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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

  • So yummy! The chicken is so tender. I add chopped asparagus and red peppers at the end and cook until just tender.

    • — Reagan C. on May 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • Forgot to mention I also added 3 carrots sliced diagonally to add some color. Sautéed them before adding the onion. I also actually added the chicken next because I was using boneless skinless thighs and wanted them to get some “brown” flavor.

    • — Mary Beth on April 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious even with my adaptations based on what was in the refrigerator! No scallions-so yellow onion and the chives that have come back to my herb bed from a long winters rest. Green curry paste-not as pretty as the red but great flavor and had the perfect amount that inspired looking for a recipe to use it. No jalapeno but it was hot and flavorful enough with the addition of some chili garlic paste (also languishing in the refrigerator).

    • — Mary Beth on April 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is my go to for a fast dinner. I use rotisserie chicken and if i walk in the door and start the rice first, the rest of the dish is done when the rice is cooked. Fabulous recipe. i can always count on Once Upon a Chef to be great!

    • — Carolyn B on March 15, 2022
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  • Yummy and easy. Your recipes are so reliable that they are the ONLY ones I can ALWAYS count on to turn out exactly as predicted. Many other “chefs” recipes disappoint on occasion. Yours are simplified, and because I am a visual learner, the photos are incredibly helpful. I am a devoted fan. Thank you for your teaching style. Your books will be this Christmas’s gifts for my friends who spurn cooking as I am sure their quick, easy, tasty recipes will be life changing experiences, bringing them joy rather than disappointment, hesitancy, and frustration. Having had a very negative experience with fish sauce in the past, the fact that I totally trusted this recipe speaks volumes about how reliably wonderful ALL of your recipes are.

    • — Barb on March 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is wonderful! Since I doubled the recipe, I was concerned that not all of the chicken would cook enough….so I just poached it before hand and then added it to the curry, and I also sliced up and added one red bell pepper….it turned out so so yummy!

    • — Sandy M Martin on March 8, 2022
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  • Great recipe. Made the curry with chicken, and then sautéed green beens, red bell pepper and mushrooms separately. After separating some of the oil from the curry, I combined curry with veggies. So good with quinoa, rice or just dunked French bread!!! Didn’t have fresh jalapeño, but added a few slices from a jar we already had for extra flavor. Thanks for this recipe!

    • — Che on March 3, 2022
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  • This recipe is delicious! I substituted sriracha for the jalapeño and used leftover chicken because that’s what I had in my kitchen and my family loved the dinner. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Joyce Parks on March 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Yum! It turned out perfect the first time! I added chopped raw asparagus to the sauce in the last three minutes for extra nutrition and flavor! Absolutely delicious next time I will add chopped broccoli!

    • — Rhiannon Bonnick-Burlington Canada on March 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Wonderful, easy to make, a hit every time. Would not change a thing.

    • — Larry on February 15, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! And easy! I added mushrooms, broccoli and peppers. Was a little worried about adding raw chicken , but it cooked just fine (did 10 minutes) and was flavorful, juicy and tender.

    • — Laura on February 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • My family is allergic to fish. What can we use in place of the fish sauce?

    • — Debra on January 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Debra, You can replace the fish sauce with soy sauce. It won’t have that authentic Thai flavor without the fish sauce but will still be delicious. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delicious recipe….Have you ever tried freezing this curry?

    • — Nancy on January 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, no, I haven’t but I think you could get away with it. (And glad you enjoyed it!)

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi! I’ve frozen it before and it was just as delicious!

        • — Sisi on August 13, 2022
        • Reply
        • Good to know Sisi — thanks for weighing in! 🙂

          • — Jenn on August 15, 2022
          • Reply
  • The Thai Red Curry Chicken recipe looks delicious. Have you tried making it in a slow cooker? If so, do you have any tips/suggestions?

    Thanks
    Gayle

    • — Gayle Chiykowski on January 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Gayle, I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker but I think you could get away with it. I’d cook the scallions, garlic, and jalapenos on the stove as the recipe indicates and then add everything to the slow cooker. And I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share regarding timing because I don’t have experience with a slow cooker, but these tips may help you convert the recipe. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • It was very hot! Are there different heat levels of red curry paste? The one I used had two chilis on the label and called for two tsp for its own recipe – should have checked before adding two tbsp!

    • — Catherine on December 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Catherine, sorry you found this to be too spicy! Yes, I think that 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.

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Delicious just as is.

    • — Karen A. Riccio on December 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe!

    • — Michelle Hanson on December 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious as always!

    • — Hayley on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is wonderful! I have made it a few times for my family.
    I wanted to make it for a friend who can’t eat garlic. Will it still taste good without garlic? Should I add something else?

    • — Agnes on November 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Agnes, the garlic definitely adds to the flavor here, but you can get away with omitting it or replacing it with a little diced celery.

