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How To Make Thai Red Curry

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Thai red chicken curry is best when you use a homemade red curry paste.

This version of Thai red curry is very authentic. It’s just like the Thai red curry you get at the best Thai restaurant and even in Thailand.

The ‘secret’ to success is to make your own Thai red curry paste.

Although you could use a commercial Thai red curry paste with this recipe, the results simply won’t be the same.

Thai red curry

Authentic Thai red curry made with homemade curry paste. Awesome!

Why use home-made Thai red curry paste?

Even in Thailand, few people make their own curry pastes anymore. They are busy with work and their busy lives and just don’t have the time to make their own Thai red curry paste.

The best Thai restaurants will make their own where as cheaper takeaways will use a commercial brand.

These are good too but you wouldn’t use as much as I have with my homemade paste because they are often overly spicy and salty. 

I have been to Thai restaurants that only have a couple of curries on the menu so that they can make their special curry paste fresh without the need to purchase a curry paste.

Believe me… You will notice a big and delicious difference if you make your own Thai red curry paste. You should try this recipe I have for you here.

Where is this recipe from?

I learned this Thai red chicken curry recipe at a hotel I was staying at in Phuket. After trying all the tourist versions, it was so nice to devour this one. It was all I had hoped for.

The chef there pounded his paste in a pestle and mortar until it was was super fine. He told me that was the way he did it at home but at the hotel he blends it in a food processor.


It just wouldn’t be possible to pound enough in a pestle and mortar for the requirements of a busy restaurant.

This is why your Thai red curry could be the best you have every had. Pound it to perfection. That paste takes over a half hour to make in the traditional way but you could still cheat and blend it for a paste that is almost as good.

If making your own Thai red curry paste doesn’t appeal to you,  I recommend this brand.

Be careful with commercial curry pastes.

On the topic of curry paste, you will notice that a lot goes into this recipe. That is because it is homemade and it has everything in it that a Thai red chicken curry needs to make it taste amazing.

It is important to stress, however that if you are using a commercial, ready made brand, you WILL NOT need as much as I added here.

Most Thai curry pastes that you purchase are high in salt and chilli. They are not the same thing you get when you make your own so add these pastes to taste. One or two tablespoons will usually be all you need.

When you make your own Thai red curry paste, don’t expect it to look like those available at shops. These pastes are mass produced, blended versions. If you make your own Thai paste in a pestle and mortar as I recommend, the paste will be no where near as fine but the texture and flavour of the finished curry is out of this world!

Working ahead…

This Thai red curry only takes about 10 minutes to make once you have your curry paste made.

You can do this a few days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge.

Before you start cooking your Thai red curry, it is a good idea to get all your ingredients ready and in easy reach.

Following are a few step by step photographs of how I made this Thai red curry.

Frying curry paste

Fry the curry paste in a little oil for about 30 seconds.

Stirring chicken into the curry paste

Stir the chicken into the paste and stir to coat.

Make this curry your own…

If Thai red chicken curry is not for you, you can use this same sauce with other ingredients. Try hard tofu for example or add more veggies and leave out the meat. 

When you go out to a Thai restaurant, you are usually given several different options on the menu for each curry. You can do this at home too. I like this curry with prawns! Whatever sound good to you, it probably will be.

When cooking Thai food, it is important to taste as you cook. Try to adjust the sour, spicy, sweet and savoury flavours to taste as you go.

We all have different taste preferences so taste and adjust and you will have the best Thai red curry you have ever eaten.

Adding chicken stock to the wok.

Stir in the chicken stock. I add it hot so that it comes to a simmer faster.

Stirring in the thick coconut do we need milk or teabags?.

As the chicken is cooking through, add the coconut milk.

Adding vegetables to the curry.

Stir the veggies into the simmering sauce. Be careful not to overcook them.

Finishing the curry with soy sauce and fish sauce.

To finish, stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind paste and shrimp paste.

Love Thai food? Try some of these delicious recipes!

Thai Green Curry
Beef Massaman Curry
Chicken Satay and peanut sauce
Thai Drunken Noodles
Steamed Sea Bass with Garlic and Lime Sauce
Tom Yum Gai
Tom Kha Gai
Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

Thai red curry

Ready to serve!

Thai red curry with chicken

You are going to love this!

Thai red curry with a spoon

Dig in!

Yield: 4 - 6

Thai Red Curry

Thai red curry
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 batch of Thai red curry paste (see page 14 or use 2–3 tbsp shop-bought)
  • 450g (1lb) skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-size pieces 250ml (1 cup) Thai chicken stock or any unsalted chicken stock
  • 400ml (13⁄4 cups) thick coconutmilk
  • About 225g (8oz) vegetables,
  • such as baby aubergine (eggplant), sliced red (bell) pepper, green (string) beans
  • 3 tbsp Thai fish sauce*
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce*
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • Coriander (cilantro) leaves, to
  • garnish
  • 1 tsp roasted Thai chilli oil, Homemade or shop bought


  1. Heat the oil over a medium–high heat in a large frying pan or wok. When visibly hot, add the red curry paste and fry for about 30 seconds in the oil.
  2. Stir in the chicken and fry for a couple minutes, or until the chicken is about 50% cooked through. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce a little.
  3. Now add the veggies, fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind and palm sugar and simmer for about 3 minutes to cook the vegetables through. Taste and adjust the flavours as necessary, then cook the sauce down until you are happy with the consistency. It should be quite thin.
  4. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables. Garnish with coriander and drizzle with chilli oil to serve, if you like.


*Many soy and Thai fish sauces contain gluten but gluten-free brands are available.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 1500mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 12g

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If you enjoyed the Thai red chicken curry or varied the recipe and would like to share. Please do in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.


Thursday 7th of July 2022

I notice you did not add fresh lime juice, towards the end. Is this not a standard thing ? I don't know. I always put lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar close to the end.

Caroline Toombs

Monday 11th of July 2022

My recipe does not call for lime juice at the end but definitely go ahead and add it if that is what you like. Thanks Dan


Monday 7th of June 2021

Hi , I bought your excellent Thai curry book, and made the Red Curry Recipe , All was well until adding the Soy& fish sauces, Tamarind paste and palm sugar the colour turned from Red to Brown, it still tasted great and very authentic ( made with the Thai chicken stock) is that normal ?

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 9th of June 2021

Hi I am glad the red curry tasted great. It really depend on the brand of fish, soy sauce and tamarind you use as they do vary a bit in colour. Try changing brands maybe to see if you can get a more red colour and you could also add more red chillies to make it more red. Thanks very much. Dan

Sanjay Kalro

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Excellent recipes will definitely try it and update

Dan Toombs

Friday 16th of April 2021

Thanks very much. Dan

Christopher Newman

Thursday 15th of April 2021

I am not fan of Chicken these days so could i substitute whole crab cracked or a lobster or lobster tails

Dan Toombs

Friday 16th of April 2021

Yes, you certainly could if that is what you prefer. Thanks Dan


Saturday 22nd of August 2020

How much is 1 batch of curry paste?

Dan Toombs

Monday 24th of August 2020

Hi This make around 200g/1 cup Thanks Dan

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