Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes

26 reviews / 4.9 average

I am 120% sure that this is what my food dreams are made of. ->

Like most recipes in my life, this one starts and ends with the sauce. That velvety rich, fragrant, warming Thai yellow curry sauce with hints of coconut sweetness, flecks of green cilantro, delicate little strings of fresh ginger, punchy turmeric-yellow color, and a decent kick of Thai chile heat. It's just barely thick enough to be like a creamy curry gravy but still saucy enough to make its way in and around every grain of rice. Perrrrfection.

So just give me a second to catch my breath.

Now, the actual curry, right? Think about that glorious Thai yellow curry sauce blanketing comforting-ly soft bites of Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced and sautéed shallots, and tender chunks of slow-simmered beef. And wait wait wait though. It's all piled over a bowl of fluffy, fragrant, steaming Jasmine rice. Food dreams complete.

I would just like to point out that somehow, when I was distracted by the Thai yellow curry sauce, chunks of beef (as in b-e-e-f, like red meat, like the stuff I never hardly ever cook or eat) snuck into my food dreams. What in the what?

Superweird, but no time to question it. MORE CURRY NOW // MORE CURRY NOW // MORE CURRY NOW.

Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes in a dutch oven.

I'll just start by saying I don't normally cook recipes that involve a special trip to a special grocery store or require more than 20 minutes of prep. You know that about me.

But I made this recipe for a special occasion last week: my newly started dinner club with friends! And here's the thing about this Thai yellow curry recipe: it's 100% from scratch.


  • you will literally make the curry paste from scratch. like, pulse it all together in your very own food processor or blender.
  • many readers will now leave this blog.
  • those of you who don't will now check off the box for “make curry from scratch” from your foodie bucket list. *cheers and applause*
  • even if it doesn't turn out like you were expecting, making a curry from scratch makes you feel like THE MOST AWESOME cook. because you are.
  • you will be giving yourself the gift of homemade yellow curry paste for at least two more recipes, because as written, you will end up with extra curry paste for later. this might actually be my favorite thing about the recipe.
  • you might have guessed, and you'd be right - this recipe requires a trip to an Asian grocery store. unless you're the person whose mainstream grocery store sells shrimp paste and galangal, in which case you are a very lucky duck.
  • you don't need to be a really fancy cook to make this - it's really straightforward and at times it's even hands-off. you will just need TIME. like, a few hours. save it for a Saturday or divide up each of the steps over a day or two.

And now, a close up shot of the curry paste because I'm a food blogger.

Thai Yellow Curry in a jar with a spoon.
Thai Yellow Curry sauce.
Pot of boiling sauce over a stove top.

Exhibit A: the photo above shows what one hour of cooking time looks like. Coconut milk, beef, pan, one hour, go.

I actually made and photographed another whole recipe during the time that my beef was just simmering away and getting all wonderful in that buttery coconut milk.

And all the multi-taskers rejoiced!

Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes in a white bowl with a fork.

You guys, I can't even tell you how much fun I had making this for my friends, but really, just making it for me.

Most of my life revolves around food that is quick and easy and I'm always always always looking for shortcuts or ways to save time. So to have a time when I said - hey, look, I'm going to dedicate five hundred days to this just because I love cooking new things and because this is a life experience and because curry somehow runs in my Minnesota veins - was unusually therapeutic for me.

Truthfully? I don't expect most readers to ever make this. It's not practical. I totally get that and I almost felt like maybe I shouldn't post the recipe because it's such a beast.

BUT. If you love curry. If you love cooking. If you love watching something be created from nothing. And if you can find a few hours here and there over the course of a few days to get this all put together, you and I should probably talk.

And by talk, I mean eat heaping bowls of made-from-scratch Thai yellow curry together. ♡

I wish the best of the best of the curry worlds upon you, sweet readers! Go forth and enjoy this treasure of a recipe.

Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes in a bowl.
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Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes in bowls.

Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes


Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes - made from scratch! Perfect creamy comfort food with huge flavor and a kick of spice.



For the yellow curry paste

  • 2 shallots
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 3-inch piece galangal, peeled and thinly sliced*
  • 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon roasted ground coriander
  • 20 dried red Thai chiles softened in hot water
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste

For the curry

  • 2 lbs. beef chuck, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 3-4 cups light coconut milk
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 2 cups coconut cream (canned)*
  • 24 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro


