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This shrimp curry recipe tastes restaurant-style in under 30 minutes! It’s a Thai red curry flavored with coconut milk and curry paste.

Shrimp curry
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Looking for an easy dinner that tastes like you’re at a restaurant? Try this shrimp curry recipe, starring 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 it makes a healthy dinner in less than 30 minutes. There are a few secrets to making this Thai style red curry: here’s what to do!

The origin of curry

The word “curry” is a Western invention to poorly describe the nuance of what colonizers observed in foreign cuisines (see Bon Appetit). Today, the term is pretty broad: it’s used to describe any dish with a spiced sauce and meat or vegetables, often eaten with rice or flatbread. It’s made in many countries with varying flavor profiles, including India, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, England and more.

This recipe is loosely based on a Thai or Southeast Asian-style red curry using red curry paste and coconut milk. After traveling in Southeast Asia, we fell in love with the flavors of ginger, garlic, galangal, lime and lemongrass, which are incorporated in the Thai curry paste.

Shrimp curry

Key ingredients in this shrimp curry recipe

It’s simple to make a shrimp curry once you’ve got ahold of a handful of items to make the flavors sing. Here are some tips on the key 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.
  • Large shrimp, shell on: Using shell on shrimp is nice because they come out even more flavorful and juicier! Or, you can 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!

What is Thai red curry?

Alex and I traveled to 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 curries.

What is it? A 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. So 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 to shrimp curry: red curry paste

Red curry paste is a jarred paste that is a shortcut for Western home cooks to make Thai-style curries. The paste 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. A few notes on red curry paste:

  • The heat of the paste depends on the brand (taste before adding!). The heat of the curry paste depends on the brand. We like Thai kitchen brand which is very mild, so it doesn’t add lots of heat to this shrimp curry. Give a taste to the curry paste before you add it to the dish, and if it’s very spicy you may want to start with a smaller quantity.
  • It’s easy to find in the international aisle in most grocery stores. Curry paste keeps for months in the refrigerator and you can use it in lots more recipes, like our Curry Lentil Soup, Curried Butternut Squash Soup or Coconut Lentil Curry. If you can’t find it at your grocery, you can buy it online: Thai Kitchen red curry paste.

More about fish sauce

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

Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, and it’s used like a Southeast Asian-style soy sauce. When you add it to the broth in this shrimp curry, it adds a noticeable authentic flavor. Don’t leave it out!

Shrimp curry

Shell on shrimp vs peeled

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.

Serve with jasmine rice

The perfect pair for this shrimp curry recipe 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. See How to Cook Jasmine Rice, or you can also make Instant Pot Jasmine Rice if you’ve got a pressure cooker.

If you can’t find jasmine rice, basmati rice works, or any type of medium or long grain rice. You can use brown rice too, but its nutty flavor can overwhelm the dish (we prefer a white rice here).

Thai Shrimp Curry

More curry recipes

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. Here some of our favorite curry recipes:

This shrimp curry recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Shrimp curry

Shrimp Curry


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5 from 1 review

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

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Zest of 1 lime (plus lime wedges to garnish)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shell on or tail on (wild caught if possible)
  • 5 leaves fresh Thai basil (or sweet basil), plus more for garnish

Instructions

  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
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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6 Comments

  1. Arlin says:

    My husband and I just made this for dinner and it was so delicious & flavorful! We did not have sweet basil but we had cilantro and threw that in the mix along with leftover scallions and bok choy. We also peeled and deveined the shrimp only because we didn’t want to peel the shells while eating. :) This recipe was so easy to follow and quick to make. I printed out the recipe to put in our “Favorite Recipes” folder!






  2. Kim says:

    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!

  3. Ariel Aguilar says:

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

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

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

  4. Karen Jill Peters says:

    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.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Glad you enjoyed!