Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken

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A simple and quick spicy Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken dish that is healthier and tastier than take-out. Serve it with steamed rice and vegetables for a meal that's ready in just 15 minutes.


Is curry one of your favorites for Take-Out Friday? Here is a simple (and quick) spicy Thai red curry recipe with chicken! Red curry is a meal that is healthier and tastier than your local take-out.

When I am short on time, curry is one of the first things I think about making since it comes together in minutes but tastes like it has been cooking all day. Plus it's hard to beat those delicious Thai flavors.

The secret, of course, is in the curry paste. I am lucky to live in a large city with a substantial Thai population so I normally buy homemade curry pastes, but there are some pretty great supermarket options as well. And with a few simple tricks, you can elevate any store-bought curry paste into a rich, creamy, delicious dinner that is as good as any take-out curry.

All it takes is adding some extra garlic, ginger, shallots, brown sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce.

This recipe is meant to serve as a base recipe, so plan on adding in your favorite veggies. You can also substitute tofu or shrimp for the chicken. 

Let's look closer at this recipe! I have lots of tips and information that will help you make this perfectly the first time.

Thai curry chicken with creamy red curry sauce in a bowl with basil, cilantro, and steamed white rice.

Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps

This healthy red curry recipe uses fresh and whole ingredients. There is a lot of room for changing it to suit your tastes. Here's a bit more information about what I used in this recipe:

  • Red Curry Paste: I only used a few tablespoons in order to keep this tasting mild. If you like things spicy, use more. This recipe works with Thai green and yellow curry paste as well. Just make sure it is Thai curry.
  • Garlic: Try to use fresh garlic cloves. Garlic powder can be used if you don't have fresh garlic. If you use garlic salt, don't use additional salt in this recipe.
  • Ginger: I minced fresh ginger - it gave it a burst of spice!
  • Shallot: If you don't have any shallots, you can use Vidalia onions, leeks, or green onions.
  • Chicken: Either chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs will work perfectly in this recipe. You could also swap in tofu, tempeh, shrimp, or pork tenderloin.
  • Coconut Milk: Use canned coconut milk, not the kind that comes in the carton. It will be thicker, richer, and have a lot more flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: If you are on a low-carb diet, you can use a brown sugar substitute like Swerve or Stevia. You could also swap in honey or coconut sugar.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh or jarred lime juice will add a citrus undertone to the curry. You can use lemon juice as a substitute if you don't have limes.
  • Fish Sauce: If you don't have fish sauce, you can use soy sauce or liquid aminos (if you are gluten-free).

Note: For a full list of ingredients and detailed instructions on how to make this red curry recipe, take a look at the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post!

What To Serve With Red Coconut Curry

This is a full-flavored Thai recipe, so serve it with other Thai or Asian-inspired recipes.

Start out your dinner with crunchy Thai chicken salad. It will also taste delicious on top of some brown rice or cauliflower rice if you are eating low-carb. It is such a delicious dinner that you can even just serve the chicken on top of some large leaf lettuce and eat it for lunch as a wrap!

Recipe Tips And Ideas

Follow these tips to make sure that this healthy red curry recipe turns out spicy and delicious every time!

  • Use fresh ingredients when you can. As you saute the ginger, garlic, and shallots, you will smell the most amazing aromas. These aromatics will transfer to your recipe as flavor!
  • Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. If you want it to be saltier, add more fish sauce. If you want it spicier, add more curry paste. Want it sweeter? Add more brown sugar.
  • Curry powder will work as a replacement for curry paste.
  • Garnish with some fresh lime slices - it really dresses up your plate and makes it look even more appetizing.

Creamy Thai red curried chicken breast served in a bowl with white rice and fresh herbs,

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions I frequently get asked about by some readers...

This is a tricky question to answer and depends on how the curry was prepared. This homemade version is healthier since it uses minimal oil, reduced fat coconut milk, and just a touch of added sugar.

Some restaurant versions are very high in fat and sugar (from the oil, coconut milk, and added sugar). It’s always good to check how the dish is being prepared if you are concerned about the macros and nutritional content.

Most restaurant Thai red curry dishes have about 500 calories per cup. Most of those calories come from canned coconut milk, which has about 400 calories per cup.

Always store leftover cooked meat, like this chicken, in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days.

When you use an instant-read food thermometer, the safe cooking temperature of chicken is 165 degrees F.

Yes, this recipe is keto-friendly if you use a brown sugar substitute. It's a fantastic source of protein and healthy fats!

Thai curry with chicken breast in a creamy red curry coconut sauce with lime, basil, and rice.
The Recipe
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Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken

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  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. red curry paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup canned lite coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar (or Stevia to taste for low carb)
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce (or soy sauce, adjust to taste)

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Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, and shallot. Cook for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant.

Onions, garlic, ginger, and curry paste cooking in a skillet.

Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes until browned.

Chicken cooking in red curry paste in a skillet.

Add the coconut milk and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Stir in the brown sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce to season the curry. Add more sugar (sweet), lime juice (sour), or fish sauce (salty) if needed.

Coconut milk being added to a skillet or Thai red curry chicken.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 220
Calories from Fat 64
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 56mg
Sodium 496mg
Total Carbohydrate 8g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 5g
Protein 25g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Thai Red Coconut Curry with Chicken
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August 14, 2023 - 14:23
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This was easy to make and really good. I love Thai food, but never can make it right everyone loved it.
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April 16, 2023 - 19:37
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I made this last night for my husband. I have tried so many recipes for red curry and there has been some flavor missing in each one. Your simple recipe nailed it. I added peppers and chopped carrots. It turned out delicious and I will make it often!
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Katherine Santo...
January 23, 2023 - 09:52
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Awesome and easy!! I added peas, roasted cauliflower and spaghetti squash to soak up the juices. I found your recipe, decided to make it and 20 minutes later... a gourmet healthy dinner. Thank you.
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Michael Austermann
January 15, 2023 - 15:19
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I just made this for my parents and it was amazing. A simple recipe that generates complex flavors. I added some sliced red pepper for color. I'll definitely be making this again.
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September 26, 2022 - 17:02
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Delicious. Next time though I think I will add more paste to make it a little more spicy.
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January 21, 2020 - 16:06
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Absolutely delicious! My very picky daughter loved it as well! I will definitely make this again very soon.
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Susan Mansfield
September 2, 2019 - 17:22
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This was so delicious. I used curry powder as it was all I had, and added some mushrooms, and orange pepper. I will be having this on a regular basis. Thank you so much.
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Maria Rosario
April 19, 2018 - 16:39
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Delicious and fast!!
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Iveth Martin
August 3, 2016 - 16:24
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I love this recipe...
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