Easy Red Curry Paste (10 minutes!)

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Wood plank with a bowl of Easy DIY Red Curry Paste

We made Green Curry Paste last week. Now, let’s break out the Red Curry Paste!

Because one can never have enough curry, obviously.

Wood tray with red bell pepper, chilies, lemongrass, green onion, lemon, lime, garlic, and spices

This recipe is simple, requiring just 1 food processor (or blender) and 10 minutes to prepare!

About Red Curry Paste

Red curry paste is a versatile and flavorful base for a variety of Thai dishes. In its most basic form, it consists of red chili peppers, garlic, sea salt, lemongrass, turmeric, and shrimp paste (source).

The following is our inspired (but not traditional) plant-based version, using ingredients that are easier to find in the US. For a more authentic version, check out this recipe from Temple of Thai.

How to Make Red Curry Paste

The base for this inspired version is red bell pepper, red chilies, garlic, ginger, and green onion or shallot. Our paste is less potent than most because we add bell pepper, which makes it more mild. But for a more pungent, spicy paste, double up on spicy chilies and skip the bell pepper. 

Spices come in the form of turmeric, coriander, cumin, sea salt, and black peppercorn. And for a little acidity, I used both lime and lemon juice as well as lime zest.

After all of that takes a whirl in the food processor, you have gorgeous, insanely flavorful red curry paste on your hands perfect for just about any dish you hope to infuse with curry flavor (in my world, that’s just about everything).

Food processor filled with peppers, green onion, lemongrass, and spices
Food processor of freshly blended flavorful Red Curry Paste

I hope you all LOVE this curry paste! It’s:

Saucy
Spicy
Insanely flavorful
Easy to make
Extremely versatile
& So delicious!

How to Use It

This curry paste would be perfect for my Spicy Red Lentil Curry, 1-Pot Sweet Potato & Kale Curry, Spicy Red Curry Cauliflower “Wings”, Thai Yellow Coconut Curry with Mango, Coconut Red Curry with Chickpeas, Coconut Curry Ramen, and Curry Spiced Cashews!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see. Cheers, friends!

Wood plank with a bowl of Easy DIY Red Curry Paste and ingredients used to make it

Spicy Red Curry Paste

Easy red curry paste requiring just 1 blender or food processor and 10 minutes to prepare! Spicy, flavorful, perfect for curries, soups, sauces, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Using a spoon to scoop up homemade Red Curry Paste from a bowl
4.63 from 29 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 24 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Sauce
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Thai-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 10 Days

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed (or ground coriander)
  • 1 tsp cumin seed (or ground cumin)
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns (or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper* (seeds removed and chopped)
  • 2-4 medium red chilies (more or less depending on preferred heat | I used cherry bomb, but Thai red chilies are preferred // stems removed)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (root and tip trimmed, then chopped)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp fresh ginger or galangal (or 1-2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 3 cloves garlic (skins removed)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp ground turmeric)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 medium lime, zested and juiced (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml juice as original recipe is written)
  • 6 stalks green onions (sliced // or sub 1/2 cup diced shallot per 6 stalks green onion)
  • 2-3 Tbsp avocado or grape seed oil (sub water if avoiding fat)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar (to balance heat)

Instructions

  • If using whole coriander, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns, add to a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and slightly deeper in color, shaking / stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn! If using powder, skip this step.
  • Once seeds are toasted, add to a mortar and pestle and loosely crush. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, slightly cool the seeds, add them to a sandwich bag, and crush with a rolling pin or a heavy pan. Set aside.
  • To a food processor (or blender with a narrow base), add crushed spices, red bell pepper, red chilies, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, turmeric, sea salt, lemon juice, lime zest + juice, green onions (or shallot), oil / water, and maple syrup (or other sweetener).
  • Blend / mix until a paste forms, scraping sides down as needed. The lemongrass can be difficult to grind at first, but give it time!
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime zest or juice for acidity, salt for saltiness, chilies for heat, maple syrup for sweetness, oil (or water) for creaminess / to thin, garlic for zing, ginger for brightness, or turmeric for more intense curry flavor.
  • Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator up to 10 days or more. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe bag up to 1 month.
  • This curry paste is ideal for curries, soups, sauces, salad dressings, and more!

