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10 February 2020

This easy Thai red curry paste recipe is everything you need for homemade curry in a hurry. Ready in minutes. Also great for adding zing to soups, stews and more.

We’re making homemade red curry paste in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends, and smells wonderful in here. If you’re a spicy food lover, you most likely love curry. Curry is so often filled with so many wonderful ingredients and flavors, and it is often nice and spicy.

There are so many different ways to make curry, from red curry to yellow curry and green curry, not to mention different curries from around the world, particularly Indian and Thai curry.

While there are many components that go into a great curry, at a minimum you need a flavorful curry powder or a curry paste, which is what we’re making today. You can buy red curry paste from the store, but homemade red curry paste is so much better than any store bought version. It is fresh and huge on flavor, and you can control what goes into it to fit your own palate preferences.

Curry paste is essential to Thai food and is the flavor for many different Thai recipes. So let’s make our own!

A bowl full of thick and spicy Red Curry Paste

Let’s talk about how we make homemade red curry paste, shall we?

Red Curry Paste Ingredients

  • 4 small spicy red peppers chopped (Thai peppers are best, but you can use any to you choice – cayenne or red serrano are good substitutes)
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon galangal, chopped (or use ginger, or both)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass trimmed, woody parts removed (or use 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (or more as desired for spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

A large spoonful of Thai Red Curry Paste, ready for cooking

How to Make Red Curry Paste – the Recipe Method

First, add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor.

The ingredients in a blender to make Thai red curry paste

Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

Red Curry Paste processed in a food processor

Alternatively, you can grind down the solid ingredients and spices in a mortar and pestle, then slowly add in the liquid ingredients as you mix. Mix until a paste forms to your preferred consistency.

Taste and adjust to your personal tastes. Need more salt? More lime juice? A pinch of sugar? Adjust as needed.

Strain out excess liquid, if desired, or use as-is.

Boom! Easy enough, isn’t it? Making red curry paste is quick and easy, and now you’re ready to make some spicy curry. Time to get cooking!

This recipe makes you about 1 cup of finished red curry paste, unstrained. I usually don’t strain it and use it as-is. You can see how thick mine turns out.

A large spoonful of Thai Red Curry Paste next to a bowl

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Chili Peppers. The recipe calls for Thai chili peppers, though they may be difficult to find locally. If so, you have many other options. I used red serrano peppers that I grew in my garden this year, but you can also use cayenne peppers or red jalapeno peppers. Use any smaller red chili pepper to your heat level preference. You can use part of a sweet red bell pepper to make this as well, though it will make a no-heat version of the red curry paste.
  • Dried Peppers. You can make curry paste with dried chilies as well. You can often find dried Thai peppers in Thai grocers, which are easier to ship and store. To make red curry paste with dried peppers, just rehydrate them in hot water until they are softened, then proceed with the recipe.
  • Galangal. Use galangal for this recipe if you can find it, but if not, use fresh ginger. Galangal looks very much like ginger, though has a different flavor. Galangal is very citrusy, where ginger has a spicy pungency, with almost a sweet floral quality. Ginger is not meant to be a substitute for galangal, but it does help to round out the curry paste if you are unable to obtain galangal. Try making the recipe with both ginger and galangal to see how you like it.
  • Other Ingredients. If you’d like an even stronger citrusy flavor, add lime juice or lime zest to the mix. Other popular ingredients include lime leaves, kaffir limes and cilantro.
  • Freezing Curry Paste. I like to make larger batches of red curry paste, then freeze it for using later on. It lasts much longer this way and does not lose quality or flavor. To freeze curry paste, spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze. Then, remove the frozen cubes, transfer them to a freezer safe container or plastic bag, and keep frozen. Use 1 cube as a tablespoon.

Cooking with Red Curry Paste

Red curry paste can be swirled into your simmering curry anytime to let the flavors bloom and develop. I like to cook with it two different ways. Sometimes I like to add it to the pan after I’ve cooked down my vegetables and proteins to let the curry paste coat everything. I fry it for about 1 minute in the pan to let the flavors bloom, then add my liquids to form the curry sauce.

