Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
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This Thai Red Curry Fried Rice is quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and incredibly flavorful! Juicy shrimp, garlic, chilies, red curry paste, Thai sweet basil, and jasmine rice come together in this showstopping fried rice. Serve it with a crispy Thai style fried egg and make it a full meal!
My love for fried rice and Thai curries knows no bounds. So, why not combine my two favorites to make a THAI RED CURRY FRIED RICE!!!
We have here:
- Juicy jumbo shrimp.
- Fragrant aromatics and herbs like garlic, fresh chilies, makrut lime leaves, and intoxicatingly fragrant Thai sweet basil.
- Spicy Thai red curry paste.
- Aromatic tender Thai jasmine rice.
Everything gets stir-fried in a hot wok and is ready in just 25 minutes!
Top off your plate with a crispy Thai style fried egg and a sprinkling of coriander and spring onion. All that there’s left to do is squeeze fresh lime juice over everything and enjoy with cooling cucumber slices!
If you’re a fan of Thai green curry, check out my Thai green curry chicken fried rice!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy! It’s ready in under 30 minutes and perfect for busy weeknights!
- EXPLODING with BIG delicious flavors! It’s extra spicy and flavorful thanks to Thai red curry paste, and wonderfully fragrant with makrut lime leaves and Thai sweet basil.
- Customizable. You can customize it with your favorite protein and add a few veggies if you like. You can also make it as spicy or mild as your heart desires!
- Can be served as a side or main dish. It’s great as a side to other Thai dishes, but can also be eaten as a full meal for lunch or dinner.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Thai Red Curry Paste: I use Mae Ploy Thai red curry paste in my home because the flavor is more authentic (and hotter!) than some other brands such as De Siam and Thai Kitchen. Maesri red curry is also authentic tasting and I can vouch for its great flavor. You can find Thai red curry paste in large supermarkets that are well-stocked with international ingredients, Asian or Thai grocery stores, and online.
- Cooked Long Grain Rice: Day old cooked and refrigerated long grain rice is best for fried rice as it’s dryer than freshly cooked rice and won’t turn into mush in the wok. I like using Thai jasmine rice for fried rice, but any long grain cooked cold rice is fine will work.
- Shrimp (or Prawns): I used pre-peeled and deveined jumbo (size 16/20) shrimp. However, just about any protein you love will work. (See ‘Variations’ section below for other protein options.)
- Chilies: I’ve used fresh red Bird’s Eye chilies and Thai ‘prik kee nu’ green chilies for heat, and a large red mild chili for color. But you can use any small hot red and green chilies that you can easily get in your area. Thai prik kee nu chilies may be tiny in size, but they are FIERY hot so use with caution. If you prefer to make this fried rice milder, use less or omit the hot chilies all together.
- Asian Red Shallots: Or you can use half of a medium yellow or red onion.
- Thai Sweet Basil Leaves: Known as ‘horapa’ in Thai. Thai sweet basil has a unique sweet fragrance and it adds incredible flavors to Thai curries like Thai green chicken curry and panang chicken curry! It’s also tasty in stir-fries like Thai eggplant stir-fry, Thai eggplant noodles, and this savory pork & tomato gravy noodles. Find them in a Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket. Substitute with Italian basil leaves if unavailable.
- Makrut Lime Leaves: These fragrant leaves add a beautiful citrusy aroma to Thai dishes. Look for them in a Thai grocery store. Note that these usually aren’t eaten (unless finely chopped or sliced like in my Choo Chee salmon curry) and are only there to add flavor. Substitute with dried makrut like leaves or the powdered version if unavailable.
- Fish Sauce: For savory umami notes. You can substitute with soy sauce if you prefer.
- White Sugar: To balance out the heat from the curry paste and hot chilies. Add more or less to taste depending on your heat level preference. You can use light brown sugar, coconut sugar, palm sugar, or any other sweetener of your choice.
- Canola Oil: Or use any other neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point.
- Eggs: To make delicious Thai style crispy fried eggs for serving! You’ll need one egg per person/serving.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
1. Prepare all the fresh ingredients. Roughly chop the garlic and fresh Bird’s Eye and prik kee nu green chilies. Using a mortar and pestle, pound them into a coarse paste. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, finely chop or pulse into a coarse paste using a mini blender.)
