Thai Red Curry Chicken

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Thai Red Curry Chicken

I love Thai cooking because there are so many intrinsically easy recipes that you can make with just a few staples from the Asian aisle of your nearest supermarket. Thai red curry chicken — a one-pan dish of chicken pieces simmered in a bright, curry-infused coconut milk sauce — is one of those dishes. It comes together in just 30 minutes with minimal prep work.

In coming up with the recipe, the biggest challenge was figuring out the best way to cook the chicken. Most recipes call for sautéing the chicken first, and then warming it in the finished sauce. But the problem with that method, if you’re using white meat, is that the chicken tends to dry out quickly. I found that gently poaching the chicken in the rich coconut sauce is not only easier, but also foolproof — you’ll be so pleased with how tender the chicken turns out when cooked this way. This is a great base recipe to add vegetables to, however I suggest steaming them separately and adding them at the very end, so they don’t soak up all the delicious curry sauce.

how to make thai red curry chicken

The spice level of this dish will vary depending on the brand of curry paste you use. The brand I use above (Thai Kitchen) makes for a mild, family-friendly dish. For more heat,  add a drizzle of sriracha, some of the seeds of the jalapeño, or some crushed red pepper flakes.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large nonstick pan. Add the light scallions, garlic, and jalapeño.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not brown.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until thickened, a few minutes.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Add the chicken pieces.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Simmer, stirring occasionally to promote even cooking, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Stir in the lime juice, dark scallion greens, and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lime, if necessary.

how to make thai red curry chicken

Serve with jasmine rice.

thai red curry chicken

My Recipe Videos

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced, light and dark green parts divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (see note)
  • 1 (14-oz) can coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large nonstick pan. Add the light scallions, garlic, and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not brown.
  2. Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar and whisk together. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until thickened, a few minutes. Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to promote even cooking, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. (Do not let the sauce boil; the idea is to cook the chicken gently so that it's tender.) Stir in the lime juice, dark scallion greens, and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lime, if necessary. Serve with jasmine rice.
  3. Note: As always, take care when working with jalapeño peppers. If you touch the seeds or ribs, be sure to wash your hands well and avoid touching your eyes.
  4. Note: It's important to wait until you're ready to eat to cook the chicken. If you want to get a head start, prepare the sauce up until the point when the chicken is added. Take it off the heat and then poach the chicken right before serving. If the chicken sits in the hot curry sauce for too long before serving, it will overcook.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 732
  • Fat: 52 g
  • Saturated fat: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 1534 mg
  • Cholesterol: 70 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • This turned out just perfect! Specially the tip that you gave about cooking chicken at low heat. Thanks Jen! I am biggest fan of your recipes.

    • — Sheetal Ghag on December 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Dish was very tasty! Made exactly as recipe called for. I definitely Will make this again. 😋

    • — Brenda on November 25, 2018
    • Reply
  • Delicious recipe! The best part is that it is fairly quick to make and requires ingredients I usually have on hand. I follow the recipe exactly, although sometimes I don’t have cilantro. It still tastes great. This recipe is on regular rotation on the dinner menu at my house.

    • — Ruchita on November 15, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Can I replace the chicken with turkey breast?

    Thanks!

    Anne

    • — Anne on November 8, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, I am not a big fan of turkey breast – it tends to be so dry – but yes, it should work. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • Awesome!
    Kids and friends loved it.

    • — Tanesha on November 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • Fabulous recipe! Easy, quick and delicious, what more do you need 🙂
    I’m making it again tonight

    • — Donna on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
  • This dish has great flavors and was easy to prepare and cook. I should have paid closer attention to the note about adding red pepper flakes or sriracha to spice it up, because even though I used four (small) jalapeños it didn’t have any kick. Next time I’ll add a big dollop of sambal. Two other notes: With all the liquid you don’t need a non-stick pan. I used a stainless-steel skillet and clean-up was a breeze. I also used boneless chicken thighs because that’s what I had. They took closer to 10 minutes to cook through. Thanks for a great recipe that we will definitely make again.

    • — Laura on October 23, 2018
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  • I just tried this recipe, and it tastes amazing. Thank you for your contribution!

    Greetings from the Netherlands.

    • — Fabian on October 15, 2018
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  • SO delicious. I added steamed broccoli and peppers at the end. My husband can’t stand fish sauce and can detect tiny amounts, so I subbed a tablespoon of soy sauce for umami, plus some extra salt. Red curry is my favorite Thai dish and this was awesome, even without the fish sauce–and better than takeout in some ways because the chicken wasn’t dry. My almost 2-year-old loved the sauce–she used the broccoli to sop it up, sucked it all off, and re-dipped it. Repeat x20. I have convinced myself that maybe she got a few molecules of broccoli in there 🙂

    • — Elsa on October 13, 2018
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  • I made this red Thai curry chicken for my husband the other night and he loved it! I added chopped red peppers with the onions and steamed broccoli at the end, and it was amazing. Such an easy recipe and it gave us leftovers for the next day that tasted just as good. Poaching the chicken in the sauce made it super tender. Definitely a repeat recipe!