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of red chilies and avocado oil.
*Our paste is less potent than most because we add bell pepper, which makes it more mild. But for a more pungent, spicy paste, double up on spicy chilies and skip the bell pepper. 
*Recipe adapted from my Green Curry Paste.
*Original recipe makes ~1 1/2 cups curry paste.

Nutrition (1 of 24 servings)

Serving: 1 two-Tbsp servings Calories: 18 Carbohydrates: 1.9 g Protein: 0.2 g Fat: 1.2 g Saturated Fat: 0.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.18 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.82 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 50 mg Potassium: 41 mg Fiber: 0.3 g Sugar: 1.1 g Vitamin A: 313 IU Vitamin C: 13.45 mg Calcium: 5.24 mg Iron: 0.24 mg

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  1. Winnie says

    Has anyone tried this without adding sugar? I’m wondering if adding it into a recipe with coconut milk will be enough to balance out the taste of it..

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Winnie, we haven’t tried it, but we think it might work if you’re accustomed to less sweet dishes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We don’t think it would be as flavorful and may have an unpleasant texture. But let us know if you try it!

  2. Noemi D says

    I have made this twice and it’s so amazing. I subbed the lemongrass for lemon zest and cilantro and jalapeños for the red chiles. It’s not red but more of a yellow/orange color and a little watery but it’s so amazing. I love putting it straight on soba noodles with cucumbers and tomatoes. I have used it in recipes that call for red Thai curry paste and it always adds depth. It took me about 20 minutes to put together but it’s worth the extra 10 minutes.
    Thanks for the great recipe. It was nice not to have to pop out to the store during quarantine and easily make this from scratch.
    I always make extra for friends and they LOVE it!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sarah, does it look like the photos? It won’t be as concentrated as some store bought pastes, but it shouldn’t be liquid.

  3. Russell says

    I made this and it came put quite bitter. I added a great deal more (brown) sugar to try to tame it back a little but still pretty bitter. Would the outer leaves of the lemongrass cause this?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, we wouldn’t expect it to, but maybe? Another idea could be the lime zest, especially if the lime was old or if any of the white pith got in there.

      • Russell says

        Actually, I didn’t have fresh limes or lemons. Just lemon juice. I’m still baffled as to what made it so utterly bitter. I was afraid to even try it as a curry base, so instead I used it as a marinade for chicken which I grilled. It worked quite nicely in that regard.

        • Mabel says

          Maybe the turmeric? Ground turmeric can be quite bitter depending on its quality or age. I’ve had a similar issue with a recipe that had lots of turmeric and it was so bitter because of it.

  4. Penny says

    We thought this was amazing, although mine is more yellow than red, it was delicious – sprinkled with coriander and garlic chives with that squeeze of lime juice really Thai-ed it up – defo loved it with chicken and Chinese noodles 😋

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Penny! Thanks so much for the lovely review!

  5. Amisha says

    This recipe is AMAZING!! I made coconut soup and added a couple of tablespoons of this paste and it was perfect. I would marinate chicken in it too. I love how simple it was to follow. I also had all the ingredients and substitutes are also offered.

  6. john stovell says

    Hello,

    Looks and smells really good so far, just wondering how much of the past should I use in a curry I was planning on using one tin of coconut milk ?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi John, we’d suggest starting with 2 Tbsp and adding more, as needed, to taste!

  7. Alice says

    I loved this. I tried it in a curry and it tasted so good. I also really liked that you put alternatives to almost every ingredient and told us how to adjust to taste, that’s really useful! Thanks for a great recipe and I’ll be using it again.

  8. Alexandra Friedman says

    This was absolutely delicious in a soup with tofu and veggies, BUT – it’s not red. It’s golden/yellow.

    Still fantastic, but a bit watery due to the red pepper. I would make it again in a heartbeat.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for the feedback, Alexandra! We’re glad you enjoyed the flavor! We wonder if the type of red chilies used might be the difference in color?

  9. Wendy says

    This was easy and delicious. Due to COVID-19 shelter in place I made a few substitutions: used a roasted red pepper from a jar and all dried spices. Luckily I had some dried lemongrass, dried red pepper and galangal from Penzy’s. We used it in vegetable curry with tofu.

