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Shrimp Panang Curry

Shrimp panang curry is tangy and creamy, with a flavorful sweet heat. The easy panang curry with shrimp is perfect for busy weeknights since the one-pot meal is ready in 30 minutes! Pair the curry with steaming hot jasmine rice to complete the meal. 

Shrimp panang curry in a bowl with basil.

What is Panang Curry?

Panang curry, also spelled ‘phanaeng,’ is a Thai curry that originates from the island of Penang. The name of the dish comes from a Khymer word for cross. This a reference to how they crossed chickens’ legs before cooking them on the grill to prepare authentic panang curry.

Today, it’s one of the most well-known Thai meals – known for having a nutty, sweet, and aromatic flavor.

What is Panang Curry Paste?

The key to the intense flavor and rich aromatics of Thai curry is curry paste. The ingredients for Panang curry paste vary from region to region and home to home, combining things like Thai red chiles, peanuts, galangal, cilantro, garlic cloves, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste, and lemongrass to make homemade curry paste.

Since many of these ingredients aren’t readily available in the United States and other regions, I recommend buying a store-bought paste to make it easy on yourself.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Shrimp: I used fresh jumbo shrimp because that’s what was on sale the week I planned to photograph this recipe, but I have made it with large, extra-large, and colossal shrimp with good results. However, you should adjust the cooking time depending on the size of the shrimp you use.
  • Panang Curry Paste: When it comes to Thai curry paste, I have tried them all. Maesri Panang curry paste is the best by far! It’s also one of the few curry pastes that are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Mae Ploy is a tasty alternative.
  • Coconut Oil: Use coconut oil to bloom the curry paste and flavor the dish.
  • Vegetables: I use yellow onion, red bell pepper, and shiitake mushrooms, but feel free to use the vegetables you have on hand.
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: Kaffir lime leaves add a unique flavor to the curry. Be sure to scrunch the leaves in your palm before using them to release more of their natural oils. And don’t worry about waste; you can freeze the extra kaffir lime leaves after use. They change color once frozen, but they retain all their flavor.
  • Garlic: I suggest using three garlic cloves, but measure with your heart.
  • Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is a staple in Thai cuisine. Use full-fat coconut milk for a perfect, creamy consistency.
  • Fish Sauce: This tasty fermented sauce provides an added boost to curries like this one.
  • Basil: Bites of curry Panang with fresh Thai basil are the best ones, in my opinion.

Additions and Substitutions

I love how flexible Thai curries are, especially when it comes to mix-ins. They may deviate from truly authentic panang curry, but what home cook doesn’t improvise a little? Here are some suggestions for additions to make my shrimp panang curry recipe your own.

  • Vegetables: Replace the vegetables in my recipe or add more of them. I like to include zucchini, snap peas, squash, bamboo shoots, potatoes, and bean sprouts.
  • Nuts: Finish shrimp panang curry with toasted cashews or peanuts.
  • Sauce: Stir a tablespoon of peanut butter into the curry for added nuttiness.
  • Protein: Use chicken, beef, fish, or tofu instead of shrimp.

How to Make Shrimp Panang Curry

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Defrost the shrimp in a mixing bowl. De-vein and remove the tails. Set them aside.

Shrimp defrosting in a bowl.

Step 2: Warm Panang curry paste and coconut oil in a wok until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Coconut oil and panang curry paste cooking in a pan.

Step 3: Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until they become translucent and soften.

Onions and bell peppers cooking with the curry paste in a pan.

Step 4: Pour one can of coconut milk into the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

Coconut milk added to the pan.

Step 5: Reduce the heat to a light simmer and add mushrooms, keffir lime leaves, and the remaining coconut milk. The curry should thicken after 5 minutes.

Mushrooms included in the curry.

Step 6: Stir in the reserved shrimp, and simmer for 5 minutes until fully cooked.

Simmering shrimp panang curry in a pn.

Step 7: Stir in the reserved shrimp, and simmer for 5 minutes until fully cooked.

Shrimp panang curry in a small bowl with basil and chilies.

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these dinner recipes!

Shrimp panang curry in a bowl with basil.

Serving Suggestions

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Let the dish cool, then transfer the curry to a freezer-safe container or bag. Shrimp panang curry freezes for up to 4-6 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the leftover curry in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat: Warm leftovers on the stovetop over low-medium heat to avoid overcooking the shrimp.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between panang Thai curry and red Thai curry?

