thai red chicken curry

Thai red chicken curry is on the menu of every Thai restaurant everywhere outside of Thailand for a reason. It’s just damn tasty. Everybody loves it. You will too.

It’s popular for a reason. It’s creamy from the coconut. The flavours are complex. A bit spicy but not crazy hot. And it’s versatile. You can make it with shrimp just as easily as chicken.

Kaffir lime leaf and Thai basil push this into delicious territory

You will need to get to an Asian market to get a few of the ingredients. Kaffir lime leaf being the key one. Thai basil is another. Might as well grab some Thai red curry paste and coconut milk while you are there. It will be cheaper.

This Thai red chicken curry is easy enough for a weeknight. Never get takeout Thai again.

Once you have the ingredients, though, this is easy weeknight cooking. The key is the curry paste. Asian markets have a bunch to choose from. I like Maesri brand but I’m sure they are all good.

I learned how to make Thai red chicken curry about a million years ago from a Thai lady. She taught us how to make curry pastes from scratch.

But she also told me that pre-fab curry pastes were allowed. That’s my get out of jail free card. The Thai lady said it was OK. So I’m passing that card along to you.

You can make your curry paste from scratch as well. It’s not hard. But it is more work. Maybe try it this way first. If you want to get more adventurous there are a lot of curry paste recipes around.


thai red chicken curry in a black bowl with chilies and thai basil


Lots of curry paste makes this Thai red chicken curry restaurant worthy

There are recipes out there that call for only one or two tablespoons of curry paste. I don’t get that. At two tablespoons of curry paste this recipe is dull. No taste.

Well maybe some taste. Mostly of coconut milk. It takes a lot to get it into the flavour zone though. Six to eight tablespoons may seem like a lot but it’s not. It’s really not.

Thai red chicken curry. It’s going to taste great. Like your local favourite restaurant I bet. And it’s super easy to make when you cheat like me. Enjoy.


thai red chicken curry in a black bowl front view
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5 from 4 votes

thai red chicken curry

Thai red chicken curry doesn't have to be a lot of work. This dish comes together in under 30 minutes.
Course Main
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 448kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


  • 2 lbs chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 14 oz cans coconut milk
  • 6-8 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 15 oz can bamboo shoots packed in water
  • 1 red pepper thinly julienned
  • 2-3 kaffir lime leaves torn into small pieces (leave out the spine that runs up the middle), plus more to garnish if desired
  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce if you go the full 8 Tbsp of curry paste be careful with the fish sauce - it can get too salty
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies - thinly sliced (very optional) but if you like spicy this curry is quite mild without it.
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil


  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add 1/2 can of coconut milk to heat through, then mix in the red curry paste. Stir to combine.
  • Mix in the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the remaining coconut milk,  bamboo shoots, red pepper, lime leaves and chilies if using.
  • Simmer until the chicken is cooked through - somewhere between 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the fish sauce and add the Thai basil.
  • Garnish with red chilies and julienned kaffir lime leaf if you like.
  • Serve with jasmine rice.


Note there are red chilies and there are red chiles. If you are using Thai red chiles roll back and start with maybe half of one chili.  


Serving: 4servings | Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 499mg | Potassium: 794mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 4790IU | Vitamin C: 59mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 6.1mg


9 thoughts on “thai red chicken curry”

  1. I have almost no experience of this cooking style but tried it today, out of curiosity.

    All the ingredients were easily available in the local Chinese and Thai shops but we quickly discovered it’s easy enough to overdo the red curry paste. It was necessary to throw in a lot more coconut milk to calm things down.

    Maybe it’s just that particular brand of curry paste, but the final result was a bit salty for my taste, even though you did warn about that in the recipe.

    Next time, I’ll probably make the paste from scratch and see how that works out.

  2. Do you have any tips on using dried Kaffir leaves or any dried leaves for that matter, getting fresh Kaffir and curry leaves is challenging. Thanks for your recipes, made a superb Korma, it was spot on…..

    • I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with dried kaffir leaves. I try to stick to fresh (kaffir, curry leaves etc). Sorry…

    • Kevin, how did you get on with the dried kaffir leaves? That’s all I can get also at the moment. Wondering if it turned out ok?

      Am thinking of making this or the Penang curry this week..

  3. 5 stars
    Second time making this recipe and it came out great! First time was tasty too, but I used supermarket-bought brands of coconut milk and curry paste that time, and I think their flavors were more subdued. This time I ordered Maesri paste (the one you mentioned in the post) and Chaokoh coconut milk after reading reviews online. Wow! Such a noticeable improvement on an already very good dish.

    And I love how easy this is to make! With Indian recipes I go all out washing, peeling, mincing, grating ginger-garlic-lemon etc., then marinating and then pre-cooking the chicken separately…. it’s fun but sometimes I want to get to the final dish faster and with less work, but of course I still want the result to be delicious. I want to have my curry and eat it too, ha! This is the recipe for that. My mom was cooking with me and she was amazed at how simple it was compared to a lot of other stuff we’ve made. And she loved the way it tasted too. Thank you!

    • What a fun comment. Thank you! It’s good to have some simple, fast and tasty recipes in your quiver for when you just don’t have time.

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for the great recipe. One small step missing is to add the rest of the coconut milk. Jasmine cardamom rice and French beans with mint and almonds made an amazing meal!

    • Thanks for the catch Ken. Corrected above. You are very welcome and I’m glad you liked it! Sounds like an amazing menu.

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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