Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin Curry will be your favorite exotic taste of Fall!

This Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe is Fall (and heaven!) on plate! It is lusciously creamy with an intoxicating pumpkin, coconut, red curry sauce spiked with basil, garlic and ginger, loaded with squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini and apples all brightened by tangy lime juice and sweet coconut flakes. This comforting, warm, fragrant Chicken Pumpkin Curry is completely customizable – use your favorite veggies or favorite protein, then dish it up with rice, zoodles, noodles, or quinoa; no matter how you serve it, you are going to LOVE this Pumpkin Curry recipe!

top view of Pumpkin Curry Recipe with rice

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Thai Pumpkin Curry

It hasn’t felt much like Fall here in San Diego with our recent heat wave but this past week Fall finally breezed through my kitchen and brought with it the most comforting Pumpkin Curry to ever grace my lips.  

This Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe is inspired by my Fall in a bowl Thai Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Carrot Soup. It is so bursting with flavor and so creamy that I needed an excuse to eat it more ways than only soup. – enter sensational Thai Pumpkin Curry!  

You are going to love this Pumpkin Curry bursting with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and apples all stir fried with red curry, ginger, and garlic creating layers of soft, tender crisp, and crunchy textures, layers of multidimensional Thai flavors, all creamified with pumpkin puree and coconut milk., brightened by refreshing lime, sweet coconut flakes and fresh cilantro.

Thai Pumpkin Curry AKA Fall on a plate.  It’s going to be a delicious Fall.  I hope you join me!

Pumpkin CURRY INGREDIENTS

The recipe ingredient for this Pumpkin Curry recipe might look lengthy but I promise the recipe is super simple – you are basically sautéing your chicken, veggies then dumping in the rest of the ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • pumpkin puree: take care you are using pumpkin puree and NOT pumpkin pie filling because they are not the same thing.  Pumpkin puree is cooked and pureed pumpkin without any added sugar or spices. Pumpkin Pie filling, however, is sweetened and seasoned with Fall spices. I use one can of Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin puree.
  • red curry paste:  red curry paste packs a huge flavor punch because its made of finely ground coriander, peppercorns, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, cilantro, shallot, garlic, and fresh chiles – all combined for you.  Note that some curry brands are spicier than others.  If you are using a more mild brand like Thai Kitchen then I would start with ¼ cup curry paste.  If you are using a spicier brand like Mae Ploy, I would start with 2 tablespoons.  You can add more curry paste to taste once the soup is simmering or add sriracha to taste at the end of cooking.
  • Aromatics: onions, ginger and garlic elevate the Thai Pumpkin Curry flavor profile and are essential to all curries.  If you are feeling extra lazy, you can substitute the fresh ingredients with powders.  The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.  
  • Coconut milk: my favorite coconut milk brand is Chaokoh.  I love it so much that when my grocery store stopped carrying it, I started purchasing it on Amazon!  Chakoah is creamier than any other brand I’ve tried by FAR and therefore results in the most luscious Pumpkin Curry.
  • Chicken: use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs in this Chicken Pumpkin Curry. I like to slice the chicken into 1/8” thick by 2-inch long pieces.  This ensures the chicken is thin enough for the curry paste to infuse it with flavor and thick enough that it doesn’t overcook.  You may also chop into bite size pieces if you prefer.
  • Vegetables:  squash, sweet potatoes and zucchini pair beautifully in this Pumpkin Curry.
  • Fish sauce:  this will not make your Chicken Pumpkin Curry taste fishy but is essential for authentic Thai flavor. If you are vehemently opposed to using fish sauce, you may substitute with soy sauce.
  • Soy sauce:  use low sodium soy sauce so you can control the saltiness of the curry. 
  • Lime juice:  you may use fresh or bottled lime juice.
  • Asian hot chili sauce:  use sriracha a or Asian hot chili paste to taste.  It is easy to add more at the end of cooking, so feel free to be conservative then add more to taste.

Do you have to use full-fat coconut milk? 

I don’t insist on full fat coconut milk but I HIGHLY suggest it if you would like restaurant-style creamy, flavorful Thai Pumpkin Curry.  If you must use light coconut milk, I suggest adding an additional ½ tablespoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.

side view of a bowl of Thai Pumpkin Curry Recipe

HOW TO MAKE PUMPKIN PUREE

You are welcome to use your own fresh pumpkin as opposed to canned in this Pumpkin Curry recipe. My only caution is that you cannot use a carving pumpkin (like the pumpkin you carve for Halloween), but need to use a sugar pumpkin.  Carving pumpkins are raised for their durability and not their taste and have much more moisture than sugar pumpkins and less flavor.

