Red Thai Curry Sauce Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Red Thai Curry Sauce

110 reviews / 5 average

This simple Thai Curry Sauce is extremely versatile. Serve it with rice, noodles, meat, veggies, or as a base for soups, marinades, and more.

Simple ingredients, extremely versatile, and so addicting - that's this Red Thai Curry Sauce.

Alternate titles for this post:

  • I Am Dying of Happiness.
  • The Sauce To End All Sauces.
  • Just Try To Control Yourself.
  • Curry In A Hurry.
  • How To Crave Vegetables 24/7.
  • Deliciously Spicy Stuff. But Not Spicy-spicy. But Spicy.
  • Flavor Explozzzion.
  • Coconut For Life.
  • Lime, ILuvYouSoMuch.
  • Curry Paste Makes the World Go Round.
  • Thai Curry Versatility.

And that pretty much sums up my feelings for this sauce in ten bullet points.

Do you remember when I talked about going to ShopHouse in Washington, D.C.? And how great it was that we could build our own Southeast Asian bowls full of crispy freshness and bold flavors and incredible sauces? Is it too obvious that I am kind of trying to be them with the build your own bowl concept and a delicious curry sauce?

Only difference being that I am setting up my Southeast Asian bowl extravaganza in my tiny Minnesota kitchen, where I reach my fingertips for the window longingly dreaming of the sun, and notice that oh yes, indeed, the windows now have a full layer of frost on the in-side-of-the-house. And I almost was about to say that I was craving the heat of the Philippines, but then I started getting flashbacks (or hot flashes? hot flashbacks?) reminding me of the feeling of a slow, painful death by tropical sun. Some of you are like: GIMME NOW. And some of you have experienced the too-hot tropical phenomenon and you're like: FROST IS NICE.

Thai Curry Sauce in a pan with a wooden spoon.

So this sauce.

This mind-blowing sauce was inspired by a recent take-out adventure to one of my favorite Thai restaurants in St. Paul -> called Pad Thai, located on Grand Avenue, for the next time you feel like visiting SiberiaMinnesota. They have this dish called Pra Ram Long Song that I first met and fell in love with when I was in college. Whiiich is starting to become one of those things you mention and it seems like it was two minutes ago, but then you realize it was more like a LONG time ago. What is going on. But ever since college, it has become one of those dishes where I can't NOT order it. Even though I want to branch out and try something new which I know in my head will also be delicious, I cannot pull myself away from this mesmerizing dish. I think it might be magical food hypnosis spell or something.

After completely demolishing a container of this sauce with steamed veggies and that perfect Thai restaurant Jasmine rice, at home, in my pajamas (I LOVE U TAKE-OUT), I attacked Google for the recipe. I found a few helpful websites and watched a few YouTubes. <- favorite way to waste time, er, um, learn.

Three photos of sauce in a pot.

After all that and a few of my own attempts, I have created this Thai Curry Sauce that is making me so happy on so many levels. It is literally the best-tasting and most simple Thai recipe that I've ever made. And bonus: you can put it on anything. Chicken, rice, vegetables, noodles, soups, stir frys, and I am going to go there: salads.

By adjusting the consistency of the sauce (see the little timing guide? bottom line: just simmer until it's perfect for you) it can become a creamy curry sauce, a marinade, a soup base, a stir fry sauce, or even a dressing.

I now have this recipe memorized. Until death do us part.

Thai Curry Sauce on veggies in a white bowl.

Watch How To Make This Red Curry Sauce

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A picture of Red Thai Curry Sauce

Red Thai Curry Sauce


This simple Thai Curry Sauce is extremely versatile. Serve it with rice, noodles, meat, veggies, or as a base for soups, marinades, and more.


  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ⅓ cup crushed peanuts
  • up to ½ cup water or broth
  • extra crushed peanuts and scallions for topping


  1. Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan over high heat. When the coconut milk reaches a gentle simmer, add the peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and garlic. Whisk and keep on high heat for 15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  2. Add the peanuts and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. When the sauce coats the back of a spoon, add small amounts of broth or water and whisk to adjust consistency depending on how you will use it and how thick you want it. If the sauce separates, just whisk vigorously to smooth it out again.
  3. Serve over rice, noodles, chicken, fish, vegetables, or any other way that sounds good to you! Top with crushed peanuts and scallions.


More time simmering = thicker, creamier, more flavorful sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, I would simmer for less time and plan to add a bit of additional liquid. I've noticed that when I add the crushed peanuts, the consistency really thickens quite a bit, so you could omit the peanut butter and/or peanuts to also adjust to your desired consistency.

