7 Best Substitute For Shrimps

Shrimps Substitute

Shrimp are a culinary delight, adored for their sweet, delicate flavor and tender, succulent texture. They are a versatile ingredient, gracing dishes from pastas to stir-fries, salads to soups. Not only do they bring a unique taste to these dishes, but they also offer nutritional benefits with their high protein and low-fat content. However, situations may arise when you can’t, or prefer not to, use shrimp in your dishes. It could be due to dietary restrictions, allergies, or personal preferences.

In these circumstances, it becomes essential to identify substitutes that can mimic the unique attributes of shrimp and deliver a similar taste and texture. In this detailed guide, we aim to explore some of the best substitutes for shrimp, their applications, and their nutritional profiles. These alternatives range from other seafood to vegetarian and vegan options, thereby catering to a broad range of dietary needs. Each substitute is carefully selected for its ability to replicate the shrimp experience in various dishes, ensuring that your meals remain as delightful and satisfying as ever.

What are Shrimps?

Before diving into the substitutes, let’s understand what shrimps are. Shrimps are small, swimming, decapod crustaceans found abundantly in both fresh and saltwater. They are prized for their sweet, tender flesh and versatility in cooking. They’re used extensively in various cuisines around the globe and bring a unique, delicate flavor and texture to dishes. Shrimp are high in protein and low in fat, making them a nutritious choice for many. Now, let’s look at what can possibly stand in for these delightful creatures.

A Glimpse of Shrimp Substitutes

  • King Oyster Mushrooms
  • Scallops
  • Lobster
  • Surimi (Imitation Crab)
  • Tofu
  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
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Best Substitutes For Shrimps

Finding the right substitute for shrimp is all about mimicking their unique texture and flavor. Let’s delve into these substitutes and understand what each one brings to the table.

King Oyster Mushrooms

King Oyster mushrooms, also known as Eryngii, are a fantastic vegetarian substitute for shrimp. With a satisfyingly meaty texture and a subtle, umami-rich flavor, they can convincingly replicate the experience of eating shrimp.

The key to achieving this lies in the preparation. By slicing the mushrooms into thick pieces, marinating them in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, and seaweed flakes for that seafood hint, and then pan-frying them until golden brown, you can recreate a texture and taste remarkably close to that of cooked shrimp.

However, it’s worth noting that while King Oyster mushrooms can convincingly mimic the texture and general flavor profile of shrimp, they won’t carry an identical flavor. As such, they are best used in recipes where shrimp are not the sole star, but rather a component of a broader taste ensemble, like pasta dishes, stir-fries, or risottos.


If you aren’t restricted by a vegetarian or vegan diet and are merely looking for a seafood alternative, scallops can be an excellent choice. Scallops, when properly cooked, have a sweet, delicate flavor that can remind one of shrimp, and their firm yet tender texture provides a satisfying bite.

Scallops can be seared, grilled, or even poached, just like shrimp, making them an easy substitute in most shrimp recipes. However, keep in mind that scallops are generally larger than shrimp, which can impact cooking times and presentation. To use scallops as a substitute, try to source smaller scallops, such as bay scallops, which are closer to shrimp in size.

One significant advantage of scallops over shrimp is that they’re less prone to becoming rubbery when overcooked – a common concern when cooking shrimp. This makes them a more forgiving option for less experienced cooks.

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Lobster, another luxurious seafood, can also stand in for shrimp in many recipes. Like shrimp, lobster has a sweet, delicate flavor and a firm texture. It’s best suited as a substitute in dishes that call for whole shrimp, as the visual and textural similarity can be striking.

However, lobster is typically more expensive and can be more challenging to prepare, given the need to handle the shell. Lobster is best used as a shrimp substitute in special-occasion dishes where its rich, indulgent character can shine, like in a seafood risotto or a fancy salad.

Surimi (Imitation Crab)

Surimi, commonly known as imitation crab, is made from mild white fish, like Pollock, that’s been deboned, cooked, and formed into a shape to mimic shellfish, including crab and lobster. With its mild flavor and tender, slightly chewy texture, surimi can be a convincing stand-in for shrimp, especially in dishes where shrimp are chopped or shredded.

The convenience of surimi is a key advantage. It’s sold pre-cooked and ready to eat, making it an easy, no-prep substitute in dishes like seafood salads, pasta, or sushi rolls.


For those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, tofu can serve as an excellent shrimp substitute. Its mild flavor can absorb the other ingredients in a dish, making it adaptable to various recipes. The key to using tofu as a shrimp substitute is to choose the right kind for the dish you’re preparing.

Firm tofu can be marinated, grilled, stir-fried, or even battered and fried, much like shrimp. Silken tofu, on the other hand, can substitute for shrimp in soups or stews. Marinate tofu with seaweed flakes or kelp powder to provide a seafood-like flavor.

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Seitan, a protein-rich food made from wheat gluten, can be used as a shrimp substitute, especially in dishes where a firm texture is required. It has a slightly chewy, meaty texture, and like tofu, it’s a flavor sponge, absorbing the taste of whatever it’s cooked with.

While seitan doesn’t naturally have a seafood flavor, incorporating some creative seasonings like seaweed, lemon, and Old Bay can give it a convincing shrimp-like flavor. Seitan can be used as a shrimp substitute in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to pasta and salads.


Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian product made from fermented soybeans, is another plant-based option that can mimic the firm texture of shrimp. It has a distinct, nutty flavor that can blend well with various ingredients, especially when marinated well.

Tempeh can be cut into shrimp-like chunks, marinated in a seafood-like seasoning, and cooked in a variety of ways – grilled, baked, or stir-fried. It’s best used in dishes where the shrimp would typically be mixed in with a variety of other flavors, such as curries, stir-fries, or stews.

Substitutes for Shrimps: Nutritional Profile

Let’s compare the nutritional profile of these substitutes in a ¼ cup serving.

King Oyster Mushrooms222.3g0.3g4.2g1.6gGluten-free
Surimi806g1g13g0gContains Gluten
Seitan10421g0.5g4g0gContains Gluten

(Note: Nutritional values are approximate and can vary based on the specific brand and preparation.)

In Conclusion

When it comes to substituting shrimp in your cooking, there are many options to explore, from other seafood like scallops and lobster to plant-based alternatives like king oyster mushrooms, tofu, seitan, and tempeh. Each substitute has its unique characteristics and can bring its own flavor and texture to your dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the perfect shrimp substitute for your culinary creations. Happy cooking!

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