The 15 Popular Types of Shellfish to Eat

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Seafood has been part of humans’ diet since the beginning of civilization started. Similarly, shellfish has been eaten by various cultures for centuries.

Shellfish are rich in lean protein, healthy fats, and minerals. In fact, when eating shellfish regularly, the immune system is boosted, and they help with weight loss and brain and heart health.

types of shellfish

However, shellfish is also one of the most common food allergens, and some types may contain contaminants and heavy metals. Therefore, before changing your diet, it is important to get a nutritionist’s advice.

Still, shellfish has developed as a gourmet food that often can be expensive. In fact, shellfish meals are one of the world’s most sought-after cuisines. So, check out below a review of the 15 types of shellfish everyone should try.

Top 15 Types of Shellfish to Eat

1. Shrimps


Shrimp is undoubtedly the most common and popular shellfish used in the kitchen. Generally, different types of shrimp are widely available. They are rather easy to prepare and delicious.

Furthermore, shrimp is one of the best shellfish types for individuals seeking a healthy diet since it is rich in protein and has minimal calories and fat.

Shimp can be prepared in various ways, including grilling, sauteing, frying, and boiling. They are a great addition to pasta dishes, salads, soups, seafood boils, or raw and cooked vegetables, fruit, and citrus flavors.

2. Oysters


Oysters have a distinctive, chewy feel, making them a top seafood choice. In fact, people often compare them to the ocean.

Oysters are a delicacy for many coastal cultures. You can enjoy them cooked or raw. However, if you are going to eat raw oysters, make sure to purchase them from a reputable source and are in peak season.

Nevertheless, you can cook oysters using various methods, including grilling, broiling, and frying. For a flavorful dish of oysters, pair them with an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar. This will help to enhance their briny flavor and make them even more delicious.

3. Crabs


Crabs are considered a delicacy in many cuisines across the world. And, although they take a bit of effort to enjoy, it is definitely worth it. Once you get past their hard surface, you’ll be rewarded with soft, tender meat.

Most of a crab’s meat is in the legs and claws, which can be extracted after boiling, roasting, steaming, or even grilling the crab. Popular types include king crab, which is famous for its large claws, and softshell crab.

You can use crab in salads, dips, sushi, and crab cakes. Also, crab lends itself beautifully to decadent dishes, like creamy pasta and melted butter.

4. Mussels


Mussels’ appearance may not be appealing, but they are easy to prepare since their shells open when fully cooked. They’re usually steamed in a flavorful broth or sauce. However, they need to be kept alive before they’re cooked, so they can only be refrigerated for a day or two.

Mussels are a common ingredient in both French and Italian dishes. Typically, mussels are served in red sauce or garlicky white wine sauce.

But generally, mussels have a slightly sweet and salty flavor that pairs well with bold flavors such as garlic, onions, and chilies. Also, you can have them cooked or raw and pair them with pasta or rice.

5. Lobsters


Lobster used to be so plentiful that only the poorest people ate it. However, nowadays, because of its delectable flavor and tender texture, it has become the most expensive and luxurious shellfish.

There are two types of lobster available, the American lobster and the spiny lobster. American lobster is the most popular type of lobster. It has large claws, which can be cooked and enjoyed whole.

Lobster is a versatile ingredient. It can be used in everything from soups to pasta to seafood boils. It pairs well with butter, lemon, and garlic.

6. Clams


In terms of texture, clams are similar to oysters. However, clams are perhaps the sweetest shellfish on the market. They have a rich flavor that delights everyone’s taste palette.

Clams are also very versatile, and you can use them in several dishes, from chowders to pasta. Clams can be enjoyed cooked or raw. In case you choose to cook them, steaming is the best method to bring out their natural sweetness.

To get the most flavor out of clams, add a bit of butter or olive oil while cooking. This will help release their natural juices and create a delicious sauce for your dish.

7. Scallops


Scallops are regarded as one of the healthiest seafood shellfish. They are ideal seafood for someone looking to lose weight. This is because scallops are low-fat, high-protein animals.

They have a slightly sweet flavor, so they are best when paired with bold and spicy flavors. Furthermore, they can be eaten cooked or raw, though most people prefer them cooked.

Scallops are best when they are slightly seared on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. That’s why when cooking scallops, it is essential to avoid overcooking, which makes them tough and rubbery.

8. Crayfish


A crayfish’s tail is similar to a lobster’s, making it sweet and succulent. But to taste its rich flavor, make sure to suck the liquids out of its body.

Generally, crayfish have a slightly sweet and salty flavor that pairs beautifully with bold flavors such as garlic, onions, and chilies. They make a delicious addition to soups, stews, and casseroles.

Still, crayfish are best enjoyed when cooked in a well-seasoned broth that penetrates the shells of the crayfish. Therefore, they are a favorite part of Cajun cuisine and are most commonly eaten in seafood boils.

