by Olena

Thai Shrimp Curry

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 13 votes

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!

In our house curries like this yellow chicken curry and Thai coconut chicken curry are the most asked quick dinner recipes.

Thai Shrimp Curry with Squash

Easy Shrimp Curry

Curry perfectly embodies healthy, hearty, and wholesome. Take for example, lentil curry and pressure cooker 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, 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!

We absolutely love our own versions of Thai recipes like Thai chicken salad, Thai broiled salmon and Thai meatballs.

Thai Shrimp Curry with Squash on a blue plate overtop of white rice

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).
  • 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 FAQs here 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.

Optional Add-Ins

  • 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).

Thai Shrimp Curry with Squash

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. Thai curry sauce in skillet. Raw shrimp added to sauce on skillet
  • 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!

Thai Shrimp Curry with Squash served over white rice on blue plate

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 brown rice or quinoa. You could also use 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 shrimp recipes including shrimp ceviche and shrimp tacos, 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:

Thai Shrimp Curry

Thai Shrimp Curry

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!
5 from 13 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 258kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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 or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

    Notes

    • 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.’
    • Other curry paste: 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1cup | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 182mg | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 8963IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 3mg
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    olena osipov in the studio

    Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

    My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

    26 comments on “Thai Shrimp Curry

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    1. If I can’t find thai basil leaves or kaffir lime leaves, do you suggest I use something else or just leave them out?

      Thanks!

    2. 5 stars
      Just made this – my family really loved it! I didn’t have bell pepper so added more onion and substituted broccoli.I precooked the cubed butternut squash in the microwave and added it to the sauce. I also sauteed the shrimp separately in garlic and butter for the vegetarians here. Thanks so much for this!

    3. 5 stars
      I made this but had no cilantro so used parsley (flat) instead, and ground ginger. Also no kaffir leaves. So I guess it will be an approximation. It was excellent: nice and spicy. The shrimp were rather time consuming,so maybe its best to use pre- peeled shrimp.

    4. 5 stars
      This was really good! I added some simbal and a bit of franks because we like it spicy! Also I thinned the sauce a bit because it’s thick and then it goes a lot longer.

    5. This just sounds so delicious and I cannot wait to try it! My son is home from deployment and Curry is when his favorite dishes, so I’m excited to make this for him! Where do I find the mint leaves?

      1. Hi Joni. Awe, I’m thinking about it all the time when my boys grow up they will be coming home for mom’s homemade meal. Might be one of my ways to see them more.
        Kaffir lime leaves are sold at Asian stores. Just google one near you. You could also use Thai basil if you find it fresh. Those are specialty items carried by Asian stores mostly. If you don’t have them that is OK.

    6. Olena, I just realized every time I make one of your recipes, I say to my son, “Every recipe I make of her’s is awesome!” And he agrees. Thank you! This (among others) was delicious!

      1. That is refreshing to hear because all I seem getting lately is um weird complaints and some generally unhappy emails.:) I think my ️recipes are pretty straightforward and quite tasty. At the end of the day I’m not Martha Stewart enterprise and this is kinda my online recipe collection. Glad you guys enjoy them!!!

    7. I love kaffir lime leaves- and Thai curries! I can buy all sorts of Thai ingredients here– I take lemon grass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves to my aunt who is a foodie when I visit the states- she freezers the kaffir lime leaves as well. I love the actual limes themselves!

    8. 5 stars
      Another fabulous recipe! Followed it exactly and it was a real winner! My whole family loved it. Keep em coming! 🙂

    9. 5 stars
      Well butternut squash is a huge winner around here, Love it love it love. Was the number one food I craved when pregnant, can’t believe you’re kids don’t like it! It’s the shrimp I need to try, never have had it. But you have so many wonderful ingredients going on here that I’m ready to give it a whirl.

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