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How to Make Thai Red Curry

A simple comfort food recipe for Thai red curry made with succulent shrimp and potatoes in a velvety coconut cream curry sauce. Easier and better than takeout for a quick weeknight dinner.

plump shrimp in a Thai red curry sauce

Today I’m sharing a Thai Red Curry Recipe that is jam-packed with subtle flavors and is full of succulent shrimp, tender cooked potatoes, onions that literally melt in your mouth. They’re surrounded with a velvety coconut cream sauce that has just the right amount of heat with the addition of red curry paste.  

It’s no secret I’m a fan of foods with big flavor and that I’ve taken a lot of classes perfecting Thai, Chinese and French foods.  

Basically all ethnic foods and traditions are some of my favorite meals because I love bold flavors and trying different things.  The Spicy Thai Shrimp soup was so popular earlier this year I wanted to expand on that for you for some variety.

Nothing beats this homemade curry for a delicious and comforting meal when you want some authentic Thai food!

To start off with all of my knowledge of Thai curries come from some specialty classes I took with Jet Tila. This shrimp curry recipe is an adapted version of yellow chicken curry he taught me.

He’s the best teacher…  while he doesn’t teach classes at the school where I took them you can get many of his recipes in his amazing cookbooks.

shrimp rice and vegetables in red curry

What is Thai Curry?

Thai Curry is a combination of many ingredients that are made from a paste (curry paste.) The paste is then added to coconut milk and many other fragrant and flavorful ingredients and is usually served over rice.

Thai Curry pastes are wet (versus curry powders) and are very fragrant from all of the ingredients that create them.

All paste bases usually begin with lemongrass, shallots, garlic and onion. Other ingredients that might be included are kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, and coriander.  

The additional ingredients added to the paste will determine what kind of curry paste you end up with. Red curry, yellow curry or green curry all with varying degrees of spiciness.

Green Curry Paste

Fresh chilis are added to the base which makes this curry paste the hottest of all of the Curry pastes.

Red Thai Curry Paste

Red curry paste is made with dried red chilies and is the medium level of spiciness

Yellow Curry Paste

Yellow curry is the mildest of Thai curries.  They generally have no peppers at all and get their color from curry powders and lots of turmeric.  This is the version I serve people when they have never tried Thai food. It’s not hot at all but has all of the delicious aromas and flavors that aren’t intimidating.

All curry recipes can be swapped…. which is also great if you have one paste on hand versus another.  If you like spicy, make this red shrimp curry using green curry  (and call it Green Shrimp Curry).  If you prefer it mild use a yellow curry and make Yellow Shrimp Curry.

Ingredient for thai shrimp curry thai basil, onion, potatoes, curry paste, coconut cream


What other ingredients go into Thai Curry:

Along with the curry paste, the fish sauce, sugar, coconut cream, Thai basil and coconut cream flavor the curry.  But all of the other ingredients are very flexible.

You can sub in whatever your family or guests enjoy.  I’ve made it with spinach, cilantro, chicken, pork, tomatoes, tofu, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes and broccolini. The possibilities are endless when making Thai coconut curry.

Step by Step instructions for Red Thai Curry

  • Start with a little coconut milk with the curry paste and lime leaves and stir fry them a few minutes to thin the curry paste so it easily blends
  • Add all of the milk and let it simmer and reduce to a nice velvety consistency. 
  • Add the onions, fish sauce, basil, potatoes to cook until potatoes are softened (less than 20 minutes.)
  • Finally, add the shrimp last (you don’t want to add it with everything else to avoid hard rubbery shrimp.  Shrimp cooks super quickly.
  • Serve.
Serving pot ladeling out the curry shrimp.

Common Questions you might have making any Thai Curry

I can’t find kaffir lime leaves and I don’t have time to order them at amazon what can I use instead? When in a bind I’ve substituted  the zest of a lime and a little bit of lemon thyme (or regular thyme.)

For each tablespoon of Kaffir lime leaves the recipe calls for use the zest of half of a lime and a pinch of thyme.

Where do I find all of the ingredients to make Thai Curry?  Most regular grocery stores or amazon carry all of the ingredients for making authentic curry recipes.  You can also look for a local asian market too.  

What do I serve with Red Thai Curry?  Serve this red curry recipe over steamed rice for a very filling and satisfying meal.  You can also serve it over rice noodles.

We dont like shrimp can I make Thai Curry with anything else? Thai Curry can be made with any protein you like.  If you use chicken you’ll want to toss it in sooner than the last two minutes like you do with the shrimp.  Chicken takes longer to cook so I usually add it after the potatoes have simmered for just 10 minutes.  

Serving bowl of Thai Curry over rice




Other Flavorful recipes you might enjoy:



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Yield: 8

Shrimp Thai Red Curry

shrimp rice and vegetables in red curry

Simple comfort food recipe for thai red curry made with succulent shrimp, potatoes in a velvety coconut cream curry sauce. Easier and better than takeout for a quick weeknight dinner.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes



  1. In a medium saucepan heat a couple of tablespoons of the coconut milk for 1-2 minutes on medium heat.  Then stir in curry paste and lime leaves.  Stir for 1-3 minutes more until paste starts to brown.
  2. Stir in remaining coconut milk into the curry paste.  Increase heat to high until boiling.  Allow to boil for 5-10 minutes until it reduces by 1/4.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer.  Add potatoes, basil leaves, onion, fish sauce and sugar.  Let simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add shrimp and simmer for 3-5 minutes until opaque and cooked thru.
  5. Spoon over jasmine rice or alone.  Garnish with pepper strips or diced pieces.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 541Saturated Fat: 38gCholesterol: 214mgSodium: 810mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 22g

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Thai Shrimp Curry - Lisa's Dinnertime Dish

Tuesday 7th of November 2023

[…] spent quite a lot of time browsing through Michele’s recipes before deciding on her amazing Thai red curry. So many recipes looked so good that it made it very tough to […]

Jennifer Stewart

Monday 22nd of April 2019

We love Thai food. Will definitely be making this recipe. It looks better than take out.


Monday 8th of April 2019

I love Thai food and this red curry looks absolutely amazing! My husband loves shrimp so I will be making this for him this week. Love that you added potatoes. Such a great addition.


Saturday 6th of April 2019

This is really good ! I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make.

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