What is Shrimp Called in Spanish? A Guide to Shrimp Vocabulary

As an avid food lover and amateur chef I’m always looking to expand my culinary horizons. Lately I’ve been experimenting more with seafood, particularly shellfish like shrimp. I find shrimp to be a very versatile ingredient that can be prepared in endless ways – grilled, fried, baked, curried, the list goes on. The only challenge is that different types and sizes of shrimp can have totally different names depending on if you’re shopping in an English or Spanish speaking country. As someone trying to cook authentic Spanish and Latin American dishes at home, it’s important for me to know the correct terms so I can buy the right ingredients.

After doing some research online, I found there can be regional variations in how shrimp are referred to in different Spanish speaking countries. Here’s a breakdown of the most common Spanish words and phrases for shrimp and prawns to help you navigate any Spanish or Latin American recipe, menu, or market!

General Terms for Shrimp

The most common translations for shrimp in Spanish are:

  • Camarón – This is the universal term used in all Spanish speaking countries to refer to a medium or small sized shrimp. When a recipe calls for just “shrimp” with no other descriptors, it’s safe to assume it means camarón.

  • Gamba – In most places, this refers to a larger, jumbo-sized shrimp In Spain specifically, gamba can be used to mean any size of shrimp

  • Quisquilla – A very small shrimp or prawn. This terms is used primarily in Spain.

  • Langostino – Similar to a large prawn. Most common in Latin America.

Shrimp Species and Sizes

Just like in English, Spanish has distinct terms for different species and sizes of shrimp. Here’s a rundown:

  • Camarón tigre – Tiger prawn. A large shrimp with black stripes.

  • Camarón blanco – White shrimp. Tends to be smaller and pale in color.

  • Camarón rojo / camarón rosado – Red shrimp / pink shrimp. Turns red when cooked.

  • Camarón jumbo / camarón gigante – Jumbo shrimp. Very large in size.

  • Camarón pop – Popcorn shrimp. Small bite-sized shrimp used for frying.

  • Camarón seco – Dried shrimp used to add flavor.

  • Camarón congelado – Frozen shrimp. Shrimp that has been previously frozen.

So if you see any of those descriptors combined with camarón, you’ll know exactly what type of shrimp the recipe or menu is calling for.

Common Ways to Prepare Shrimp

Now that we’ve covered the vocabulary for shrimp species and sizes, let’s go over how shrimp are prepared in Spanish cooking:

  • Camarones al ajillo – Shrimp in garlic sauce is a classic Spanish tapa.

  • Camarones al mojo de ajo – Another garlic shrimp dish from the Canary Islands.

  • Camarones al vapor – Steamed shrimp.

  • Camarones a la plancha – Shrimp cooked on a grill or griddle.

  • Camarones empanizados – Breaded fried shrimp.

  • Camarones al coco – Coconut shrimp.

  • Cóctel de camarones – Shrimp cocktail appetizer.

  • Ensalada de camarones – Shrimp salad.

  • Paella de marisco – Seafood paella with shrimp and other shellfish.

  • Arroz con camarones – Rice cooked with shrimp.

Next time you’re in a Spanish restaurant or browsing a Latin recipe site, this list will help decipher exactly what type of shrimp dish is being described.

Other Useful Shrimp Terms

Here are some other helpful shrimp-related words and phrases in Spanish:

  • Cabeza de camarón – Shrimp head. Used to make stock.

  • Cola de camarón – Shrimp tail. The edible part.

  • Camaronera – Shrimp farm where shrimp are raised.

  • Pescar camarones – To go shrimp fishing.

  • Pelar camarones – To peel and devein shrimp.

  • Mariscos – Seafood. Can include a variety of shellfish like shrimp.

  • Gambas – General term for prawns and shrimp in Spain.

  • Scampi – Langoustine or Dublin Bay prawn.

  • Crustáceo – Crustacean. Used to refer to shrimp and other shellfish.

Key Takeaways

  • The most common words for shrimp in Spanish are camarón, gamba, and langostino.

  • Be aware of regional differences – gamba in Spain isn’t always the same as gamba in Latin America.

  • Know the terms for sizes (jumbo), species (tiger), and preparations (garlic sauce).

  • Shrimp are a key ingredient in dishes like paella de marisco and cóctel de camarones.

what is shrimp in spanish

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¿Cuál es el plural de Shrimp?

shrimp o shrimps

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