This Thai Shrimp Curry combines juicy shrimp and hearty butternut squash in a simple, flavorful, creamy coconut red curry sauce. Perfect for a quick and impressive weeknight dinner!
Easy Shrimp Curry
Curry perfectly embodies healthy, hearty, and wholesome. Take for example, green lentil curry and Instant Pot butter chicken. And of course this Thai shrimp curry recipe that combines hearty butternut squash and juicy shrimp, simmered with fragrant red Thai curry paste, coconut milk, and several aromatics for an impressive mid-week meal.
The resulting Thai red curry shrimp dish is a restaurant quality meal that is creamy, with a slight kick, and contains a delicious combination of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Hello, pan roasted butternut squash – I see you.
Even better, this shrimp curry recipe is also super versatile. My kids aren’t a huge fan of butternut squash (unlike me!), so I simply don’t plate it up for them. However, you could also omit the squash entirely in place of other vegetables.
Best of all, this dinner may seem like it would be chock-full of hard-to-find ingredients but it’s mostly pantry staples, with a pre-prepared curry paste that’s full of flavor. Top it with some fresh green onions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime for Thai cuisine experience from the comfort of your own home!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Ingredients are simple just like with Thai chicken curry recipe.
- Shrimp: I use raw, pre-peeled shrimp from frozen (defrosted before cooking). Got fresh shrimp? Make air fryer shrimp!
- Butternut squash: Chopped into 1-inch cubes. Check the FAQs for subs/other vegetables.
- Red bell pepper: Diced or thinly sliced. You could also use orange or yellow bell pepper.
- Red curry paste: I use Thai kitchen red Thai curry paste.
- Coconut milk: I initially always used canned ‘light’ coconut milk. However, for super-rich and creamy results, use full-fat coconut milk – it’s healthy fats, after all. Check the Thai chicken curry FAQs for tips on choosing the best brands of coconut milk. Tip: Canned coconut milk can separate into two layers of cream and liquid. Don’t worry, this is normal. Just add it to the pan, and it should eventually melt and combine.
- Tomato paste: I use low sodium tomato paste as the fish sauce is salty.
- Fish sauce: This has a very savory, salty, umami flavor to add to dishes to elevate them. Try to use a high quality one though otherwise it can be very salty (in which case, I suggest adding only half the amount and increasing at the end, if necessary).
- Any sweetener: Just a little is needed to balance the spicy and savory flavors. Omit if preferred.
- Kaffir lime leaves (optional): Creates a more authentic flavor to the shrimp Thai curry, but not necessary if you can’t source them. They are available in several grocery stores and most Asian supermarkets. Swap for Thai basil, regular basil or omit entirely.
- Aromatics: I use garlic, onion, and ginger (you can use dried ginger if that’s all you have)
- Coconut oil: Or another neutral cooking oil such as avocado oil.
- Salt & pepper: To season.
- To garnish: Add lime wedges, green onion, and cilantro. You could also add thinly sliced red chili for extra heat.
Top Tip: This shrimp curry can easily be adjusted to use yellow or green curry paste. All you need to do is remove the tomato paste as an ingredient and then continue with the recipe.
- Lemongrass: This is a classic addition to Thai curries but not always easy to source, depending on where you’re based. If using, chop it into smaller pieces, bruise it with the knife’s hilt, and add to the pot when adding all the sauce ingredients.
- Peanut butter: This might sound odd, but the combination of the red curry paste with peanut butter and shrimp makes for a truly creamy, swoon-worthy experience. Add just 1-2 tbsp for tons of flavor.
- To increase the spice: Add a little chili paste, some red pepper flakes, and/or garnish with sliced red chili. You can also increase the amount of curry paste used (read the recipe notes below).
How to Make Thai Shrimp Curry with Squash
- Sauté the garlic, ginger, and onion: Over low heat in a large, deep skillet for 4-5 minutes. The aim is for them to become softened and more translucent, not browned.
- Add the sauce ingredients: Including coconut milk, tomato paste, fish sauce, red curry paste, honey, kaffir lime leaves, and salt & pepper. Whisk until combined, then increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the vegetables: Add the squash and bell pepper to the pan, stir, cover, and cook on low heat for 20 minutes or until the squash is al dente.
- Add the shrimp: Add to the pan, cover, and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, though, or the shrimp will become rubbery. Finally, taste the coconut red curry sauce and adjust any seasonings as necessary.
- Garnish: With some lime wedges, green onions, and cilantro. Then serve with your side of choice and enjoy!
How to Serve Thai Shrimp Curry?
