My Favorite Yellow Thai Curry

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This recipe for Thai Yellow Chicken Curry is based off a seriously addictive curry from a local restaurant! There’s a super easy secret that makes this yellow curry restaurant quality, and it’s as simple as what curry paste you use. Serve this savory curry with freshly steamed rice, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges for the best flavor.

Top down view of a white pot filled with Yellow Curry with half cut off on the left side.

This is my favorite curry of all time, and I promise I’m not exaggerating. I love all curries from all types of cuisines, but this one has always had my heart. The inspiration for this one is based on #54 at our local Thai restaurant.

They make a yellow curry enriched with just a hint of peanuts that will keep you coming back again and again for more years than anyone would want to count.

Over the years I’ve tried to come up with a yellow curry that is even close, but I’ve mostly been disappointed. It wasn’t until I started using a specific curry paste which we’ll talk about below that I finally started getting some good results.

From there it was just a matter of getting just the right amount of peanut flavor in there without it being overwhelming. And finally after so many years of trying to get it right, I have a recipe that rivals #54!

Side view of a white bowl filled with steamed rice and Thai Yellow Curry with chopped cilantro on top.

And as a quick note, you definitely don’t have to make this with peanut butter. You can easily sub in cashew butter to keep it paleo, or if you have a peanut allergy. If you can’t have nuts at all, just leave it out, and the curry will still be good. Nut butter just gives it a little something extra that keeps everyone coming back for more.

I should also mention that the veggies I used here are based on what our local restaurant uses, and what I had in the fridge. You can use any mix of veggies you’d like, but this is the particular combination I come back to again and again.

Watch how to make this Thai Yellow Chicken Curry

Ingredients & Substitutions

Coconut milk, chicken, carrots, onion, potato, fish sauce, lime leave, and curry paste on a wooden cutting board.
  • Curry paste – is everything to the flavor of your curry. Mae ploy which you can see below makes a great curry paste and it’s what our local Thai restaurant uses. It’s not as good as making it from scratch, but we’re keeping it simple here!
  • Turmeric – adds beautiful yellow color to yellow curry along with it’s anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Onions, carrots, & potatoes – make up the usual veggies you’ll find in yellow curries, but you can change things up to whatever vegetables you’re used to.
  • Spinach – I like to add some chopped baby spinach for an extra veggie to this curry even through it’s uncommon to see. Broccoli also works and is used more often, but you don’t have to add anything green here.
  • Nut butter – is an unusual touch, but our local restaurant uses ground peanuts in their curry. A touch of peanut butter or cashew butter if you can’t have peanuts really adds a special touch. It can also easily be left out to your taste, or to keep this nut free.
  • Lime leaves – add a light and bright flavor. When I can’t find lime leaves, I add the zest of 1 lime. It’s not the same but it is delicious.
  • Coconut milkor even coconut cream works here for a tasty curry. I don’t recommend using anything low fat in this recipe, and be sure the coconut milk or cream you buy is unsweetened.
  • Fish sauce – adds savory depth, but can be left out if you need to.
Mae Ploy curry past container on a white background.

Curry paste is the entire secret to this recipe, so we’ll kick things off here. This isn’t sponsored or anything, this Mae Ploy brand is simply the best curry paste I’ve ever purchased. Not only does the flavor take your curries to the ‘next level’, there’s no additives, dyes, or added sugar.

It’s a lot of curry paste per container, so if you don’t make curry very often, split it with someone else. Or you can freeze it in ice cube trays, then place the curry paste cubes into a sealed container to freeze.

How to make this recipe step by step

Diced potato, sliced onion, and slice carrots on a wooden cutting board.

Step 1: Prep all the veggies and set them aside. I like to cut the onions into half moon slices as pictured because that’s what I’ve gotten used to at our local restaurant. But you can dice them as well if that’s your preference.

Sautéed onions, carrots, and potatoes with the curry paste being added.

Step 2: Next sauté the chicken and remove it from the pan. Then sauté the onion and carrots before adding the potatoes and curry paste.