Last note: I know the fish sauce might take some convincing, but it is fairly easy to find at any grocery store and REALLY WORTH IT. Don't worry - it does not make the sauce taste like fish; it just makes it saltier and adds lots of deep flavor. Don't leave it out!

Except if you are vegetarian or vegan, then you can try swapping in soy sauce, miso, and/or hoison for the fish sauce.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: red thai curry sauce, thai curry sauce, red curry sauce

Frequently Asked Questions For This Curry Sauce

Can you freeze the sauce after cooking?

Yes! It freezes well. To reheat, just microwave in a glass container and re-whisk with a bit of water to smooth it out. Or transfer the frozen sauce to a pan and reheat with a bit of water. In either case, you may need to whisk it a bit to reincorporate everything and get it smooth again.

What brand of red curry paste do you recommend?

I typically use Thai Kitchen for something I can get easily at the store, but Mae-Ploy is another good (spicier!) one as well.

Can you use other types of curry paste? (Yellow, green, etc.)

Yes! The red curry flavor is more traditional here but yellow curry would be delicious as a sub. I would not make this with green curry. Green curry is the most spicy and also the most herbaceous - the flavors are just less compatible with the sweet peanut situation in this sauce.

How could I add chicken to this recipe?

You could cube or thinly slice some chicken, add salt and pepper, and sauté in oil until cooked through and browned. Then just serve the sauce over it just like the vegetables!

Can you omit the peanuts and peanut butter?

It will be less sweet and creamy, but yes, you could!

PS. School canceled again today in this frozen desert land. Which reminds me... frozen dessert? Gotta go.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    The sauce looks absolutely delicious. Thai Red Curry caught my attention for two reasons – 1) I love Thai food and 2) I learnt to make the Thai Red Curry from scratch in one of my cooking classed in Thailand – in a small restaurant in the Fishermen’s village actually. Once it’s made, it’s fairly easy to refrigerate it and re-use it many times…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I made the red thai. Curry past tonight and it was utterly delicious. I added it to jumbo shrimp, matchstick slices of red pepper carrots ,fresh pea pods
      and some onions which I sautéed with a drop of oil and fresh garlic. At the last minute I added a ladle of the sauce to the fry pan and mixed it in. I served it with jasmine rice and some thinly sliced red hot chilies with some toasted coconut flakes which I happened to have in the refrigerator. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I will use this with everything

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      This was a wonderful recipe. The curry had excellent flavor. My wife doesn’t like curry but she liked this. The only problem was it wasn’t spicy enough for my family. We like spicy. The only red curry paste I can find in my local stores is Taste of Thai brand and this was my third recipe trying it. I think that brand is just too mild. I used a whole jar (8 TBSP) in a double batch of your recipe and felt it was just mild. We added red pepper flakes and sriracha sauce to spice it up. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        @likeitspicy try frying the paste with some peppers & oil in a saucepan before adding coconut milk and the other ingredients. It’s the way that I was taught to make curry and really brings out taste and spice and you end up using less paste/powder

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        Try the red curry paste in any Chinese stores which comes by ” Weichan” – my spelling could be wrong as I do not have any cans left of Red curry paste. It is spicy and I use actually 1/2 of the can if I am cooking for four. It comes in a size of Tuna can at the grocery store…..

      3. Skillful Cook Logo

        Add some thai chili’s… fresh or preserved in some vinegar or oil. That will give you thai spicy!! That red chili sauce … not the Siracha but the probably Chinese red chili sauce in a jar has a good tangy kick but Thai chili the best. I like heat but I don’t like biting into a Thai chili not even de-seceded or minced but at Thai places.. I ask for the spice rack or the Thai chili condiment and I use the liquid of the chili onlt.
        Because this curry is more liquid… probably need caution with amount used since liquid increases heat!!! Yikes although the coconut milk can help thst. Personally, I add a little heat while cooking but also a fresh bit on my serving.

