Thai-Style Red Chicken Curry

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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
  • 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, 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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Reviews & Comments

  • This recipe has been in regular rotation at our house for several months now. This tastes exactly how you want Thai chicken curry to taste, and it’s so easy! I do cut down on the lime just a tad, otherwise I find it slightly too tart. Otherwise, though–fantastic!

    • — Jaclyn on January 31, 2021
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  • Thank you for another quick and easy weeknight meal! We can’t believe how tender the chicken turns out and how flavourful the curry is. We really love curry and it so wonderful to be able to cook delicious curries at home thanks to you!! I have used both lite and regular coconut milk and we enjoyed them the same although with lite it is less thick/creamy. Love the flavour dimension the jalapeño adds!! Can’t wait for your new cookbook 🙂

    • — Becca on January 30, 2021
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  • My daughter is in college and anytime she comes home, her first request is your Thai Chicken Curry! This dish is so fresh and delicious!

    • — Jan Rohan on January 30, 2021
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  • My family loved this! No leftovers and found myself making it the following day again because is was so good! I added some water chestnuts for crunch and baby corn too.

    • — Valerie Rooney on January 29, 2021
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  • This sounded so good! But there were things in it that I don’t like, fish sauce, cilantro! I went ahead and did the recipe exactly like written. I did, however, not add as much cilantro as called for. The smell of it cooking was not to my liking. Figured if it didn’t turn out, we were going to get take away. Was very surprised! The more we ate it, the more we liked it. Had enough leftovers to send home with my sons family. I knew he would love it. I think he was the one who sent me the link to the recipe.

    • — Kay on January 29, 2021
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  • We no longer have to go out for curry because of this recipe! It’s that good! The curry is nice and silky and the chicken stays moist when poached in the broth. I like to add some veggies to this as well including, sliced carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper. I add sliced carrots when I add in the chicken and then toss in the rest of the veggies once the chicken is almost cooked through so the veggies stay crisp-tender. It makes for a colorful, tasty meal on a cold winter night.

    • — Claudine on January 29, 2021
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  • My husband does not like curry, but this recipe is perfect and super tasty. I am sure he will be on board once I cook it. Thank you!

    • — Di on January 28, 2021
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  • Yum! This recipe is definitely on the rotating must make cycle. Super tasty and it’s a good reminder for me to not overcook chicken. I usually add more red curry paste than the recipe calls for but we like a little extra spice. And I double the recipe because this dish goes quickly!

    • — Colleen on January 28, 2021
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  • My husband says this is better than the curry he learned to make in Thailand! The whole family loves it and it’s so easy to make on a weeknight (plus it travels well in the car on our way to our kid’s nightly sport activities) We usually sous vide the chicken beforehand so we never need to poach the chicken fully. Great combination of flavours especially if you pair over jasmine rice. We make this dish regularly and there are never any complaints and the leftovers ALWAYS get eaten!

    • — Suzanne McCormack on January 28, 2021
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  • I love a good curry and keep Thai spices in the pantry to be ready for any preparation that piques interest. Your lovely board of chopped fresh green ingredients inspired me. I’ve used jarred jalapenos and roasted red peppers in other curries but the freshness in this curry can’t be topped (so much for pantry ingredients!). I like chicken thighs in my curry b/c I think they add a deeper note of juicy chicken flavor, a personal preference for anyone of course. Great suggestion to cook additional veggies separately preventing ‘sauce soak’ – this dish was spot on. Thanks again for a great dinner Jenn!

    • — TN Broom on January 28, 2021
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  • Beautiful, perfect, fast recipe. Love it and have made it several times. I add peas or roasted asparagus or baby spinach. I do not add cilantro-as we don’t love the flavor. This curry is so Yummy!

    • — Heidi on January 28, 2021
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  • This is one of my favorite recipes! It’s so clean and delicious and has become a weekly staple in our family. Every loves it and wants the recipe. Thanks so much for sharing your gift of creating amazing recipes for us. Such a treat!
    Warmly,
    Kathryn

    • — Kathryn Ponn Muhler on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I loved how the flavors complemented each other. It tasted so fresh. Even my husband liked it. Will make this a regular dinner. I make it with quinoa.

    • — Chase Dallura on January 28, 2021
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  • This was my first time making (and eating) Thai food. I loved it and this recipe. I have made it many times since the first time. Poaching the chicken made it cut like it was butter, so very tender. I love so many of Jenn’s recipes, try her blueberry buttermilk pancakes they don’t disappoint.

    • — Susan Stevenson on January 28, 2021
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  • Have done several of the Thai dishes, including this one, and love the ease and outcome! Always a hit with my husband. I saw a review that said it’s not truly Thai in technique, but that does not matter to me — it’s what comes of the recipes and, so far, they’ve been hits. I do play around as always with ingredients, always adding more garlic or onion or jalapenos than recipe calls for because of personal preference.

