When I was living in California one ingredient I really missed was Thai Red Curry Paste.
Such an easy way to quickly whip up a tasty weeknight curry.
I love Thai curries and since there weren’t any Thai restaurants in my area, I had plenty of practice experimenting to find the best Thai Red Curry Paste substitutes.
What is Thai Red Curry Paste?
It’s a puree of red chilli peppers and other aromatic ingredients that is used as the flavour base for Thai curries.
Ingredients can include shallot, onion, lemon grass, neutral flavoured oil, ginger or galangal, garlic, shrimp paste, fish sauce and kaffir lime peel.
The Best Thai Red Curry Paste Substitutes
1. Curry Powder
The flavour profile will be quite different, but if I’m in the mood for curry and I don’t have access to a good curry paste, a few teaspoons of curry powder can usually do the trick.
As a general rule of thumb substitute 1 teaspoon curry powder for 1 tablespoon curry paste.
If you prefer milder curries, start with less and add to taste. It’s easy to add more but difficult to fix a curry that’s too hot!
2. Other Curry Pastes
Thai red and green curry pastes can be used interchangeably. The flavour profile and intensity will be different but not necessarily in a bad way.
Other Thai / Malaysian curry pastes such as, yellow curry, laksa or Massaman also work well as substitutes.
Indian curry pastes including madras, korma and vindaloo can also be used. Just watch out as the intensity. Start with less than the recipe calls for and taste and add as needed.
3. Home Made Thai Red Curry Paste
By far the closest and best substitute is to make your own. It only takes a few minutes and apart from the lemongrass (which you can substitute with lemon zest) the ingredients are easy to find.
How to Make Thai Red Curry Paste
makes 4 to 5 tablespoons
takes 5 minutes
6 large red chilli peppers, deseeded
3 stalks lemon grass or zest of 1 lemon, sliced
1 thumb sized piece ginger, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil
1. Puree the chillies, lemon grass, ginger and garlic with 2 tablespoons of oil in a food processor until you have a chunky puree. Or pound in a mortar and pestle.
2. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container / jar for weeks or can be frozen.
Favourite Thai Curry Paste Recipes
- Sweet Potato & Red Curry Soup
- 10-Minute Massaman Curry
- Green Curry of Broccoli Soup
- Green Curry Stir Fry
Delicious Red Curry Paste Flavour Pairings
- Chicken & Red Curry
- Sweet Potato & Red Curry
- Peanut & Red Curry (especially peanut butter)
- Coconut & Red Curry (especially coconut milk / coconut cream)
- Basil & Red Curry (especially Thai basil)
- Beef & Red Curry
- Eggplant / Aubergine & Red Curry
More Ingredient Substitutes
- The Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes
- Collard Greens
- Miso Paste
- Oyster Sauce
Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.
Have fun in the kitchen!