Or, I will simply swirl the curry paste into the curry once I’ve added my liquid. I mostly do this when cooking with coconut milk. Either way, let the red curry paste simmer in the pan or pot a good 20 minutes to 30 minutes to let the flavors develop a while for the best curry.

Try It With Some of These Curry Recipes

Red Curry Paste Substitute

If you are unable to get all of the ingredients to make your own curry paste, you can use curry powder instead. Generally, use 1 teaspoon of curry powder for every tablespoon of curry paste in any given recipe. You can adjust to your flavor preferences from there.

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my Thai red curry paste recipe. It’s perfect for quick and easy weeknight meals of wonderful spicy curry to fill your belly. Let me know how you like it!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Thai Red Curry Paste Recipe on a spoon

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

5 from 2 votes
Red Curry Paste Recipe
Homemade Red Curry Paste Recipe
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
 
This easy Thai red curry paste recipe is everything you need for homemade curry in a hurry. Ready in minutes. Also great for adding zing to soups, stews and more.
Course: Main Course, sauce
Cuisine: American, Thai
Keyword: curry, curry paste, spicy, thai peppers
Servings: 16 tablespoons
Calories: 16 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
  • 4 small spicy red peppers. chopped Thai peppers are best, but you can use any to you choice – cayenne or red serrano are good substitutes
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tablespoon galangal chopped (or use ginger)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass trimmed woody parts removed (or use 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or more as desired for spicier
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
Instructions
  1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Alternatively, you can grind down the solid ingredients and spices in a mortar and pestle, then slowly add in the liquid ingredients as you mix. Mix until a paste forms to your preferred consistency.
  3. Taste and adjust to your personal tastes. Need more salt? More lime juice? A pinch of sugar? Adjust as needed.
  4. Strain out excess liquid, if desired, or use as-is.
Recipe Notes

Makes about 1 cup.
Heat Factor: Mild-Medium. You can easily up the heat level by using hotter chili peppers, or adding either spicy chili flakes or powders.

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Red Curry Paste Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 16 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 11mg4%
Sodium 308mg13%
Potassium 85mg2%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 286IU6%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 11mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Book Recommendation

If you enjoy Thai cuisine, I recommend “Hot Thai Kitchen” cookbook by Pailin Chongchitnant. The subtitle of the cookbook is “Demystifying Thai Cuisine with Authentic Recipes to Make at Home”. It is filled with great recipes and I have learned quite a bit about Thai ingredients and the structure of building Thai curries. Buy the Hot Thai Kitchen Cookbook today from Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!).

Red Curry Paste Recipe - This easy Thai red curry paste recipe is everything you need for homemade curry in a hurry. Ready in minutes. Also great for adding zing to soups, stews and more. #curry #thaifood

6 comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Mike….do you think rehydrating dried chillies would be an acceptable substitute? winter over here at the moment so i’d prefer to use my home dried peppers rather than purchase imported exotics – i’ve also got some that i froze – am thinking ‘lemonella’ habaneros would add a bit more citrus?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Gary, absolutely. You can use dried peppers without issue, and actually, many people use dried over fresh. You can toast them first for more flavor. Simply grind them with the wet ingredients to make the paste, or rehydrate them in very hot water, then squeeze out excess moisture and grind them together with the other ingredients. Let me know how it turns out for you. This would be GREAT with your habaneros.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi Mike, i ended up using 4 frozen red devils and a fatali chilli – i omitted the chilli powder as it wasn’t needed – makes a really nice thai sauce

  2. Lori Higgons

    I would love to make this but finding some of the ingredients for it is impossible at my local grocery stores. I don’t have a car, so I am limited to 2 stores that have delivery. I do have a question about the peppers…. can red Anaheim peppers be used instead? THOSE and jalapenos are readily available at the store. I have never seen shrimp paste or lemongrass paste.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lori, yes, you can use red anaheim peppers and also jalapeno peppers, no problem. Instead of lemongrass, try a bit of lemon juice along with some lemon zest and fresh parsley. Instead of shrimp paste, you can try a bit of soy sauce. Won’t really be the same, but will still give good flavor. Let me know how it turns out for you.

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