9. Prawn


Often mistaken for shrimps, prawns are larger than shrimps and mostly found in freshwater. Prawns are one of the most exciting types of shellfish and are a common ingredient in many different types of cuisine.

Prawns have a moderately chewy texture with a sweet and somewhat salty flavor. They pair well with bold flavors such as garlic, ginger, and chilies.

You can enjoy prawns cooked or raw and use them in soups, stews, and stir-fries. Similarly, to most shellfish, when cooking prawns, it is essential to avoid overcooking them.

10. Octopus


Octopus is the less popular shellfish but has a delicate taste when used correctly. It is commonly used as an ingredient in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.

Octopus has a slightly chewy texture with a mild, sweet flavor and pairs well with bold flavors such as garlic, ginger, and chili peppers.

It can be enjoyed cooked or raw and is used in various dishes, from salads to pasta. However, when cooking octopus, it is essential not to overcook it, as this will make it tough and rubbery.

11. Squid


Squid, or calamari as it’s widely known, has many cooking ways to be enjoyed. It is a delight, so if you enjoy seafood, then squid is a must-try.

Squid has a slightly chewy but melt-in-your-mouth texture. It has a mild flavor that is reminiscent of the ocean.

You can enjoy squid cooked or raw. It pairs well with both light and bold flavors. Similar to octopus, when cooking squid, it is essential not to overcook it as this will make it harder to chew.

12. Cuttlefish


Cuttlefish would probably be the least known shellfish on the list, but it doesn’t make them any less exciting and delicious. Cuttlefish is a mollusk and fits right in the group with octopuses and squids.

Cuttlefish have a slightly chewy texture and a mild flavor. They pair well with light flavors, such as citrus and herbs, or bold flavors, such as garlic and chilies.

Cuttlefish must be cooked quickly at a high or low temperature and slow to tenderize the connective tissue. You can use cuttlefish in soups, stews, and stir-fries.

13. Snails (Conch)

Snails (Conch)

Snails are one of the most commonly overlooked types of shellfish because many people are put off by them. However, snails are a delicious and healthy seafood option.

Snails are a common delicacy in French cuisine due to their slightly chewy texture and mild flavor. They can be paired well with light and bold flavors.

Apart from common snails, several types of seafood snails can be used as ingredients in the kitchen. Some of them are conch and whelks. Both are best cooked by letting them simmer in a pot of stew or soup or smoke, bake, and grill them.

14. Abalone


Abalone may not be the go-to seafood for many people, but they have tasty flesh. Abalones can be eaten raw or cooked. They are mostly found in cold waters and are a cuisine for many coastal countries around this cold region.

Abalones are believed to help the human body by improving heart, liver, and spine functions. It also enhances vision and relieves muscle cramps. They also help to improve the function of the circulatory system.

Abalone is cooked by frying, braising, and boiling. The method of cooking would depend on the type of dish.

15. Barnacles


For many people, barnacles are nothing more than pests of the sea. These creatures stick to any structure they find, making them an absolute nuisance. However, the gooseneck barnacles are not only edible but also a culinary delight.

These gooseneck barnacles differ from other barnacles in size. They’re larger and have more edible meat. They can be eaten raw or cooked. However, it is most common to cook them, and specifically to be steamed or well-roasted.

Like all shellfish, these gooseneck barnacles are packed with protein and low-calorie benefits. In addition, as a great source of vitamins and iodine, they are nutrient-packed to deliver optimal health benefits to the body.

Read More: Is Seafood Halal? Can You Eat Shrimp, Octopus?


What Are the Types of Shellfish?

Shellfish refers to animals that dwell in water and have a shell or a shell-like body. They are divided into two groups, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Crustaceans include shrimp, crayfish, crab, and lobster, while mollusks include clams, scallops, oysters, and mussels.

Although most shellfish live in saltwater, there are also freshwater shellfish.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Seafood Shellfish?

Due to their rich nutrient content, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and zinc, shellfish can help with weight loss, boost the immune system, and promote brain and heart health.

Related: Is Seafood Good For You?

What Are the Most Common Methods of Cooking Seafood Shellfish?

Usually, shellfish are eaten steamed, baked, or fried. However, some shellfish, such as oysters and clams, can be eaten raw or partially cooked. Their flavor ranges from sweet to savory or subtle to delicate, depending on the type and cooking method.


Seafood shellfish is one of the world’s most proteinous and luxurious foods. Generally, seafood has become a staple diet for many coastal countries. But today, thanks to their nutrient content and rich flavors, they are widely known across the world.

Different shellfish species live in freshwater, saltwater, or both environments. With this guide covering the 15 best types of seafood shellfish, we hope you’re able to explore and taste wonderful shellfish meals.

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