Jamaican Curry Shrimp is a delicious, full of flavour and easy to make seafood dish! Made using Jamaican curry powder and coconut milk infused with thyme, garlic, scotch bonnet and pimento flavours; this dish provides an irresistible taste and burst of island deliciousness with each bite! Enjoy as an appetizer or as part of a weeknight main course with fresh steamed rice. Recipe instructions includes step-by-step easy to follow recipe video!
Are you looking for more Jamaican fish and seafood recipes to try at home? Check out this Jamaican Coconut Curried Salmon, this Pineapple Jerk Chicken & Shrimp Skewers or this Jamaican Escovitch Fish!
Jamaican Coconut Curry Shrimp
If you don’t have an hour to spend cooking dinner, this recipe is definitely for you. If you’re a lover of seafood, this recipe is also for you! Curry shrimp is one of my favourite 30 minute meals to cook in the kitchen when wanting something traditional (my background is Jamaican), but also includes seafood!
Also, this recipe is great with all kinds like seafood not just shrimp. Try adding in scallops, mussels, crab, and lobster! Feel free to mix it up and add in your favourites!
Here’s Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal – this dish comes together in less than thirty minutes making it weeknight dinner winner.
- Flavourful – one thing for sure, this dish is full of flavour – from the aromatics to the peppers, spices and coconut milk that adds a beautiful richness.
- Don’t Stop at Shrimp – this recipe works well with all types of seafood, whether shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, lobster, crab etc.
What is Curry Powder?
Curry powder is a combination of a blend of dried spices often used in Indian cooking, however many cultures i.e. Asian, Caribbean use curry powder is a variety of dishes as well.
What is Jamaican Curry Powder Made Of?
Jamaican Curry Powder is a beautiful spice blend of turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, pimento, black pepper or pepper variety, star anise, garlic and sometimes salt.
What Curry Powder to Use in Jamaican Curry Shrimp
Personally, I recommend using the Betapac Limited Curry Powder or the Montego Jamaican Style Mild or Spicy Curry Powder. Both provide a beautiful flavour and are great for seasoning not only shrimp but all seafood, and meats such as goat and chicken as well as vegetables and legumes such as chickpeas.
Where to find Betapac or Montego Curry Powder?
You can find the Betapac Curry or Montego Mild or Spicy Curry Powder at your local West Indian or Caribbean grocery store. If you do not have one of these in your neighbourhood, you can order online from a retailer that services your area.
Why Do You Burn/Cook Curry Powder?
Burning the curry is a Caribbean saying and method where you “cook” the curry prior to adding it to the remainder of the dish being prepared. It is not necessary, however greatly advised. It helps to bring out the true deep flavour of the curry.
How to Burn/Cook Curry Powder?
Once the butter and oil is heated over medium-high heat, add curry powder and allow to cook for about a minute or so; stirring quickly to prevent burning too quickly.
What’s Needed to Make this Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)
- Large Skillet – this is the cooking vessel needed to make the curry sauce/gravy and cook the shrimp.
- Cooking Spoon – to toss and mix the ingredients for even cooking and to prevent from burning.
Ingredients and Ingredient Notes
- Raw Shrimp – you can use fresh or frozen, peeled and deveined. Fresh of course, provides the most flavour and ensure you are using raw shrimp.
- Garlic Powder – this is a great base seasoning for the shrimp.
- Curry Powder – Betapac Limited Curry Powder or the Montego Jamaican Style Mild or Spicy Curry Powder are my personal favourites and what I always recommended.
- Salt and Black Pepper – the simplest start for added flavour, season as desired.
- Olive Oil and Butter – use a combination of the olive oil and butter for maximum flavour and to prevent the butter from browning.
- Green and Red Bell Pepper – use any colour variety you have.
- Yellow Onion – you can use any other variety of onion you have on hand if that’s preferred, finely chopped.
- Escallion – also known as green or spring onion, finely sliced.