2. Fry the eggs. Heat canola oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, crack in an egg. Use your spatula to spoon the surrounding oil on top of the egg continuously, until the edges of the white part is crispy and browned and the yolk is cooked to your liking. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
3. Stir-fry the aromatics. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the wok and stir-fry the smashed garlic-chilies paste and large red chili slices until fragrant. (If using onion instead of Asian red shallots, add them at this point too so that they soften enough.)
4. Add the shrimp. Stir-fry for a minute until they start to turn pink.
5. Add the red curry paste, shallots and makrut lime leaves. Stir-fry to combine with everything until the curry paste has broken down and is fragrant.
6. Add the cooked rice, fish sauce and white sugar. Stir-fry until combined well and the rice is evenly coated with the curry paste.
7. Toss through basil. For a few brief seconds until just wilted.
Plate and serve! Divide evenly onto plates and top each with a crispy fried egg. Sprinkle with chopped coriander (cilantro) and spring onion (green onion/scallion). Serve with cooling cucumber slices and lime wedges for squeezing and enjoy!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Use large jumbo-sized shrimp or prawns. Although this dish can be made with smaller sized shrimp, nothing beats the succulent texture of jumbo 16/20 size shrimp or prawns! Plus, the bigger they are the less likely they’ll get overcooked and rubbery.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Use less Bird’s eye and Prik Kee Nu chilies or omit completely to make this milder. Also, use a milder Thai red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen or De Siam brand) or less if using a hot one (like Mae Ploy and Maesri).
- Season to taste. Depending on the brand of Thai red curry paste you’re using, you may need to add more or less fish sauce and sugar to get the right balance for your preference.
It is moderately spicy, but not as spicy as Thai green curry paste. Depending on the brand, some red curry pastes such as Mae Ploy and Maesri may be hotter than others.
Usually, no. However, it is best to check the ingredients list to ensure that the one you’re using is nut-free if you have or are cooking for someone with sensitivities.
Typically, Thai red curry paste is made of garlic, dried red chilies, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, salt, shrimp paste, makrut lime (also known as kaffir lime) peel, and pepper. Different brands may add other ingredients too.
- Use a different protein. Sliced boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, pork tenderloin (fillet), beef flank or skirt steak, or tofu or tempeh would taste great!
- Make it vegetarian/vegan: Use soy sauce instead of fish sauce and use a vegetarian red curry paste that has no shrimp paste in it. Thai Kitchen red curry paste is suitable for vegan and gluten-free diets.
- Make it gluten-free. Use a gluten-free Thai red curry paste and make sure that the fish sauce you’re using is GF certified.
- Add veggies. To boost the nutritional content, you can add baby corn, green beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli (‘gai lan’), etc.
- Add coconut milk. Add half cup of coconut milk after the curry paste and simmer for a minute to let the flavors meld before adding the rice and fish sauce.
More Thai Fried Rice Recipes
- Thai Green Curry Fried Rice
- Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice
- Spicy Thai Pork Fried Rice
- Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns
- Or browse the entire Fried Rice recipe collection.
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Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
Quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes and incredibly flavorful, this Thai Red Curry Fried Rice is loaded with juicy shrimp and an easy weeknight dinner! Serve it with a crispy Thai style fried egg for a showstopping meal!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 10
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 3 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir-fry
- Cuisine: Thai
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 200 grams / 7 ounces peeled and deveined Shrimp (or prawns – size 16/20 preferred) – thawed if using frozen (note 1)
- 1.5 cups Thai Sweet Basil Leaves (note – 2 – or regular Italian basil if unavailable) – washed, pat-dried
- 4 Makrut Lime Leaves (note 3) – destemmed, torn into quarters
- 6 Garlic cloves – peeled, roughly chopped
- 2–10 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
- 2–6 Thai Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies (optional – note 4), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
- 1 Large Red Chili – destemmed, thinly sliced at an angle
- 4 Asian Red Shallots (or ½ medium yellow or red onion – note 5) – peeled, finely chopped
- 1.5 TBLS Thai Red Curry Paste (I use Mae Ploy brand – note 6)
- 3 cups cooked Long Grain Rice (such as Thai Jasmine rice, day old cooked cold rice works best)
- 1 TSP Fish Sauce, to taste
- ½–1 TSP White Sugar, to taste
- ¼ cup Canola Oil (or other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point)
- 3 large Eggs
- To Serve: chopped Coriander (Cilantro) and Spring Onion (Scallion/Green Onion), sliced cucumber, lime wedges for squeezing
- Prepare the ingredients: Peel and devein the shrimp (if not already). Rinse thoroughly and pat-dry. Pick the Thai sweet basil leaves off the stems, then wash and pat-dry. Destem the makrut lime leaves and tear into quarters. Chop the garlic, Thai red chilies, Prik Kee Nu green chilies (if using). Pound into a coarse paste using a mortar and pestle and set aside. (Note: If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, finely chop instead or pulse into a coarse paste using a mini blender.) Thinly slice the large red chili and finely chop the Asian red shallots. Set everything by the side of your wok on the stovetop.