How to make Pumpkin Puree:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half from the stem to base.
  3. Remove all the seeds and pulp.
  4. Cover the cut side of each pumpkin half with foil.
  5. Bake, foil side up for 1 hour OR until tender.
  6. Scrape out pumpkin flesh and add to a blender
  7. Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove any stringy pieces
  8. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

What Other Protein Can I use in Pumpkin Curry?

  • Chicken: I love chicken to make Chicken Pumpkin Curry because it is easy, economical and I always have it on hand. You can even use leftover rotisserie chicken and add it to the skillet along with the garlic and ginger. 
  • Shrimp: shrimp loves curry and would be fabulous in the Pumpkin Curry recipe. Cook the shrimp for just a couple minutes on each side then remove it to a plate. Add it back to the curry at the very end to warm through.
  • Pork: use pork tenderloin for the most tender results. Chop the pork into bite size pieces treat it like you would the chicken.
  • Beef: Top sirloin or other prime cuts of beef would be fabulous in this Thai Pumpkin Curry. Take care not to overcook so it remains buttery tender.

CAN I MAKE THIS VEGETARIAN Pumpkin CURRY?

Absolutely!   You can replace the chicken with extra-firm tofu or replace the chicken with extra vegetables.

WHAT OTHER VEGETABLES GO WITH Pumpkin CURRY?

I love making this Pumpkin Curry with Fall vegetables such squash, sweet potatoes and zucchini. That being said, you can customize this curry recipe with a number of different vegetables:

  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • parsnips
  • green beans
  • spinach
  • bell peppers
  • edamame
  • bok choy
  • peas
  • snow peas
showing how to make Pumpkin Curry Recipe by gathering ingredients of pumpkin, red onions, lime, ginger, squash, zucchini

How to Make Pumpkin Curry

Step 1: Cook Chicken

  • Saute chicken just until opaque, approximately 1 minute. It does not need to be cooked all the way through because it will return to the sauce later to finish cooking. Remove chicken to a separate plate.

Step 2: Bloom Curry

  • Saute red curry, ginger and garlic with some oil. This simple step unlocks the full flavor of the curry and helps the flavors “bloom.”

Step 3: Saute Veggies

  • Add squash, sweet potatoes, apple, pumpkin, onion, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and continue to saute over medium high heat for 10 minutes. This infuses the veggies with flavor as they soak up the curry goodness.

Step 4: Simmer Sauce

  • Add coconut milk, chicken broth, zucchini, brown sugar, fish sauce, basil, and return the chicken back to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 -20 minutes or until squash and sweet potatoes are tender and flavors have melded.
showing how to make Pumpkin Curry by adding coconut milk to sweet potatoes and in skillet

Step 5: Finishing Touches

  • Stir in 2 tablespoons lime juice, taste and add sriracha, salt and pepper to taste. Top individual serving with toasted coconut and cilantro.

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE Pumpkin CURRY?

In addition to using whatever protein or veggies you would like, you can customize the FLAVOR of this Pumpkin Curry. It can be made spicy, not spicy, sweet or more savory, more or less tangy, with or without coconut.

Here is how to adjust Thai Pumpkin Curry to make it perfect for YOU:

  • Want sweeter pumpkin curry?  Add more brown sugar
  • Want saltier pumpkin curry?  Add more fish sauce or soy sauce
  • Want tangier pumpkin curry?  Add more lime juice
  • Want spicier pumpkin curry?  Add more chili sauce
  • Want thinner pumpkin curry?  Add chicken broth
  • Want thicker pumpkin curry?  Add a cornstarch slurry
  • Want more crunch?  Add cashews, peanuts or chickpeas

HOW LONG IS Thai Pumpkin CURRY GOOD FOR?

Thai Pumpkin Curry should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.

CAN I PREP COCONUT CURRY IN ADVANCE?

Absolutely!  You can chop your chicken, aromatics and vegetables all in advance and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will want to keep the sweet potatoes submerged in water or else the will turn brown.

You can even whisk all of the pumpkin curry sauce ingredients together and refrigerate in an airtight container.

