This Thai red curry recipe is so easy to make with red curry paste and coconut milk, served with shrimp and lentils, though you can use your favorite proteins and vegetables. Done in under 30 minutes!
If you're in a mood for curry, my friends, this amazing Thai Red Curry Recipe is going to be one of your new favorites. Not only is it quick and easy to make, but it is huge on flavor.
I recently made a homemade red curry paste for the site, and it's a big component in building flavor for this recipe. You can use your favorite store bought curry paste, though, or make a big batch and keep it on hand for curry in a hurry.
What I love about most curries is you can have them on the table in 30 minutes or so. Plus, they're incredibly easy to customize with whatever protein or vegetables you happen to have on hand.
Want a seafood version? Toss in some shrimp or scallops or even white fish. Want chicken? Toss in some chopped chicken thighs or chicken breast, or even leftover chicken. Looking for vegetarian? Tofu is great, as are chickpeas, hearty lentils or other beans, and just about any of your favorite vegetables, like squash, broccoli or cauliflower.
I have made this so many different ways, though today I'm adding in succulent shrimp and tasty lentils. Alright! Let's get cooking, my friends.
Let's talk about how to make red curry, shall we?
Red Curry Ingredients
- Oil. Use 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil.
- Peppers. Use 2 jalapeno peppers. Use Thai peppers or something hotter for more heat. Thai peppers are great here.
- Vegetables. Use 1 small onion, 4 cloves garlic, and 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger.
- Seasonings. 1 tablespoon curry powder and 1 teaspoon paprika plus salt and pepper to taste.
- Red Curry Paste. Use 2 tablespoons red curry paste (or more to desired taste). Key ingredient!
- Coconut Milk. Use 12 ounces coconut milk (1 can).
- Lentils. Use ½ cup lentils, rinsed (see RECIPE NOTES for other vegetable and protein options)
- Shrimp. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (see RECIPE NOTES for other vegetable and protein options)
- Lime. Juice from fresh limes + lime wedges for serving
- Herbs. Chopped cilantro, parsley or Thai basil for serving
- Rice. 2 cups cooked rice for serving – I used coconut-lime rice! Jasmine rice is great, or try it with cooked Thai noodles.
- FOR GARNISH: Chopped red peppers, spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped cilantro
How to Make Red Curry - the Recipe Method
First, heat the oil in a large pan or wok to medium heat. Coconut oil is great for this recipe, though any vegetable oil will do.
Add the chopped jalapenos, onion and ginger. Cook them down about 5 minutes, until softened. If you're looking for a spicier red curry, use hotter peppers. Thai peppers are excellent here if you can find them, but if not, use your favorite chili peppers of choice.
Next, add in the garlic and cook another minute, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the curry powder and paprika. Give it a stir. Feel free to use extra curry powder here if you'd like for more curry flavor and heat.
Stir in the red curry paste and cook it for a minute. This helps the curry paste flavor bloom a bit. It will clump up with the cooked vegetables, though this is expected.
Add the coconut milk and stir. Bring to a quick boil at medium-high heat and reduce the heat to simmer.
Stir in the lentils. Simmer for 15 minutes to soften the lentils.
Add the shrimp and tuck them into the sauce. Simmer another 5 minutes to let the shrimp cook through and for the flavors to develop. I added in a few scallops as well that I had leftover from a previous meal. As mentioned, the recipe is very easy to customize with any of your favorite proteins and vegetables.
Serve the red curry over prepared white rice or noodles, then squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the top. I used coconut-lime rice today. Garnish and enjoy. Also, I used fresh cilantro and parsley, along with sliced peppers and red chili flakes.
Boom! Done! Your red curry is ready to enjoy. Easy enough, isn't it? Better than the Thai restaurant. Once you're prepped, you can have this on the table in under 30 minutes. Quick and easy. I love easy recipes! In fact, most of my favorite Thai food is quick and easy.
You don't have to go out for restaurant quality curry with this recipe on hand.
