Red Thai Curry Recipe


You guys HAVE to make this Thai Red Curry Chicken Recipe!  I don’t beg often, so I hope you know I never cry wolf.  If you are a lover of Thai Food, you will be a LOVER of this warm, comforting, multi-dimensional Thai Red Curry Chicken with Vegetables!  Its a one pot wonder worthy of any weeknight or weekend and you should be able to find all the ingredients at your local grocery store!

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how to make Thai Red Curry Recipe

Thai Red Curry Chicken in a black sauce pan with wood serving spoon.


Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines with its depth of layered flavors that create a savory symphony in every bite.    I’ve created several of my restaurant favorites into takeout fakeout versions from Chicken Pad ThaiPanang Curry, Coconut Curry Chicken, Yellow CurryTom Kha Gai.  and now this INSANELY delicious Thai Red Curry Chicken Recipe!!!   (update, this Red Curry Chicken Recipe made my Most Popular Recipes of 2017!  AKA it’s a winner!)

As I was looking at my other “Thai” or “curry”recipes,  many of them boast how quickly they come together in the title, “30 Minute Pantry Friendly Panang Curry,” “30 Minute Pineapple Red Curry Chicken Stir Fry,” “20 Minute Thai Red Curry Beef  Tacos” – so apparently Thai food is quick and easy?   YES IT IS!!!  Thanks to to the magical store bought Thai red curry paste that packs a huge flavor punch.  The premade red curry paste is comprised of finely ground coriander, peppercorns, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, cilantro, shallot, garlic, and fresh chiles – all combined for you.  No wonder it adds tons of flavor with minimal effort.

The key to bringing the red curry paste alive and for its flavors to permeate the entire dish, is to saute it with plenty of onion, garlic and ginger.  We also stir fry our chicken, bell peppers and zucchini directly in the simmering red curry paste to infuse it with the dynamic flavors all before we add the coconut milk.  Feel free to change up the vegetables to whatever suits your mood or make Thai Red Curry Chicken – cleaning-out-the-fridge-style with whatever you need to use up. It will be the best use of miscellaneous veggies Ever.

Thai Red Curry Chicken with rice on a plate.

To further the complexity of flavors, we also add Thai sweet chili sauce, and the classic cast of Thai food characters: soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, dried basil and a bay leaf.  Its a somewhat long list of ingredients, but most of them you are just dumping into the sauce. You might notice we are not using Kaffir lime leaves which are responsible for the distinctive earthy lime-lemon flavor in many traditional Thai Red Curry recipes, but this exotic ingredient can be very difficult to find, and I want you to be able to make this Thai Red Curry Chicken recipe AT ALL TIMES.  While there is no direct substitute for Kaffir lime leaves, it doesn’t mean other ingredients can’t be used to produce otherworldly flavors.  This Thai Red Curry Chicken achieves a wonderfully fresh citrus zing by playing up the fresh lime juice, bright lime zest and simmering the sauce with a bay leaf.  Done.

Finally, my authentically blasphemous key to gorgeously, thick, silky red curry coconut sauce is to whisk our quality coconut milk (I like Chakoah)  with a little cornstarch.  The end result is a rich, luscious red curry coconut sauce that is soooo creamy, so infused with flavor all cradling your tender chicken and crisp-tender vegetables. All in 30 minutes.  And your house will smell incredible.  This Thai Red Curry Chicken might be as good as it gets.

