Are Prawn Crackers Vegetarian?

prawn crackers in a bowl

The krupuk, keropok,or simply prawn cracker… it looks, feels and tastes funny. 

And today’s question is: Are prawn crackers vegetarian? 

Considering the name, you might think this is a silly question. But in a world where brands like Beyond Meat exist, nothing is impossible!

Sooo, have some clever minds created vegan prawn crackers yet? Or do all prawn crackers actually contain prawns?

Well sorry to start on a downer, but they all contain actual prawns. Therefore, prawn crackers aren’t vegetarian!

As far as our research goes, there are currently no prawn crackers brands in the UK market with vegetarian/vegan labels on their packaging. In any case, when in doubt, the ingredients list provides better proof of whether your favourite snack is vegetarian or not. 

Anyway, we took a step further to explore some popular prawn crackers brands and included some great vegan alternatives!

Psssst, we’ve also added 2 recipes to make your own vegetarian alternative to prawn crackers. Must try!  

Traditional prawn crackers: origins and ingredients

“Are chinese prawn crackers vegetarian?” – Asked the well-meaning tourist.

“For krupuk’s sake!” – Answered the owner of that cute restaurant in Ubud, Bali.

We need to clarify something. Prawn crackers are not from China, even though you probably get them from your local Chinese takeaway.

In fact, their origin is not so clear, but experts credit Malaysia and Indonesia for the invention of that tongue-melting snack.

Now that this is said, let’s tackle the ingredients list of the traditional prawn cracker. 

Actually, only 3 ingredients are to be found inside this popular snack:

  • Prawn meat (generally 21-38%) 
  • Water
  • Tapioca flour, from cassava.  

Traditionally speaking, the prawn crackers with origins in Asia are not vegan or vegetarian. But at least, they are free of some of the unhealthy ingredients you can find in some of the popular krupuk brands (see below).

The state of your main prawn crackers options

At the time of writing this article, the highest probability is that you’ll not find any vegetarian option of prawn crackers in your local supermarket or Chinese restaurant.

Vegetarian prawn crackers Tesco, is that a thing?

No, Tesco prawn crackers are not vegetarian. 

Tesco’s prawn crackers ingredients list has: 

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Tapioca starch
  • 7% prawn meat (crustaceans)

The labeling on the snacks package clearly states that the snack is made using warm water prawns. And, from the ingredients list, it’s clear that a small percentage of the crackers is really prawn meat. 

What about Waitrose Prawn Crackers?

Waitrose certainly gets the award for the LEAST vegan prawn crackers in this article.

Let’s narrow down the ingredients list:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • Tapioca starch 
  • Sugar 
  • Salt 
  • Prawns (Crustaceans) (21%)
  • Pasteurised egg 

Quite an interesting twist on the ingredients list, compared to the traditional prawn crackers and Tesco’s prawn crackers list. 

Why eggs? Our theory is that the eggs help in binding all the ingredients together. 

If you consume prawn crackers but are vegan or allergic to eggs, then Waitrose prawn crackers are to be avoided. 

Are takeaway prawn crackers vegetarian?

Once again, takeaway prawns are logically not vegetarian or vegan.

Plus, unlike your options at Tesco or Waitrose, they tend to contain food additives to enhance their colour and flavour.

For example, the professional uncooked prawn crackers from Super Foods Express and Kang Mei, or the “vietnamese” prawn crackers from Golden Swan contain flavour enhancers (E621) in their ingredients list. 

“vegan” prawn cocktail crisps, an alternative?

We often find prawn cocktail crisps as an “accidentally” vegan alternative to prawn crackers. 

While they might be vegetarian, thanks to a prawn cocktail seasoning that doesn’t contain actual prawns, they are often not 100% vegan.

This is due to the fact that they are made in factories that handle milk, and thereby these crisps might contain traces of milk.

Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps

On the product page, you can see that the ingredients list doesn’t contain any animal by-products, even in their prawn seasoning.

However, their allergy notice states that their crisps are made in a factory that also handles milk. 

This means walker prawn cocktails crisps are suitable for vegetarians, but not really for vegans.

ingredients of walkers prawn cocktail crisps

Mackie’s  Prawn Cocktail Crisps

Even though this product is sold at vegan specialist supermarkets like TheVeganKind (with a vegan logo), the official product page still states in the allergen notice that the product may contain milk. 

As with Walkers option, it’s up to you and your vegan values to decide if the possible contact of the product with milk is a-no go.

ingredients of mackies prawn cocktail crisps

Vegetarian alternative to prawn crackers

A vegan alternative to getting prawn crackers is settling for vegan crackers with no component of prawn or other sea animals as part of the ingredients.

While there are no vegetarian prawn crackers, there certainly are vegan crackers you can always snack on. 

Deliciously Ella 

The brand offers quite a variety of vegan snacks, including several flavours of vegetarian crackers. All the available crackers are labeled vegan, with a list of plant-based ingredients like:

  • Rice flour 
  • Cassava flour 
  • Beetroot flour 
  • Chickpea flour 
  • Corn flour 
  • Wholegrain rice flour 
  • Corn flour rapeseed oil 
  • Rice flour 
  • Fried rosemary 
vegan crackers from deliciously ella

Tesco Thai Spicy Cracker Mix 

It’s a mix of 3 different crackers similar to the ones that are popular in Thai restaurants. They are vegan friendly as the ingredient list includes:

  • Cassava
  • Tapioca starch 
  • Rapeseed oil 
  • Sugar 
  • Leek 
  • Red chilli
  • Salt 
  • White pepper extract 
  • Ginger root gingerols 
  • Ginger powder 
  • Turmeric powder 
  • Garlic powder 
  • Onion powder 
  • Paprika ‘carrot 
  • Black pepper extracts 
tesco thai spicy crackers mix

Easy Bean

Easy Bean crackers are handmade with 100% natural ingredients and an assortment of flours. There are three flavours to choose from, all vegan friendly. The main ingredients in all the flavours include: 

  • Red lentil flour 
  • Rice flour 
  • Maize flour 
  • Oatmeal (gluten free) 
  • Fava bean flour 
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Blue poppy seed
easy bean vegan crackers on table

Vegetarian “prawn” crackers recipes

Easy-peasy crackers

The Minimalist Baker’s vegan and gluten-free crackers recipe is one of our fav homemade recipes. It’s among the simplest recipes you’ll find with easy to find ingredients. The end result? Crunchy crackers with a touch of rosemary and garlic spices. 

homemade vegan crackers in a bowl

Fake twins

Now, if you’re looking to make some vegan prawn crackers that look like the real krupuk, here is maybe your best option, using rice paper as the main ingredient. Why? Once fried, rice paper curls and looks very similar to prawn crackers! We love it!

homemade vegan rice paper crackers

Conclusion 

The next time you’ve a hankering for vegetarian prawn crackers, consider checking the ingredients label of your favourite brand before buying. There is a 99% chance that the ingredients include prawns.

But the rarity of vegan prawn crackers doesn’t mean you can enjoy a crunchy snack.

At Vegomm, we strive to find you the best and most reliable vegan products in the UK and our recommendations for prawn crackers alternatives will help quench your cravings!

Better still, try our recommended recipe for vegan crackers and have a homemade snack to enjoy with the afternoon tea.

By the way, if you’re looking for more vegan recipes, we have narrowed down the best vegan cookbooks you should buy for delicious homemade vegan meals. Just make sure you use vegan ingredients 😉