Difference Between Shrimp And Scallops

Shrimp and scallops are two tasty delights found in the ocean’s bounty. While novice seafood eaters may confuse one for the other, shrimp and scallops vary greatly. They boast different biological makeups, flavors, and textures. 

Shrimp is a crustacean with a mild, slightly sweet flavor and an al dente texture. In comparison, scallops are mollusks with a salty, sweet, buttery flavor and a tender texture. Shrimp has more protein, calories, and cholesterol, while scallops contain more fat, carbs, and sodium. 

Seafood lovers are in constant debate regarding which seafood is the tastiest. While shrimp and scallops may share recipes or be used interchangeably, they have differences worth noting. So, continue reading for the primary differences between shrimp and scallops. 

Difference Between Shrimp And Scallops

Shrimp and scallops have several distinct flavors that set them apart. Here’s a rundown of shrimp vs. scallops:

ClassificationCrustaceansMarine Bivalve Mollusks
AppearanceCooked shrimp curls into a C-shape and has an opaque white hue with pink and red accents.Saucer-or-fan-shaped shell with scalloped edges and white to cream flesh.
TasteMild flavor with slightly sweet and salty notesBriny, slightly sweet, and buttery flavor
TexturePerfectly cooked shrimp has a firm, almost al dente texture, while overcooked shrimp is rubbery and chewy.Well-cooked scallops have a firm yet tender texture, while overcooked scallops are tough and rubbery.
Nutritional ValueOn average, 100 grams or 3 ounces of cooked shrimp contains:
Calories: 99
Fat: 0.3g
Carbs: 0.2g
Cholesterol: 189mg
Sodium: 111mg
Protein: 24g  
On average, 100 grams or 3 ounces of cooked scallops contains:
Calories: 94
Fat: 1g
Carbs: 5g
Cholesterol: 41mg
Sodium: 667mg
Protein: 17g  
Cooking MethodsGrilled, pan-fried (sautéed), steamed, poached, smoked, roasted, deep-fried, or barbequed.Grilled, boiled, pan-fried (sautéed), broiled, baked, deep-fried, roasted, or barbecued.

Shrimp vs. Scallops: Appearance

Shrimp is found bountifully worldwide; however, it’s especially popular in the United States. Shrimp typically adapt to marine life, but some species can live in freshwater.

Shrimp are decapod crustaceans – they have ten legs and an exoskeleton. You can compare their appearance to a more petite version of prawns. However, their second shell segment overlaps the third segment, giving them a distinct bend or C-shape, and they have one pair of legs with claws at the end compared to prawns with three pairs of legs with claws. In addition, shrimp vary in size ranging from the size of a quarter to several inches long (jumbo shrimp).

For the home cook, shrimp are easy to source, can be purchased fresh or frozen, raw or cooked, and shell-on or peeled. Raw shrimp is initially gray and slightly translucent but turns into an opaque white hue with pink and red accents once cooked.

In comparison, scallops belong to the Marine Bivalve Mollusk family, similar to clams, mussels, and oysters. Scallops have a saucer-or-fan-shaped shell with scalloped edges. Inside the two-hinged shells is a white or creamy adductor muscle that we eat.

Home cooks can easily source scallops and purchase fresh, frozen, and wet or dry packages. However, scallops are pricier than shrimp.

There are essentially two scallop varieties – sea and bay scallops. Sea scallops, the more popular variety, are larger and more expensive. In comparison, bay scallops are smaller, cheaper, and have a sweeter taste.

Shrimp vs. Scallops: Taste & Texture

Shrimp’s flavor will vary based on environment, food, water temperature, and wild-caught or farm-raised. However, the overall base flavors are considered to be similar.

Raw shrimp is rich and elegant, with a sea salt aroma and spongy texture. But, then, shrimp has a less intense but similar taste to other seafood like crab, lobster, and crawfish when properly cooked. Essentially, shrimp boasts a soft, fragrant, and delicately sweet flavor.

The texture is firm and pleasantly chewy – you can describe the consistency as al dente. Despite its chewy texture, shrimp melts away in your mouth when correctly prepared.

Shrimp’s worldwide appeal is partially due to its versatility in dishes. It pairs well with various ingredients and takes on the other flavors in recipes.

On the other hand, when raw, scallops smell like the ocean but transform into a delicately sweet aroma with hints of saltiness. Properly prepared scallops are rich, briny, buttery, and slightly sweet.

Like shrimp, succulent scallops are delicious and take on other seasonings and flavors well.

Scallops boast a smooth, tender, and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Because of their similar flavors and textures, you can use shrimp and scallops interchangeably in recipes. Although slightly different, you’ll end with a mouth-watering dish. 

Shrimp vs. Scallops: Nutritional Properties

Shrimp and scallops are fantastic low-calorie, low-fat, and lean protein sources. In addition, both are excellent sources of trace minerals like selenium, zinc, and copper.

Shrimp Nutritional Properties

Shrimp is one of the best natural iodine food sources, an essential mineral required for brain health and proper thyroid function. In addition, shrimp is a fantastic omega-3 fatty acids source. However, shrimp often gets a bad reputation for its high cholesterol content (189 mg per 100g serving).

On average, 100 grams or 3 ounces of cooked shrimp contains:

  • Calories: 99
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Carbs: 0.2g
  • Cholesterol: 189mg
  • Sodium: 111mg
  • Protein: 24g

Scallops Nutritional Properties

Scallops are rich in vitamin B12, a nutrient that supports heart health and metabolic functioning. Scallops also contain high levels of magnesium and potassium.

On average, 100 grams or 3 ounces of cooked shrimp contains:

  • Calories: 94
  • Fat: 1g
  • Carbs: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 41mg
  • Sodium: 667mg
  • Protein: 17g

How To Cook Shrimp?

Shrimp is straightforward to prepare and takes little to no time to turn into a tender, succulent piece of meat.

You can purchase peeled and deveined shrimp or remove the shell and vein at home. Then choose one of the following cooking methods best suited for your dish.

  • Grilled
  • Pan-fried (sautéed)
  • Steamed
  • Poached
  • Smoked
  • Roasted
  • Deep-fried
  • Barbequed

Remember to first defrost frozen shrimp before preparing it. In addition, consider adding shrimp shells into broths and soups for a ton of flavor.

How To Cook Scallops

Scallops only take several to cook. So, you need to be careful that you don’t overcook them to prevent tough and rubbery scallops.

First, remove and discard the coral-colored roe and remove the white muscle from the shell. Prepare the rest of the dish beforehand, as scallops take around three to four minutes to cook and must be served immediately.

The best way to prepare scallops is by pan-searing them. However, other options include the following:

  • Grilled
  • Boiled
  • Broiled
  • Baked
  • Deep-fried
  • Roasted
  • Barbecued
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Shrimp and scallops are somewhat similar in dishes, lending a rich, mildly sweet flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

You can use these two ingredients interchangeably in recipes despite their differences. In both cases, preparation and timing are essential when cooking them to prevent a rubbery texture.