    • — Jessica on October 8, 2018
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  • Hello Jenn,

    Thank you so much for writing such easy-making but delicious recipe! I love this recipe so much. I cooked for myself for the first time and cooked it for a group of 20 people today. I used 2 cans of coconut milk, almost 5 pounds of chicken breast and almost 1/2 cup red curry paste (this is a really flexible amount). They tasted so nice and I served it with fried rice in place of white rice. Everyone in my group loved it!

    Thank you again!

    Hope you have a good day

    Xia from Columbus, OH

    • — Xia Shen on October 6, 2018
    • Reply
  • I’m not normally a curry fan, but it’s recipe looked so tantalizing that I had to make it. Everything turned out perfectly. It’s a perfect blend of umami, tangy and slightly peppery flavor that makes it really hard to stop at just one serving. Though I am a huge fan of fish and seafood flavors, I will say the fish-sauce taste was quite prominent and if you’re sensitive to that, perhaps use slightly less of it to start, and adjust to taste. Also, I do like more heat and added more got peppers, and the other flavors still came through beautifully. A truly simple and delicious recipe.

    • — Eda on October 4, 2018
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  • Can you add vegetables to this curry dish?

    • — Jackie on October 1, 2018
    • Reply
    • Definitely, but I suggest steaming them separately and adding them at the very end, so they don’t soak up all the delicious curry sauce. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2018
      • Reply
  • Fantastic!!

    • — John Corcoran on September 28, 2018
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  • I liked the suggestion to simmer the chicken in the coconut milk, but this recipe was waaaaaaaaaay too sweet for my taste, even after I added tons more lime juice and fish sauce 🙁

    • — Beth on September 16, 2018
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  • Made this with extra firm tofu and it was fantastic!

    • — Sarah Gilmour on September 10, 2018
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  • A-MAAAA-ZING flavor. Made as directed. Per the directions on the bottom, … made the sauce in advance…when ready to eat, I just reheated it and cooked the chicken for 5-6 minutes.

    • — Cheryl on September 9, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Greetings from Canada !
    Great recipe. What is the difference between red and green Thai curry paste?
    Thank You.

    • — Yvonne Adams on September 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Yvonne, I’ve provided a link that outlines the differences. One thing to keep in mind is that often times green curry paste is a bit spicier than the red variety. Hope you enjoy the chicken if you make it!

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • WOW! This was DELISH! We are a ‘saucy’ family and like juicy dishes so we doubled the sauce and it was PERFECT. I would give this 10 stars, company-worthy, easy, and so satisfying! I used a little less curry to accommodate my elderly Mom, and gluten-free fish sauce (by Red Boat) and it’s now in my ‘regular’ menu rotation. Thank you so, so much for sharing yet another winner recipe! I really appreciate any recipe I can convert to gluten and milk free. And I love your cookbook! It’s inspiring and getting spattered by use as all great cookbooks should!

    • — Michelle on September 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • This is amazing! I love this recipe. I would like to add potatoes to it. Do you think that would work? Or would it simmer too long and reduce too much?

    • — Penelope on September 1, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Penelope, glad you like this! If you wanted to add potatoes to this, I would cook them almost all the way through in a separate pot and then add them to the curry for just the last few minutes of cooking so they are hot.

      • — Jenn on September 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Made it tonight…just excellent!

    • — Cynthia on August 20, 2018
    • Reply
  • Perfect! Delicious! Amazing! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Olga on August 18, 2018
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe! So easy yet so flavorful!!! Thanks for the great recipes!!!!

    • — Melissa on August 16, 2018
    • Reply
  • I used green curry paste and added cauliflower. Delicious and easy!

    • — Elly C on August 16, 2018
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  • Great flavor. Added julienned onions, zucchini and carrots. Served over brown rice with a bit of Sriacha for heat.

    • — Shelley on August 12, 2018
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  • I used green curry paste and added snap peas during the last two minutes. Delicious. This is a keeper.