MAke ahead Pumpkin CURRy

This Chicken Pumpkin Curry tastes even better the next day and reheats beautifully so it’s wonderful for meal prep or on-the-go lunches.

CAN I FREEZE Pumpkin Curry?

The Pumpkin Curry sauce freezes well because the base of the sauce is coconut milk and pumpkin instead of dairy.  The only issues you might have with freezing your curry is the texture of the vegetables: zucchini can become mushy and sweet potatoes become grainy. If you are making this Pumpkin Curry specifically to freeze then select vegetables that freeze better such as cauliflower, carrots, corn, etc.

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH Pumpkin CURRY?

This Pumpkin Curry is a complete meal-in-one loaded with tons of veggies! It just needs s simple side of side of rice to absorb the rich, robust sauce.  It is delicious with:

  • jasmine rice, basmati rice, or brown rice
  • low carb options of cauliflower rice or broccoli rice
  • low carb spaghetti squash or zoodles
  • naan or roti bread
  • simple green salad
  • fruit such as mangos, oranges, kiwis

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side view of chicken Pumpkin Curry recipe in a green bowl with rice

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Pumpkin Curry

This Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe is Fall (and heaven!) on plate! It is lusciously creamy with an intoxicating pumpkin, coconut, red curry sauce spiked with basil, garlic and ginger, loaded with squash, sweet potatoes, zucchini and apples all brightened by tangy lime juice and sweet coconut flakes. This comforting, warm, fragrant Chicken Pumpkin Curry is completely customizable – use your favorite veggies or favorite protein, then dish it up with rice, zoodles, noodles, or quinoa; no matter how you serve it, you are going to LOVE this Pumpkin Curry recipe!
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breasts (2-3 breasts)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 14.5 oz. can quality coconut milk (I like Chaokoh)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small zucchini, peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha/Asian chili sauce

Garnish

  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (more or less to liking)
  • chopped cilantro
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice

Instructions

  • Slice chicken across the grain into 1/8” strips (helps to partially freeze first). Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan. Add chicken and sauté until browned, approximately 1 minute (does not need to be cooked all the way through). Remove chicken to a separate plate.
  • Heat an additional 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat in the same pan. Add red curry, ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add squash, sweet potatoes, apple, pumpkin, onion, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and continue to sauté over medium high heat for 10 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk, chicken broth, zucchini, brown sugar, fish sauce, basil, and return the chicken back to the pan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 -20 minutes or until squash and sweet potatoes are tender and flavors have melded. Stir in 2 tablespoons lime juice, taste and add sriracha, salt and pepper to taste.
  • While curry is simmering, toast coconut by spreading the coconut flakes onto a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees F until golden, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Serve pumpkin coconut curry over rice and top with toasted coconut, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Notes

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE Pumpkin CURRY

  • Want sweeter pumpkin curry?  Add more brown sugar
  • Want saltier pumpkin curry?  Add more fish sauce or soy sauce
  • Want tangier pumpkin curry?  Add more lime juice
  • Want spicier pumpkin curry?  Add more chili sauce
  • Want thinner pumpkin curry?  Add chicken broth
  • Want thicker pumpkin curry?  Add a cornstarch slurry
  • Want more crunch?  Add cashews, peanuts or chickpeas

Storage

This Chicken Pumpkin Curry tastes even better the next day and reheats beautifully so it’s wonderful for meal prep or on-the-go lunches.  It should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.

Prep Ahead

You can chop your chicken, aromatics and vegetables all in advance and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You will want to keep the sweet potatoes submerged in water or else the will turn brown.  You can even whisk all of the pumpkin curry sauce ingredients together and refrigerate in an airtight container.

CAN I FREEZE Pumpkin Curry?

The Pumpkin Curry sauce freezes well because the base of the sauce is coconut milk and pumpkin instead of dairy.  The only issues you might have with freezing your curry is the texture of the vegetables: zucchini can become mushy and sweet potatoes become grainy. If you are making this Pumpkin Curry specifically to freeze then select vegetables that freeze better such as cauliflower, carrots, corn, etc.

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33 Comments

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Sophia, I think you will love it!

  1. shelby says

    Looks and sounds delicious and so warm and comforting Jen!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Melanie, it definitely tastes like Fall! Enjoy!

