Health Sabz

Are Prawn Crackers Really Vegetarian?

Food product containing low fat and sugar contents is known as a ‘cracker’ on the basis of their fermentation they include saltines, cream crackers, soda crackers and modern snack crackers.

There are different colors, and flavors of snack crackers like vegetable, salty, chicken, fish, rice, masala, paprika, cheese, and some are decorated with black seeds and sesame. They are thick in texture but quite crispy and flaky to eat. Some of them are famous globally, like prawn crackers.


Prawn chips are deep-fried umbrella-shaped snacks mostly white in color and are popular in Southeast, East Asian cuisine for their nutritious value and puffiness. They are traditionally associated with Indonesia and Malaysia.

In Indonesia, they are named as ‘krupuk udang’ while in Malaysia they are known as ‘keropok’ Prawns are aquatic crustaceans and are salty. These crackers are not vegetarian as it generally contains 21-38% prawn meat.


An average portion of prawn crackers (104 grams) contains 608 calories which are almost a third of an adult’s daily recommended food intake. One cracker (3g) contains:

  • 0.1 g protein
  • 1.8 g Carbs (46%)
  • 16 calories
  • 0.9 (52%) fat contents

It is starchy but beyond the energy of these carbohydrates provides little other nutrition.


The ingredients of prawn cracker are only three; Tapioca starch, water and prawn meat. Tapioca comes from the roots of the cassava plant, Manihot esculenta, also known as yuca tuber.

It is a staple food in tropical regions of Africa and Asia often used to make flatbreads. Tapioca was first cultivated in the north of South America. It is often used to provide texture and moisture with the gluten-free property.

Prawn Crackers

Tapioca is used as a staple food, and root tuber is toxic to humans if eaten in raw form as it causes coeliac disease and causes inflammation, so it’s better to cook it fully in order to get health benefits. There are different brands of these crunchy crackers. The ingredients for Tesco and Waitrose Prawn crackers are given below:

Ingredients for Tesco prawn crackers are

  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Tapioca Flour
  • Prawn (7%).

Prawns play a limited role in the end product.

Ingredients in Waitrose prawn crackers are

  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Tapioca Starch
  • Pasteurized Egg
  • Prawn (21%)

From a health conscious point of view, prawn crackers are non-vegan as they firstly contains prawns and secondly inclusion of eggs make them double non-vegan. In addition, prawn crackers are not available in super markets but one can get in takeaway or restaurant.

Malaysian, Thai and Indonesians restaurants serve orange prawn cracker that are spicy and not vegetarian. Some spice free recipes are found in Chinese takeaways.

Fortunately few of them are vegan snacks and are vegetarian alternative to prawn crackers, Deliciously Ella, are labeled as vegan with a plant based ingredients like;

  • Cassava flour
  • Rice flour
  • Corn flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Wholegrain rice flour
  • Beetroot flour
  • Fried rosemary

Another alternative is Tesco Thai spicy cracker and list includes; cassava starch, rapeseed oil, sugar, leek, red chilli, salt, white pepper extract, ginger powder, turmeric powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika carrot and black pepper extracts.

This vegan-friendly snack is a mixture of three different crackers One bag of 60 gram gives 96kcal comprising 4.3g fat (6%) with 2.1g sugar and 0.4g salt .

Easy bean is also a vegan friendly snack, its 100% natural ingredients are;

  • Red lentil flour
  • Rice flour
  • Maize flour
  • Oatmeal (gluten free)
  • Fava bean flour
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Blue poppy seed

These are handmade crackers made up of assortment of flours.


Prawn crackers can easily be made in restaurants and home by using three ingredients, as mentioned above. Ingredients are 500g tapioca flour, 500g prawns, one teaspoon salt to taste, oil for frying, one teaspoon baking powder and optional spices like ginger, pepper etc. The method is given below:

  • Forming the dough: The first step is to clean the prawns with water and then peel them after that make a paste from this and add equal amounts of tapioca starch and processed prawn meat (or shrimp) together in a food processor with a little bit of salt and water, mixing baking soda will help in producing puffiness in crackers.

