An easy Thai curry made with shop-bought red curry paste, chicken and coconut milk. So fresh and aromatic! A great option when you’re short on time but don’t want to miss out on taste.

Thai red chicken curry with rice in a bowl with lime and coriander
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I’ve just done a quick count and I’ve found that we’ve got more than 20 curry recipes on Kitchen Sanctuary! I guess I just really like curry.

We make curry at home at least once, and usually twice, a week.

Quite often we’ll make our own curry paste, but sometimes we’ll use store-bought paste if we’re in a hurry (or just too hungry to wait!).

What do we need?

Ingredients for making Thai red chicken curry on a wooden table

Notes on Curry Paste:

Red curry paste can be very strong in flavour and heat level depending on the variety you buy. Here are the 2 that i use most often:

  • Mae Ploy and Thai Taste (<–affiliate links) are both relatively hot but nicely authentic in flavour.
  • If I want a milder red Thai curry that the kids will enjoy, I use Morrison’s own brand Thai red curry paste. It’s still got a great authentic flavour (very fragrant with lots of lemongrass in it), but is actually quite mild.

Notes on the other ingredients:

  • Coconut milk: Go for full fat coconut milk for the best creamy flavour, without worrying that your sauce might split (as can happen with low-fat coconut milk). See my notes in the recipe below for swaps of coconut milk if you want to make this without coconut milk.
  • Chicken: Chicken breast is great for this recipe as it cooks pretty quickly, so you don’t have to worry about the chicken being tough. However, you can use trimmed chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • Thai Basil: I love to add a little fresh Thai basil to the sauce and for garnish, but if you can’t get hold of any, leave it out (you’ll still have a lovely curry!) or add more fresh coriander (cilantro).

How to make this Thai red curry

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Soften onion in a little oil over a medium heat, then add the chicken and cook until sealed.
  • Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass paste and a crumbled stock cube and stir together to coat the chicken.
  • Add the curry paste and stir together.
6 image collage showing the initial stages of making Thai red chicken curry
  • Add coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, bamboo shoots and curry leaves. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
4 image collage showing the end stages of making Thai red chicken curry
  • Stir in lime juice, then serve the curry with boiled rice.
  • I love to top the curry with fresh curry leaves, coriander (cilantro), chilli slices and slices of lime.
Thai red chicken curry in a pan

More better-than-takeout curry recipes

Thai red chicken curry with rice in a bowl

Can I make a vegetarian version instead?

Yes! Ensure the curry paste is vegetarian. Replace the chicken with mushrooms, roasted sweet potato or quorn. Replace the fish sauce with a vegetarian fish sauce replacement (Thai Taste do one). You’ll also need to replace the stock cube with a vegetarian stock cube.

Can I make a lower fat/calorie Thai red curry?

Yes, here’s my low fat Thai red chicken curry that uses a homemade paste and half-fat coconut milk. It’s really delicious for a lighter option (267 cals per portion without the rice). 

Which Thai curry is the spiciest?

🌶️🌶️🌶️Green Thai curry is considered to be the spiciest – as green chillies (of the same variety) are usually hotter and sharper than red chillies.
🌶️🌶️Red Thai Curry comes next, and 🌶️ Yellow Thai curry is the least spicy.

More Thai Recipes

Love those Thai flavours? Why not try one of these recipes next:

Watch how to make it

YouTube video

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5 from 14 votes

Thai Red Chicken Curry

An easy Thai curry made with shop-bought red curry paste, chicken and coconut milk. So fresh and aromatic!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts about 720g / 1.5 lbs, chopped into bitesize pieces
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 chicken stock cube crumbled
  • 4 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • 1 red pepper sliced
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin coconut milk
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown muscovado sugar
  • 225 g (8 oz) tin of bamboo shoots drained
  • 10 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice about half a lime

To serve:

  • boiled rice
  • 5-6 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh coriander cilantro
  • 2 Thai chillies thinly sliced
  • 1 lime sliced into wedges
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  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
    1 onion
  • Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes until sealed.
    3 chicken breasts
  • Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass paste, and crumbled stock cube and stir together to coat the chicken.
    2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp lemongrass paste, 1 chicken stock cube
  • Add the curry paste and stir together. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4 tbsp red Thai curry paste
  • Add the sliced red pepper, stir together and cook for a minute.
    1 red pepper
  • Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, bamboo shoots, and curry leaves. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
    400 g (14 oz) tin coconut milk, 2 tsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown muscovado sugar, 225 g (8 oz) tin of bamboo shoots, 10 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Stir in the lime juice, then serve the curry with boiled rice.
    1 tbsp fresh lime juice, boiled rice
  • Top with fresh curry leaves, coriander, chilli slices, and lime wedges before serving.
    5-6 fresh Thai basil leaves, 4 sprigs fresh coriander, 2 Thai chillies, 1 lime


YouTube video


Can I make this curry ahead?

Yes! you can make this curry, then cool, cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Reheat in a pan until piping hot throughout.

Can I freeze this curry?

Yes, any leftovers of this curry can be cooled, covered and frozen. Then defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a pan (stirring often) or microwave until piping hot throughout.

Can I replace the coconut milk?

The coconut milk is quite important for a more authentic Thai flavour, but you can replace the coconut milk with 250ml (about 1 cup) of stock and 150ml (about 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) of double/heavy cream. You may need to thicken the sauce slightly with a cornstarch slurry made of 2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch, mixed with 5 tbsp of cold water. Stir it in slowly to the hot curry before serving – until you achieve the desired thickness.
Nutritional information is per serving NOT including rice.


Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 1096mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3643IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

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  1. Tom says:

    5 stars
    Delicious and quick! Just like the Thai restaurant I dine in.

  2. Chris says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and so easy to make.
    I opted out with the bamboo shoots and replaced them with a stir fry pack from Tesco containing tender stem broccoli, mangetout and baby corn (and it came with a red chilli too, for dressing).

  3. Kerri says:

    5 stars
    We starting watching Nicky’s cooking during COVID shutdown to learn new dishes. This is now our go to dish even 2 years later !!! So so good, everyone comments how delicious this recipe is every time we cook it. Thanks Nicky

  4. Gerry says:

    5 stars
    Hi Nicky,

    Thia was delicious but I’ve noticed that with your Green Thai Curry, you make the paste from scratch (which was superb BTW). Is there any reason you use a shop-bought paste in this recipe?

  5. Charlotte B says:

    5 stars
    Very authentic! We Love this Thai curry, great balance of ingredients, just Perfect. Added spinach also. Fab! Thank you!

  6. Andrew Wills says:

    5 stars
    I made this Thai curry this evening (20th April 2022). I used red curry Penang paste bought from Fareham Thai Spice. It was brilliant, so very tasty. I will definitely be making it again in the near future

  7. Gypsy says:

    Loved this recipe, thank you. Made to recipe stated but halved the fish sauce as personal preference which I usually do as I am not a fan and also didn’t have bamboo shoots but it turned out sensational. For me, glad I halved the fish sauce as for me it would have been too much Asian type flavour on the end product and may even use a little less maybe next time – again my preference but I still ate it all up Lol!! My partner loved it and didn’t seem to mind that type of taste so for those reading its up to your palette. Noted it states Thai basil leaves in the ingredients list but states curry leaves in the method section which should be corrected. Might add more basil leaves next time during cooking and more fresh ones on top. All in all a really great and easy recipe to make and thank you for posting it. I used the Ayam Thai Red Curry Paste as it does not have shrimp paste in it, again a personal preference as I don’t eat seafood.

  8. aneesa says:

    can i ask where you get fresh curry leaves or is it the same as basil leaves? and how many do you need as I don’t see it on the recipe ingredients list. Also do you need to add water to the stock cube at the beginning stages?

    thank you

  9. Mrs S says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe so much. Me and my husband have it every week as a healthy dish, we use wholegrain rice and quinoa, and we change the coconut milk for low fat. Absolute winner!