The difference in flavor comes down to the curry paste. Panang curry paste includes tangier ingredients and often includes red chilies, peanuts, cilantro, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and shrimp paste. The primary ingredient they share is red chilis, which red Thai curry paste incorporates more of, making it spicier than panang.

Can I make panang curry vegetarian? Can I make it vegan?

You sure can! Tofu, seitan, and more vegetables are always great options with Thai curry. The brand of Thai curry paste I use is one of the few that market as vegan; it also happens to be the tastiest! Finally, use vegan fish sauce flavored with seaweed or marmite to provide umami for the dish.

Where can I buy panang curry paste?

Some major grocery stores carry panang curry paste in the International section, but I am not a fan of the brands they carry. Your best bet is taking a trip to your local Asian market. I am loyal to Maesri curry paste, but Mae Ploy is a great alternative. If you can’t find paste for panang curry, buy red curry paste and use a mortar and pestle or food processor to add lemongrass and peanuts; this will get you pretty close to the authentic flavor.

Is panang curry spicy?

The curry is nutty, creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy. If you’re concerned about heat, consider reducing the curry paste or adding peanut butter to tone it down. You can also use more coconut milk.

More Quick Dinner Ideas:

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Shrimp panang curry in a bowl with basil.

Shrimp Panang Curry

Tressa Jamil
Creamy, tangy, and sweet, shrimp panang curry pairs with perfectly steamed jasmine rice for a tasty, easy-to-make weeknight meal!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 518 kcal
  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 can Panang Thai curry paste, 4-ounce, (whole can for spicy, ½ can for mild)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • can coconut milk, full-fat, plus more if you prefer less spicy
  • 1 package shiitake mushrooms, quartered
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • fresh basil leaves, to garnish
  • 1 lime, zested, slices to garnish
  • Defrost the shrimp in a mixing bowl. Devein and remove the tails. Set aside.
  • Warm Panang curry paste and coconut oil in a wok until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the onions become translucent and soften.
  • Pour one can of coconut milk into the pan. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a light simmer and add mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, and the remaining coconut milk. The curry should thicken after 5 minutes. If the curry doesn't thicken, add two tablespoons of cold water and stir to combine.
  • Stir in the reserved shrimp, and simmer for 5 minutes until fully cooked.
  • Off heat, add the fish sauce, and garnish with Thai basil leaves. Serve with jasmine rice, and enjoy!
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Serving: 1 Bowl | Calories: 518 kcal | Carbohydrates: 16 g | Protein: 36 g | Fat: 37 g | Saturated Fat: 30 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2 g | Cholesterol: 286 mg | Sodium: 1663 mg | Potassium: 877 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 1384 IU | Vitamin C: 45 mg | Calcium: 165 mg | Iron: 6 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 8 votes (4 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Friday 26th of May 2023

Wow, this Shrimp Panang Curry is a flavor explosion! In just 30 minutes, I had a delicious and satisfying meal on my table. I served it with jasmine rice and the fresh Thai basil took it to another level. I can't wait to make it again!

Amanda Thompson

Friday 26th of May 2023

I just made this Shrimp Panang Curry for dinner and it blew me away! The flavors were incredibly authentic, and the tangy creaminess with a hint of heat was spot on. It truly felt like I was dining at a Thai restaurant. Plus, it was so quick and easy to make, perfect for a busy weeknight. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing it


Tuesday 7th of March 2023

I think in Step 4 you mean ine can of coconut milk, not oil!

Tressa Jamil

Tuesday 7th of March 2023

Wow, thank you so much for catching that! I have made the necessary changes.

Matt W.

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

Definitely one of my favorites, as well as one of my kids' favorites! I tried adding toasted cashews as well and it gave it a nice texture. Great flavor and a nice dish to mix up the usual rotation.

Tressa Jamil

Tuesday 12th of July 2022

You've got to love a meal that adults and kids all enjoy! So happy you liked it.


Wednesday 8th of June 2022

This has to be my favorite Thai curry from the Jamil Ghar! I keep going back. Really easy to make and it's a great weeknight meal.

Tressa Jamil

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

Isn't it such a convenient meal for those busy nights? I am happy you enjoyed it.