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Delish!!! It’s winter here DownUnder & we’re eating this with chicken weekly coz we love it!! Thanks for sharing! 👍🏼🥰😍

    4. Skillful Cook Logo

      I have never left a comment on any blog, let alone a recipe blog. Until now. This sauce is so so good! I followed the recipe exactly (used soy though, sorry!) and cooked it til it was thick so it would really stick to the noodles. I can eat this sauce with a spoon. I remade it again tonight and doubled the recipe so I can have it again tomorrow. I stir fry veggies, boil rice noodles, and then smother them in this sauce. Top with crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and spring onions. Yum! I think next time I might add a green chili to add some heat. Cannot wait!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        The meal you put together sounds amazing! Glad you like the recipe, Holly!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, you are hilarious. I think my favorite title is “Just try to control yourself.” Because that sounds just about right–this sauce looks amaziiiiing. Like I want to make it and drink it. Is that weird? Nope! I think you’ll understand. 🙂 Pinning!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks great! And maybe I’ll try to convince myself to try Pad Thai the next time I’m in the Twin Cities visiting my parents…though it will be difficult to pass up a visit to Cafe Latte!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    What kind of curry paste do you use? Even here in Maine I can get many kinds (at least 8, off the top of my head)at a local Asian market.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ah, on rereading, I see that the title of this post is Red Thai Curry Sauce, so it must be red curry paste you’re using in the recipe. I was confused because the only mention of Red was in the post title, and the only part of the title that stuck with me was Thai Curry Sauce.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I don’t really have the motivation right now to make my own curry paste. What brand do you recommend? 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    By the way, you posts don’t seem to format properly on Firefox. I’ve compared several of your posts against several browsers (on Windows) and they look nice except on Firefox where it’s a bit screwy. Any suggestions?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Drew! Always helpful to get feedback like that. I use Firefox all the time and don’t notice a problem – can you email me a screen shot of what you’re seeing? That would be super helpful. lindsay at Thanks!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I’ve never eaten Thai food! Is this really spicy? I can’t eat really spicy food, but this looks so good! Maybe I could use less curry paste?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Nope! not really spicy. But definitely has spice. I don’t really know how to explain it but I would qualify it as mild+ unless you use extremely hot curry paste. Watch the curry paste and then taste as you go would be my best advice! 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks awesome. My favorite Thai place makes a dish that looks a lot like this. Definitely going to try it. Really love your pictures too. Thank for sharing!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sooo, I’m going to need you to send some of this on over. I can deal if it’s a little messy.
    1) peanut butter? I need it
    2) I’m going to pour this over ev-er-y-thing
    3) love the versatility!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am a huge fan of red curry paste – love how versatile your sauce is!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Well whatever you call it, it looks fabulous! I’m the only fan of curry in this house (dorks) but I’m thinking a big jar of this in the fridge all for me isn’t such a bad idea! 😉

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your alternate title ideas made me laugh out loud, especially “how to crave vegetables all the time.” And hooray for Minnesotans who love Thai food! I’ll be making this one!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks yummy and warm….. maybe I’ll make it tomorrow (since I have no excuse not to!). My favorite Thai restaurant in the area is Ruam Mit Thai, downtown St. Paul near the Children’s Museum. Not a fancy restaurant, but DELICIOUS!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    It sounds like you might put some local Thai places out of business as we’ll all be able to make this delicious sauce at home! I hope to try it soon but have to get the fish sauce. Your added encouragement might push me over the edge of to-buy-or-not-to-buy the next time I see it. Until now I’ve though “ugh” but know it is in many dishes I like at restaurants. maybe it is time to try it at home!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    You are officially my hero du jour! I love thai food, and the simple ingredients and easy prep of this sauce are just totally fantastic! Can’t wait to try it! Pinning for sure!

    P.S. Two-hour delay here today, and they already cancelled school for tomorrow hours ago! From the frost-bitten windows of Minnesota … to the frozen wasteland of Ohio … this is JUST what we need to warm us right up! 😀

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    That looks amazing!!! I’m in South Australia, where the weather today is well over 100, and schools are closed due to the heat and bush fire risk! So we will gladly take some of your cold!!!

    Will have to save this for a cooler day – we are on a no cook policy in our house at the moment to keep it cool!! Your thai chopped chicken salad and the rainbow salad are on the menu this week!!! Love them both!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        OMG – I made this last night! AMAZING!!!! definately adding this to the keep list!!!!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, another wonderful recipe! I will be making this for dinner tonight…although it is 100 degrees here in Melbourne, and in the middle of another heat wave, I will put that air con on and enjoy every mouthful!!!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Coconut for life? YES!
    Curry makes the world go round? Yes!!

    Seriously, I love, love, love Thai curry. I always have at least two jars of the Thai red curry paste on hand. always! It os on of my favorite ingredients. This sauce is beyond amazing and not to mention gorgeous!