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2021
      • Reply
    • I don’t know how sensitive she is but you may want to make sure there’s no garlic in the paste too!

      • — Angie on January 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is a winner! So flavorful, so delicious! Doesn’t need more salt as some reviewer said. Perfect as is! We will be making this again and again. I added snow peas in with the chicken and it was yummy. So glad I tried it!

    • — Jennifer M. on October 25, 2021
    • Reply
    • I doubled the amount of curry paste, used coconut cream and added pineapple. It was epic!

      • — Mark on January 9, 2022
      • Reply
    • Does the chicken really only require 5-6 minutes of cooking? Surely that’s not right?

      • — Ami on February 6, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Ami, because the chicken is cut into 1-inch pieces, it cooks pretty quickly. Feel free to pull a piece of chicken out at the end of the cooking time and cut into it to make sure that it looks cooked through. Hope that helps and that you enjoy if you make it!

        • — Jenn on February 7, 2022
        • Reply
  • Needs salt.

    • — katherine dandie on October 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can I substitute shrimp for the chicken?

    • — Amy Land on October 4, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure! Cook time may be a little different so keep a close eye on it. Please LMK how it turns out with shrimp. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • Thai food is my favorite type of food, so naturally we make curries often. I was impressed with the way this one turned out and excited to hog all the leftovers from my family.

    • — Autumn on September 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • I followed your recipe exactly . Love the layers of Thai flavors and how quickly it came together. My chicken cubes needed to be cooked for approximately 15min to be completely done. They were probably larger than the recipe specified . The sauce was nuanced,and creamy and Jasmine rice really complemented the spiciness .

      • — Kathy Vukasovich on November 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Just made it for supper tonight. Didn’t have enough coconut milk — added 35% cream — it did well. My hubby loved it.
    All your recipes are so good.
    Merci Jenn
    Suzanne

    • — Suzanns Bussiere on September 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was amazing, and so easy to make after work. I chopped everything the night before, and came home from work and made it in 30 minutes. I love that it has just the right amount of heat, and such depth of flavors. I might add a little less brown sugar next time. I could eat this weekly!! Thank you!

    • — Geordie on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • A beautifully simple recipe but incredible flavour, i use this a minimum once a month. thank you!

    • — Gavin Michael Steer on September 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Fabulous!

    • — JF on August 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this dish several times and it is a winner! I usually use a little less chicken and add whatever vegetables I have on hand, and it is always great! In my opinion, the fish sauce is what makes this so good, so give it a try everyone! It’s way better than takout!

    • — marci on August 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • We are making this for company tonite, the second time in 2 weeks. It is fabulous and deceptively simple. We make the sauce ahead and have the sliced chicken at the ready for the final step just before we serve. The compliments from our last guests were lovely. We now know what to give them for the holidays! Whatever we decide to make for company or for ourselves, we look at your book first and then on-line for recipes not in the book. After many years of cooking and feeling disgruntled by the mistakes on timing, quantities and the like, your recipes are stellar and represent your diligence in testing over and over again, tweaking timing and ingredients (like the olive oil recommendations). Cannot wait for the new book but since we discovered you last year, we have a few more recipes to try. Thank you for your exquisite palate, diligence and hard work. Pat

    • — Pat Outland on July 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on July 30, 2021
      • Reply
    • This recipe turned out beautifully and was surprisingly easy. This curry tasted fresh and was restaurant quality – my whole family enjoyed it.

      • — Catharyna Britt on August 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was excellent and very easy to make.

    • — Kathy S Olson on May 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have probably reviewed this before. Such a wonderful, simple recipe. Made it with turkey tenderloins this time, sliced thin, and some of us had rice noodles instead of rice. Easy to adjust to taste (such as more curry paste, a bit less sugar, etc.) Definitely should try it with shrimp sometime. We always top with sriracha…. A family favorite.

    • — Natalie on May 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite dishes to make for guests when I’m short on time. It’s a lot of flavor reward for very little work!
    I love the “text ingredients “ feature you’ve included, as I often ask the hubby to stop at the store. Thanks!

    • — Debbie E. on May 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • This was delicious!! My husband and I loved it, have made thai chicken curry before but this recipe is great!! Thank you

      • — Claudine on June 25, 2021
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      • I added shitake mushrooms because we had them and they needed to be used. My family wanted more spicy but are busy adding sriracha sauce. I love it. Will make again.

        • — Kate on September 6, 2022
        • Reply
  • This is such a great dish as-is, I hesitate to comment that it got me thinking about how to re-create a similar (but different) version of a restaurant dish that is no longer available in my area. It would involve green curry paste, shrimp in lieu of chicken, adding broccoli florets and pieces of grilled pineapple. What I love about your instructions is the sequencing of the ingredients, and the concept of cooking the chicken (or shrimp) in the coconut milk sauce. I think I have prepared every single Thai influenced dish you have published. You really get the amazing and bright flavors of that cuisine!