- Garlic – this adds a beautiful aroma and great flavour to this dish. Use fresh garlic, minced or grated for a more pungent taste.
- Fresh Thyme – this adds a fresh, warm, aromatic and subtly piney flavour.
- Scotch Bonnet Pepper – finely chopped, or keep whole optional, as desired. This packs a good spicy punch, and flavour to the dish. Alternatively, you can use habanero peppers or your favourite variety of pepper. This is also optional so omit or use your favourite hot pepper sauce.
- Coconut Milk – this fragrant milk, adds creaminess and beautiful flavour that ties this dish together.
- Ketchup – this is completely optional, some prefer to leave this out but you can add if so please.
How to Make Jamaican Curry Shrimp (Seafood) with Coconut Milk
- Season Shrimp – with garlic powder, curry powder, black pepper, salt and set aside
- Burn Curry & Saute Veggies – in a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat and “burn”, or cook the curry. Add the julienned bell peppers and onion, and the minced garlic to the saucepan; then add sprig(s) of fresh thyme and scotch bonnet pepper or hot pepper sauce.
- Make the Sauce – stir in coconut milk and ketchup, then add paprika, salt and black pepper.
- Add Shrimp – to the saucepan and cook until they begin to turn pink.
- Thicken – combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until dissolved and stir it into the sauce if needed to thicken.
- Remove from Heat & Enjoy!
What Type of Shrimp to Buy
- Wild Caught Shrimp – look for medium or large wild caught shrimp as opposed to farm-raised for the best flavor and texture.
- Raw Deveined Shrimp – opt for raw (not precooked), peeled and deveined shrimp. This will save you loads of time, as the only prep you need is to defrost and season the shrimp.
- Frozen Shrimp – frozen shrimp is frozen shortly after it’s caught which means it’s frozen at peak freshness! It’s often more economical and quite easy to find. Also, shrimp behind the counter is typically frozen and thawed in most cases.
How Do I Defrost Shrimp?
Here are two options for how you can defrost shrimp:
- Refrigerate Overnight Method (Easy): one of the simplest ways to defrost shrimp is in your refrigerator overnight. Simply remove the desired amount of frozen shrimp, place in a covered bowl and let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
- Cold Water Method (Quick): the quickest way to defrost shrimp is to add the desired amount of shrimp to a large enough bowl, then fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, replace the water with new cold tap water and allow the shrimp to sit once again – repeat after 10 minutes if needed until fully thawed.
How Long Does Defrosted Shrimp Last in the Refrigerator?
After you have defrosted your shrimp, store them in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.
See My Story Below for Step-by-Step Instructions!
Should You Devein Shrimp?
Deveining shrimp is when you remove the dark line you see on the backs of shrimp which is their digestive tract. Removing it is a matter of personal preference and choice as it is not harmful to ingest. However, it can have an unappealing look and taste (adds a gritty/sandy texture).
What’s the Easiest Way to Peel and Devein Shrimp?
It is highly recommended that you purchase shrimp that is already peeled and deveined. However, in the event that you purchase shrimp that is not, follow these simple steps to get the job done:
- Pull Off Head and Legs – if applicable, pull off the head and the legs.
- Remove Shell – . remove, starting on the head end, the outer shell leaving the tail attached if desired.
- Remove and Discard Vein – locate the vein in the shrimp running along its back (also underneath – however this is optional) and make a shallow cut about 1/4 inch deep and use the tip of the knife to lift it out and discard.
- Rinse & Rest – rinse the shrimp and lay on a paper towel to dry until ready to use.
TSS Good to Know – larger shrimp often have grittier veins, which can have an unappealing texture and look.
Should I Cook Shrimp with Tail On or Off?
You can cook shrimp with the tail on or off, depending on your personal preference. However, much like meat bones, the shell and tail of the shrimp contain much flavour which adds to the overall taste of the dish.
