Why you might want to avoid prawn crackers at Chinese restaurants

They are crisp, salty, moreish, and — depending on the restaurant you're eating them in — could either have a faint taste of prawn or might be completely bland. Prawn crackers are usually made with tapioca flour, and because they aren't traditionally made with any wheat flour, they are gluten-free. But gluten aside, restaurant prawn crackers aren't exactly all they're cracked up to be.

Coming in the shape of flat discs, prawn crackers need to be deep fried to be enjoyed. Some may be plain white but others are colored pink, blue, yellow, and green. Prawn crackers can also contain MSG, which may be a problem for people who are allergic or can't have the additive (via Oh The Things We'll Make). The Independent also warns that 3.6 ounces or 104 grams worth of shrimp crackers can pack as much as 608 calories. Because of this, it's usually best to pace yourself with these tasty snacks when you're at your favorite Chinese restaurant.

Prawn crackers are a calorie-filled prelude to a calorie-laden meal

While the crackers are moreish, they may not be what you want to snack on before you tuck into what could well turn out to be a high-calorie meal and when your dining choices could end up being dishes like lo mein (310 calories, 35 grams of carbs, 12.4 grams of fat, and nearly 15 grams of protein, according to Fat Secret); crab rangoon (303 calories, 36.4 grams of carbs, 14.1 grams of fat, 9.09 grams of protein via Livestrong); and maybe an order of beef and broccoli (266 calories, 9.4 grams of carbs, 16.1 grams of fat, and 23.5 grams of protein, per Carb Manager) because, you know, you need veggies in there somewhere.

We're not saying you should lay off the prawn crackers altogether. But you may be doing yourself and your body a favor if you enjoy those Chinese restaurant prawn crackers in moderation. And if you're really motivated to give it a go, you may want to pass up commercial prawn crackers completely and make them at home, which may be a challenge but is definitely worth the effort (Check out Delishably's version if you're game to give it a try). The crackers will still be deep fried, but at least you'll know they'll have real prawns in them.