  1. CURRY PASTE (one hour): Heat a cast-iron pan over medium high heat. Wrap the garlic and shallots in foil (with their paper on) and place on the skillet for 25 minutes, flipping once half way through. Remove from heat and cool, and roughly chop. Set aside. Layer the ginger and galangal in a single layer and wrap with foil. Place in the skillet and heat for about 10 minutes flipping once halfway through. Place garlic, shallots, ginger, galangal, and all other ingredients for the curry paste in a blender or food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth. Use water from the chiles to help the mixture run through the blender as needed. This will make a little more than 2 cups - set 3/4 cup aside for this recipe and freeze or refrigerate the rest for later.
  2. BEEF (one hour): Heat the light coconut milk in a deep pot. Add the beef and simmer for 45 minutes. Add 1 cup water and simmer another 15-20 minutes. Set aside; do not drain.
  3. CURRY (one hour): Heat the coconut cream in a deep pot until bubbling and starting to thicken a bit. Add about 3/4 cup curry paste and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, shallots, beef, and 1/2 cup of the reserved coconut milk from step two. Stir in 3 cups water. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add the sugar, fish sauce, cilantro. Serve over jasmine rice.


*These ingredients will probably require a trip to an Asian grocery store. It's worth it if you want to do it right! I would suggest buying 2-3x what you need in case you want to make it again.

As written, I would rate this as mild++.

As written, the recipe is exactly how I made it for my friends. But it felt a little greasy, so when I made it the second time I opted for coconut milk instead of coconut cream. The results were really good other than that it was very very very spicy. I would consider it medium+ if not straight up hot. So if you're going to sub coconut milk for coconut cream, reduce the amount of curry paste to 1/2 cup or less (you can always add more later if you want).

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hour 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: thai beef curry, beef curry with potatoes, yellow curry paste

PS. I'm anticipating questions about using store bought yellow curry paste, because I wondered the same thing myself. Honestly, I don't remember the last time (if ever) that I've used store bought yellow curry paste so it's really hard to me to say if that could be used in this recipe with similar results. I think it could? but I make no promises. Please leave a comment if you try it with the store bought paste so others know how to best adjust the recipe.

Thai Yellow Curry with Beef and Potatoes - made from scratch! so creamy and fragrant - perfect comfort food.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    “And now, a close up shot of the curry paste because I’m a food blogger.” This made me laugh SO HARD! I always take artsy ingredient shots and I’m like “do readers care about this pomegranate or whatever?” Love it!
    Thai curry is completely my life. I just made red curry and green curry last week…Obviously yellow curry is missing. AND YOU MADE THE PASTE.
    Mind blown. Pinned!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Goat curry is actually really delicious; better than Lamb some would say (like me) – Cook it as a Rogan Josh, Korma, or Chettinad

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    My husband has a serious “meat tooth”. He likes his beef! So I love this awesome Thai recipe because it’s so beefy (for him) and potato-ee (for me) Meat for him. Carbs for me. Yippee Skippee.

    And you know what? It doesn’t bother me that this recipe might take a little time (and for me practice) because good curry sauce is worth it. And I’ve learned that the best things in life do require a little extra time & effort. Wishing you many blessing today!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love Thai curries so I make my curry paste in big batches from scratch and then freeze them in 2 tbsp blobs in a silicon muffin tin and then transfer to freezer bags for storage. That way I have homemade paste ready when I need it without the work. This recipe looks great, I make yellow curry with chicken and potatoes all the time and it is super yummy comfort food. Can’t wait to try this version!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hello! I saw this recipe and it looks awesome. I love making new things from scratch. I am a chicken person, not a beef, so I was contemplating substituting chicken in this recipe. After reading your comment, can you share your chicken version?

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for having me salivate in front of my laptop! We usually buy yellow curry sauce at Trader Joe’s, but I’m sure making it from scratch would taste even better.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    A recipe after my own heart!
    I love making my own curry pastes… you only have to do it every once in a while (in a big batch!) and then I usually freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray so I have little pieces ready to go to toss into whatever I’m making. I would totally make this any day of the week! Can’t wait to give it a go.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Ice cube trays are great for freezing sauces as well as fresh squeezed limes or lemons or ice cubes with grated citrus peel, then remove cubes store in containers in freezer zip lock bags or tubs,1 full cube is about 2 tablespoons,but measure yours to be sure

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am sure I will make this recipe, and you probably don’t want to post this comment, but you and Bjork might get a good laugh from it. I just returned from a trip to Vietnam with my husband and we discovered how that shrimp paste is made! We went running and spread out along the asphalt HIGHWAY was this stuff that looked like dryer lint mixed with little shrimp, tiny fish, jelly fish, etc. It smelled terrible baking in the sun. We thought it was just waste that someone didn’t dispose of properly, but the next day there was a lady scrapping it all up off the highway into baskets. We learned that was the first step in her process to make shrimp paste! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I believe it. I had to avert my eyes and plug my nose as I put it into the blender. It grosses me out A LOT, but it made for an awesome curry! 🙂 Kind of like fish sauce – always delicious, but never ever smell it.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Most authentic curries that I have made require time (read love) to make well and are absolutely worth the effort. This is definitely a weekend project but I’m adding it to my list of things to make this month.

