Easy spicy Thai red curry paste recipe (vegan)

If you’re a fan of spicy red Thai curries, this homemade Thai curry paste is right up your alley. While store-bought options offer convenience, nothing beats the punch of freshness that comes from making your own curry paste to take your dishes to the next level.

How to make Thai red curry paste at home 

Making your own Thai red curry paste is a rewarding venture you can do one of two ways: doing it by hand or using a food processor. 

Toasting the seeds is a must for getting the most flavor out of your paste. Grab a mortar and pestle if you’re up for a hands-on experience. Crush those toasted seeds into a fine powder, then add lemongrass, chilis, and the rest of the ingredients. Grind everything into a smooth paste. This traditional approach takes a bit more time but is worth the effort.

For a more modern touch, a food processor does the job efficiently. Mix the toasted seeds, lemongrass, chilis, and other ingredients. Process until you have a finely blended paste. This method is convenient and yields the same delicious outcome.

a spice grinder filled with the ingredients for thai red curry paste

Whichever route you choose, making your own Thai red curry paste lets you infuse your dishes with genuine flavors right from your own kitchen.

Discover the art of crafting homemade Thai red curry paste, allowing you to tailor flavors to your dietary preferences and desired spice level. This versatile paste offers a fresher, additive-free alternative to store-bought options, delivering authentic taste and a culinary canvas brimming with possibilities.

a small jar of homemade red curry paste on a marble counter surrounded by some of the ingredients

Easy spicy Thai red curry paste recipe (vegan)

Discover the art of crafting homemade Thai red curry paste, allowing you to tailor flavors to your dietary preferences and desired spice level. This versatile paste offers a fresher, additive-free alternative to store-bought options, delivering authentic taste and a culinary canvas brimming with possibilities.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai


  • 10 Thai red chili peppers if using dried, soak them first
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • skin of 1/2 kaffir lime optional
  • 2 leaves kaffir lime recommended but optional
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk lemongrass use only the white parts
  • 1 tbsp cilantro stems
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns


  • Begin by toasting the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns in a pan over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until they become fragrant. Allow them to cool before proceeding.
  • Once cooled, transfer all the ingredients, including the toasted spices, into a food processor. Grind everything until you achieve a smooth, wet paste. It's important not to add water to the paste, which could shorten its shelf life and alter its consistency.
  • Once the paste is ready, store it in a clean jar and place it in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 1 week.
  • For an extra burst of flavor, consider adding 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste into the mixture.

Homemade vs. store-bought curry paste

When it comes to curry paste, there are two paths: making it yourself at home or purchasing it from a store. Each option comes with its own set of advantages.

Crafting your own curry paste lets you have complete control over the ingredients. If you follow a specific diet, such as veganism or gluten-free, or have allergies like shellfish, making your own paste allows you to customize it to your dietary needs.

Adjusting the level of heat is another perk of making your own paste. You can increase the spiciness by adding more chilis or opt for a milder flavor using fewer or less potent chilis.

If you’re watching your salt intake, making your own paste lets you regulate the amount of salt, which is especially beneficial for those on low-sodium diets or with salt sensitivities.

By preparing your own curry paste, you avoid additives and preservatives commonly found in store-bought versions. This translates to a cleaner, more natural product.

The most noticeable difference, however, lies in the taste. Homemade curry paste offers a fresher and more vibrant flavor than store-bought options, which may have been sitting on shelves for a while.

In the end, the choice boils down to your preferences. Making your own curry paste grants you greater control, customization, and a richer flavor profile. On the other hand, store-bought options are convenient. It’s a trade-off between tailored perfection and ease of acquisition.

Is Thai red curry paste spicy?

Thai red curry paste carries a medium to high level of spiciness, owed to the use of Thai red chilis with a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) range of 50,000 to 100,000. While inherently fiery, the paste’s potency is diluted when integrated into curries through a blend with creamy coconut milk and other ingredients. This results in curries that offer a milder heat compared to the paste itself. Crafting the paste at home allows for personalized spiciness levels, accommodating both mellow preferences and fiery cravings.

Is Thai red curry paste vegan?

Not all Thai red curry paste is vegan; however, the base of this recipe is! Some recipes use shrimp paste or fish sauce to give it an additional layer of salt and umami. Depending on your preferences, you can make this recipe with or without shrimp paste. 

What makes Thai red curry paste authentic?

The authenticity of Thai red curry paste hinges on its genuine ingredients. Rooted in tradition, the paste embodies the essence of Thai cuisine with the inclusion of key aromatics like ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Another hallmark is the presence of kaffir lime, although sourcing this in US grocery stores might prove challenging.

the ingredients of thai red curry paste on a cutting board

A time-honored practice involves crafting the paste using a mortar and pestle. However, for convenience, a blender or food processor serves as a practical substitute – acknowledging that this strays from the traditional preparation method.

How long does this curry paste last?

Store this curry paste in a securely sealed container in your refrigerator for optimal freshness. Expect it to maintain quality for up to 7 days under these conditions. It’s important to note that this paste is not shelf-stable and should be managed accordingly to ensure its taste and integrity.

Can you freeze Thai red curry paste?

Yes, you can freeze Thai red curry paste. Place it in a pint-sized zipper freezer bag, flatten it, and freeze for up to 6 months. When using the frozen paste, allow it to thaw for about 2 hours before using.

This homemade Thai red curry paste brings an explosion of flavor that outshines store-bought options. The best part? You’re in control. Customize it to your taste preferences, making each dish uniquely yours.

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