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Thai Yellow Curry Paste Recipe

Bring the bright, layered flavors of Thai cuisine into your kitchen with this Thai Yellow Curry Paste recipe.

A blend of zesty ingredients like lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime combined with spicy chilies and rich shrimp paste, it creates an aromatic curry paste base that’s essential for iconic Thai curries.

Key Takeaways

Prep TimeCooking TimeDifficulty
10 mins0 minsEasy
  • A versatile and flavorful Thai curry paste
  • Ingredients include chilies, lemongrass, galangal
  • Used as a base for curries and stir-fries
  • Check out other Thai recipes like classics curries

Thai Yellow Curry Paste Recipe

Course: Main
Cuisine: Thai
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 0 minutes
Calories: 272 kcal
Total Time: 10 minutes

Thai Yellow Curry Paste. The ingredients such as lime skin, lemongrass, galangal, dried red chilies, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, turmeric, and salt are laid out around a mortar and pestle





Kaffir lime skin

15 Grams

Lemongrass, chopped

9 Grams


10 Grams

Large dried red chilies without seeds, chopped

50 Grams

Shallot, peeled


Garlic cloves, peeled


Shrimp paste

1 tbsp


1 tbsp


1 tsp

What Each Ingredient Adds

  • Kaffir Lime Skin: Adds a vibrant citrusy aroma and flavor
  • Lemongrass: Lends an earthy, lemony taste
  • Galangal: Provides a piney, citrusy undertone
  • Dried Red Chilies: Bring the heat and spice
  • Shallot and Garlic: Aromatics that build flavor base
  • Shrimp Paste: Gives an unmistakable savory, umami punch
  • Turmeric: Signature yellow color and earthy notes

Prep Time and Servings

This Thai yellow curry paste comes together quickly in just 10 minutes of prep time. The recipe makes enough for 4-6 servings, depending on how liberally you use the curry paste.

vibrant image of Thai Yellow Curry Paste in a traditional bowl.

Hints and Tips

  • Use a mortar and pestle for best texture, or a blender
  • For less heat, deseed some or all of the dried chilies
  • Freeze any extra curry paste for future use
  • Check out this Khao Soi Gai to use the paste


  • Add extra aromatics like coriander roots or krachai
  • Use fresh red chilies instead of dried for different flavor
  • Increase or decrease amount of shrimp paste to taste
  • Try adding a touch of lime juice for brighter flavor

Serving Suggestions

The versatile Thai yellow curry paste can be used as a flavorful base for:

  • Curries with proteins like beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu
  • Stir-fries and noodle dishes like Pad Thai
  • As a marinade for grilled meats

Nutrition Values

Per serving (based on 6 servings):

  • Calories: 272
  • Total Fat: 19g
  • Saturated Fat: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 12mg
  • Sodium: 590mg
  • Total Carbs: 24g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 5g
Thai Yellow Curry Paste in a decorative bowl.

Difficulty Level: Easy

This Thai yellow curry paste is an easy recipe that just requires some chopping and pounding of ingredients into a paste.

No cooking is required, making it a simple addition to your Thai curry repertoire.


The prepared yellow curry paste can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For longer storage, freeze the curry paste for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw before using.

History of Thai Yellow Curry

Yellow curries like the milder Massaman and fiery Kaeng Kari are thought to have Persian influences brought by traders.

But the use of fresh turmeric root gives this particular curry its signature yellow hue and earthiness unique to Thai cuisine.

The color yellow is also associated with auspiciousness and royalty in Thailand, which could be another origin for this regal curry paste.

Thai Yellow Curry Paste in a beautifully decorated bowl.


Whether you’re making a rich, coconut milk-based Thai yellow curry or using it as a flavour base for stir-fries and fried rice, this aromatic curry paste packs a flavour punch. 

The balanced blend of chilies, galangal, lemongrass and shrimp creates a layered Thai taste sensation.

With just a few ingredients and almost no cooking required, this is an easy yet impactful ingredient to have on hand. A little goes a long way to adding bright, spicy notes to your Thai green or red curries. Give it a try!

Thai Yellow Curry Paste in a beautiful traditional bowl.

10 FAQs on Thai Yellow Curry Paste

  1. What is galangal and where can I find it?
    Galangal is a rhizome with a piney, citrusy flavor, similar to ginger. It’s a common ingredient in Thai and Southeast Asian cooking. Look for fresh galangal in the produce section of Asian markets or well-stocked grocery stores.

  2. Can I use fresh turmeric instead of ground turmeric?
    Yes, you can substitute about 1-2 tablespoons of freshly grated turmeric root for the 1 tablespoon of ground turmeric powder called for in this recipe.

  3. Why does the recipe call for kaffir lime skin instead of juice?
    Kaffir lime skin provides a more concentrated citrus aroma and flavor compared to the juice. The skin carries aromatic oils that infuse the curry paste.

  4. What can I use if I can’t find kaffir lime skin?
    If unavailable, you can substitute with a mix of lime zest and lemon zest, or simply omit it.

  5. How can I make this curry paste vegan? To make a vegan version, simply omit the shrimp paste ingredient. You can optionally replace it with an equal amount of vegan fish sauce or miso paste.

  6. How spicy is this Thai yellow curry paste?
    This recipe makes a moderately spicy curry paste thanks to the dried red chilies. You can adjust the heat level by using fewer or more chilies.

  7. Can I freeze the extra curry paste?
    Yes, let any leftover curry paste cool completely and transfer it to an airtight freezer-safe container. It freezes well for 2-3 months.

  8. What are some common proteins used in Thai yellow curries?
    Popular choices are chicken, beef, shrimp, fish or tofu for a vegetarian option.

  9. How do I make a yellow curry with this paste?
    Fry the paste briefly in oil, then add coconut milk and protein. Simmer until cooked through and tender. Finish with fish sauce and lime juice.

  10. Is this curry paste gluten-free?
    Yes, this Thai yellow curry paste recipe is naturally gluten-free as written.

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

Recipe by Chris Cooper
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: MainCuisine: ThaiDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time



This vibrant and aromatic Thai yellow curry paste is the flavorful backbone for creating rich, coconut-based curries and stir-fries.

Made from a blend of lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, kaffir lime, chilies, and shrimp paste, it packs layers of citrusy heat and savory umami in each spoonful.

Naturally gluten-free and vegan when omitting the shrimp paste, this versatile curry base is simple to make by pounding the ingredients into a fragrant paste.

Use it to quickly build complex Thai yellow curry dishes with proteins like chicken, beef, or tofu and colorful vegetables. The zesty, well-balanced seasoning is a must-have for lovers of authentic Thai flavors.


  • 15 Grams 15 Kaffir lime skin

  • 9 Grams 9 lemongrass, chopped

  • 10 Grams 10 galangal

  • 50 Grams 50 large dried red chilies without seeds, chopped

  • 1 1 Shallot peeled

  • 2 2 cloves garlic peeled

  • 1 tbs 1 shrimp paste

  • 1 tbs 1 turmeric

  • 1 tsp 1 salt


  • Add all the ingredients except shrimp paste into a pestle and mortar and pound until a 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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