Additional seasoning is optional. (If the dough is dry add water or little flour or prawns paste) Take the dough and with light hands turn it into a log- shapes.

  • Cooking the dough: Steam the log-shaped dough into a bamboo steamer lined with parchment paper, after one hour the color of the dough changes and turn into a rubbery texture
  • Slicing the crackers: Allow the logs to be cool down a bit, then slice the crackers evenly and gently with a knife.
  • Drying the crackers: Slices of crackers are dried in the sun or in an oven at low heat setting so that they can be stored for later purposes.
  • Frying the crackers: The last step is to fry these dried disks in a vegetable oil of 180ºC temperature crackers will puff up and fold themselves before opening up completely They will start to float and enlarge in size with a sizzling voice with a nice white color they can be removed from the oil by using a strainer or tongs.

When all the required crackers are fried put them on a plate lined with tissue or paper towels to help absorb any excess oil once cooled they are ready to serve, some recipes also include colors to make them attractive.

Many varieties of prawn crackers can be prepared in a microwave oven (baking) in which sliced discs can be cooked in a minute.

They expand in a similar way, but they have to be consumed within hours before they lose there crispiness. This method is ideal for vegetarians as the crackers are not oily.


Prawn crackers are not vegetarian. Only the homemade prawn crackers are vegan friendly. There are some vegetarian recipes including easy-peasy crackers which are gluten free and the end product is crunchy with a touch of rosemary and garlic spices.

Fake twins tastes like real krupuk as rice paper curls looks similar to prawn crackers. It is recommended for vegetarian’s to check the ingredients label of favorite brand before buying.

All brands have 99% prawns in them. Instead of looking out vegan friendly and gluten free recipes in restaurants and takeaways it is recommended to enjoy a snack with an afternoon tea by making it at home.

In UK many people probably think of prawn crackers associated with Chinese food but in fact it is originated in Indonesia for about hundreds of years and is also a part of South America. Sea food including fish, shrimps, crab lobsters are sea animals and are not vegetarian.

Prawn crackers are low in fiber compared with other crisps. It’s a keto-friendly food. They must be avoided by weight conscious people.


Q. Are prawn crackers gluten-free?

Prawn crackers made in tapioca starch or coated in gluten-free potato starch, cornflour, rice flour and besan flour are all safe to eat for a vegan. If the seasoning includes soy (oyster sauce and hoisin sauce) cheese and coating of wheat flour, then they contain gluten.

Prawn crackers are gluten-free if they are fried separately in oil. But if they are fried in the same contaminated oil as battered fish, wheat noodles and soy sauce, then they are not ideal for vegan as cross-contamination makes them unsuitable for vegans.

‘Tesco Thai spicy cracker mix’ not clearly prawn crackers but are vegan friendly served in Thai restaurants.


Q. Are takeaway prawn crackers vegetarian?

There are many different types of prawn cracker including bland, spice free versions typical in Chinese takeaways and are not typically vegetarian because of inclusion of eggs and coating of wheat flour.

Professional uncooked prawn crackers from Superfoods Express and Kang Mei (Vietnamese) prawn crackers from Golden Swan contain flavor enhancers (E621) in their ingredients list. Logically they are not vegetarian or vegan.


Q. Can vegetarians eat prawn crackers?

Traditionally speaking these crunchy prawn crackers are not vegan. There are no commercially available packaged vegan prawns available on the market. Many cocktail crisps, including Walkers.

Do not contain any prawns and can be eaten by vegetarian although product labelling mentions the use of milk in making crackers similarly with Mackie’s prawn cocktail crisps. Prawn substitute is a synthetic compound to replace the flavor. Even the Waitrose and Tesco prawn cracker is not vegetarian as ingredients include sugar and prawn itself.


Q. Are Chinese prawn crackers vegetarian?

Chinese prawn crackers are not vegetarian. They are also not vegan friendly. Inclusion of eggs and coating of whole grain wheat flour makes them less ideal for vegetarians. The portion of prawn crackers from a Chinese takeaway has a fat content not appreciated by vegetarians.


Q. How long do prawn crackers last?

The fried prawn crackers must be stored in an airtight container for up to three months without adding preservatives and for nine months with added preservatives.

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