You will love this Thai Red Curry Recipe

  • EASY WEEKNIGHT MEAL. The whole meal can be on your table in less than 30 minutes; the perfect addition to your weeknight dinner arsenal!
  • UNPARALLELED FLAVOR. This Thai Red Curry recipe is boldly flavored with red curry paste then adeptly balanced between tangy lime juice, salty soy sauce, umami fish sauce, sweet brown sugar, punchy ginger, and aromatic garlic.
  • CREAMY. It’s lusciously creamy due to the coconut milk mixed with my secret ingredient – a little cornstarch.
  • FLAVOR INFUSED CHICKEN. The chicken is browned with the blooming red curry and then simmered in the sauce so it soaks up the symphony of flavor. The resulting Thai chicken curry tastes like it’s been simmering for hours but only takes minutes!
  • VERSATILE. This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever veggies or protein you have on hand for the best clean-out the fridge dinner. You also choose your own spice level.
  • PANTRY FRIENDLY. You don’t need to hunt down exotic ingredients like Thai basil or Birdseye chilies for this recipe! All of the ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery store and you probably have most of them on hand already.
Thai Red Curry Chicken in a black sauce pan.

Thai Chicken Curry ingredients

  • Chicken: You can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe. I tend to use chicken breasts because they are leaner and emerge wonderfully juicy in the curry-coconut bath, but chicken thighs would also be scrumptious – totally your call.
  • Red curry paste: This infuses the Thai chicken with a wonderfully complex spectrum of savory, spicy, deep earthy flavor from its broad range of ingredients such as red chiles, crushed garlic, ground coriander, peppercorns, lemongrass, shallots, ginger, lime leaves, cilantro – all combined for you. Note that some curry brands are spicier than others (Thai Kitchen is mild, Mae Ploy is spicy).
  • Coconut milk: Please use full fat coconut milk for restaurant-style creamy, flavorful curry.
  • Soy sauce: Use reduced sodium soy sauce so you can control the saltiness of the red Thai curry.
  • Fish sauce**: **I promise fish sauce will not make your Thai chicken curry taste fishy – even though it smells fishy! It is necessary to infuse the dish with its nutty, rich, savory, salty flavor. If you’ve never used fish sauce before, it can be found in the Asian section of any grocery store.
  • Lime juice: This adds freshness and awakens the rest of the flavors. You may use fresh or bottled lime juice. I will freeze lime juice in cubes so I always have some on hand.
  • Brown sugar: This adds a hint of sweetness to balance the soy sauce and fish sauce.
  • Asian sweet chili sauce**: **Instead of adding sugar to balance the umami rich ingredients, Asian sweet chili sauce adds both sweetness and spice, made with chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce. You should be able to find it easily in the Asian aisle of your grocery store.
  • Chili sauce: Use sriracha or your favorite Asian chili sauce at the end of cooking depending on how spicy you want your Thai chicken curry to be. I use Sambal Oelek with the green lid.
  • Aromatics: Ginger adds a warm, spicy, sharp peppery taste and garlic adds a pungent, herby, warm aromatic flair. Add more or less to taste.
  • Vegetables: I use zucchini and bell peppers in this recipe, but use your favs!
Showing how to make Thai Red Curry Chicken sauteing in a pan.

How to make Thai Chicken Curry

  1. Cook chicken and bloom curry: Add chicken, onion and red curry paste to sizzling oil in a hot skillet. Cook just until chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Sauté vegetables: Add bell peppers, zucchini, ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute.
  3. Add coconut milk: Add half of the coconut milk. Mix remaining coconut milk with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and add to skillet along with all remaining ingredients (expect Garnishes).
  4. Simmer: Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables reach desired crisp-tenderness.
  5. Garnish: Garnish with additional optional fresh basil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and Asian chili sauce to taste.

