11 Different Types Of Shellfish With Images

Types Of Shellfish

Shellfish is used to describe a variety of sea life used to cook seafood, a human food that also comes in different varieties to cook it with. Although shellfish is not considered a type of fish, it is rather an exoskeleton aquatic spineless exoskeleton. There are different types of shellfish and in this post we will be talking about the most common types.

Three main groups of shellfish:

Before we look into the different types, let us first talk about the main groups or species of shellfish:


These includes shellfish such as crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimps and prawns


Shellfish that belongs to this group includes clams, conch, abalone, cuttlefish, mussel, limpet, octopus, nautilus, scallop, squid, winkle and whelk.


Shellfish that belongs to this group includes cucumber and sea urchins. These groups are not widely known compared to crustaceans and mollusks.

Types of Shellfish

Listed below are the various species of shellfish as well as its different characteristics. Also included are its nutritional value and properties. Read on below to know more.


  • Shellfish group: Crustacean
  • Scientific Name: Caridea

This is perhaps the most common type of seafood that is used mostly in different seafood dishes. Shrimp can be eaten in different ways as well many ways to season it and there are also different sea food based dishes available.

Shrimps are loaded with protein, as much as 12 grams (per 85 g of shrimp), and has low amounts of fat and calories. Although in relation to the amount of Omega-3 content, it does not have as much as oily fish have but it is still considered to be a good source of fatty acid and selenium.

Shrimps can be served either hot or cold, and since it is versatile it goes well with when paired with vegetables (raw or cooked), and different types of fruits. There are numerous ways to prepare fish and that includes sautéing, grilling, deep frying, boiling, broiling and can even be used in soups and stews.

Although the most popular type, it is also the most common shell fish allergy in most of seafood dishes.


  • Shellfish group: Crustaceans
  • Scientific Name: Brachyura

Crab is a another versatile and popular type of shellfish. Although eating crabs takes a lot of effort because of its tough shells, but once shells are cracked it’ll be worth it as you will enjoy eating a soft texture, tender meat, sweet and meatiest crab.

The crab legs and its claws are the meatiest parts and the most popular part available in restaurants. It can be prepared in different ways such as roasting, boiling, steaming or grilling.

King crab is the most popular type because it has large claws but with a soft shell.

Crabs are used in different products such as in dips, pasta, seafood salads, crab cakes, crap paste and even canned crab meat. The secret to making delicious crab recipe is using butter, never forget to add butter when preparing crab dishes.

The meat from crab is not only delicious but nutritious as well. It contains protein with low calories. It also offers vitamins and minerals, as well as high amounts of vitamin B12 and Selenium.


  • Shellfish group: Crustacean
  • Scientific Name: Nephropidae

Lobster is another popular dish in culinary, although considered to be a luxury food and are usually served in fancy restaurant for fancy dinners since it is a bit pricey.

It can be cooked and served whole but the most preferred parts because of its delicious meat are the tails, legs and its claws.

Lobsters can either be served chilled or warm, but whatever how lobster is prepared you will still get that deliciously fresh flavor of its meat. Most of the time, same with crabs, it is also best served with butter for that mouth watering melt in your mouth delicious meal. Also best paired with lemon and garlic.

There are two types of lobsters: American lobster and Spiny lobster. The former is the most popular type with large claws. Because of the size of its claws, it can be eaten whole.

Lobsters can be prepared as an ingredient to making soup, pasta and seafood dishes.


  • Shellfish group: Mollusks (Bivalve)
  • Scientific Name: Mytilus edulis

Mussels are the most popular and commonly used in both Italian and French Cuisines. Despite have shells, mussels are the easiest to prepare as you will know if it is already cooked when their shells starts to open.

This is usually prepared steamed or boiled combined with red or garlicky sauce. Best paired with garlic, onions and chilies when cooked.

Most of the time, Mussels are available for purchase placed on a jar or a car but there are also fresh mussels available though it is very rare to find.

Mussels are good source of vitamin B12, manganese, proteins and calories as well.


  • Shellfish group: Bivalve Mollusks
  • Scientific Name: Bivalvia

Clams are considered to be one of the most sweetest among the rest of seafood varieties. They are so versatile that can be used in different dishes.

