Can you eat prawns without deveining?

In this brief blog, we are going to answer the question, “Can you eat prawns without deveining?”We will also discuss why it’s okay to eat prawns without deveining and whether you can eat the shells of prawns. We will also look at a step wise guide on how to devein prawns.

Can you eat prawns without deveining?

Yes, you can eat prawns without deveining. This entirely depends if you are easily grossed out or can put up with eating that visible digestive tract. Deveining prawns is all a matter of personal preference and aesthetics since veins are not harmful at all to the human body if eaten.

If you find the veins to be quite visible and pronounced, it’s best to devein for a much cleaner look. Larger prawns can also have darker and grittier veins, this can give them an unappealing texture. This is why most people would prefer to devein to make them appealing. If the veins are not very apparent, or if you have very small prawns then it does not sense wasting time with a time consuming exercise of deveining.

The vein you see is usually the digestive tract of the prawn. The dark color in the prawns are grit i.e. food stuff that were consumed by the prawn before it was caught or harvested from a farm. It usually contains prawn waste, as well as partially digested food.

Why is it okay to eat prawns without deveining?

The vein or digestive tract of prawns will mostly contain bacteria in it. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and make you ill if you consume the prawns raw. So, if you are planning to eat raw prawns, it is in your best interest for you to devein because any bacteria present can be ingested and make you sick.

On the other hand, if you intend on cooking your prawn  either by stewing, sauteing, grilling, or steaming then it is perfectly safe to eat the veins.This is because the heat will kill all bacteria in the vein that can make you sick. 

If you are consuming raw prawn, it is recommended that you completely clean them with potable water and devein them so that they are safe. Also, note that prawns are categorized as perishable foods. This means they need to be refrigerated or frozen accordingly and not left at room temperature for a long time as toxins can build up in them. 

If you don’t  devein prawn you will tend to find that it tastes a little bit different. This is because of the presence of the waste and grit in the digestive tract as earlier mentioned. In this case it is good if you dip your prawn in some seasoning.

How do you devein prawns?

Prawns can sometimes be a pain to clean and devein, let’s look at a step-by-step guide on how to peel and devein prawns.

Step 1:

To peel prawns, you need to remove the head and legs. Then proceed to peel the shells from the prawns. You can then squeeze the tail to remove it from the body.

Step 2:

To devein a prawn, use a small sharp knife to make a slit along the middle of the back to expose the dark vein then pull it out.

Step 3:

To devein a prawn without having to cut through the back, just pull the vein through the opening at the head end.

If you find that to be too much work, there are deveined prawns that you buy frozen from the store. You can then cook this without the troubles and worries of the natural grit present in the prawn’s digestive system.

After handling prawn make sure to wash your hands with soap because the natural bacteria in their digestive tract can spread out in your kitchen.

Can you eat the shells of prawns?

Some people do not enjoy eating the shells of prawns largely because of its slightly hard and crunchy exterior, however it’s also perfectly fine to eat the shells. Not removing the shells of prawns also helps protect the tender flesh of the prawn. Take care not to overcook the prawn because the shells can get hard and rubbery when they are overcooked.

Other FAQs about Prawns that you may be interested in.

Can you eat defrosted prawns without cooking?

Can you cook king prawns frozen?

Can you cook frozen prawns


In this brief blog, we have answered the query,”Can you eat prawns without deveining?” We have also discussed why it’s okay to eat prawn without deveining and whether you can eat the shells of prawns. We have briefly looked at a step wise guide on how to devein prawns.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.