Tips for Making Thai Curry

  • Bloom the curry. The key to unlocking the full flavor of red curry paste is to bloom the curry. This is essentially toasting the curry in oil which helps the flavor emerge or “bloom” – and it makes a HUGE difference.
  • For the juiciest chicken: Don’t overcook the chicken, cooking just until opaque, it will finish cooking in the sauce.
  • Don’t chop the vegetables too small. If the vegetables are too small, they will become mushy. We’re looking for crisp-tender, not tender crisp.
  • Adjust the curry paste amount as needed. Thai Kitchen is a milder brand of curry paste while Mae Ploy is spicier. With that in mind, you can start with less, then add more to taste.
  • Use full-fat coconut milk. Lite coconut milk can will not have nearly as much flavor or creaminess.
  • Ginger pro tip. I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to the curry.
  • Powdered ginger and garlic swap. If you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand and need to make this recipe, you may substitute with powders.
  • Adjust to taste. If you feel your this thai red curry recipe is missing something, it is likely heat and/or acid. Wait until the end of cooking, then add chili sauce to taste, additional lime juice for more sour/citrus, sugar for sweeter/less tangy, more fish sauce for saltier etc.
Close up of a Thai Red Curry Chicken in a black sauce pan.

Red Thai Curry recipe variations

  • Use a different curry paste. Swap the red curry paste for green or yellow.
  • Use shrimp. Instead of adding the shrimp with the curry paste, season the shrimp with the salt and pepper, then cook it separately with some oil just until opaque and cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate and add to the sauce at the end of cooking. Sauté the red curry paste without the shrimp in some oil to bloom the spices then proceed with the recipe.
  • Other proteins. You can also swap the chicken for cubed pork tenderloin, fish or tofu. When cooking fish, season it with salt and pepper and cook separately.
  • Make it vegetarian. Omit the chicken and use a vegan fish sauce. You can either use tofu, chickpeas, vegetables like mushrooms sweet potatoes, and cauliflower, etc. instead of the chicken.
  • Alternate veggies. You can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. Some tasty alternatives would be broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, bok choy, snow peas, etc.
  • Add peanut butter. Stir a few tablespoons peanut butter at the end for a creamy, nutty finish.
  • Add mango. Mangos and red curry are spectacular together.
  • Add nuts. Cashews add a deeply satisfying, buttery crunch. Take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts. To elevate your cashews, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM**!**
  • Add coconut. Garnish with toasted sweetened coconut for extra coco-nutty yum.
  • Use Birdseye chilies. You are welcome to substitute the Asian chili paste for minced Birdseye chilies. You will want to remove the seeds and finely chop.
Thai Red Curry Chicken on a white plate with bread and herb garnish.

Substitute for Red Curry Paste

This homemade red curry paste substitute can be used in recipes that call for red curry paste. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste preferences, and feel free to add a bit of water or oil if you need a smoother consistency. Keep in mind that this substitute won’t replicate the exact flavor profile of traditional red curry paste but will add depth and spiciness to your dishes.

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste for heat)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder


  1. In a bowl, mix the tomato paste, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic powder, and ginger powder until well combined.
  2. Stir in the soy sauce to achieve the desired consistency and flavor.

How to serve Thai Red Curry

Rice: This Thai red curry recipe is traditionally served with rice to mellow and absorb the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. I prefer jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your white rice until the water runs clear to achieve the fluffiest rice. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.

Low carb options: Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.

How to store Thai Curry

Thai Curry Chicken should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave or for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often.

Red Thai Curry FAQs

What is the difference between Thai curry and regular curry?

While Thai curry has a specific Thai influence, regular curry can be found in Indian, Middle Eastern, and other culinary traditions, with variations in spice combinations, bases, and cooking methods. Thai curry features a harmonious blend of coconut milk, curry pastes (red, green, and yellow) that include herbs like lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and a variety of colorful vegetables and proteins. On the other hand, “regular” curry is a broader term encompassing a wide range of spice-based dishes from various global cuisines.

What is the secret to a great curry?

Blooming curry spices in hot oil is essential for creating a great curry as it unlocks the full potential of the spices. This process releases the aromatic oils, intensifying their flavors and creating a robust foundation for the dish. The combination of bloomed spices and aromatic ingredients contributes to a well-rounded and balanced flavor profile. Additionally, balancing sweet, sour and umami is key to exceptional curry.

Is Thai red curry sauce hot?

