by Olena

Thai Chicken Curry

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 41 votes

Enjoy this creamy, rich, and aromatic Thai Chicken Curry at home with just one pan, simple ingredients, and in under 30 minutes.

It is perfect for a simple, flavorful weeknight meal or to impress guests! Just like my uber popular chicken curry and Instant Pot butter chicken recipes.

Thai chicken curry garnished with basil and lime in a skillet

When it comes to Thai food, I’ve tried plenty across Canada and in my own kitchen – including enjoying these Thai meatballs and Thai broiled salmon. Now I’m here to tell you – there’s absolutely no need to rely on restaurants or takeout to achieve a delicious, wholesome, comforting Thai chicken curry worthy of praise by all who try it (just ask my boys!).

For this particular curry, I decided to use Thai red curry paste just like with Thai chicken soup and shrimp curry. This Thai curry is warm, comforting, with a slight kick. It is also one of those special dishes that taste indulgent while remaining healthy (and low effort).

If you’ve never had this dish before, you won’t be disappointed. It is ever so slightly sweet and wonderfully rich (from the coconut milk) without weighing you down, is savory (from the Thai red curry paste and tender chicken), highly aromatic (with the addition of garlic, ginger, and kaffir lime leaves) and moderately spicy (from red chilies), without blowing your head off.

Depending on whether you want your curry mild or spicy, you can even increase the amount of the paste used (check the FAQs). So, everyone can enjoy it. You can even swap out the red paste with yellow or green and follow the same recipe.

Ingredients and Substitutions

One of the best things about this Thai curry recipe is that it is almost entirely kitchen and pantry staples.

thai chicken curry recipe ingredients include chicken breast, coconut milk, red curry paste, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Chicken breasts or thighs: Chopped into 1.5-inch pieces. You could even swap out shrimp or even tofu if preferred (but the cooking time will vary).
  • Canned coconut milk: Use full-fat coconut milk for rich and creamy results. Also, refer to my FAQs for top tips on choosing the best brands.
  • Curry paste: I use Thai Kitchen red Thai curry paste.
  • Tomato paste (not pictured): An excellent, savory addition. I use low sodium.
  • Ginger and garlic: Classic aromatic inclusions to Thai dishes like this red Thai chicken curry recipe. You can use dried if that’s all you have.
  • Kaffir lime leaves: Used for authentic Thai chicken curry flavor and are sweet, savory, and citrusy. They may be hard to find in some grocery stores but are available in most Asian supermarkets. Substitute them with basil leaves, if that’s all you have.
  • Oil: I use avocado oil for its healthful fats, mild flavor, and high smoke point. Swap with another cooking oil if preferred.
  • Maple syrup or honey: To balance the savory and spice.
  • Salt and pepper: To season the dish.
  • To garnish: You can, optionally, use fresh cilantro and lime as a garnish. Add sliced chilies for extra spice.
  • (Optional) Lemongrass: I skipped this on purpose to see if this recipe would still be amazing – it is! However, if you can source it, then feel free to bruise and chop it and add it to the curry.
kaffir lime leaves and basil for thai red chicken curry

How to Make Thai Chicken Curry

  • Sauté garlic and ginger: for 30 seconds, continually stirring, to avoid it burning.
  • Add the cubed chicken: and cook for 5 minutes. It doesn’t have to be cooked through at this point.
  • Add the remaining ingredients: coconut milk, curry paste, tomato paste, maple syrup, kaffir lime leaves (if using), salt & pepper, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Garnish: with fresh basil or cilantro, a bit of lime juice, and possibly sliced chilies. Then serve (see serving suggestions below).

It’s that simple – you’ll be wanting this for dinner every week!

how to make Thai chicken curry

How to Serve, Store and Reheat

Serving: Traditionally, Thai chicken curry is served with steamed rice. However, you can also enjoy it with quinoa or brown rice. For a low carb option, serve with cauliflower rice or alone.

Storing:  Any leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Freezing: Keep in freezer-safe containers or bags (squeezing out extra air) for 2-3 months. Allow it to thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Reheating: To enjoy this meal warm again, reheat by simmering it on the stove or in the microwave until heated through. You may need a splash of extra coconut milk/ broth.

Thai chicken curry served on a bed of brown rice and garnished with basil

What Is the Best Coconut Milk Brand to Use for Thai Curry?