For the Thai Red Curry Fried Rice:
- Fry the eggs: Heat ¼ cup canola oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, crack in an egg. Use your spatula to spoon the surrounding oil on top of the egg continuously until the edges of the white part is crispy and browned and the yolk is cooked to your liking. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
- Stir-fry the garlic and chilies: Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the wok and heat over high heat. Once hot, add the smashed garlic-chilies paste and large red chili slices. Stir-fry for a minute until fragrant.
- Cook the shrimp: Add the shrimp and toss for 1 minute until they start to turn pink.
- Add the curry paste: Add the red curry paste, shallots, and makrut lime leaves. Stir-fry until the curry paste is combined well everything and fragrant – about 1 minute.
- Add the rice and seasonings: Add the cooked rice, fish sauce, and white sugar. Stir-fry using a scooping motion, breaking the clumps with your spatula as needed until combined well and evenly coated with the curry paste.
- Toss through basil: Toss through the Thai sweet basil leaves until just wilted – about 15 seconds. Switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Divide evenly onto three plates and top each plate with a fried egg. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and spring onion. Serve with cucumber slices and lime wedges for squeezing on the side.
- Shrimp. I used pre-peeled and deveined shrimp. If using shrimp or prawns that are not already peeled and deveined, use double the quantity indicated (400 grams / 14 ounces). The weight will go down by approximately half once peeled and deveined.
- Thai Sweet Basil. Known as ‘horapa’ in Thai. Thai sweet basil has a unique sweet fragrance and it adds incredible flavors to Thai curries and stir-fries. Find them in a Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket. Substitute with Italian basil leaves if unavailable.
- Makrut Lime Leaves. Known also as kaffir lime leaves, these fragrant citrusy leaves add a beautiful aroma and flavor to Thai dishes. Look for them in a Thai grocery store. They usually aren’t eaten (unless finely chopped or sliced) and are only used to add flavor in this fried rice. Substitute with dried makrut like leaves or the powdered version if unavailable.
- Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies (and other chilies). Thai prik kee nu chilies may be difficult to track down outside Asia. Feel free to use any other hot small green chilies you like. If you do find them, note they are FIERY hot. Use with caution. If you prefer to make this fried rice milder, use less or omit the hot Bird’s eye and prik kee nu chilies all together. The large red chili is mild and is mainly used for color.
- Asian Red Shallots. If using yellow or red onion instead of shallots, it’s best to add them with the chilies and garlic in the first step so that they soften enough. You can add the shallots in the first step if you wish, but note that they tend to become sweeter the longer they are cooked.
- Thai Red Curry Paste. I use Mae Ploy Thai red curry paste in my home because the flavor is more authentic (and hotter!) than some other brands such as De Siam and Thai Kitchen. Maesri red curry is also authentic tasting and I can vouch for its great flavor. Find it in large supermarkets that are well-stocked with international ingredients, Asian or Thai grocery stores, or purchase it online. Depending on the brand of Thai red curry paste you’re using, you may need to add more or less fish sauce and sugar to get the right balance for your preference.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1 plate
- Calories: 527
- Sugar: 11.4g
- Sodium: 416.9mg
- Fat: 16.9g
- Saturated Fat: 2.5g
- Unsaturated Fat: 12.2g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 67.2g
- Fiber: 4.2g
- Protein: 28.4g
- Cholesterol: 293.3mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.