This Thai-inspired Shrimp in Coconut Curry is one of those dream weeknight meals that is both low effort and high flavor. It’s a dish we make often, changing out the protein based on what we have in the house — the red curry sauce is delicious with salmon, scallops, or even just cubed chicken thighs.
With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a balanced, aromatic curry sauce that will warm you from the inside out. If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, don’t fret! But if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, buy as many as possible — they’re extremely freezer-friendly, and then you’ll have them on hand for all your favorite weeknight curries.
Ready in 30 minutes or less, this quick coconut curry shrimp is sure to become a household favorite!
Ingredients For Coconut Curry Sauce
- Light neutral oil: Such as grapeseed, coconut oil, canola, avocado, or vegetable oil.
- Scallions: Both the white and green parts! This adds another level of onion flavor.
- Garlic and ginger paste: These cook in hot oil, becoming fragrant and making up the base of the sauce. You can use a 1-inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated if you prefer.
- White onion and red bell pepper: Sliced thinly and sautéed until slightly softened.
- Kosher salt: To season the veggies.
- Canned coconut milk: This is the base of the sauce.
- Red curry paste: Thai Kitchen is our favorite brand! We prefer the rich, deep flavor that comes from a concentrated curry paste to that of dried curry powder.
- Fresh basil: Both to infuse into the coconut curry sauce and for garnishing
- Kaffir lime lives: I keep a bag of these in the freezer. You can add them directly to soups, stir fries, or curries!
- Fish sauce: This is a sauce made from small fish or krill that have been fermented for at least 2 years.
- Sugar: To balance out the funkiness from the fish sauce.
- Turmeric: A common spice in curries, turmeric adds color, a warm flavor, and nutritious value.
- Shrimp: Any size! Just make sure they’re raw, peeled, and deveined.
- Lime juice: Gotta add some fresh acidity to help balance all the flavors.
- Soy sauce: This is optional, but if you need a little extra salt, add a few teaspoons of low-sodium fish sauce.
You could easily substitute chicken, beef, or pork for shrimp, but we love the sweetness of the shrimp with the mild spice from the red curry paste.
How To Make Shrimp In Coconut Curry
First, you’ll want to sauté the aromatics: garlic, ginger, and green onion. Once those are fragrant, add thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper to the pot. Soften them slightly, but make sure they retain a crisp texture and don’t turn to mush.
Next, use canned coconut milk and red curry paste to make a simple curry sauce. These two ingredients are delicious on their own, but when you add fresh basil, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, sugar, and turmeric, it’s taken to a whole other level.
If you love the flavors of a Thai curry, be sure to check out our Thai turkey meatballs or this amazing Thai scallop curry, both of which feature a similar sauce!
To finish, add raw, peeled shrimp into the warm simmering sauce, allowing them to gently poach. When they’re fully cooked through, serve the shrimp in coconut curry over white rice with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and thinly sliced birds eye chilis. Lime wedges are great if you like a little added acidity!
Absolutely! Just make sure to thaw overnight in a refrigerator or defrost fully before cooking. The easiest way to defrost frozen shrimp is to place them (in a tightly sealed bag) in a bowl with lukewarm water. Replace the water as needed if it gets too cold.
In either case, pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel before cooking!
These are the leaves from a variety of lime used often in Southeast Asian cooking. Kaffir limes (also called maktrut lime or mauritius papeda in Thai) are thick, shiny, and dark green, and have a spiced-citrus taste. If you can find them — most often sold in Vietnamese or Asian markets — they freeze really well!
We have some friends who grow them locally and hooked us up with a large quantity of kaffir lime leaves. They live happily in my freezer until I made curry at home.
Fish sauce is made from small fish, such as anchovies, or krill fermented for long periods in salt. It’s umami rich and savory, and features salty, sweet, and sour notes. Honestly, it tastes much better than it smells. And it’s typically used sparingly. It truly takes the flavor of many curries over the top, giving them that something something that they desperately need to balance out their unique flavor.
Certainly! We often reach for red curry paste, but you could substitute with yellow curry paste or green curry paste.