When it comes to canned coconut milk, not all are equal – and if you want to make the best Thai curry that you can, then follow these top tips for choosing coconut milk:

  • Use full fat coconut milk for truly creamy results: In many recipes, you can substitute low-fat options, but this isn’t one of them. Plus, let’s not forget that healthy fats are good for us (Harvard University).
  • Avoid preservatives: This usually means avoiding the cheap brands found in the Asian section at the store. No-one wants a dinner full of preservatives and chemicals!
  • Avoid guar gum: This is becoming more widely available within coconut milk but should be avoided; they have the same fat content but aren’t nearly as creamy.
  • Smooth, creamy consistency without small lumps: This is hard to tell without opening the can, but you’ll soon learn which brands are best for avoiding this.
  • In BPA free cans and organic are a bonus.

My favorite brands include 365, Thai kitchen, Trader Joe’s, and Compliments.

Tip: Canned coconut milk will naturally separate when cold into a cream on top and liquid below. Don’t worry- this is normal. Just add it to the pan, and it will eventually melt.

best coconut milk for Thai chicken curry with coconut milk

How Much Curry Paste Do I Use?

Whether you want a mild, medium, or spicy Thai curry, here is a helpful guide on how much spice to add.

  • Very mild curry – 1 tbsp.
  • Mild-medium curry (aka kid-friendly but with a kick) – 2 tbsp (I usually add this much).
  • Spicy curry – 4 tbsp.
red curry paste for authentic Thai chicken curry

More Tips

  • Don’t skip the aromatics: You might think you can get away with just using the red Thai curry paste, but the extra ginger, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves really boost the flavor.
  • For Yellow or Green Thai curry: Simply swap out the curry paste and remove the tomato paste. Note that yellow is usually the mildest (and ‘richest’) option, with green (surprisingly) as the spiciest option.
  • Vegetables: If you want to add even more nutrients, then feel free to add in vegetables; peppers, mushrooms, mini corn, sugar snap peas, zucchini, etc. Make sure to choose vegetables that take a similar time to cook.
  • For a lighter meal: You can swap out some of the coconut milk for vegetable broth instead (low sodium). It will affect the flavor but is enjoyable.
  • What can I do with leftover tomato paste? Transfer it to a glass jar in the fridge for up to 10 days. It can be added to borscht and homemade meat sauce and many other recipes.

More Thai and Curry Recipes

Thai Chicken Curry

Thai Chicken Curry {30 Minutes}

Enjoy this creamy, rich, and aromatic Thai Chicken Curry at home with just one pan, simple ingredients, and in under 30 minutes. It's perfect for a simple, flavorful mid-week meal or to impress guests!
5 from 41 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 581kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs cut into 1.5″ cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 inch ginger knob minced
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 14 oz can coconut milk full fat
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 3 oz tomato paste low sodium
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves or basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt + more
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Cilantro and lime for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat large deep skillet or wok on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. It burns fast.
  • Add chicken sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Doesn’t have to be cooked through.
  • Add coconut milk, curry paste, tomato paste, maple syrup, kaffir lime leaves (if using), salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh basil or cilantro, a bit of lime juice. Traditionally, Thai chicken curry is served with steamed rice. However, you can also enjoy it with quinoa or brown rice. For a low carb option, serve with cauliflower rice or alone.

Storage Instructions: Refrigerate in an airtight container for 2-3 days or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.

    Reheating: To enjoy this meal warm again, reheat by simmering it on the stove or in the microwave until heated through. You may need a splash of extra coconut milk/ broth.

      Video

      Notes

      • Canned coconut milk: Use full-fat coconut milk for rich and creamy results. Also, refer to my FAQs for top tips on choosing the best brands.
      • Kaffir lime leaves: Used for authentic Thai chicken curry flavor and are sweet, savory, and citrusy. They may be hard to find in some grocery stores but are available in most Asian supermarkets. Substitute them with basil leaves, if that’s all you have.
      • (Optional) Lemongrass: I skipped this on purpose to see if this recipe would still be amazing – it is! However, if you can source it, then feel free to bruise and chop it and add it to the curry.
      • Don’t skip the aromatics: You might think you can get away with just using the red Thai curry paste, but the extra ginger, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves really boost the flavor.
      • For Yellow or Green Thai curry: Simply swap out the curry paste and remove the tomato paste. Note that yellow is usually the mildest (and ‘richest’) option, with green (surprisingly) as the spiciest option.
      • Vegetables: If you want to add even more nutrients, then feel free to add in vegetables; peppers, mushrooms, mini corn, sugar snap peas, zucchini, etc. Make sure to choose vegetables that take a similar time to cook.
      • For a lighter meal: You can swap out some of the coconut milk for vegetable broth instead (low sodium). It will affect the flavor but is enjoyable.
      • What can I do with leftover tomato paste? Transfer it to a glass jar in the fridge for up to 10 days. It can be added to borscht, Instant Pot butter chicken, homemade meat sauce and many other recipes.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 288mg | Potassium: 1109mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1249IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 3mg
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