    • — PaulainVA on May 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this at least 5 times and follow the recipe exactly, and while the flavor is good, I’ve never been able to make the sauce thicken like it says it should. I guess having a soupy sauce is better than it not tasting good, but the soupy sauce is kind of a disappointment.

    • — Hayley Howe on May 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Hayley, the sauce in this dish won’t thicken a ton. If you want it to be a bit thicker, I’d mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of cold water together. 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 May 4, 2021
      • Reply
    • This made for the most cozy Sunday dinner that also had enough for delicious Monday lunch left overs😍 this was so easy! Thank you

      • — Patricia on February 27, 2022
      • Reply
  • We really did not enjoy this recipe as we have most of published recipes…
    Followed precisely, but the sauce is where we do not taste authentic good Thai flavors.
    It is oddly sweet, alongside the spicy and simply not the best.
    On the positive, the chicken was very tender and good cooked gently in this sauce.
    Would love good, authentic Thai recipes as we love the cuisine.

    • — JooJoo on April 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi JooJoo,
      We found the brand “Thai True” curry paste (from Oregon and can purchase on Amazon) to be the closest thing to capturing the authentic Thai flavor. Hope that helps.

      • — Jill on June 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Turned out amazing. I fine tuned it by using garlic and added red peppers and asparagus. Usually use green beans as I’ve had in restaurants but had asparagus on hand. It was so delicious!! Definitely making again! Thx!!

    • — Jas on April 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Nice

    • — Ssp on April 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great flavor! (I’m a wimp with heat so left out the jalapeno).
    Didn’t have fish sauce so I used half and half mix of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
    Such an easy dish! Added snow peas with the chicken so they wouldn’t cook long and stay crispy. Served this with jasmine rice with the zest from the lime added during cooking, when ‘resting’ 10 min added cashews. Yummm. Entire dish was great, thanks again Jenn for all the great recipes!

    • — Laurie on April 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made tonight! It was absolutely delicious 🤤. As good as our local Thai restaurant if not better lol.

    • — Jamela Cahill on April 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • It turned out amazing. I like my stuff Spicy, SPICY so I’ve added 5 thai chilli peppers instead of one jalapeno.

    • — Snehal Patel on March 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • For a family with fish allergies, can I leave out the fish sauce and still achieve the right flavor?

    • — Jennifer Poretsky on March 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, you can replace the fish sauce with soy sauce. The dish won’t have that authentic Thai flavor, but will still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • I would add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of the red curry paste and more veggies. Otherwise, this is so good! We put carrots and zucchini in ours. It tasted exactly like our local Thai restaurant!

    • — Kelsey on March 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    Can I use chicken breasts instead of chicken tenders?
    Thank you,
    Olivera

    • — Olivera on March 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 2, 2021
      • Reply
    • Absolutely delicious!

      • — Lynda Douglas on June 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, would green curry paste be a good substitute for red curry paste in this recipe?

    • — Katie on February 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure — it may have a different level of heat, but it will work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 17, 2021
      • Reply
    • Loved this recipe. Tastes just like a dish made from our local Thai restaurant. I don’t care for fish sauce and always sub oyster sauce otherwise made as directed.

      • — Susan on May 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have been experimenting with several coconut curry recipes (all with easy ingredients like this one) and this has been my favorite so far. So creamy with such good flavor! I didn’t have a jalapeno so I used a little bit of crushed red pepper and then siracha to taste. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and did brown them first and then I served with ramen noodles. This is a keeper. Thank you!

    • — Karen - RVA on February 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is my all-time FAVORITE recipe for 2 reasons. The first reason is due to the simplicity of the recipe. I have never attempted to make a curry before because I was always intimidated by what it would entail, but this recipe completed changed my mind. The second reason is due to the incredible flavor and taste of the dish. I typically add a little extra sriracha when I’m ready to serve it because I love the spice of this dish 🙂

    • — Dan Scofield on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this last week, so tasty. The chicken was tender & just the right amount of spice. Will definitely make again

    • — Nancy Soltis on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a quick and easy way to make a comforting weeknight meal. I think the sweet, savory, and sour flavors are well balanced in this dish. If you have lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves available to you, they are a great addition. Just add finely minced white and light-green parts of the lemongrass stock with the addition of ginger. Kaffir lime leaves can be added whole or thinly sliced within the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

    • — ContagiousCooking on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Butternut squash soup is one of my favorites and this recipe is amazing!! Just the right amount of spices. I am enjoying so many of your recipes..always look forward to getting them. Thank you!!

    • — Marcie Lomeli on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and it’s another winner! The garlic and scallions added just the right amount of flavor that was missing from the old recipe I used to follow. The only thing I altered was subbing dried basil for cilantro. So so good!

    • — Fariha on February 1, 2021
    • Reply

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