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Thai Red Curry Paste Recipe

Unlock the secrets to recreating authentic Thai flavors at home with this vibrant, flavor-packed Thai red curry paste recipe – the versatile foundation for iconic curries.

Key Takeaways

Authentic FlavorLearn to make an authentic and flavorful Thai red curry paste from scratch at home.
Versatile IngredientUse this versatile paste as a base for many delicious Thai recipes like curries, soups, and marinades.
Simple RecipeWith just a few everyday ingredients, you can create this flavorful paste easily at home.
CustomizableAdjust the spice level and ingredients to suit your taste preferences.
NutritiousMade with anti-inflammatory spices like galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime.
Thai red Curry Paste in a jar


What is Thai Red Curry Paste?

Thai red curry paste is a concentrated blend of aromatic herbs and spices that forms the flavorful base for many iconic Thai curries and dishes.

This vibrant red paste packs a punch of complex flavors from ingredients like dried red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and shrimp paste.

Why is Thai Red Curry Paste so popular?

The popularity of Thai red curry paste lies in its incredible ability to transform simple ingredients into fragrant, layered curries.

Just a few spoonfuls can infuse robust flavor into coconut milk-based curries, soups, marinades, and more. Its versatility and authentic Thai taste make it a pantry staple.

What are the benefits of making Thai Red Curry Paste at home?

While you can purchase pre-made curry pastes, making your own at home has several benefits:

  • Fresher flavors: Homemade paste captures the vibrant aromas and flavors of fresh ingredients.
  • Customizable: Adjust the heat level, ingredients, and ratios to suit your taste.
  • Cost-effective: Making your own paste is more economical than purchasing it pre-made.
  • No preservatives: Homemade paste is free from additives and preservatives found in some commercial varieties.
lime skin from an asian lime fruit




Kaffir lime skin

15 Grams

Lemongrass, chopped

9 Grams


10 Grams

Big dried red chilies (without seeds)

50 Grams

Shallot, peeled


Garlic cloves, peeled


Shrimp paste

1 tbsp


1 tsp

This recipe yields about 1 cup of Thai red curry paste.

What Each Ingredient Adds

  • Dried Red Chilies: Provides the signature red color and heat. Use more or less to adjust spice level.
  • Galangal: Lends a unique citrusy, piney flavor with undertones of earthy black pepper.
  • Lemongrass: Contributes a bright, lemony aroma and citrusy notes.
  • Kaffir Lime Skin: Imparts an intense citrusy, lime-like fragrance and flavor.
  • Shallots and Garlic: Add aromatic depth and slight sweetness as a base flavor.
  • Shrimp Paste: Gives the paste a savory, umami-rich, funky depth of flavor.
  • Salt: Enhances and balances all the flavors.
Lemongrass, chopped on a brown chopping board

Preparation Time and Servings

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup of paste

This quick and easy recipe takes just 10 minutes of active prep time to make a versatile batch of authentic Thai red curry paste from scratch.

several sticks of Galangal stood up in a brown bowl

Hints and Tips

  • Use a granite mortar and pestle for best results when pounding the paste by hand. The coarse granite surface helps grind the fibers effectively.
  • If using a blender or food processor, add a little water or broth to help grind the paste smoothly.
  • For less heat, remove some or all of the chile seeds before blending.
  • Store any extra paste covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for longer storage.
  • For a vegetarian/vegan version, omit the shrimp paste or substitute with soy sauce or miso paste.
Big dried red chilies (without seeds)


  • Swap dried Thai bird’s eye chilies for a spicier version.
  • Use fresh turmeric instead of dried for added earthy, bitter notes.
  • Add a stalk of fresh cilantro roots and stems for extra freshness.
  • Include toasted cumin and coriander seeds for warmth and depth.
  • Use roasted dried chilies for a lightly smoky flavor twist.
close up of a shallot

Serving Suggestions

Thai red curry paste is extremely versatile! Use it as the flavorful base for:

Nutrition Values

One tablespoon of this Thai red curry paste contains approximately:

  • Calories: 25
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 90mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Total Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 1g
6 whole garlic wth a small white dish of chopped garlic

Difficulty Level: Easy

This Thai red curry paste is rated easy to make at home. With just a few simple ingredients and about 10 minutes, you can create an authentic and versatile paste. 

No advanced cooking skills are required, just some chopping and blending or pounding.


  • Refrigerate the fresh curry paste in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  • For longer storage, portion into ice cube trays and freeze, transferring frozen cubes to an airtight freezer bag once solid. Thaw cubes as needed.
  • Add a thin layer of neutral oil or water on top to help preserve freshness when storing refrigerated curry paste.
shrimp paste

History of Thai Red Curry Paste

Curry pastes are integral to Thai cuisine, tracing their origins to ancient culinary traditions.

