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Thai Shrimp Curry

Thai Shrimp Curry explodes with vibrant flavor in your mouth. With its creamy coconut milk, fiery red curry paste, and succulent shrimp, this is one of my favorite Thai dishes to make at home. It takes mere minutes to prepare, but its intense flavor never disappoints.

Overhead shot of a bowl of Thai shrimp curry over rice with silverware and lime wedges on the side.

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Why you’ll love this Thai Shrimp Curry

Thai cuisine is renowned for its use of fresh herbs and spices, and for balancing multiple flavor elements—spicy, sweet, sour, and savory. The flavors of lemongrass, galangal, chiles, tamarind, and kaffir lime leaves frequently appear in Thai curries, infusing them with their unique and aromatic profiles. This dish is no exception.

Thai cooks often use a curry paste as a flavor base for their curries. There are lots of great Thai curry pastes you can buy—including red curry, green curry, Panang curry, Masuman curry paste and more—in many supermarkets and Asian grocery stores in the US. Of course, you can always order them online, too, if stores in your area don’t carry them.

What I love about using curry pastes is that they provide complex flavor profiles incorporating many different ingredients. For the home cook, this means you can buy one product and still get all the flavor of many different ingredients.

Thai shrimp curry in a bowl over rice with a fork lifting a shrimp.

There are so many reasons to love this dish. Here are a few of mine:

  • Burst of flavors: As is common in Thai cooking, Thai shrimp curry is a harmonious blend of spicy, savory, tart, and sweet flavors. The fiery red curry paste, creamy coconut milk, zingy lime juice, and succulent shrimp create an explosion of tastes that tantalize the taste buds. It’s as good as the Thai coconut curry shrimp at my favorite Thai restaurant.
  • Customizable heat level: Whether you prefer a mild kick or a fiery inferno, you can adjust the spiciness according to your liking. You can use a more or less spicy curry paste, or use more or less of whatever curry paste you have. I like my curries screaming hot, so I load up on Mae Ploy brand curry paste. If you prefer something more moderate, try Thai Kitchen red curry paste, which is widely available in supermarkets.
  • Versatile ingredients: You can customize the dish by adding your favorite vegetables, or switching out the shrimp for another protein like chicken or tofu.
  • Quick and easy to make: With its simple preparation and easy one-pan cooking process, Thai shrimp curry is a fantastic option for those seeking a flavorful meal without spending hours in the kitchen. It can be whipped up in no time, making it perfect for busy weeknights or spontaneous cravings.
Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make Thai Shrimp Curry.

Ingredients you’ll need to make this Thai curry shrimp

This easy dish has only nine ingredients, but thanks to Thai curry paste, it delivers layers upon layers of flavor. Here’s what you need:

  • Oil: Any neutral oil like safflower, avocado, vegetable, or canola oil works well for sautéing the shrimp and vegetables.
  • Shrimp: Peeled and deveined shrimp are the star of this dish. If fresh shrimp aren’t available, you can also use frozen shrimp. Just make sure to thaw them properly before cooking. To save prep time, buy your shrimp already peeled and deveined.
  • Red bell pepper: Vibrant red bell pepper adds a burst of color and sweetness to the curry. It complements the spiciness of the curry paste and balances out the flavors.
  • Garlic: Garlic is a staple in Thai cuisine and adds a wonderful aromatic touch to the dish. Using fresh garlic cloves rather than pre-minced garlic intensifies the flavor.
  • Cilantro: Fresh, fragrant cilantro adds a refreshing note to the overall flavor of the dish, and they also give it a splash of green that contrasts nicely with the red-orange tones of the other ingredients. If don’t like cilantro, you can substitute Thai basil or mint.
  • Thai Red curry paste: This fiery paste is the soul of the dish. Made from a blend of red chili peppers, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, and various spices, it brings these authentic Thai flavors to life. You can find it in many supermarkets, in Asian grocery stores, or online.
  • Lime juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice adds a tangy and citrusy element to the curry, balancing the richness of the coconut milk and enhancing the overall taste. Make sure to use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best results.
  • Coconut milk: Luscious coconut milk provides a rich, creamy backdrop for the coconut curry sauce, giving it a velvety texture and a hint of sweetness. Look for good quality coconut milk, preferably full-fat, to ensure a rich and satisfying curry.

How to make this red curry shrimp

This coconut shrimp curry recipe is so easy to make, and it’s really quick, too. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Sauté the shrimp and red pepper briefly, then add the onion, garlic, and cilantro and sauté for several minutes more.
  2. Add the curry paste, lime juice, and coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Season with salt or a splash of fish sauce, if needed.
  3. Serve hot over steamed jasmine rice and garnished with more cilantro.

Tips for success

Now that you know the basics, here are a few tips to ensure your Thai prawn curry turns out to be a delectable masterpiece:

  • Adjust the spiciness: Thai curries can be quite spicy, so feel free to adjust the amount of curry paste based on your spice tolerance. Different brands are also more or less spicy. Mae Ploy brand tends to be on the spicy side while Thai Kitchen is milder.
  • Don’t overcook the shrimp: Shrimp cook quickly, and overcooking them can make them tough and rubbery. Add the shrimp to the curry towards the end of the cooking process, just until they turn pink and opaque. This will ensure they remain tender and juicy.
  • Customize your vegetables: While red bell peppers add a delightful crunch and sweetness to the curry, feel free to experiment with other vegetables as well. You can add sliced bamboo shoots, snap peas, or even baby corn to enhance the texture and add variety to the dish.
Overhead shot of a bowl of Thai shrimp curry over rice with silverware and lime wedges on the side.

Serving suggestions

Thai Shrimp Curry makes a great weeknight meal needing nothing more than steamed jasmine rice to accompany it. If you want to make it part of a larger feast, add a Green Papaya Salad and Instant Pot Coconut Rice or Thai Fried Rice.

For a different take, try this Goan shrimp curry.

If you love Thai food and want to explore additional dishes, try Thai Fish Cakes, Thai Chicken Satay, or Veggie Pad Thai.

If you’re ready to try other Thai curries, try Thai Chicken Curry or Thai Pumpkin Curry.

Overhead shot of Thai shrimp curry over steamed rice in a white bowl.

Thai Shrimp Curry

Robin Donovan
This Thai Shrimp Curry is a great dish for a special occasion or a busy Tuesday. Succulent shrimp is bathed in a rich, spicy coconut milk sauce layered with authentic Thai flavors. As vibrant and indulgent as the dish is, it only takes about 15 minutes to make, so you really can manage it any night of the week.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Dish Recipes
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4 servings
Calories 381 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro divided
  • 3 tablespoons red Thai red curry paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet with over medium heat. Add the shrimp and bell pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir and sauté for 3 more minutes.
  • Stir in curry paste, lime juice, and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  • Serve hot over steamed jasmine rice, garnished with the remaining tablespoon of cilantro and lime wedges.

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 26gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 183mgSodium: 442mgPotassium: 636mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2704IUVitamin C: 42mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 3mg
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By on June 6th, 2023

ABOUT ROBIN DONOVAN

Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

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