels for shrimp in dishes like rice, pasta, or other dishes with a lot of other ingredients.
Additionally, they are better used in recipes where the shrimp’s purpose isn’t for texture since they’re dissimilar in these aspects. Because their flavor is discreet, mussels are adaptable to recipes with a lot of flavors and spices around them.
Like mussels, shrimp can also be replaced by scallops. As scallops have a springy texture when prepared right, they make a fantastic shrimp substitute when it’s not the dish’s main characteristic.
They are very similar in terms of the sweet and buttery tones that make them so easy to season and prepare. In fact, you’ll get similar results when you cook scallops with the lemon-butter sauce that’s used on shrimp.
Those with shellfish sensitivities can enjoy this as scallops, like mussels, are mollusks. In fact, countless shellfish-allergic people can eat mollusks without issues [source].
Scallops are adaptable to any dish; whether you want them sautÃ©ed, fried, baked, or sliced and mixed with a sauce. They are meaty and thick, and are best chopped to substitute shrimp in a recipe using the same volume.
Cuttlefish and Squid
Cuttlefish and squid are part of the cephalopods family, which means they are completely safe for those with shellfish reactions. They’re very popular ingredients, especially in Japan and the Mediterranean areas.
If you need a shrimp substitute as part of complex dishes with plenty of other ingredients, squid and cuttlefish suffice. They’re great options since you can use both body and tentacles.
While they have a milder flavor and do not taste like shrimp, their cooking methods are versatile. Their mild, gentle flavor won’t overpower others, and they provide additional texture.
Surimi, a fish paste common in Asian cuisine, is a great shrimp replacement in a lot of recipes. Its feel and flavor are close to crab and shrimp, which makes this a fantastic replacement for shrimp.
It can be molded into countless different forms, but a popular form you’ll see in stores is that of imitation crabs. It can even be made to look exactly like shrimp!
Surimi has immense protein and costs less than most kinds of seafood. Just make sure to examine the label to verify that it has no shellfish or other ingredients that you may react to.
Clams, like mussels, are mollusks that are popular ingredients in a lot of different cultures in the world. Although clams have a unique taste and colors relative to the waters they live in, they are suitable enough to replace shrimp.
Clams are an adventurous take on shrimp for their pungent taste and silky texture. They might have more chew than expected, though.
Similarly, they provide many nutrients just like shrimp. The difference in taste still works well in most seafood dishes that don’t depend on the shrimp’s texture.
Fake Shrimp or Imitation Shrimp
Fake shrimp â€”a. k. a. imitation shrimp or vegan shrimpâ€” is one of the best shrimp substitutes for vegans. Its texture, taste, and form are very similar to authentic shrimp.
It is made of red algae, which are aquatic plant-like organisms that real shrimp eat, protein powder, and other aquatic plants for a similar sea-food flavor. The red algae give them their distinctive pink color.
Fake shrimp can replace shrimp in every recipe and can be prepared like real shrimp in soups, pasta dishes, stir-fries, or used for shrimp cocktails. They’re also comparable to actual shrimp in terms of nutrition.
An infallible option to replace shrimp for shellfish-sensitive people is chicken. Although it doesn’t taste like seafood, its texture can be very identical.
Both chicken and shrimp are versatile and adaptable to many methods of cooking. Most shrimp recipes apply various herbs, spices, and flavors, which also do well with chicken.
Just swap shrimp with the exact matching volume of chicken and cut it into strips if you want smaller bites. It takes a while longer to prepare than shrimp, but the end results are worth it.
Another surefire alternative to shrimp for shellfish-allergic people is whitefish. This includes pollock, cod, halibut, flounder, and the like.
Calories also vary, depending on the fish, but generally, fishes are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are high in selenium.
In terms of replacing shrimp, they’re best in stir-fries, pasta, and complex or larger dishes. They’re part of the seafood family, but the taste and texture won’t be exactly identical.
There is a lot of whitefish to choose from, but it’s important to consider the flavor profiles of the fish you want to use. It’s advised that you cook the fish fillet before prepping it for your dish.
King Oyster Mushrooms
If you want a vegan or vegetarian substitute to shrimp, king oyster mushrooms are a wonderful option! These mushrooms are thick with textures akin to that of shrimp, and work best in stir-fries and soup.
King oyster mushrooms are quite nutritious and are almost effortless to prepare. After washing and cutting, throw the mushrooms into a pot or pan as they easily pick up the flavors they’re cooked with.
Another great way to enjoy these mushrooms like shrimp is by breading and frying them. They won’t taste like shrimp, but they’re great snacks when you have some left over.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms, like king oyster mushrooms, are vegan/vegetarian replacements for shrimp. When dried, the umami flavor of these mushrooms increase.
They’re also just like king oyster mushrooms in terms of preparation. However, these mushrooms have a stronger taste.
If you want to spice up your dish with a savory flavor, dried shiitake mushrooms are great ingredients to try.
Tofu is a classic vegan/vegetarian substitute for a lot of meat in a ton of dishes. In terms of replacing shrimp, they are applicable to countless recipes as long as you use soft tofu.
Soft tofu has a texture comparable to shrimp and is as versatile as shrimp. It also has a mild taste, so you don’t need to worry about it ruining the dish.
Like king oyster mushrooms, they are very simple to prepare. Just drain your soft tofu, cut it into cubes, and throw into your recipe to absorb the flavors they are cooked with.
Another vegan/vegetarian substitute for shrimp is sweet potatoes, which are excellent in the majority of shrimp recipes. However, if you want to use this, there are steps to do before cooking.
First, puree your sweet potatoes, and mix them with vegetable oil, garlic powder, paprika, and gluten flour. After mixing, flatten the dough, cut it into strips, and cook them so they puff up.
Use this vegan shrimp substitute in pasta, in cocktails, deep-fried, or stirred in sauces and you won’t be disappointed.
Sweet potatoes are a healthy, low-calorie, low fat, low cholesterol shrimp replacement. They’re full of vitamins and minerals that promote gut health, enhance brain function, and more [source].
Shrimp is not only cooked as part of a dish but can also be used for toppings and additional flavoring. Dried shrimp are shrimps that were dried, causing the shrimp to shrink since there’s no water left.
Dried shrimp are chewier and packed with flavor compared to regular shrimp. They’re a little salty and sweet, but full of umami flavor. Hence, they’re a great replacement for shrimp in terms of flavoring.
Because of this, they’re great for rice dishes, stir-fries, toppings in soups, stuffing in dumplings, or additional flavors in salads.
Dried Bonito Flakes
Japanese bonito flakes are fermented, dried bonito, or tuna with salt. They’re small pieces of very thin flakes that pack a lot of flavor.
They have a milder fish taste, but like dried shrimp, they have a great umami flavor. They’re best added to stocks, casseroles, or sprinkled over noodles for flavoring.
If you want to try something new, but with a very familiar taste, this is for you.