If you want to make them yourself at home, feel free! We love the convenience and flavor from Thai Kitchen’s curry paste lineup.
Not really. Larger shrimp, such as jumbo shrimp, will take longer to cook than the medium shrimp the recipe calls for. They’ll also likely need to be cut with a knife when eating. We prefer smaller shrimp that can be enjoyed in one bite for this reason.
Make Ahead, Leftovers, and Freezing
Make ahead and storage: This shrimp curry is best served immediately after cooking, so the shrimp do not overcook. Leftovers should be kept in a fridge in an air tight container for 3-5 days. Seafood tends to have a shorter lifespan than other proteins and is best within a few days of purchasing and cooking.
Reheat leftovers in a microwave for just a few minutes until warm. The danger here is that you might overcook the shrimp, so we recommend reheating on half power. Once warm, add fresh garnishes.
Freezing: While the sauce itself would freeze easily and well (non-dairy sauces tend to fare better in the freezer than dairy), we don’t love frozen cooked shrimp when it thaws. We do not recommend freezing leftovers.
How To Serve Coconut Curry Shrimp
- Over fragrant Jasmine rice
- Herbs: Topped with lots of basil and/or fresh cilantro leaves.
- Heat: For spice, we love to add thinly sliced Thai chiles (also called bird’s eye chiles). Use these sparingly, they can be very spicy!
- Peanuts: These add the very best crunch and flavor!
- Acidity: Gotta add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to take the coconut shrimp curry over the top!
This meal is seriously packed with so much bright, vibrant flavor. It’s the best ever!
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More Asian-inspired recipes to try!
- Lemongrass Thai Chicken
- Simple Thai Curry with Scallops and String Beans
- Spicy Ramen Noodles
- Beef Lettuce Wraps (Bulgogi)
- Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice
30 Minute Stove Top Shrimp In Coconut Curry Recipe
- 2 Tbsp light neutral oil such as grapeseed, coconut oil, canola, avocado, or vegetable oil
- 3 scallions thinly sliced, about ½ cup
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger paste or 1-inch ginger root peeled and grated
- 1 white onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 (13.5) oz cans coconut milk
- ¼ cup red curry paste
- ⅓ cup packed whole basil leaves plus more for serving
- 2 Kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 lb medium shrimp raw, peeled, and deveined
- 2 limes 1 juiced, plus 1 more cut into wedges for serving
- 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- White rice, chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and thinly sliced Thai chilis for serving
- Sauté the veggies. Heat 2 Tbsp light, neutral oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 3 thinly sliced scallions, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 2 tsp ginger paste. Stir until very fragrant, about 1 minute, then add thinly sliced onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes. Vegetables should still be crisp. Season with ½ tsp Kosher salt.
- Add the liquid. Add 2 (13.5 oz) cans coconut milk and ¼ cup red curry paste, then stir until the paste dissolves. Add ⅓ cup whole basil leaves 2 Kaffir lime leaves, 2 tsp fish sauce, 2 tsp granulated sugar, and 1 tsp turmeric. Stir until well mixed.
- Poach the shrimp. Place shrimp in the skillet, then reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook until the shrimp have turned opaque, about 5 minutes. Stir in the juice of 1 lime, then taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed. You can add a splash of soy sauce if you feel it needs salt.
- Garnish, then serve. Serve over rice with chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro and basil, and thinly sliced Thai chilis.
- Nutrition facts do not include white rice or garnishes.
- Leftovers should be enjoyed within 3-5 days.
- While non-dairy sauces tend to freeze well, we don’t love the texture of cooked, then frozen, then thawed shrimp, so we do not recommend freezing leftovers. It really changes the texture of the shrimp.
- Shrimp: While the size of the shrimp you use doesn’t affect the flavor of the dish, it will impact the cook time. Also, larger shrimp will need to be cut with a knife when eating. For this reason, we recommend medium shrimp which cook quickly and can be enjoyed without cutting.
- Kaffir lime leaves: If you can’t find these, it’s fine to omit.
Let us know your thoughts!