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HOW TO: Make Thai Curries


Anyone can make a good Thai curry…

The key is in using a good curry paste, and then following a few simple steps.

In fact, almost all Thai curries are made using these same basic steps.  So whether your ultimate goal is a straightforward yellow curry or something more complex like khao soi, once you have mastered the curry-making process, a vast world of Thai curry making possibilities is open to you!

Are you ready?  Here are the 6 basic steps you need to make a delicious Thai curry:


Not so bad, right?  Just “break” the coconut milk, fry your curry paste, simmer your ingredients, adjust the flavor, and you’re done!  By following this easy step-by-step guide, you can create many delicious and varied Thai curries.

The variation in flavor of Thai curries comes mainly from adding different fresh herbs and other ingredients in Step 4.

A basic yellow curry, for example, relies solely on the curry paste for its flavor, while red and green curries have the added flavor boost of Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves.  Massaman and panang curries benefit from roasted peanuts, gang hang lay has peanuts as well as shredded ginger, and one of my favorite Thai curries, gang tay po, even has whole kaffir limes added for an extra citrus boost!


A simple yellow curry with fried tofu and vegetables


A more complex panang curry with beef flavored with peanuts and kaffir lime leaves


A rich and flavorful red curry with pork belly (gang tay po) flavored with whole kaffir limes

As you can see, there are endless variations in flavor, but the key steps remain the same.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this basic curry making process, such as curries that are made without coconut milk or curries that are steamed in banana leaf cups.  In addition, some Thai cooks prefer to fry the curry paste in oil before adding coconut milk.  These nuances aside, the above steps provide a solid foundation for making many different Thai curries.

And once you have mastered these simple steps, you will have a vast world of Thai curry deliciousness right at your fingertips!

16 comments… add one
  • Christopher Vaughan September 1, 2018, 9:20 pm

    Thanks so much for this awesome blog! I just discovered curry in the last month or so and I’ve been obsessed since lol… I’m going to attempt to make my first curry tonight, so this is super helpful! I decided to use mae anong after reading your comparison post… wish me luck! haha

  • Dave September 13, 2017, 3:50 pm

    Made your yellow curry the other night, it was exceptional. Are there roles about overheating? My curry separated a bit, still delicious, but not as velvety as I think it could have been if I didn’t overheat it

    • Rachel September 24, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Hi Dave! Yes, that’s a pro tip my MIL always points out :) You want the heat to be low in the beginning as the coconut milk is separating, then high later in the cooking process so that the meat/vegetables cook through.

  • Nadine March 24, 2017, 1:23 am

    so you do not cook your meat before at all? it cooks in the coconut milk and paste?

    • Rachel March 26, 2017, 2:49 pm

      Hi! Yes, that’s right, it cooks in the curry paste to absorb all of the flavor!

  • Analida March 4, 2017, 12:53 pm

    I love Thai food! I am so glad I came across your site. I recently took a cooking class in Cambodia and learned to make a curry paste from scratch. It was so much fun.

  • Lita February 24, 2017, 5:36 pm

    Your blog is impressive and the curry dishes look so delicious and authentic. We are Thai Direct (www.thaidirect.co), the authentic Thai meal kit company, delivering fresh authentic Thai ingredients with easy recipes to cook authentic Thai meals at home. Check us out when have a chance. Thanks!

  • Nabeel December 23, 2016, 12:43 pm

    I am so glad I discovered your blog and I especially like this one. I look forward to some new curries creations! I have one question. I notice most, maybe even all, of your curry recipes specify 1 cup of coconut milk and start with skimming off 1/3 cup of coconut cream. But coconut milk comes in 13.5 oz cans. Do you generally use the whole can or do you have a use for the leftover?

    • Rachel December 26, 2016, 9:44 pm

      Hi Nabeel, you have great attention to detail! Yes, I typically have a bit leftover that I save for making tom kha soup, or mango sticky rice, or other dishes that need a bit of coconut milk :)

  • Kendall December 9, 2016, 2:28 am

    What coconut milk do you use?

    • Rachel December 9, 2016, 10:43 pm

      Hi Kendall, I typically use the Chaokoh brand of canned coconut milk.

  • Tora September 1, 2016, 9:44 am

    I love this. Not only are you getting an authentic Thai curry but by doing it this way there is no added oil and the meat is poached and tender.

  • Dan April 4, 2016, 9:21 pm

    This step-by-step visual is super helpful and allows for a lot of creativity. Thanks so much! I’m gonna give it a try tonight.

  • Samantha March 18, 2016, 7:40 am

    Yum. Thanks Rachel. You made it so less frightening than I thought it was.

    • Rachel March 18, 2016, 6:55 pm

      Haha, thanks Samantha :)

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