    • — Victoria CK on January 28, 2021
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  • Husband and I love this recipe. We like a lot of spice so add chilli flakes and extra jalapeño. I also double it so there’s leftovers.

    • — Amy on January 28, 2021
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  • Such a flavorful, quick, easy dinner! Love the method for cooking the chicken and that it can all be made in one pan!

    • — Lauren on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Loved this recipe and so did my family! Wonderful and authentic. We’ve added it to our list of favourite meals.

    • — bill on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another delicious recipe that has surprisingly become a family favorite. These simple recipes have become a great way to introduce a finicky family to lots of other flavors and cuisines. Thank you

    • — James Schwartz on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • We love this recipe in our house! Make sure you have the ingredients prepped and ready to go before you get started. I like to stir in chopped bell peppers with the chicken for added nutrition.

    • — Laura on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Pretty much followed the recipe as written and it turned out so incredibly flavorful with tender pieces of chicken (which is what I was most worried about)! Have tried many of Once Upon a Chef recipes but felt especially inspired to rate this one! My husband said it was a tad too sweet so he did add hot sauce. Perhaps next time I may cut a bit of the sugar out or add more paste. Can’t wait to try again!

    • — Cassie C. on January 18, 2021
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    • I have tried many Thai recipes and this one is the very best! It is so fast and full proof. I added sweet potato instead of peppers and it was fabulous.

      • — sandra carr on January 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • I was really excited to make this but honestly felt like it didn’t give much flavor, and it was a little sickly sweet after adding the brown sugar. I was definitely hoping for something with a little more depth of flavor, and I’ve seen a few other recipes recommend adding chicken broth or stock. May try that next time. Thanks!

    • — Melissa T on January 16, 2021
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  • The brands and even some of the produce used are not what Thais use, and there is a technique to getting it right. Sure, this probably works as an at home Thai dish that’s good enough for most. The way Thais do it, is just as easy…just different. Happy to share some Thai techniques if you’re interested in trying the Thai way (there’s a long history of chefs in my family). Thanks for all your recipes. I love your site! I’ve tried one of your breads so far and can’t wait to try others.

    • — Patty on January 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Patty I would love to try your family’s and any other (Thai) recipes you would like to share. We eat tons of Thai food at our house.
      Thanks, Barbara
      [email protected]

      • — Barbara on April 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • OMG – hadn’t tried this despite the great reviews since I’m not a huge curry fan and BF doesn’t particularly like cilantro – what a mistake! It was fantastic and so flavorful! We both agreed it was a new favorite! Our local Thai restaurant is almost inedible (IMO) so this is such a great option! Thanks Jen – you are always spot on!

    • — Meg on January 7, 2021
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  • Once again, you’ve nailed it!!! We love Thai food & I have been trying various recipes to enjoy eating it at home. This truly was delicious! And very easy. I was a little nervous about the jalapeno pepper, but I trusted Jennifer. It was not spicy at all. Just the right amount of flavor. I will be making this again & again!!
    I do think for a variation, I might try adding some veggies. (peas, water chestnuts, carrots???)
    I think I could drink the sauce straight up!!

    • — Melissa E. on January 6, 2021
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  • Seriously the best thing I’ve ever made from a recipe. So easy, so fast, and so good!

    • — Hayley on January 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is delicious! Really quick and from ingredients I have on hand.

    • — Jane on December 29, 2020
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  • I am having surgery soon and want to make ahead some dishes. Could I freeze this once it is cooked? I would then defrost and warm up in the microwave. Thoughts?

    • — anne on December 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, I’ve never frozen this before, but I think it should work. For some other options, check out my Freezer-Friendly section of recipes. Good luck with the surgery!

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was my first effort at Thai food and it was fabulous. I added a few steamed vegetables (celery, yellow bell pepper, and broccoli) at the end of the cooking process and they were a good addition. My wife said “it was restaurant quality.” The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the ingredients were easy to find at my local supermarket. I will definitely make this again.

    • — Fiona H on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’m at my desk eating leftover Thai Red Curry Chicken and had to stop to thank you for all of the amazing recipes. It started with a google search for apple cake (I made your French Apple Cake 3 times during apple season!), and continued with Moroccan Chicken (thank you for making me LOVE boneless skinless chicken breasts!), then my entire Thanksgiving meal (rolled turkey breast – amazing!). And now, the final compliment. I’m buying your cookbook, and an extra as a gift! Thanks so much for the kitchen inspiration!

    • — marci G on December 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Super easy and excellent recipe – thank you for another great one Jenn! I added 2 cups of fresh peas to mine right at the end and it was the perfect. I also only had light coconut milk and I did not find the sauce too runny. Will definitely make again.

    • — Chandra on December 15, 2020
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  • Love this recipe! So easy to make and absolutely delicious. I added finely chopped fresh lime kafir leaves and it added a nice “zing”. Thank you so much!

    • — Teresa on December 13, 2020
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  • Made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! I’m so happy I found this website. Looking forward to trying more recipes. Thank you.