Yes, Thai red curry sauce is typically known for being spicy because it contains red chilies. The heat level can vary between brands, depending on the amount of red chili peppers used. If you’re sensitive to heat, you may want to adjust the quantity of curry paste, then add chili sauce to taste.


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Close up of Thai Red Curry Chicken with rice and chop sticks.


More like this Thai Chicken Curry Recipe

More Favorites from Carlsbad Cravings

This less than 30 MINUTE Thai Red Curry Chicken tastes straight out of a restaurant! Its wonderfully thick and creamy, bursting with flavor, so easy and all in one pot! Definitely a new fav at our house!

Thai Chicken Curry

This 30 MINUTE Thai Red Curry Chicken with Vegetables is wonderfully coconut creamy, bursting with layers of flavor, incredibly easy and all made in one pot!  Definitely a new favorite at our house and better than any restaurant!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

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  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 pound chicken breasts sliced into 1/4” slices then 2” pieces**
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced then chopped into 2” pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper thinly sliced then chopped into 2” pieces
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 13.5 oz. can quality coconut milk (I like Chaokoh)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Asian/Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (like Mae Ploy)
  • 2 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • sriracha to taste/Asian chili sauce (optional)


  • lime zest to taste
  • fresh basil
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime juice


  • Heat oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet. Add chicken, onion and red curry paste and cook just until chicken is no longer pink. Add bell peppers, zucchini, ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute.
  • Add half of the coconut milk. Mix remaining coconut milk with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and add to skillet along with all remaining ingredients (expect Garnishes).
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables reach desired crisp-tenderness. If you would like a thinner sauce, thin with water (I don’t do this). Discard bay leaf.
  • Garnish with additional optional fresh basil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and Sriracha to taste. Serve with rice.



**Chicken is much easier to slice if partially frozen. It will thaw quickly once sliced. You can slice your chicken and red bell peppers in advance for even quicker meal prep.

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  1. Laura says

    Third time making this and each time I do my husband tells me how amazing it is! I love how flavorful it is. I make it exactly as written. It’s has all the elements needed for the perfect bite, salt, acid, fat, and heat.. so perfect.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Laura, I’m so pleased it’s a repeat winner!

  2. Sarah J Campbell says

    Was quick and wonderful!!!

  3. Adriana says

    Could you substitute lentils for the chicken? Adding them after you add the coconut milk.

    • Jen says

      Hi Adriana, lentils take much longer to cook so I would only add cooked lentils if using.

  4. Kelsi says

    This looks delicious! Is there a nutrition breakdown of if?

    • Brenda Frauenhoff says

      I’m making meals for a friend. Could you freeze this?

      • Jen says

        That’s so nice of you! The chicken and sauce will freeze well and the bell pepper will freeze pretty well. The zucchini tends to get a little mushy so you may want to replace it with carrots, broccoli or cauliflower. Good luck!

  5. Cassady Stewart says

    This has become a staple over the last handful of years. It’s so comforting and full of flavors! We love this one at our house. I don’t make a lot of repeat recipes because I like to change things up but this has made it into our meal plan every month! Bravo!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the rave review Cassady! I’m so pleased this is a repeat favorite!

  6. Jessamy says

    Made this tonight for dinner. It was delicious but I think next time I will double the garlic and ginger – it felt like it needed even more flavour!

  7. Jillian says

    Yum yum yum! I was nervous with it being a red curry that it would be spicy but it wasn’t at all and was so flavorful! I added a couple small potatoes from my garden as well and it was *chef’s kiss*

    • Jen says

      That’s what I like to hear, thanks so much Jillian!

  8. Kate Free says

    Love the Thai Red Curry!!! Easy, and delicious!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, I’m so pleased it was a it!

  9. Nabila says

    Made this today and it was absolutely delicious. I decided to do the velvetting technique not sure if that was necessary? And i seasoned it with garlic powder and rice wine. I then stir fried the veggies and later combined everything together the red curry paste along with the coconut milk etc.. i felt like it took me forever to make this meal lol but the flavor was phenomenal. It wasn’t spicy and it wasn’t sure what else to add at the end to turn up the heat ?

