by Olena

Thai Chicken Curry

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Olena Osipov
5 from 43 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 43 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.

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