Red curry paste likely emerged centuries ago in central Thailand, taking inspiration from the centuries-old culinary traditions of the Thai kingdoms like Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

Its signature red hue comes from a blend of dried red chilies, which were adopted into Thai cooking after being introduced to the region by Portuguese missionaries in the 16th-17th centuries.

Over time, the paste evolved to incorporate local herbs and roots like galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and shrimp paste.

Today, vibrant Thai red curry paste forms the aromatic backbone of many iconic curries like Thai beef chili curries, green chicken curries, and Thai garlic chicken dishes. Its rise in global popularity showcases its flavor versatility and Thailand’s incredible culinary heritage.

salt in a brown pot


Homemade Thai red curry paste is a flavor powerhouse that allows you to easily recreate authentic and delicious Thai curries in your own kitchen. 

With just a handful of aromatic ingredients like dried red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime, you can craft a versatile paste that captures the vibrant essence of Thai cuisine.

Making your own red curry paste at home ensures you get the freshest, most robust flavors without any preservatives. 

Plus, you have full control to customize the heat level and tweak the ingredient ratios to your taste preferences.

While it may seem daunting, this recipe proves that creating Thai red curry paste from scratch is surprisingly easy. 

In just 10 minutes of active prep time, you’ll have a flavorful base ready to transform proteins, vegetables, rice, and more into fragrant Thai curry dishes.

So why settle for store-bought when you can experience the real deal? 

Embrace the art of homemade curry pastes and savor the incredible depth of flavor they can lend to your Thai cooking adventures. 

With this vibrant red curry paste as your secret weapon, you’ll be crafting restaurant-quality yellow curries, luscious coconut soups, and more in no time.

Unlock a world of authentic Thai flavor by whipping up a batch of this aromatic red curry paste today. Your taste buds will thank you!

Thai red Curry Paste in a wooden bowl

10 FAQs About Thai Red Curry Paste

1. What is the main difference between red and green Thai curry pastes?
The main difference lies in the type of chilies used. Red curry paste uses dried red chilies, while green curry paste uses fresh green chilies. Red curry paste also contains more spices like coriander root and cumin, giving it a deeper, more robust flavor.

2. Can I substitute the galangal in the recipe?
If you cannot find fresh galangal, you can substitute it with ginger. However, galangal has a more intense citrusy-piney flavor that is more authentic to Thai curry pastes.

3. How spicy is Thai red curry paste?
The spice level can vary based on the amount and type of chilies used. Generally, Thai red curry paste has a medium to high heat level. You can adjust the heat by using more or fewer chilies when making it.

4. What is shrimp paste and why is it used?
Shrimp paste is a funky, savory condiment made from fermented ground shrimp and salt. It adds an umami depth of flavor and authentic taste to Thai curry pastes.

5. How long does homemade Thai red curry paste last?
When stored in an airtight container in the fridge, the paste will last for 1-2 weeks. You can freeze it for 3-4 months to extend its shelf life.

Thai red Curry Paste in an ornimental bowl


6. Can I use this paste for other Thai dishes besides curries?
Absolutely! Thai red curry paste is very versatile. Use it as a marinade for proteins, blend it into soups and stir-fries, or mix it into fried rice dishes.

7. What ingredients make Thai red curry paste so fragrant?
The combination of aromatic ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, and dried red chilies give the paste its signature intense fragrance.

8. Is there a substitute for kaffir lime leaves?
If you cannot find fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, you can use the zest of a regular lime as a substitute, though the flavor won’t be quite the same.

9. Can I make the paste ahead of time?
Yes, this Thai red curry paste can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

10. What is the best way to grind the curry paste ingredients?
Using a granite mortar and pestle is the traditional and best way to pound the ingredients into a smooth paste by hand. A blender or food processor can also be used for convenience.

Thai Red Curry Paste

Recipe by Chris Cooper
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: MainCuisine: ThaiDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time



This vibrantly red and fragrant Thai curry paste packs an incredible punch of flavor from aromatic ingredients like fiery dried red chilies, citrusy galangal and kaffir lime, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and savory shrimp paste.

A few spoonfuls of this easy homemade paste instantly infuse rich Thai curry flavors into coconut milk-based curries, soups, marinades, and more.

Making authentic curry paste allows you to customize the heat level and capture fresh, vibrant flavors without any preservatives.


  • 15 Grams 15 Kaffir lime skin

  • 9 Grams 9 lemongrass, chopped

  • 10 Grams 10 Galangal

  • 50 Grams 50 big dried red chilies without seeds

  • 1 1 Shallot, peeled

  • 3 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 tbsp 1 Shrimp paste

  • 1 tsp 1 Salt


  • Add all the ingredients except shrimp paste into a pestle and mortar and pound until smooth paste. You can use a blender and add a little water to ease the grinding.
  • Once smooth mix in the shrimp paste.


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Red curry paste

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