    • — Carol on August 11, 2018
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  • This is seriously one of the best dishes I have ever made. It is so good. Like restaurant quality. Definitely making again and again. We like heat so I used 5 small red chilis and it was perfect for us. Think next time I will add some veggies. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe

    • — Nora on August 10, 2018
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Even my 16 year old who thinks he doesn’t like curry liked it. And the chicken was so tender! My only complaint is it took me longer than written to poach the chicken but it was worth it. Oh and I did end up adding steamed broccoli to it at the end because I wanted a one dish meal but that worked out great.

    • — Lynn on August 9, 2018
    • Reply
  • This dish was very good and it came together easily once everything was prepped. We like a little more heat, so I’ll experiment with the jalapeño seeds next time. My husband added sriracha to his plate and was happy. Very satisfying over rice. Keeper.
    BTW, for those who don’t do fish sauce for whatever reason, you can make a substitute with water, salt, soy sauce, and dried shiitake mushrooms. America’s Test Kitchen was my source although I prefer actual fish sauce.

    • — Cristina on August 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Sounds delicious. Is there an alternative to cilantro?

    • — Pauline on August 8, 2018
    • Reply
    • I sometimes use basil as a substitute

      • — Robin MERLE on August 12, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn:

    I always know I can count on your recipes. I have never made one that wasn’t amazingly good and the Thai Red Curry Chicken recipe is amazing. I loved that I could prep everything ahead of time and cook in just a few minutes. I followed your recipe exactly, but served over cauliflower rice. LOVED IT!

    • — Deb Boaman on August 7, 2018
    • Reply
  • This is lovely, very easy and great flavour. Used coconut oil, coconut palm sugar (instead of brown) and added 1/2 cup fresh pineapple. Served with cauliflower rice. I love your recipes!

    • — tina on August 6, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I made this recipe tonight just as written and my husband and I thought it was great, warm but not too hot (I didn’t use the jalapeno seeds) and very tasty. We will definitely make it again! I might add chopped baby bok choy next time to give it more veggies. Your website is my first go to when looking for a new recipe. Thanks and keep up the good cooking

    • — Pennie on August 6, 2018
    • Reply
  • I cannot do fish sauce! I’ve tried, I really have. Anything you can use to substitute or just do without? How much will it impact the flavor?

    • — Diane on August 6, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, I really recommend the fish sauce; it adds a lot of flavor and all of the salt. You could try adding half as much and then salt to taste. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 7, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn – forgot to ask, if adding vegetables, what would you recommend?
    Mark

    • — Mark K on August 5, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Mark, I’ve added steamed broccoli to this. You can also add a finely diced red bell pepper along with the jalapeño.

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn

    Just made the recipe, tastes amazing and was so simple to cook. Looking forward to packaging this up for some nice lunches this week. Love your site, bought your cookbook – Thanks for making us all happier and healthier!

    • — Mark K on August 5, 2018
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Lol. I thought I bought coconut milk but bought coconut cream. I did know there was such a product. It was a little too watery so I thickened at the end. The flavor is sweet, tart, spices. Can’t wait to have my kids try it (grown kids). .

    • — Teresa Norberg-King on August 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, would it be ok to substitute thai yellow curry paste? Thanks!

    • — Jane on August 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, Yes, I think you could use yellow or green curry paste here in place of the red. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, Luisa again. I didn’t find the Asian coconut milk. Can I use regular canned coconut milk?

    • — Luisa Rivas on August 4, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Luisa — enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 4, 2018
      • Reply
  • Excellent flavor, although my husband and I thought it was a bit too hot. The sauce was runny so I’m wondering if I did not allow it to gently boil long enough prior to adding the chicken.

    • — Kathy M. on August 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Yes, next time let it simmer a bit longer before adding the chicken – it will thicken up.

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi! I love your recipes and this looks delicious. I have a question – we have some shrimp in the fridge that we need to use soon. Could the chicken in this recipe be subbed with shrimp?

    Thank you!

    • — Kim on August 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, You could, but I also have shrimp version here. Either way. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2018
      • Reply
      • Thank you! We made this recipe with shrimp and green curry paste and it came out wonderfully. My bf was iffy on curry but he admitted it was the best meal he’d had in a very long time. Thank you!!

        • — Kim on August 15, 2018
        • Reply
  • Good-bye, stir-fry! Poaching the chicken at the end is genius. It turned out succulent and loaded with flavor. And what flavor! With a blend of sweet, hot, salt, spice, citrus, and pure magic, this may be the perfect recipe.

    • — Hannah on August 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • Made this last night for dinner and my family loved it. My teenage son even said, “Mom this sauce is the boss!” And the best part is that is was SO easy. Will definitely make again and add some veggies.

    • — Kim on August 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • Can you omit the fish sauce?

    • — Rose on August 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • I don’t recommend it, Rose – it really adds a lot of flavor and all of the salt. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, My husband dislikes eating anything with a hint of coconut. Is the coconut flavor from the coconut milk masked by all the other ingredients? Thanks for all your great recipes!