      93 comments on “Thai Chicken Curry

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        1. One pot as is? It is one pan already. If you mean one pot dish with smth else like rice then it would be different recipe that needs testing.

      1. 5 stars
        This is delicious. I didn’t have fresh ginger so I sprinkled powered ginger on the chicken. Both my husband and I loved it. It’s easy and tasty. Will definitely make this again..

      2. 5 stars
        Holy Chicken Curry! This recipe is a hit. So flavorful and creamy. The best part is that it’s easy to make. Peeling the ginger root is the hardest part, lol. I will be making this again and again.

      3. 5 stars
        I just wanted to let you know that I tried your red Thai curry recipe. It was delicious! Thank you for your wonderful recipes and healthy dinner ideas. Please keep sending!

      4. 5 stars
        As usual another brilliant recipe. I used fresh basil leaves the first time but will make it again tomorrow using fresh lemon leaves as I have a lot of lemon trees and from other comments these seem to work well. Thanks again Olena.

      5. 5 stars
        I could not find kaffir leaves at the grocery store this time.
        I used lemon leaves. This recipe is delicious. Thank you, Olena.

      6. 5 stars
        This was fantastic used dried basil as that is what I had and I added maybe two tbls of plain yogurt as has a bit to use up …. family pretty much licked their dishes
        Thank you

      7. This is such a delicious, easy, affordable, and quick recipe! I’ve been making a concerted effort to find healthy meals that taste good, are affordable, and stretch to have enough leftovers for lunch the next day. As a single mom of two working two jobs, fast, easy, and affordable are a must. Being from south Louisiana, I am used to big flavor, and this recipe delivered. I made it as stated; however, I didn’t have the lime leaves and used honey instead of maple syrup (maple syrup is RIDICULOUSLY priced here). I also chose to add 3 tbsp. of curry since I love spice. Even my VERY picky child liked the flavors. This is definitely on my new dinner rotation!

        1. Hi Tamatha! I am so happy that my recipes are enjoyed by your family. I love creating recipes that are healthy, but also affordable and easy to make. Take care!

      8. 5 stars
        I made this with the leftover turkey from thanksgiving, I added a half onion, and green beans almandine from thanksgiving leftovers also. Came out fantastic. Everyone loved it (wife and daughter and myself) and I had no leftovers. Than you for an easy recipe that was delicious. My oldest son put carrots in his and also said it was great. He is a few states away but we share recipes. His wife and kids loved it too. Will try the chick peas idea below next.

        1. Hi Mike! What a great idea to use leftover turkey. So happy this was a hit. I love that you share recipes with your family too. Thanks so much for your feedback!

      9. 5 stars
        This is amazing! My kids love it! I want to make it for my freezer club. One of the families is vegetarian. Ideas on substituting tofu? Also, I add a bag of frozen peas to up the nutrition!

        1. So happy everyone loved this Thai chicken curry, Julie! Great idea about the peas! Yes, tofu cubes or even canned chickpeas can be added to simmer in sauce for 10 mins or so.

      10. 5 stars
        This recipe is one that we make at least once a week! I’m making it tonight again 🙂 It is so good that I usually make a double batch. Sometimes (if we’re lucky) there’s even enough left for lunch the next day lol! I never have fresh ginger or kaffir lime leaves so I use ginger paste from the produce department and basil from our garden. So good!!

      11. 5 stars
        It was de-lish! The only thing is I made it with coconut cream (only thing I had in house), instead of coconut milk & it was very very rich. But…lol, I still ate 2 bowls!!

      12. 5 stars
        Olena, we had this for dinner tonight and loved it. Will certainly make this again and again! Thank you for all you wonderful recipes we have enjoyed.

        Have a lovely day,

      13. 5 stars
        Another winner, Olena! We had the Thai Chicken Curry for dinner last night and loved it. This easy recipe has your usual flair for reducing a dish to its essence using readily available ingredients. Although the curry may not have had all the subtle flavors of restaurant Thai food, it was nonetheless delicious! Next time I make it, I will cut the tomato paste in half in order to allow the other tastes to emerge even more.

