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Thai-Style Red Chicken Curry

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This fragrant Thai chicken curry is a one-pan dish that comes together in just 30 minutes.

Thai Red Curry Chicken

I love cooking Thai-style food at home because there are so many recipes that you can create with just a few staples from the Asian food aisle of your neighborhood supermarket. This red chicken curry is case in point: a one-pan dish of tender chicken simmered in a rich, red curry-infused coconut milk sauce, it comes together in just 30 minutes with minimal prep work.

In developing the recipe, the biggest challenge was determining 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 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!

What you’ll need to make Thai-Style red Chicken Curry

how to make thai red curry chicken

Before we get to the step-by-step instructions, a few words about the ingredients:

  • Red curry paste is a blend of lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), fresh red chilis, and fragrant spices. The spice level 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, you can always add a drizzle of Sriracha, some of the seeds of the jalapeño, or some crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Be sure to use full-fat coconut milk. The sauce won’t have the same smooth, thick consistency with the reduced-fat variety.
  • Fish sauce is a salty, savory condiment often used in East Asian cuisine. It adds a rich umami flavor to sauces, marinades, and salad dressings.

Step-by-Step Instructions

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. (The dark green scallions are used as a garnish at the end, as they are mild in flavor and pretty, too.)

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

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Thai Red Curry Chicken

This fragrant Thai chicken curry is a one-pan dish that comes together in just 30 minutes.

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
  • 2½ tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1½ pounds chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, from 1 lime
  • ¼ 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, then reduce heat 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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 649
  • Fat: 51 g
  • Saturated fat: 26 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Sodium: 886 mg
  • Cholesterol: 128 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.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Hi Jen!
    Love this recipe and I have made it many times. I wanted to try it with shrimp. Could I cook them the same way as the chicken or in a separate pan and add in?

    • — Olivia on January 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! Yes, you can use shrimp and use the same cooking directions. Just keep in mind that the shrimp may cook a little faster than chicken so keep a close eye on it. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on January 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • I thought it was too sweet. Next time I’ll omit the sugar. Easy recipe though.

    • — Liz Stambaugh on January 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • We have made this so many times, this time I added diced red bell peppers when I sautéed the garlic, jalapeños and green onion, My husband likes chopped peanuts on top. It’s a family staple.

    • — Donna Kiely on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • A new fave. This one is going on the list!

    • — Tracey G80 on January 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn, this was FABULOUS!!! I was searching for a red Thai chix recipe & when I saw yours knew it would not disappoint! I follow a Paleo diet, so I modified by using coconut oil, red/orange bell peppers + no onions. The flavor was outstanding! I served it over spaghetti squash & it was just like my favorite restaurant dish I used to order. I love your recipes for ease of prep & no super-fancy ingredients, yet one gets a flavor explosion in the mouth..for me with such limited choices, that’s everything! I make your chocolate pie for company & guests drool over it! Thank you again for your time & effort in bringing us great recipes! A very Happy New Year to you & your family☺️

    • — Mimi on January 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn – this is divine! We loved the flavor and couldn’t get over how tender the chicken was! Well, we had a minor problem though – we’re a family of five and typically 4 servings is enough for us, but this one was not. (Kids wanted to go for adult portions, not surprisingly.) What would you recommend if I make this with 2lb of meat and not sacrifice the tenderness/flavor? You’re always so kind and generous with your time, so thank you very much in advance!

    • — Oleda on December 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Oleda, So glad you enjoyed this enough that your kids wanted large servings! I’d just increase all the other ingredients in the recipe by 1/4. (It won’t impact the tenderness of the chicken.)

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • First of all, this is my “go to” website for recipes (own both Once Upon a Chef cookbooks as well). Almost every single recipe is a winner with my family and friends, and this is one of my faves. Jenn, please also say hello to your husband for me (we were high school friends and basketball teammates)!

    I actually had a quick question on the chicken preparation for this recipe. Since the chicken is only poached, I’m curious if you rinse the chicken beforehand, or if the poaching process is enough to kill the bacteria. Thanks!

    • — Gregg on December 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Gregg! So glad you enjoy the recipes and Michael says hello! He said he remembers your culinary beginnings cutting up pieces of salami and serving it with cheese in your kitchen when you guys were little. 🙂 I actually don’t rinse chicken before cooking unless it seems like it needs it — there’s debate over this — so I wouldn’t rinse it here, but if you are a chicken-washer, it’s fine to give it a quick rinse before poaching.

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn, and lol!

        It’s a shame I didn’t become a professional chef after that bit of culinary magic. Fortunately my cooking skills have advanced since then:)

        Thanks again, and tell Michael he can reach out to me anytime (you have my email), as it would be great to hear from him.

        Happy holidays!

        • — Gregg on December 23, 2022
        • Reply
  • Can I use rotisserie chicken in place of cooking the chicken?

    • — Lauren on December 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • It’s never occurred to me to use rotisserie chicken here, but I think it’s possible. I’d add it to the pan just long enough to get it heated through. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Jenn,
    Love this recipe! Always turns out great and is so versatile. I’ve made this many times and usually add blanched snow peas (at the very end) and saute diced red pepper with the scallions & garlic – both add nice color and texture. I have also made it adding mushrooms and diced carrots & peas (frozen) which our local Thai restaurant always did. Have made it with shrimp as well. Just a great recipe as is or as a jumping off point. Thanks!!

    • — Ellen on November 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious dinner that my husband and I both loved! Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!❤️

    • — Donna on November 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another keeper! Quick to assemble and full of flavour! Thanks for sharing!