  2. Rachael says

    Oh my, I love this flavor combo. I can’t wait to make this. It looks so good. You are always so amazing with your bold flavors!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Rachael, I do love bold delicious flavors – and I think you will love all the flavor in this!

  3. Sarah says

    Wow this looks good. A perfect fall recipe! Your photos are amazing Jen!

    • Jen says

      You are so sweet, thanks Sarah! It does taste like delicious Fall!

  4. Jeni says

    What a wonderful mix of fall flavors! So excited to try this!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Jeni, I am excited for YOU to try it because I think you will love it! Let me know how it goes!

  5. Kimberly says

    This was SO good! I loved all the flavor and knowing all off the great vegetables/vitamins that were in it too was a bonus. 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Jen says

      Yay Kim! I’m always extra excited when someone is the first to comment on a recipe after trying 🙂 I’m so happy you loved it!!!

  6. Miranda says

    Trying to figure out if this would fit in my Whole30/Paleoish diet. Do you mean sweet potatoes or do you mean yams? Actual sweet potatoes are white and not allowed, but yams are admissible.

    • Jen says

      Hi Miranda! I have good news for you! I mean the orange fleshed sweet potatoes that many grocery stores often call yams. So yes, you can eat this!

  7. Liz says

    Made this tonight after I found it on pinterest. I never comment on recipes but this one was just soooo delicious.
    Never thought to put apples in a savory dish before. So good!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Liz, I am SO happy you loved it enough to comment 🙂 That is awesome! I hope you enjoy more recipes here 🙂 Happy holidays!

  8. Kelly says

    I’ve been waiting for the right occasion and finally made it tonight- delicious! I did not add the siracha and the spice level was just right for the family. 9 year old had seconds and thirds.

    • Jen says

      Wow, I am so impressed your 9 year old had seconds and thirds – he/she must have a refined palate :)! So happy your whole family loved it! thanks Kelly!

  9. Palak says

    Hi Jen, I would like to make this dish tonite, but I have a question. When you say pure pumpkin can do you mean a can of pumpkin that is like a puree or do you mean pumpkin that is cut into cubes. I have a can pumpkin that you would use to make pie with it. Thanks

    • Jen says

      Hi Palak! Sorry for the confusion, I mean pumpkin puree like what you have on hand. It should look like this link HERE. Hope this helps! enjoy!

      • Palak says

        Thanks for clarifying! My husband and I loved it! It has a really good flavor and will now be a regular in our home, thank you!

        • Jen says

          No problem! I am so happy you both loved it! Becoming a “regular” is the highest compliment! :)!

  10. sherri says

    Could this be made in the crock pot?

    • Jen says

      Hi Sherri! I have not made this in the slow cooker so I cannot tell you if it will come out perfectly but looking at the recipe I think it should work just fine. You might want to add the zucchini after the rest of the ingredients though as it takes less time to cook than the sweet potatoes and squash. Hope this helps and enjoy!

  11. Michelle A. says

    The best dish I’ve ever made! We had our family over last night so I made double the recipe (my wok was literally to the brim!) and everyone thought it was the best thing they had ever tasted! All the chopping was well worth it! Thanks for the great recipe, I am excited to try more of your creations!

    Blessings,
    Michelle

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so thrilled to hear it is the “best dish you have ever made” – wahooo! Thanks so much for letting me know Michelle and for making my day! I hope you continue to enjoy more of my recipes!!

  12. Vivian says

    I’ve made this recipe twice already and it’s a hit. I get cravings for this dish just by thinking about it. My friends tell me it’s better than our local Thai place which is a huge compliment! I love all the rich flavors in this dish espcially the toasted coconut. It’s even better the next night. Thank you so much for this recipe. Love your website.

    • Jen says

      Hi Vivian, I LOVED hearing how much you love this recipe especially because I feel like its a “hidden gem” that isn’t as mainstream so it often gets overlooked. Thank you for the ultimate compliment of being better than your local Thai place – wahoo! Thanks for following along and trying my recipes!

  13. Royal says

    Pumpkin Coconut Curry sounds like it might be good with lamb. You don’t have many recipes with lamb. Lamb is great with winter sqaush, and coconut and lamb are amazing in Indian dishes. I’m not sure what cut of lamb would be the right substitute for chicken breasts though.

    • Jen says

      I think you will love this recipe! I was just talking to a good friend who made this yesterday and was swooning over it! and yes, it sounds excellent with lamb!

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