Enjoy this Thai shrimp curry with one of several sides. Traditionally, steamed white rice is the classic choice. However, I love to serve this with Instant Pot brown rice or Instant Pot quinoa. You could also learn use how to make cauliflower rice. Alternatively, omit grains altogether, as the butternut squash provides complex carbs and creates a filling ‘complete’ meal too.
This dish also pairs well with sides like spiralized zucchini noodles, rice noodles, or fluffy naan bread.
How to Store and Reheat
Storing: Any leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing: Cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container and freezing for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: This coconut milk shrimp curry can be reheated on the stovetop over medium-low heat or within a microwave until heated through. You may find you need a splash of coconut milk/ milk/ broth to bring the sauce back to the correct consistency.
How Do You Quickly Defrost Shrimp?
For all healthy shrimp recipes including shrimp ceviche and shrimp tacos with slaw, I use frozen raw shrimp, which means it’ll need to be defrosted before using. While you can do this in the refrigerator, if you forget (which can happen), you can still quickly and easily defrost the shrimp in 20 minutes.
First, place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl or colander and then run under the tap on room temp-cold water (don’t use warm/hot!) for 1-2 minutes. Then allow them to further thaw in water for between 10-15 minutes. You can easily start this process before even sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger, and the shrimp should be ready to add to the curry by the time they’re needed.
Can I Add Other Vegetables?
Yes, of course, this coconut shrimp curry is super versatile. Other options include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, other bell peppers (orange, yellow), peas, snow peas, mushrooms, etc. It’s best to use vegetables with similar cooking times to make things easier.
More Tips and FAQs
- How much curry paste to use? You can adjust the curry paste amount based on how strong and spicy you want the Thai shrimp curry to be. 1tbsp for mild, 2 tbsp for mild-medium, and 3-4 tbsp for spicy.
- For a lighter meal: If you want a more delicate but still flavor-packed Thai shrimp curry, you can substitute some coconut milk for vegetable broth instead (low sodium).
- You can adjust the size of the shrimp used: Just note that the cooking time will need to be adjusted slightly.
- To add more flavor to the Thai shrimp curry: You can ‘bloom’ the curry paste. To do this, sauté it with the aromatics (onion, garlic, ginger) before adding the remaining curry sauce ingredients until it smells toasty and aromatic.
- For a quicker coconut shrimp curry: Use pre-cooked squash or substitute it with quick-cooking veggies. That way this curry can be ready in around 20 minutes!
Favorite Shrimp Recipes
If you like this shrimp curry recipe, then you might like these other Thai dishes:
- Shrimp and vegetable stir fry
- Shrimp and avocado salad
- Healthy shrimp salad
- Pad Thai zucchini noodles
- Instant Pot shrimp boil
Thai Shrimp Curry
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1 lb butternut squash cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 large red bell pepper diced
- 1.5 lbs shrimp raw & thawed
- 1 tbsp any oil for frying
- 14 oz can coconut milk light or full-fat
- 1/4 cup tomato paste low sodium
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp red curry paste
- 2 tsp any sweetener I used honey
- 5 kaffir lime leaves optional
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 lime wedges or more to taste
- 3 tbsp green onions finely chopped
- 3 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
- Preheat large deep skillet on low heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add coconut milk, tomato paste, fish sauce, red curry paste, honey, kaffir lime leaves, salt, pepper and stir until combined. Increase heat to medium – high and bring sauce to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add squash and bell pepper, stir, cover and cook on low for 20 minutes or until squash is cooked al dente.
- Add shrimp, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Do not over cook as shrimp will become rubbery.
- Gently stir the curry, adjust salt to taste, squeeze lime, top with green onions and cilantro. Serve hot with brown rice or quinoa.
- Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: In an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- To quickly thaw shrimp: First, place the frozen shrimp in a large bowl or colander and then run under the tap on room temp-cold water (don’t use warm/hot!) for 1-2 minutes. Then allow them to further thaw in water for between 10-15 minutes.
- Kaffir lime leaves substitute: I usually get kaffir lime leaves at an Asian store. They are basically Thai bay leaves and can be stored forever tightly sealed in the freezer. You can omit them or replace with (Thai) basil leaves.
- How much curry paste to use? You can adjust the curry paste amount based on how strong and spicy you want the Thai shrimp curry to be. 1tbsp for mild, 2 tbsp for mild-medium, and 3-4 tbsp for spicy.’
- Can I add other vegetables? Yes. Other options include broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, other bell peppers (orange, yellow), peas, snow peas, mushrooms, etc. It’s best to use vegetables with similar cooking times.