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Thai Red Curry Paste

This recipe is a bit different than most on my site. There are no real tricks to it, and it's not directly "low-carb" in any specific way. However, like any good spice blend or potent ingredient, it packs a lot of punch, for very little effect on blood sugars. A little goes a long way!

A curry paste is a fresh and vibrant blend of ingredients, most dominantly chilies, spices and herbs. This can form the backbone or a backdrop (depending on the usage) for MANY different recipes. Plop a little into a peanut sauce to give it some more depth of character. Sauté some chicken and eggplant with it, just plain, and you've got a NICE flavorful kick of flavors! Heat up some shrimp in some coconut milk with some lime juice, a little more fish sauce, some fresh cilantro and a blend of tomatoes, peppers, squash and mushrooms for an out of this world shrimp and coconut soup!

Probably the most difficult part of this recipe is finding the ingredients. I'll list substitutions in the ingredient list, where I can. Ultimately, the closer to the true ingredients you get, the more authentic your paste will be. Outside of ingredient procuring, the rest of the process is simply "throw it in a food process and ... process!" I wish I could recommend a mortar and pestle, but I doubt many of you have one of this lying around.

This particular blend is a scaled down and "basic" red paste. There are regional variations that can be explored. My thinking, when developing this recipe, was to keep it simple, while still holding true to a red curry paste. This way, the peripheral ingredients could be added for specific and unique dishes. Some of the common additions to various red pastes are: white peppercorns, cinnamon, fish sauce, mace, nutmeg and cloves. For an even more basic curry paste, you can eliminate the cilantro roots, coriander, cumin and peppercorns.

Storage Tip: This has a lot of fresh ingredients in it, so it's perishable. It's got some acid in it, which helps it to last a little longer, but I wouldn't leave it in the fridge for more than a week. I have mine in series of tiny freezer safe containers ... in the freezer. They hold up well, in there!

Serving Size: Recipe makes about 1 cup of paste. Serving size is roughly 1 tbsp.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Servings: 16 Servings
Calories: 18.19875kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 10 each Thai dried chiles whole
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed ground
  • 2 tsp cumin seed ground
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 10 each fresh red thai chilies seeds removed (substitution = fresno or serrano chilies)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh galangal chopped (substitution = 1 tbsp. ginger)
  • 4 each shallots chopped
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste (substitution = 1 tbsp fish sauce)
  • 8 each kaffir lime leaves chopped (substitution = 1 tsp. lime zest)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass white part only, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems chopped
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Split the dried chilies and remove the seeds. Soak the flesh in hot water for about 20 minutes.
  • While the chilies are soaking, toast your coriander, cumin and peppercorns. Place a sauté pan or skillet on the stove over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add your black peppercorns. Toast for about 1 minute. Add your coriander seeds and toast for about 1 minute. Finally, add your cumin seeds and toast for about 1 minute. The mixture should be quite aromatic, but do NOT let them burn. Remove them from the pan and allow to cool.
  • Once your spices are cool, grind them. This can be done in a mortar and pestle. I use an old beat up coffee grinder. Alternately, you can also purchase pre-ground spices and toast them, but blend them together before toasting. Then, toast in a hot dry pan for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, or until aromatic.
  • In a food processor (or mortar and pestle for the real deal), combine all ingredients and process, until the consistency of a paste.


Serving: 16g | Calories: 18.19875kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.868125g | Protein: 0.553125g | Fat: 0.4675g | Fiber: 0.904375g