    • — Rhonda on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Rhonda, I would say that the coconut flavor is pretty prominent here (in a good way 😊). Sorry!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Delicious! Whole family loved it and it will be added to the regular rotation for how delicious and quick it came together! It was easy to pull the chicken out for my sauce-adverse 4 year old, mild enough for the 20 month old, and plenty of flavor for the rest of us!

    • — Elisabeth on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
  • This is seriously delicious. I made it exactly as directed…I would consider adding a bit of the jalapeno seeds next time for a little more heat. So, so good.

    • — Hedy DeCampo on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
  • Is there anything I can use in place of fish sauce? I do not like the taste and I can usually taste it in foods.

    • — Jen G on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, Fish sauce is important here — it adds a lot of flavor and all of the salt. You could try adding half as much and then salt to taste. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Look forward to making this one soon! Regarding the coconut milk. Thoughts on Sweetened or Unsweetened?
    Thanks!

    • — Lisa on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, Definitely unsweetened. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • I was watching some recipe videos on YouTube (Hot Thai Kitchen) and she made the comment that boxed coconut milk is what they have in Thailand and that it tastes much better than canned due to the temperature ranges and processing time for each method. I managed to find a box of coconut milk at an Asian market and tried it for myself. I was FLOORED… it is so much more flavorful coming from the box! I highly recommend trying it if you have access to an Asian market.

    • — John on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • It’s also cheaper than using canned, at least where I shop. I’ve found it at Bulk Barn and Walmart.
      I use it all the time to make Jenn’s Thai Chicken & Rice Noodle soup. That soup is delicious BTW.

      • — KB on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn,
    Is there a substitute for the fish sauce? I tried another Thai recipe that called for Fish sauce and the odor was almost more than I could handle. Maybe if I hadn’t smelled the fish sauce first and just used it – but after smelling it, it was the only thing I could smell/taste after that.

    • — Stephanie N. on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, I understand that fish sauce does NOT smell appealing! 🙂 That said, it really is important here — it adds a lot of flavor and all of the salt. You could try adding half as much and then salt to taste. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer,
    I love your blog of recipes each week and recently purchased your new cookbook.
    Thank you for making cooking fun!

    Question: On the Curry Chicken recipe many of the ingredients are not included.

    • — Jill Nasser on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Thank you, Jill! Looks like there was a glitch with the recipe – it has been fixed. Sorry about that!

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi, love you recipes! Just a quick question, what part of the chicken is the tenderloin?
    Thank you
    Giselle in NB, Canada

    • — Giselle on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Giselle, Chicken tenderloins are the little strips of meat that are attached to the underside of each breast (they are about 1-1/2 inches wide and 5 inches long). They are usually sold separately from the breasts. They are tender and easy to work with but if you can’t find them, it’s perfectly fine to use boneless skinless chicken breasts.

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Why do some recipes have conversions into metric and not others.
    Being on the other side of the world (Australia) we are metric and it’s annoying to have to stop and go look up the change over.
    Is it possible to have metric and the other on all recipes.
    Thanks for listening to my whining and love the book.
    Look forward to next one.
    D.H.
    Lake Macquarie. Australia.

    • — Dianne Hunter on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • So sorry, Dianne! All of my newer recipes have metric; I just forgot to add them on this one. It’s fixed now. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hello Jenn, I would like to make this recipe this weekend. Sounds delicious. Not able to but the tenderloins separately from the breasts, I will have to use breasts instead. Should I cut them in strips or chicks ?
    Thank you so much.
    Yvonne Adams

    • — Yvonne Adams on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Yvonne, Either is perfectly fine – whichever you prefer.

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • I think I would prefer to use boneless chicken thighs. If I did would the cooking method be the same.

    • — Marjory on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Marjory, I’ve made this with chicken thighs and it’s wonderful. Since they take longer to cook, you’d go about it a bit differently: Sauté the chicken pieces in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat first for 6 to 8 minutes (they will be almost cooked but not fully), then transfer them to a plate while you make the sauce. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce once it’s thickened, and then simmer until cooked through, a few minutes more. Please let me know how it turns out. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Could I substitute basil for the cilantro? My basil is plentiful right now!

    • — Tonya on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Tonya – I’d love to know how it turns out.

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, will it be alright to not put in the jalapeno? I have a 2.5 year old so I’d like to make it kid-friendly.
    Thanks so much for your recipes!!

    • — Beatrice Gonzales on August 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure Beatrice – then if you’d like a little heat, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes or sriracha to individual servings. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2018
      • Reply

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