    • — Dorothy on December 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Recently we have made many of your recipes and they never disappoint!! Made this for first time tonight and loved by all which is a feat in itself! Super easy and super delicious! Thx so much and keep them coming:)

    • — bb on December 10, 2020
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  • I made this the other day and it was so good!! I am hooked on your recipies…. Thank you!

    • — Anja Chan on December 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Really good and easy. Question.. in the first pic on top of all the ingredients- what is the white stuff in the little brown dish? I couldn’t figure out which ingredient that was.

    • — Liz on November 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Liz, If you’re talking about the very first pic on the page, it’s rice. Glad you like it, BTW!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
      • I was looking over the reviews & noticed Liz’s question. I think she is referring to your ingredient picture. It appears to be salt in small dish, but the recipe does not list it. It tastes great without salt, but I just thought that may be what the she was asking 🙂

        • — Melissa E. on January 6, 2021
        • Reply
        • Ahhh… you may be right, Melissa. I thought she was referring to the picture at the very top of the page. That is salt in that little bowl in the second pic and it’s correct that the recipe doesn’t call for it so I can definitely see why it could be confusing – my bad!

          • — Jenn on January 7, 2021
          • Reply
  • Amazing recipe (as per usual) Jenn! I was wondering, out of curiosity – would another curry paste work here? I have Massaman curry paste at home and I’m wondering if it would taste as good!

    • — Maria on November 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, I do think other curry pastes would make nice variations.

      • — Jenn on November 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Yum, Yum! This was so delicious and easy! Will definitely make it again!

    • — Marlene on November 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe is awesome. I decided to leverage the majority of the recipe, but I cannot help m myself to add to recipes as I go. I am retired and my wife is a remote employee. We live in rural Iowa. Moved here about 2 years ago. Needless to say one of the things we miss is the number of large quality restaurants available. That stated we have been cooking more at home. This recipe did the trick for us. We added Asian mushrooms, bean sprouts, and asparagus to this recipe. Highly recommend as I felt this was restaurant grade. Thank you.

    • — Tim Munger on November 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn – we make this recipe all the time and love it. We have friends coming over and wanted to make it, but they can’t eat coconut. Could we use yogurt or something else instead of the coconut milk?
    Becky

    • — Becky Hayes on November 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Becky, Coconut milk is such an important component of this recipe that I really wouldn’t substitute it. You may want to consider my Chicken Curry recipe instead. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was my first time making Thai, this was so good. I followed the recipe exactly as written. I like the cooking tips in the recipes, it really is so helpful. My favorite is the Peruvian chicken with green sauce but this is a close second.

    • — Mrs. Bowden on October 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • Excellent! “Perfectly Tasty” was how one of my social distancing walking friends described it as we sat outside enjoying a nice warm bowl of it after an outing. Well balanced and hits all the flavor notes. People loved the sauce and kept commenting on it. Fresh and delicious. I used low fat coconut milk and boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/4 strips on the diagonal per your Chicken Curry recipe. Another hit which always shines. Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Diane on October 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Delicious!! I had to make it about an hour ahead so I just cooked the chicken for a minute or two on the stove top and then put in the oven at 180 and it didn’t get overcooked! I added the green onions and basil (instead of cilantro) to the serving dish when I took it out of the oven.
    My whole family loved it! It’s such a nice change of flavours from our usual fare.

    • — T on October 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • We loved it. Toddler was licking his spoon. We couldn’t find tenderloin so had to use chicken breast but it still turned out great.

    • — MP on October 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Best red curry recipe out there. Delicious

    • — Nj on September 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • This is restaurant quality thai chicken curry! Flavorful and delicious, I will be making this again!

    • — Mary Ann on September 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • I accidentally bought canned coconut cream, but I made it into coconut milk with water and a blender after searching for the ratios on line. It always takes me longer to prep, but when I love all the ingredients, it usually works in the end. It was delicious! The instructions were spot on, and the flavors amazing! I was afraid it might be too spicy for me, but it was perfect. Everyone including my finicky 14 year old daughter actually went for seconds. I served with peas and jasmine rice. It was full of flavor, healthy, and satisfying. This one is a keeper! Thank you Jenn for all the quality dishes! You are making my life easier! I am so glad I found your site!

    • — Donna on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • This curry recipe sounds great, but please – never, ever use vegetable oil! It’s a very toxic oil. Use a good oil, such as avocado.

    • — Melanie Riley on September 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • I would like to make this for my family, but with shrimp (one is a vegetarian, but sometimes eats fish). Would I basically do the same thing… add the shrimp to the sauce and be careful to not overcook them? Thanks!

    • — Julie on September 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Exactly – I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on September 11, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe made the best red curry chicken I’ve ever had! I reduced the fish sauce by half and added 1 C of diced carrots (pre-cooked). So delicious! Thanks!

    • — Ray T on September 2, 2020
    • Reply

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