How to Know When Shrimp is Done Cooking?
Shrimp like most seafood cook fairly fast around 2-3 minutes per side, as opposed to other kinds of protein. There are two visual cues you can use to ensure you don’t overcook your shrimp – colour and shape.
Colour – when done, shrimp turn pink and opaque in colour with some pink and bright red accents as opposed to their translucent gray raw state. Remove the shrimp from the heat source once it is fully opaque without any gray left.
Shape – as shrimp cook, their muscle contract which cause them to curl this is the second indicator of doneness. Often it is said that perfectly cooked shrimp have “C” shape while over cooked shrimp have an “O” shape. However, most shrimp unless using jumbo shrimp can be perfectly cooked with a “C” shrimp as well. Once your shrimp begin to curl, they are usually done cooking.
Recipe Notes and Tips for Success
This is another quick and easy recipe however, I always like to provide some tips and techniques as well as any variations that may be useful to you and the success of this dish!
- Taste – I find with making this dish, you may feel like it needs more salt here, a little more seasoning there etc. adjust as needed.
- Don’t Overcook the Shrimp – you don’t want your shrimp to become “tough and chewy”. Once they’re done, remove from the heat!
- To Thicken Curry Sauce – you may not need all the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce, or you may need more. Gradually add the mixture to the saucepan while stirring, until your desired level of thickness is reached.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Add in More Seafood – as I mentioned above, this dish works so well with all kinds of seafood like scallops, mussels, crab, and lobster! Ensure everything is evenly sized or added to the pot gradually to ensure proper cooking.
- Make It a Meal – add in small-cut pieces of potatoes and carrots to turn this dish into a one-pot meal. Be sure to use small pieces as you don’t want to be waiting too long for the potatoes and carrots to cook through.
Serving Suggestions and Tips
Serve this Coconut Curry Shrimp dish with the following side dishes for the ultimate feast:
- Fresh Steamed White Rice
- Jamaican Pigeon “Gungo” Peas and Rice
- Jamaican Rice and Peas
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roti or Paratha
- Quinoa or Couscous
- Steamed Vegetables
Can I Make this Ahead of Time?
I do not recommend making this ahead of time, as shrimp can easily become over cooked. However, you can prep your veggies and aromatics ahead of time and bring it all together when ready.
Store leftover Jamaican curry shrimp in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Interested in more Curry Recipes? Check These Out!
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Jamaican Curry Shrimp
- 1 lb Raw Shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tsp Curry Powder betapac or montego brand curry recommended
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Jamaican Curry Shrimp
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Curry Powder betapac or montego brand curry recommended
- 1/2 med Green Bell Pepper finely diced or julienned
- 1/2 med Red Bell Pepper finely diced or julienned
- 1 sm Onion finely diced or julienned
- 1 stalk Green Onion finely sliced
- 3-4 cloves Garlic minced
- 1-2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper or 1 tsp of Hot Pepper Sauce
- 1 400ml Can Coconut Milk
- 1/2 tsp Salt or more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Ketchup optional
To Thicken Sauce
- 3 tsp Cornstarch
- 3 tsp Cold Water
- Season shrimp with garlic powder, curry powder, black pepper, salt and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat and “burn”, or cook the curry (1 tbsp) for about 2 minutes – see notes section. Add the julienned bell peppers and onion, and the minced garlic to the saucepan. Saute until the veggies have softened slightly; then add sprig(s) of fresh thyme and scotch bonnet pepper or hot pepper sauce.
- Stir in coconut milk until combined, then add salt and black pepper, stirring occasionally for approx. 5 minutes. Add shrimp to the saucepan and cook until they begin to turn pink.
- Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl until dissolved and stir it into the sauce if needed to thicken. Continue to let simmer while stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken. Add more salt/pepper as desired and remove the scotch bonnet pepper. Once the sauce has thickened to your liking, remove from the stove, serve while hot and enjoy!
Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.