When I was young, I loved shrimp, crab and lobster. Sometime in my twenties, I started to develop a mild allergic reaction to them (i.e. tingling in the throat), so I have for the past years been avoiding them. Once in a while I will steal a spoonful of my wife's seafood bisque, but that's about as far as I will push it.

Last week I read a recipe for Shrimp Scampi, and that got me thinking about how I could make it without shrimp. My first thought was to use imitation crab, which I can eat with no problem.

Does anyone have any suggestions for substitutions for shrimp for those with shellfish allergies?

  • Also useful for kosher substitution -- interesting question!
    – Erica
    Mar 26 '15 at 10:45

10 Answers 10


Use a vegetarian alternative! I just ran across these recently myself, and I am finding the idea really intriguing. Not sure how they compare in flavor or texture, so your mileage may vary... http://www.vegecyber.com/cgi-bin/vege_item.cgi?detail=10416

enter image description here

(photo by Rainer Zenz, source)

Asian cultures have figured out how to make vegetarian and mock meats of all kind, since buddhism and vegetarianism in general is so common in their parts of the world. I love the diversity of it all.

  • I hadn't thought of going the vegetarian route. Thanks.
    – jwernerny
    Mar 29 '11 at 17:26
  • 4
    Yeah, be careful with that. Just as secular "vegetarians" have different levels of strictness (and reasons), so do religious ones. Plenty of (Asian) people consider themselves 'vegetarian' even if they eat fish (like elsewhere); even among those who won't eat fish, many would eat fish sauce (or oyster sauce).
    – hunter2
    Jul 16 '13 at 6:44

Surimi, sold as imitation crab and sometimes shaped to look like chunks of lobster or even whole shrimp, can be a great substitute for shellfish in a number of recipes, but be aware that, if choosing it for reasons of allergy, many brands actually contain some crabmeat. There is a kosher surimi available, marketed under the dyna-sea brand, that is absolutely shellfish free in order to comply with Jewish dietary laws that forbid the use of shellfish.

  • Fake crabmeat is easy to find in most US grocery stores, next to frozen fish. Aug 19 '17 at 23:38

I would substite king oyster mushrooms or even shitake mushrooms. It doesn't have to be fake meat, right? Try bite sized chicken breast pieces or Japanese eggplant.


You can also buy a shrimp version of the imitation crab--both are examples of what the Japanese call surimi. If you google "kosher imitation shrimp" you will find sources.


I am also allergic, and have been searching for alternatives. So far I have found seafood extender which I believe is white bait based. It's been 30+ years since I've had shrimp/lobster, so I can't guarantee how much it tastes like shrimp, but doesn't cause a reaction for my allergy.


Just boil some eggs take out the yokes and drop them in the gumbo just before it's finished. Instant heart healthy shrimp.


Many people on here mention product sold in stores that resemble crab or shrimp. These items are generally made with pollock. That in itself is fine, HOWEVER, if you read the package they still use some small amount of the item they resemble to flavor it. If you are allergic to shellfish, this is not a good substitute! I personally use a firm fish of some kind (pollock, cod, haddock, halibut). While they won't taste like shrimp, they are delicious.

  • Good remark, but it is more a comment than a answer.
    – user34961
    Aug 21 '17 at 8:01

I called an imitation crab company to ask if there was crab meat in the product and they said there was. Perhaps you should call the manufacturer on the package and you will find out.

  • 1
    Hi Bunny and welcome to the site! Your answer doesn't help the person who asked the question, so I'm afraid I have to give you a downvote (because the answer is not helpful). But don't feel discouraged though! If you edit it in a good way, I might turn that downvote into an upvote.
    – Mien
    Jul 15 '13 at 19:51
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    @Mien This might've been better as a comment and/or with a link/details, but I disagree that it's "not helpful" - folks trying to avoid shellfish (like the OP) might find this to be a very pertinent warning. ... Typed that before I looked at the edit history. I see your point. // Bunny, if you can provide verification of what you're saying (and stick to an SE-appropriate style of writing), this could be useful. Not strictly relevant to the Question, but a worthwhile tangent, at least.
    – hunter2
    Jul 16 '13 at 6:38

If you are only allergic to shell fish but not all fish, you could try Swai... It's not fishy at all and has a shrimpy taste. My son is allergic to shellfish but loves shrimp and I use it as an alternative to his favorite shrimp dishes.

  • Good for scallop substitute also.
    – ninarie87
    Mar 22 '15 at 3:27

My husband has a shellfish allergy (particularly crustaceans) and I enjoy substituting scallops where I might otherwise have shrimp.

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