    • Jen says

      Hi Nabila, I’m so glad you liked it! The velveting technique isn’t necessary if using thinly sliced chicken and is more used in Chinese cooking, but it’s always tasty! To add heat, add your favorite chili sauce or chili garlic sauce like Huy Fong or Sambal Oelek or cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to taste.

    • Gijs says

      Can I just ask: I happened to find kafir leaves at my local store. What do I substitute that for? Just the lime juice? Thanks in advance!
      Grt Gijs

      • Jen says

        You would omit the bay leaf and lime juice. After you taste the curry at the end, you can decide if you want to add some additional lime juice. Enjoy!

        • Gijs says

          Sorry, I should have asked right away.. how many leaves would you recommend in this recipe if I substitute it for the bay leaf and lime juice? Around 1 pair (2 leaves)? Thank you!

          • Jen says

            Sorry I’m just responding, we moved a coupled days ago, so things have been crazy! I would use 4 leaves.

      • Nabila says

        Perfect thanks so much! Love all your recipes so much.

        • Gijs says

          Perfect! Thanks for the reply! I made this a few days ago and this is going in my favourites! Yum!!

          • Jen says

            I’m so pleased it was a hit, thanks so much!

  10. Joanna says

    This recipe was OUTSTANDING. It was so good. I followed the recipe exactly, since I now have my own permanent stock of “Carlsbad Cravings” ingredients. I felt like I was at a Thai restaurant, but 100x better. Love it!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Joanna, I’m honored it was restaurant quality! And I love that you have your own stock of repeated ingredients!

  11. Miriam says

    This is pretty good. I added a few different veggies. I also doubled the other ingredients items and kept the same amount of coconut milk ( I had double the amount chicken). I added lemon grass paste as it almost tastes like Tom Kha Gai to me.

  12. Sue says

    Bay leaves ?never heard of putting it in ThaiCurry!!!!!!!Geez! To each it’s own but Thai would never do that!

    • Jen says

      Hi Sue, it is a substitution along with thyme and lemon zest for kaffir lime leaves.

  13. michelle says

    Wow!! So good!! I used strips of beef I had on hand in the fridge that needed using instead of chicken. It was wonderful! I’m wanting to try chicken next. I used a mild red curry paste (Thai Kitchen) and it was not too spicy at all. I topped with fresh basil and it was as beautiful as it was tasty.

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased you loved it Michelle and it sounds super tasty with beef!

  14. Megan Williams says

    This is my absolute favorite meal OF ALL TIME! I probably make it every two weeks! I just wanted to say thank you for sharing it. All your recipes are great.

    • Jen says

      WOW! I’m so honored that it’s your favorite! I appreciate you taking the time to let me know!

  15. Susan says

    Delicious. Changed it up a bit, did t have red paste but I had green and it worked great

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so glad it was an easy substitute!

  16. Carol says

    LOVE this recipe ! It is one of my favorites !

    • Jen says

      Thanks Carol!! I’m so pleased you enjoy it!

  17. Nicole says

    INCREDIBLE! Our family loves Thai, and this is undoubtedly restaurant-quality red curry at home! I subbed coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and coconut sugar instead of brown sugar using the same quantities as listed in the ingredient list. Also subbed chopped fresh Thai basil instead of dried basil (as well as at the end with the other fresh herbs). THIS DISH IS OUTSTANDING. We like heat, so I’ll increase the amount of curry paste – or maybe add in Thai chilies to the dish while it cooks in the future.
    We literally gobbled this up and planning to make it again tonight. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      What a compliment!! I’m so glad it was such a hit with everyone!

  18. Carol says

    I LOVE this recipe ! …Made it several times now ….very easy …and DELICIOUS ! (Healthy too)

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I am so happy it has been on repeat!

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