  10. Harriet says

    This was the first curry I had ever made and I was amazed at how tasty and easy it was.
    I didn’t have green onion so used a standard white one, subbed avocado oil with olive and sweetened with sugar (had no maple syrup!)
    Amazing- thank you so much for this recipe.
    Making another tonight- my sick grandmother won’t eat anything but she’s been eating this (when she wasn’t poorly, she loved curry), it’s currently keeping her alive!
    Thank you again!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, we’re so glad she is enjoying it, Harriet! Thanks so much for the lovely review! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

      • Paige says

        I followed the recipe exactly as instructed but found the anount of ginger too much and over powering so will use less next time. Also my paste looked more green from the spring onions rather than the vibrant red in the photos, not sure if my blender is powerful enough to puree the ingredients smoothly. When making the curry, the coconut milk absorbed all the flavour of the paste so I ended up adding more of the paste to balance out the coconut milk and as usual with curries it tasted so much better the next day. Really enjoyed it but how do you get that lovely red colour, shall I add more red peppers?

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Paige, thanks for the feedback! If you didn’t use cherry bomb peppers, we’d recommend those next time for a more red color. Hope that helps!

  11. Sim says

    Hi. This curry is not Thai but Indian. For thai curries, coconut (oil, milk and water) are used to flavour the curry instead of coconut sugar. Also, turmeric, cumin, coriander are used solely in India n curries and not traditional Thai

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sim! We totally get that. This is our inspired take – almost like an infusion. We actually plan to rework it soon! Thanks for the feedback.

  12. Anna says

    First ever paste I’ve made from scratch so wanted it to be tasty and simple and this most definitely was! Used lemongrass paste instead of actual lemongrass and shallots as they were on offer in local supermarket. I used half the mix in one curry for 4 with beef and butternut squash – let it simmer on a low heat for about an hour and it went down a storm. Go for it!

  13. Anjali says

    Lovely receipe I followed it and results were magnificent. The lemon juice can be reduced to one’s liking. I am certainly not going back to ready made pastes now.

  14. Deborah says

    I ended up with something that was too liquid to be called a paste. (and not red) I used it in a Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup with prawns. Used far more ‘paste’ than the recipe suggested, but it was delicious! For me, two of the hot red peppers (seeds removed) were plenty.

    • Sunil Joseph says

      Agreed, too watery! I would maybe do half the bell pepper for less wetness. I also recommend grinding down the lemongrass very fine first, as little chunks appeared in the curry I was making.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Thanks for the feedback, Sunil! We have plans to make a more concentrated version similar to store-bought, but find this version works well at a larger quantity than you would use with store-bought.

  15. Vivian Bailey says

    Before I make this, read the reviews. I spotted one in which you stated you were going to revisit the recipe. Did you do so, any changes I need to know about. I do make pretty much every thing by scratch…my cabinets are a testament to that. One door only for staples (only 2 shelves) and 4 doors (with 3 shelves) for spices and herbs. Oils, vinegar and etc in a spare frig. I’m looking forward to duck with red curry sauce. So I’ll eagerly wait for your answer. Also I do “canning “ which I love to share with family and friends. Seeing this has acid in it, which helps, do you see any problem in a water bath process for this paste?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi there, Vivian! We have actually been actively retesting it but we haven’t had the exact result we’re going for. Getting the color bright red without adding too much heat seems to be the issue. So we’re currently researching the best red chilies for curry paste and going from there! Stay tuned for more updates soon.

      The recipe, as it stands, works well! It’s just not quite as pungent and concentrated as store-bought so you have to add more to get the same result.

  16. AnnMarie says

    This was phenomenal! My husband said it was the best thing I’d made in a year! I didn’t have broccoli but I added some purple potatoes, vegetable broth, a bit more salt, some string beans, and one lonely zucchini hiding out in the fridge. Also, topped it with fresh cilantro, mint and scallions. Truly delicious!