Clams can be eaten cooked steamed or raw with their shells half open for easier eating and slurping. Similar to mussels, clams are best paired with garlic, citrus in pasta dishes. Though clams are also delicious when fried and baked.

The texture of a clam is similar to that of oysters, though it tends to have an extremely strong yet rich and sweet flavor.

Clams are good source of protein, and omega-3 with high amounts of vitamin B12.


  • Shellfish group: Bivalve Mollusks
  • Scientific Name: Pectinidae

There are some restaurants offering scallops served without their shells that is why some do not know that scallops belongs to bivalve class of shellfish. Of all the bivalve class of shellfish, scallops are considered to be the most tender that is why is it often served in fancy restaurants. A versatile ingredient wherein it can be paired with any dishes such as in pasta and bacon.

There are two variety of scallops available for purchase in grocery stores: bay scallops and sea scallops. The former are small yet sweet type that is often used for in making stews while the latter on the other hand are thrice as much bigger than bay scallops and is best cooked when seared using butter.

Scallops can either be cooked or eaten raw, though cooking it is the most preferred method but extra careful not to overcook scallops as it will be tough and texture becomes rubbery.

Scallops are good source of phosphorus, selenium and vitamin B12. It also contains sources of protein and few calories.


  • Shellfish group: Bivalve Mollusks
  • Scientific Name: Ostreidae

Oyster have a sticky and gooey texture. It also have a briny flavor but can also be sweet at the same time. Because of its salty taste, oysters are often compared to seafoods in the ocean.

Oysters can be served cooked or raw. Preparing oysters can either be broiled, boiled, added to soups and stews, grilled and even steamed. When eating raw oysters, make sure to purchase during peak season and from a reliable source.

When eating oysters cold, it is usually added with butter, salt and lemon for that deliciously slurping experience.

Oysters are considered to be very nutritious with excellent source of zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, copper and iron.


  • Shellfish group: Cephalopod mollusk
  • Scientific Name: Teuthida

Squid is another popular type of shellfish that is among the cephalopod mollusks category. Cephalopods are characterized as marine animals with bilateral body, a large head and set of arms or often referred to as tentacles, and a molluscan foot.

Squid can be prepared in different variety of dishes such as calamari, an Italian dish wherein the squid is breaded then deep fried. The ink of the squid is usually used not only to dye but to add flavor to pasta, sauces and rice as well. Cooking methods includes frying, boiling, deep frying, pan frying, stewing and grilling.

Squid are a good source of copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and Riboflavin. It also an excellent source of protein and few amounts of calories.


  • Shellfish group: Cephalopod mollusk
  • Scientific Name: Octopoda

Octopus is another popular type of shellfish that is usually cooked boiled, broiled, pan fried, grilled, added in soups and stews and even steamed. Octopus is commonly eaten in fancy restaurants as a solo dish or paired with salads or as an appetizer. Closely related to squid, it can also be used to add to sandwiches and soups.

Octopus has a chewy texture but with a sweet flavor. When paired with garlic, chili peppers and ginger, you will have that delicious octopus on your plate. It can either be cooked or served raw though when cooking octopus make sure to not overcook it as its texture will become rubbery and chewy.

Octopus are excellent source of vitamin B12, iron, copper, selenium and vitamin B6.


  • Shellfish group: Cephalopod mollusk
  • Scientific Name: Sepiida

Cuttlefish is not as famous as other types of shellfish, though a relative of octopus and squid. Cuttlefish can be found added to pasta and paella dishes in the Mediterranean regions but is also popular in East Asian countries.

Cuttlefish when eaten has a chewy texture but the flavor is mild and light. It is best paired with herbs but can also go well with garlic and chillies. It is often used as an ingredient to stir fries, soups and stews. But be extra careful not to overcook the cuttlefish as its texture will becomes rubbery and tough.

It is known to be an excellent source of protein but with low amounts of calorie.


  • Shellfish group: Gastropod mollusk
  • Scientific Name: Patella vulgata

In costal regions where Limpet are used as food but is not popular as other shellfish varieties. It can be eaten boiled, pan-fried, grilled or steamed. Considered to have a good source of protein with few content of calories.

Final thoughts

While many have shellfish allergy, there are still some who loves to indulged in seafood dishes with shellfish as an ingredient. As mentioned, shellfish is not only delicious but offers good source of nutritional value with few calories.

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