Shrimp Curry

This easy shrimp curry tastes better than a restaurant in under 30 minutes! It’s a Thai red curry flavored with coconut milk and curry paste.

Shrimp curry

This one left us speechless. Really! Because this shrimp curry tastes better than a restaurant, but it’s a quick and easy dinner you can make at home. There is so much flavor going on here: rich coconut milk, aromatic curry paste, tangy lime and peppery basil surrounding tender, juicy shrimp. Serve it over jasmine rice and your friends and family will be singing your praises. This one is a keeper and even better: it’s a healthy dinner in less than 30 minutes. There are a few secrets to making this Thai red curry: here’s what to do!

Keys to making shrimp curry

It’s so easy to make a shrimp curry! To make it taste like a Thai red curry you’d get at a restaurant, here are some tips on the most important ingredients in this easy dinner recipe:

  • Thai red curry paste: It’s a paste made of chiles and aromatics like garlic, ginger, and lemongrass and absolutely essential to the flavor! It’s not too spicy and only adds a gentle heat. See below for more.
  • Large shrimp: Using shell on shrimp is nice because they come out even more flavorful and juicier; or use tail on shrimp if desired.
  • Full fat coconut milk: Use only full fat coconut milk here: it’s gets that essential creaminess to the broth.
  • Fish sauce: It might sound odd if you’ve never cooked Southeast Asian style cuisine, but it’s absolutely essential to adding that authentic flavor in Thai and Cambodian food.
  • Basil or Thai basil: If you can find it, Thai basil is most authentic and has a subtle licorice flavor. If not, whatever fresh basil you can find works!
Shrimp curry

What is Thai red curry?

Alex and I spent time in Cambodia together years ago, and the flavors of this shrimp curry instantly brought us back to Southeast Asia! Cambodian cuisine features curries very similar to Thai red curry.

What is it? Thai red curry is a Thai dish with a sauce made with red curry paste and coconut milk. It can be made with different proteins like chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu. Then what’s red curry paste? If it’s not part of your cooking repertoire, you’ve got to add it: stat.

Thai red curry with shrimp

The secret: red curry paste

Red curry paste is a jarred paste that makes it easy to make a Thai red curry. It has all the flavors you’d find in the broth, without needing to buy them separately: chili peppers, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, cumin, coriander, and more. Alex and I use it in all sorts of dishes and it has the best flavor. We highly recommend adding it to your fridge! A few notes on red curry paste:

Do I really need fish sauce?

To many home cooks in North America, fish sauce might sound odd or scary. But here’s the thing: it’s the secret to many Southeast Asian recipes! When Alex and I visited Cambodia, they put fish sauce in just about everything. Why? It adds an incredible depth and savory umami flavor to everything from broths and salads.

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish. Yep, not the biggest selling point! But you can think of it more like a Southeast Asian-style soy sauce. When you add it to the broth in this shrimp curry, it adds a noticeable authentic Thai flavor. Don’t leave it out!

Shrimp curry

Use shell on shrimp for big flavor.

The best shrimp for shrimp curry is shell on or tail on shrimp: mostly because it looks the prettiest! Shell on shrimp has the best flavor: both because it gets the juiciest when cooked in the shell, and because the shell adds a little flavor to the broth. But if the thought of peeling shrimp isn’t desirable (we get it!), tail on shrimp is great too.

Want more shrimp recipes? Here are our Best Healthy Shrimp Recipes.

Best rice for shrimp curry? Jasmine.

The perfect pair for this shrimp curry is rice: but not just any rice. Jasmine rice! Jasmine rice is also called Thai fragrant rice: because of its beautiful popcorn-like nutty flavor. When Alex and I used it for this shrimp curry, it was the finishing touch that transported us back to Southeast Asia. Try our jasmine rice recipes: How to Cook Jasmine Rice and Instant Pot Jasmine Rice.

If you can’t find jasmine rice, basmati rice works too! Or any type of medium or long grain rice. You can use brown rice too (it has more nutrients), but here we wanted to be ultra-authentic and served it with sticky white rice.

Thai Shrimp Curry

More curry recipes

Love curry? We do too. Once you’ve made this shrimp curry, here are a few more to try! There are lots of types of curry from all over the world: most of the recipes on this site are Indian or Thai-style curries:

  • Easy Chickpea Curry One of our top recipes, this 20-minute chickpea curry is Indian style (made with curry powder, not paste).
  • Vegetable Curry This vegetable curry is the best way to eat your veggies! Cauliflower, bell pepper and chickpeas swim in a flavor-packed broth.
  • Coconut Lentil Curry This fast and easy dinner idea that’s healthy and full of flavor. It has similar flavors to this shrimp curry!

This shrimp curry recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Shrimp curry

*Amazing* Shrimp Curry

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (15 votes, average: 4.33 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This easy shrimp curry tastes better than a restaurant in under 30 minutes! It’s a Thai red curry flavored with coconut milk and curry paste.



  • Jasmine rice (or basmati rice), for serving
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Zest of 1 lime (plus lime wedges to garnish)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shell on or tail on (wild caught if possible)
  • 5 leaves fresh basil or Thai basil, plus more for garnish


  1. Start the jasmine rice (or basmati rice).
  2. Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Cut the pepper into thin strips.
  3. In a large skillet, pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic & red pepper and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the curry paste and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, turmeric, lime zest, water, and kosher salt and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the shrimp and cook about 4 to 5 minutes until the shrimp is tender and opaque, depending on the size of the shrimp. Stir in 5 large leaves basil.
  5. To serve, spoon the shrimp and sauce over rice. Garnish with additional chopped basil and lime wedges. Store refrigerated for up to 2 days.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Shrimp curry, Thai red curry, Thai shrimp curry, Coconut curry

Last updated: September 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    Karen Jill Peters
    April 17, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Delish recipe! Thank you for sharing! I used a red chili paste I had in the house and it was good but I totally forgot to add garam masala and it was lacking curry but still yummy. We had it over cauliflower rice and it was even better the next day! Cannot wait to make it again with the Thai Red Curry Paste I just bought. Think this recipe would be great with tofu as well for meatless nights.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 17, 2020 at 8:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed!

  • Reply
    Ariel Aguilar
    June 16, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Made it last night. So good! Does the Curry freeze well & how long is it good in the fridge?

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      June 17, 2020 at 9:47 am

      So glad you enjoyed it! We’d store refrigerated for about 2 to 3 days. We wouldn’t recommend freezing!

  • Reply
    July 29, 2020 at 8:55 pm

    Loved this! Used a different brand of red curry paste that packed A LOT of heat! My husband and I enjoyed it but improvised for the kids dinner. More for us. Haha. Thanks!

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