  17. Bruce says

    This sounded like the best curry paste ever, but I found it to be way too sweet for my taste. The lemongrass was a bit much also, I would tone that down by half, along with the coriander.
    I love the idea of a fresh curry paste and because of this post I will begin a search for one that I can call my own.
    Thanks for your work here, it is always inspiring!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing, Bruce! We actually plan to retest this recipe this or next week to make any improvements so your feedback is helpful!

  18. Lee-Ann Burton says

    Fantastic tasting, but 10 minutes to make is too good to be true. It took me 20 minutes just to round up all the ingredients. No complaints though, the final product is delicious and totally natural. Next time I’ll be more organized. Thank you for this marvelous recipe.

  19. Kika says

    I’m farely new to cooking and this was one of the most simple and tasty recipe to follow. Thank you for sharing ❤️

  20. Lisa says

    Wow this was good! I didn’t have lemongrass but the lime juice and zest seems to be sufficient. I used a little over half of it in coconut milk with chicken and steamed veggies. Husband loved it!

  21. Disappointed says

    I was not impressed by this recipe. I decided to make it because it seemed easy and quick. It was, but unfortunately, it didn’t give me the thai curry flavor. The smell was overwhelming after I put it in the food processor (and not in a good way). I could not even taste it because it was so pungent. I had to heat it over the stove for about 30 mins. After that, it tasted ok but definitely not like what I had hoped.

    • Cyn says

      You do know this is a paste right? Meaning, you add it to a sauce. It should be pungent. I added ours to a can of coconut milk, with vegan beef veggies and rice. Insanely delicious.

  22. Janet says

    I’m looking forward to making this. I’m very allergic to lemongrass, and it’s almost impossible to find curry paste without it. I really miss Thai food. :(

    Any suggestions for something I could use instead? Or would it be ok to just leave it out?

    • Melba says

      perhaps you could substitute lemon balm or lemon verbena for the lemon grass. They are herbal but have that similar flavour (light lemon without the sour). They might not provide the fibrous bulk that lemongrass does though. Anyhoo, might be worth trying perhaps.

  23. Hannah says

    Can this curry paste be frozen?
    Making a big batch once freeze it in smaller positions and defrost it when wanted?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yes! Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator up to 10 days or more. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe bag up to 1 month.

  24. Addie says

    I used the cherry peppers too! Very nice heat. I opted to use water instead of oil and next time I will omit the water completely. The juices from the lemon and lime I think would be enough moisture and if not I’ll slowly add water 1 tsp at a time. Going to use this to make your one pot curry dish with the cauliflower which I’ve made before and LOVE. It’s a perfect “ this time I’ll add this and next time I’ll add this and not include this” dish.

  25. Rod says

    We live in south africa where some ingrediants are not always available. I will give this a try as my wife makes a very poor resembelance of what she says is a curry.

    Regards Rod

  26. Shennae says

    i learned that I can use rocket/arugula or lemon zest instead of lemongrass when I make this one day. I can make allergy-suitable curry pastes for people who are allergic to grasses. I have to avoid a lot of dishes at thai and vietnamese restaurants because the lemon grass would make my throat swell.

  27. Cathy says

    Having bought curry paste before I knew what it is like. My daughter loves Thai food so coconut curry anything is eaten with gusto. I made this paste using all dry spices. Paprika instead of red pepper, cayenne powder for the chillies. I plucked some garlic leaves from the garden and a sprig of cilantro. I used fresh garlic cloves, but subbed lemon powder for juice. Everything pulsed beautifully with oil. Curry turned out great!

  28. Shannon says

    Hi I just made this and wondering I think mine is a bit too zingy – too much lime or lemon. Do I just add more oil or water to tone it down?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Shannon! A small amount of baking soda should tone down the lemony taste. Roughly 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for 1 cup of liquid should be enough.

  29. Alexandra says

    Yummy! Super easy and I have some in my fridge for easy prep this week and some in my freezer for later. Thank you!

  30. Morgan says

    This is super delicious and makes a good amount!! I do find that blending the lemongrass makes little strings in my curry (kind of like mango fibers but more stiff?). Anyone else have this happen? It doesn’t bother me that much but I can definitely tell they’re in there!

  31. Samta Varia says

    Whenever I make this paste the lemongrass is still really stringy even though I’m making it in Blendtec and I’ll run it through a few times. Any suggestions?