    One question, in step one it states to put the shallots and garlic in a foil pouch, and then in the second foil pouch to put the ginger and garlic. Did you mean ginger and galangal in the second pouch? I’m thinking you did but I’m not completely sure so I’m asking for clarification. Thanks for another great recipe!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not sure whether to be frightened or excited by this… yellow curry might be the single most delicious food on the planet, but I never even considered making my own curry paste! This might make me feel like a goddess… a goddess with yellow curry!!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m looking forward to trying this! I bought the Best Ever Indian Cookbook back in December (have you read it? if not, you should. everything = delish) and have slowly started working through it – I’m starting to love love cooking Indian and am excited to add this one to the list!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Complicated recipes like this are definitely worth the time and work now and then. I find something immensely satisfying about taking my time in the kitchen, letting ingredients come together, and then watching others enjoy the fruit of my efforts. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for posting this so quickly, Lindsay! I definitely want to make it because I love anything Thai. I’ll have to temper the heat for my husband, even though I know that real Thai food is impossibly hot (spent 7 weeks in Bangkok back a few years, and experienced that first hand). When I was a lot younger I did a lot of Chinese cooking, always experimenting, so the work for this recipe does not intimidate me. I’m hoping that my local Asian grocery has galangal – Asian ingredients, even at our Asian grocery stores, are not always easy to find, living on the border with Mexico – and that I can get the dried Thai chilies. With this recipe I am suddenly really missing the incredible Asian grocery we had back in Richmond, VA (that’s the only thing I miss, though). I’m really looking forward to making this, and can guarantee that I’ll eat the whole thing if my husband doesn’t like it. I’ll happily make him something else.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh my, the second time I made this our mouths were ON FIRE. Make sure to get the coconut cream and not just coconut milk – I think that’s why it was so hot the second time was because I swapped the milk for the cream.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Did the coconut cream make the overall dish taste too sweet for your liking? Just wondering. I’m trying to decide if I want to sub the milk for it and decrease the paste so it’s not spicy or just make it how you first made it with the cream.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Another commenter pointed out that coconut cream actually doesn’t have added sugar – I think I was just looking at the wrong thing when I thought/wrote that. 🙂 So go for the coconut cream! That version was a little more hearty and creamy and just… wow… but it was so good. 🙂

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        Okay, are you SURE this calls for TWENTY Thai peppers??? We must be thinking of different Thai peppers because the kind I get from my Thai friend who grows them in her garden would kill someone if they used 20 for a recipe.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Jessica, I used 17-18 of them – Thai bird chiles – fresh. And the curry paste is not terribly hot (at least by Thai standards, or even mine). It will not kill you. I just did that a couple of days ago, we had it for dinner last night, and we are fine. 🙂
          Just make sure you use only ½ cup of the paste when you make the dish or it might be too hot (I used the ¾ cup).

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          Haha – yes, they are dried, tiny, little red ones. They called them “thai chile peppers” at the Asian market I went to.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    The long from scratch recipes have merit and an audience! So don’t discard doing more of them 🙂 I made the red lentil curry recipe last night with yellow curry paste from the supermarket. It still has a little kick but not much, I think I prefer the red paste for the lentil recipe.

    You could always use store bought minced garlic and ginger to skip a step!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay and Bjork,

    I recently discovered your blog and I’m in a world of wonder, thank you so much!

    I’m from Europe and not always clear on what amounts you buy ingredients in but I’m a little confused about the ingredients list vs the terminology in the recipe.
    It says cups of coconut milk and cups of coconut cream in the list, but in the recipe itself there’s only mention of cans of coconut milk. How many cups is a can? And when does the cream come in? Sorry for the bother but thanks a lot for the help!

    I look forward to making this over the weekend.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am BEYOND excited to set aside a Saturday for this recipe! Super glad that you shared it, Lindsay! Just a couple clarification questions (because I’m anal & read through the recipe a million times, you know me!) In the ingredients you call for cups of coconut milk and in the instructions you call for cans? And I assume that 3rd “can” under curry is the coconut cream and not milk, right? Also – FYI – cilantro isn’t listed in the ingredients but is in the instructions. Again, THANK YOU for sharing! Can’t wait to virtually eat homemade thai yellow curry with you 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for this post–I’m glad that you decided to share it despite your reservations. About six years ago, I moved to a place where there are no Thai restaurants, and of course there is no Asian grocery. It took months and months of reading and experimenting with different recipes and substitutions before anything I made with the ingredients available here turned out well. But now, though I haven’t yet shared it, finally I have a good recipe for a green Thai curry. I can’t wait to branch out and try this yellow paste–I actually enjoy setting aside time to make curry!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh my gosh, when you get your green curry post up, please email it to me! I have been looking for a green curry recipe.