    • — Catherine V. on November 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Good recipe, cane together quickly. I added carrots and some bell pepper to give the kids something easy to chop and also contribute to dinner. They ate it right up! I loved how colorful this was, especially after adding the cilantro and green scallions.

    • — Matt on November 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious! My family loved this! I paired it with roasted broccoli.

    • — Elizabeth on October 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • I usually love the recipes that this site gives me, but this one was so disappointing. I replaced the chicken with tofu, and the dish turned out to be almost inedible. It was sickly sweet because of the sugar and no one could stomach it. Also, there’s a clear lack o flavor that adding more paste really did not fix.

    • — Em on October 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • My family and I loved this recipe. The sauce was delicious and the perfect amount of heat. The chicken was incredibly tender. My only question is if there is something I could do to make the sauce a bit thicker? Could I try adding a bit of corn starch to thicken it a bit?

    • — Liz Leverson on September 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad it was a hit with your family! The sauce in this dish won’t thicken a lot. If you want it a little thicker, mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of cold water. After the cornstarch is dissolved, add the mixture to the sauce and stir until the sauce has thickened a bit. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 20, 2022
      • Reply
      • This was great! I’ll definitely make it again. I want to add some veggies next time, should I add them in at the same time as the chicken or before?

        • — Lavi on January 17, 2023
        • Reply
        • Glad you liked it! When you add the veggies depends on what you want to include. For example, if you want to use spinach or peas, you can wait until you add the chicken to the sauce. If you’d like to use something like diced celery or bell peppers, add them along with the scallions, garlic, or jalapeño. Hope that helps!

          • — Jenn on January 18, 2023
          • Reply
  • This was very good. From the previous advice, I added red pepper and snow peas for the extra veggies.

    • — Suzie on August 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • So delicious!! I removed the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno, which resulted in a wonderfully flavorful sauce without the kick- which is what we were looking for!

    I liked being able to make the sauce ahead of time and add the chicken, which came out was perfect and tender , at the end.

    I have tried many of your recipes, and they are always something special. You must spend a tremendous amount of time until you get the perfect spices/ingredients combinations – I appreciate you for that!!!

    • — Janet P. on August 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely amazing. I followed the recipe (but without cilantro). My family loved it. It’s better than any restaurant curry.

    • — Janey on August 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Easy and tasty. I added some peppers with the scallions as I had some in the refrigerator.

    • — Keith Dowling on August 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Awesome! Family doesn’t have tolerance for spice so left out jalapeño.

    • — Michael on August 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this last night for dinner and it was a big hit with my husband and (adult) grandson. I added some matchstick carrots when I put the chicken into the sauce for extra veggies and that was a good addition. Will definitely make this again!

    • — Cindy Swoveland on August 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jen, I love your recipes, but it is absolutely infuriating to have the podcast I’m listening to interrupted a whopping five times in the space of 3 minutes by the video ads you have on your site. I know the site is free and I sincerely appreciate it, but PLEASE, for the love of God, find a way to monetize other than super-intrusive ads that interrupt one’s audio. This doesn’t just apply to your site. It’s almost universal among recipe sites. But that doesn’t make it good. Thank you for reading and again for your great recipes.

    • — Robert on August 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Robert, I’m so sorry! It sounds like a bad ad came through – we automatically block any ads that autoplay sound, so that shouldn’t be happening 99% of the time (the other 1% is when they slip through the filters in place). I will let the ad team know so we can troubleshoot and block any that we find.

      • — Jenn on August 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can I use green curry paste in place of the red? Will I need to adjust any of the other ingredients? Thank you and I can’t wait to make this!

    • — Roseann on July 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Roseann, Green curry paste is fine — depending on the brand you use, the dish may have a little bit of heat. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Just made this tonight and used a Serrano pepper as I didn’t have a jalapeño so spiced it up a bit more than I expected. It usually is, but we love spicy food and this didn’t disappoint – fantastic recipe thank you

    • — Lisa T on July 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • Fabulous. We loved this. I was surprised how easily the sauce thickened. I kept my eyes on it and it was perfect. Only had a brand of grocery store fish sauce so I needed to add more. I order a real Thai brand online for next time. My husband requested I make this with sea scallops. I think I should briefly saute the scallops and add them at the last minute. What do you think?

    • — Kathie on July 17, 2022
    • Reply
  • Just wondering how spicy this is? What brand of red curry is best?

    • — Ann J on July 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, it has a tiny bit of heat, but I wouldn’t call it spicy. And different brands of curry paste can have different levels of heat. The one that I use is Thai Kitchen and I don’t find it to be overly spicy. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2022
      • Reply
  • This Thai-style Red Chicken Curry is first class, easy & delicious!

    • — Steph on July 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was delicious! I accidentally let my sauce come to a boil when the chicken was cooking and the sauce ended up being really runny. I’m wondering if the boiling caused whatever thickening had happened to break down? Totally my fault – I’ll make it again any way because it was lick-the-bowl delicious!

    • — Miranda on June 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Miranda, Glad you liked it! I don’t think having it come to a boil would’ve caused the sauce to thin out. Did you use full-fat coconut milk?

      • — Jenn on June 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! I also liked that you could prepare the sauce ahead of time and then saute the chicken in the last few minutes. I tossed in some chopped asparagus in the last few minutes as at least one other reviewer had done. Served over white rice, the entire meal was delicious. This one definitely goes into our rotation of winner recipes by Jenn- thank you!!

    • — Jen on June 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute ground chicken?

    • — Jill on June 26, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jill, I’d stick with the chicken tenderloins for this. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2022
      • Reply

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