    • Morgan says

      I just posted a comment saying the same thing! I have actually made the paste without blending the lemongrass and then throw in chopped lemongrass into the curry while cooking so it infuses the flavor.

    • Isha says

      I thinly sliced the lemongrass against the grain before putting it into the blender. It takes a minute, but we’ll worht it, since there’s no chance of strings that way.

      This recipe was utterly amazing. I did end up adding a lot of coconut milk and salt and a bit more sugar to the actual curry that I made with this, as well as some more whole peppercorns…all worked great – I think some people in these comments were reading this as a curry recipe, rather than a curry *paste* recipe.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Miena! Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator up to 10 days or more. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe bag up to 1 month.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, we don’t think it would be the same without it. But let us know if you try it!

  32. Kirstin C. says

    I just made this sauce/paste in my food processor. The aromas are so fresh and lovely! I added a little more sweet and salt after tasting, because there was a tiny bitter edge to it. I used only two red chilies- small kids in the house, and left a lot of the seeds out. I think mine were red jalapenos. I plan to make some lentils and use the paste with coconut milk.

  33. Elena says

    This recipe finally inspired me to do my own curry paste, after always buying it in the store, and this is really incredible! The flavors are so intense and wonderful, i made both red and green and there are both delicious! I will never go back to the store-bought. Thanks for creating these recipes Donna!

  34. Aiden says

    Hey Dana!

    I made your green curry paste last week for the roasted veg/lentil salad and am LOVING IT so I def want to give this a go too . But I honestly don’t cook that much Thai so the amount of paste I froze seems excessive – do you think I could halve this recipe without messing with the flavour balance?

    Thanks for more deliciousness.

    Aiden

    • Kate says

      Oooo – you absolutely have that covered at the bottom of the recipe.
      Not my most clever self today.
      :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kate! Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator up to 10 days or more. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe bag up to 1 month. Hope this helps!

  35. LeeAnn Ogden says

    Excited to try this recipe. Will it go well if I put it on top of a cooked and cut opened jasmine sweet potato? with maybe some green lentils sprinkled on top.

  36. Pamela says

    Yay thank you for this, can’t wait to try it!

    Random wondering…have you ever thought about doing a gluten-free croissant, chocolate or otherwise? :)

  37. Donna says

    Just read this–will try it. Brings thoughts of Bistro brand cashew roasted red pepper dip I recently found at Costco. I am so addicted to it I could eat the entire 25 ounce container at one sitting. Hoping you will sleuth this one out so an eating like one can be made at home. Thanks-Donna

  38. Bharath says

    Good Article for spicy food lovers! loved it!
    I’m here for the first time gone through the article it’s very useful.
    The recipe mentioned there was very good for health as well. try it in your home, you will enjoy it and i love spicy food a lot thank you for the post.

  39. Erin @ burdenfreecaregiving.com says

    Dana, you made this look incredibly simple. It would normally be a bit intimidating, but you make this seem easy. Great presentation of your recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      The lemongrass is pretty central to the curry flavor. If you can’t find it whole, you can usually find it in a jar already minced in the refrigerated section. Otherwise, just leave it out. Hope that helps!

    • Lydia Herrick says

      Lemongrass (as well as ginger, basil, garlic, cilantro, dill, and an Italian herb combo) comes in refrigerated tubes in the produce section, at least around here.

    • Akenath Surujbally says

      How about a substitute for the green onions and or shallot.Its not available where i live.

  40. Didiejolie says

    Hi ! Between this one and the green one… which is the less spicy ? For my Kids ;-)
    Thanks !

  41. MA says

    Hi, so if I want to use it in a recipe let’s say a normal curry how should I use from the paste? This sounds so delicious.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I would say, depending on how salty/spicy you make it, I add 1.5x the amount the recipes calls for. That’s because this is not a concentrate and hasn’t been cooked down. It has a slightly less intense flavor than store bought. Hopefully that helps!

  42. Daniela says

    Never thought of grinding the whole lemongrass, I guess this way you really get 100% flavour out of it. Also I never used the blender to make the paste, sounds so easy, I will definitely make my red curry this way next time!