Red Curry Paste
Red curry paste is key in making authentic Thai red curry. You can make it with with curry powder alone, but a good red curry paste will make all the difference with many Thai dishes.
There are many good ones you can purchase from your local grocery store, or even order online, but I like to make my own. A homemade version is so much fresher with bolder flavor. Plus, you can make it however you'd like by emphasizing the ingredients you love most.
I like to include lots of spicy red peppers, pungent garlic and ginger, lemongrass, galangal, cilantro, tomato paste, lime juice, fish sauce and shrimp paste, a lots of spices like chili powder, cumin, black and white pepper, and salt, along with sugar or brown sugar.
Also, other popular ingredients are soy sauce and kaffir lime leaves.
Try my homemade red curry paste recipe. Let me know how you like it.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Proteins. There are many, many protein options for curry. I greatly enjoy shrimp for my curry, and I even tossed in some extra scallops I had on hand because I didn't want them to go to waste. Red curry is great for white fish, mussels, crab or squid. Chicken is hugely popular for curry as well, like chopped chicken thigh or chicken breast. You can also easily go vegetarian with proteins like tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, edamame and more.
- The Vegetables. I used lentils to round out the meal, but you have many options. Broccoli is very common, as is cauliflower or chickpeas. Try it with diced butternut squash, carrots or sweet potatoes, green beans, lots of sliced red bell pepper, green or mixed bell peppers, sweet peas or leafy spinach.
- Heat Factor. Is red curry spicy? Red curry isn’t meant to be overly hot and spicy, though you can easily spice it up with hotter peppers and a hotter red curry paste. The Heat Factor = Mild-Medium. There is a lot of overall flavor and spice from the ingredients, just not usually a big level of heat. When I want to really heat things up, I like to include a ghost pepper in my red curry paste, which takes it to a whole new level.
- Serving. Jasmine rice is popular for serving up curry, though consider serving it over fried rice. It's more like a stir fry that way. I often whip up a simple batch of coconut-lime curry, which is a nice pairing. Try this chili-basil rice recipe, or keep it lower calorie with a simple cauliflower rice recipe. If you're not in the mood for rice, serve it with prepared noodles.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this simple yet flavorful red curry recipe. Also, as I mentioned, it's very easy to adapt to your favorite proteins and vegetables. Extra peppers for me, please!
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your Red Curry in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store the leftovers for up to 3-4 days (2-3 months in the freezer). To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate the dish promptly.
Try Some of My Other Popular Curry Recipes
- Chicken Korma
- Spicy Beef Vindaloo
- Spicy Thai Curry Chicken Soup
- Coconut Chicken Curry
- Chickpea Curry
- Khao Soi – Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup
- Thai Panang Curry
- Thai Shrimp Curry
- Thai Green Curry
- Red Lentil Curry
- Phaal Curry (the Hottest Curry in the World)
- Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken
- Chicken Saag
- Curry Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Red Curry Recipe
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped. Use Thai peppers or something hotter for more heat.
- 1 small onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger chopped
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste or more to desired taste
- 12 ounces coconut milk 1 can
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup lentils rinsed
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- Juice from fresh limes + lime wedges for serving
- Chopped cilantro or parsley for serving
- 2 cups cooked rice for serving I used coconut-lime rice! Or use noodles.
FOR GARNISH: Chopped red peppers, spicy chili flakes, fresh chopped cilantro
- Heat a large pan or wok to medium heat and add 1 teaspoon oil.
- Add the chopped jalapenos, onion and ginger. Cook them down about 5 minutes, until softened.
- Next, add in the garlic and cook another minute, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the curry powder and paprika. Give it a stir.
- Stir in the red curry paste and cook it for a minute.
- Add the coconut milk and stir. Bring to a quick boil and reduce the heat.
- Stir in the lentils. Simmer for 15 minutes to soften the lentils.
- Add the shrimp and tuck them into the sauce. Simmer another 5 minutes to let the shrimp cook through and for the flavors to develop.
- Serve the red curry over prepared white rice or noodles, then squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the top. Garnish and enjoy.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 10/30/20 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 2/17/20.