      14. 5 stars
        If I could give this six stars, I would. It was packed with amazing flavor. I’m so glad I’m came across your blog. I love your recipes.

      15. 5 stars
        First time making a Thai dish. Love how easy this is and flavorful!! Going in the YES MAKE AGAIN recipe book!

      16. I havent tried this yet but I had a question what is the liquid you add before the spices and after the chicken is added? I might just not see it anywhere is it just water? or chicken broth?

      17. 5 stars
        This is my second recipe I have tried and both turned out amazing ! Her recipes are so simple and quick to prepare. I will probably make a new dish for the next 3 days ? do you have any crockpot recipes ?

      18. 5 stars
        Don’t know if I already rated this recipe but I make it so often, it deserves lots of love!! My non-curry loving family adores this and I usually make at least a double batch! I have never made it with basil and I am not sure how basil compares to the Keffir Lime leaves because they seem like very different flavors….. But, it is easy to stock up on the lime leaves and have them always ready – I found them in a little baggie frozen at my local Asian store and they keep for a long time in the freezer. Ditto shopping for the thai curry paste at Asian store and Amazon has it too. I have made a bunch of Olena’s recipes and not one has disappointed me – one of the only cooking blogs I actually follow!!! Thanks! Angi

      19. 5 stars
        I made this recipe tonight for dinner and it was such a huge success! Kids loved it and left me zero leftovers for lunch. I used cauliflower rice instead of brown rice, otherwise everything else was the same. Thank you:)

      20. 5 stars
        Delicious! Love the flavor and it was super easy.
        I’d love to sneak some veggies in next time. Any advice?

        1. You can add lots of different kinds of vegetables like red bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash or even sweet potato. I would just recommend slicing the veggies so they are all roughly the same size (and on the smaller side). Throw in a handful of spinach even!

      21. 5 stars
        I loved this recipe. It tasted sooo good. The only thing was it didn’t seem to thicken up very much so I used about a Tablespoon of corn starch.

      22. 5 stars
        I made this tonight for the family. It was beyond delicious! Not a drop left over! Thumbs up all around. Thanks for yet another fantastic recipe!!

      23. 5 stars
        I love Thai food!!! And I agree with Judy – chickpeas can go instead of part of the meat, tried it many times in different curries :). Thanks, Olena, this one is the keeper! 🙂

      24. 5 stars
        OMG this was so good!! I only had one chicken breast in the freezer so I added a can of chick peas and it was delicious! This recipe could easily be vegan by just using chick peas and no chicken. Flavours are amazing!

      25. 5 stars
        Thanks to you and this recipe I’ll try making a curry recipe. I don’t like coconut but I just googled substitute for that after seeing your recipe and all I need is yogurt. All I have to get is the curry paste. Can’t wait to try something new.

      26. 5 stars
        WOW! The recipe was easy, and the food was great. I didn’t know if I would like curry. This is now a new favorite recipe. I’m so happy I discovered this website.

      27. 5 stars
        Who knew you could have delicious thai food on the table so quickly? This recipe was so easy and the food so good. Plenty of sauce to flavor the brown rice I served it with. I am excited to have some of the leftovers for lunch and even had some to freeze for my future self. Win-win!

      28. 5 stars
        I made this recipe for my family last night…WE LOVED IT! I doubled the batch so we would have leftovers for lunch but I ended up Turing the leftovers into soup for dinner tonight. This has been a huge hit – Thank you. Will definitely make again.

        ** for soup, I sautéed onion, celery, fennel, carrots in olive oil. Diced potato, turnip, rutabaga (I know sounds weird but worked); then added 4 C chicken broth. Cooked the veg in simmering broth then added left over Thai Chicken Curry. Added a knob of ginger, 1 t of curry paste to bump of flavor and left over brown rice. So good!

        1. So happy to hear, Jill! You are smarter than me because you doubled the recipe. We had no leftovers. And your soup sounds amazing and something I would totally do!

        2. 5 stars
          Olena, I love all your recipes. Thankyou! And this one was super quick and delicious… Definitely making it again.

          1. Yay! So happy to hear you loved my Ukrainian Thai chicken curry, Simone! SO do you mean you have an Instant Pot too? LOL Cause I post a lot of those recipes. I’m still obsessed with mine years later.

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