Move over chicken! Indian butter shrimp is super delicious and quicker and easier, too. Start with frozen shrimp, that cooks in minutes in the aromatic Indian-spiced tomato sauce.
This Indian Butter Shrimp bring all the flavours of the classic Indian dish to shrimp! And what’s more, starting with frozen shrimp that gets added right from the freezer to the simmering sauce, makes for a quick and easy dinner, too. This one is ready in just about 20 minutes!
I love that a bag of shrimp in my freezer and a few pantry ingredients means a delicious and quick dinner is always at hand. Add some rice and Naan and you’re all set.
Ingredients and Substitutions
This Butter Shrimp recipe allows for lots of flexibility in ingredients, so you can work with what you have on hand.
Shrimp – you can start with either frozen raw shrimp or frozen cooked shrimp. The raw will need just a few more minutes to cook up in the sauce.
Tomatoes – start with either canned crushed tomatoes, passata or tomato sauce. In a pinch, drain and blend up some canned diced tomatoes. I generally use canned crushed tomatoes if I have them. Passata would be my second choice. I used Fire-roasted crushed tomatoes here which are chunkier than a lot of crushed tomatoes.
Cream – you can use heavy whipping cream, coconut milk or cream, yogurt or non-dairy milk to add a creamy note to this dish.
Spices – if your spice rack is well stocked, go for the full Spice Mix in the recipe. If not, just skip the one or two you don’t have and increase the rest a bit. If you happen to have Butter Chicken Curry Paste in your fridge, just use that instead of the individual spices. You’ll probably want to start with about 1 Tbsp of the paste and go from there.
You will also need – tomato paste (nice, but not essential), brown sugar (optional), onion, garlic and ginger (nice, but not essential), salt and pepper. For garnishes, limes, cilantro and cucumber are great additions if you have them.
This is a visual summary of the steps to make this dish. Always use to the complete instructions in the Recipe Card below when making the recipe.
I’ve provided lots of flexibility in the Ingredients, so you can work with what you have on hand. I’ve used heavy cream here, but you can use coconut milk or yogurt, if you prefer.
- If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender to blend the sauce down before adding the shrimp.
- I’ve provided some flexibility in the amount of cream. You can add as much or as little as you like.
- Be careful not to over-cook your shrimp. If you frozen shrimp is cooked, it just needs to thaw/warm in the sauce and that will only take a couple of minutes. For raw shrimp, allow 3-4 minutes more.
- Don’t forget the salt and pepper. Despite the spices, this dish still needs a little salt to really bring out all the wonderful flavours. Taste the sauce at the end of cooking and season as needed.
- Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients and don’t stress if you don’t have everything. You can still make a delicious Butter shrimp even if you are missing a spice or two. I’ve listed lots of options in the Recipe Card. Work with what you have on hand.
- This dish is nice served with Basmati rice and warm or grilled Naan bread.
Get the Recipe: Indian Butter Shrimp
- 16-18 frozen raw or cooked shrimp, jumbo or large, peeled and cleaned, if necessary (no need to thaw unless required to clean or peel)
Indian Spice Mix:
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Sauce:
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon butter, can substitute vegetable or olive oil
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup onion, finely diced
- Indian Spice Mix, from above
- 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoon Tandoori Curry Paste, or 1/2 tsp Tandoori Masala dried spice or 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste, nice, but optional
- 1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, optional
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 1/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes, or passata or tomato sauce
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, or plain yogurt, coconut cream, coconut milk (stirred),or non-dairy milk or cream
- 1 Tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, Kasoori Methi - optional
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Lime wedges
- Chopped Cilantro
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Prepare your spice mix and prepare and gather the other ingredients to have handy.
- Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is softened and starting to colour, 3-4 minutes. Add the Spice Mix and cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the curry paste, tomato paste, brown sugar, garlic and ginger paste and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds or so. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir to combined. Lower heat and allow to simmer until it slightly reduces, about 5 minutes.
- *If desired, you can use an immersion blender in the pan to puree the sauce at this point, if you prefer a smooth sauce.
- Add the frozen shrimp to the pan and stir to combine. Allow to simmer until shrimp is thawed and warmed in the case of cooked shrimp (2-3 minutes), or until cooked through, for raw shrimp (4-5 minutes). *The frozen shrimp will add some moisture to the sauce, but if sauce seems too thick at any point, add a splash of water to the mix.
- Add cream (or coconut milk/yogurt) and stir to combine. Add fenugreek leaves, if using and stir to combine. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and with sliced cucumber and lime wedges or slices. If desired, add some basmati rice and/or Naan bread.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!