Flavor tip: You want to briefly cook the curry paste before adding the coconut milk. This is a classic and authentic technique that helps to draw out more flavors from the curry paste. Normally the curry paste is fried in oil. But I’ve found it works well to sauté it with the veggies just before adding the coconut milk.

Simmered Thai Yellow Curry with the chicken and peanut butter being added.

Step 3:

Add the coconut milk with the lime zest or lime leave if you can find them and simmer until all the veggies are tender. Then add the chicken back to the pan along with the nut butter, lime juice, and fish sauce. Stir to combine.

Adding the chopped spinach to the curry.

Step 4: Lastly we’re going to add the chopped spinach and let the residual heat from the curry light wilt it. Then season to taste with fish sauce and sea salt and serve.

Finished Thai Yellow Curry in a white pot with a wooden ladle and cilantro sprigs.

Ways to serve this

  • With steamed Jasmine rice, basmati rice, or cauliflower rice, I’ve even served this curry over sweet potato, butternut, and zucchini noodles. And each one is good in it’s own way!
  • Over Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Roasted Spaghetti Squash.
  • Add my Asian Cucumber Salad on the side.

FAQ’s

Is Thai Yellow Curry very hot?

It’s the mildest of the Thai curries, and this recipe has been formulated to be mild verging on medium in heat. If you’re very sensitive to spice, you can try using half the amount called for.

What is Thai Yellow Curry?

There are so many variations, but what they all have in common is turmeric powder which gives it the beautiful yellow color.

Can I use chicken breasts in place of the chicken thighs?

Yes, just be careful not to overcook them because chicken breasts dry out easily.

Can I use green curry paste or red curry paste in this recipe?

Yes but with reservations, I would definitely omit the turmeric powder. I also have recipes for Easy Green Thai Curry and a Roasted Veggie Thai Red Curry you can follow as well.

Storing leftovers

  • To store – place any leftovers into a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • To reheat – warm over low heat until hot in a skillet, or microwave.
  • Freeze – I don’t recommend freezing this one because the carrots and potatoes are mushy when thawed.
Side view of a white pot filled with yellow curry with a wooden ladle scooping some out.

Tips & Tricks

  • Use full fat coconut milk or even coconut cream, (unsweetened) for the best curry.
  • Mae Ploy curry pasta really does make all the difference in this recipe, so it’s worth an online order if you don’t have it locally!
  • Customize this curry according to whatever you’re used to ordering from your local Thai restaurant. If they don’t use peanuts, omit the nut butter. If they use broccoli instead of spinach, go that direction instead.
Straight down view of a white bowl with steamed rice and yellow curry with chopped cilantro on top.

I really hope you enjoy this Thai Yellow Chicken Curry! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Finished Thai Yellow Curry in a white pot with a wooden ladle and cilantro sprigs.

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry


  • Author: Kari Peters
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This Yellow Thai Curry recipe will keep you coming back time and time again with it’s addictive flavor!


Ingredients

Scale

1 Tablespoon avocado oil, or other oil suitable for high heat

1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 1/2″ pieces

1 large onion, 12 ounces

2 cups thinly sliced peeled carrots, about 12 ounces

2 cups cubed potatoes, Yukon golds, 12 ounces

2 tablespoons yellow curry paste

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cans (13.66oz or 403ml each) coconut milk

1 tablespoon lime zest, or 2 kaffir lime leaves if available

12 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or to taste

12 tablespoons peanut butter, or to taste, or cashew butter for paleo, see notes

Optional: 1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sea salt, more or less to taste if you use the fish sauce

4 cups chopped baby spinach, 4-6 ounces

Optional Toppings:

Chopped fresh cilantro

roughly chopped peanuts, or cashews for paleo

lime wedges


Instructions

To prepare the onion, slice off both ends, then cut the onion in half from the top to the bottom. Peel away the tough outer layer, and place both halves flat side down on the cutting board. Then cut across the rounded top into 1/4″ thick half moon slices. Set the onion aside along with the thinly sliced carrots, and assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Place a 12″ skillet or medium sized pot, (5 1/2 quarts) over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the avocado oil and cubed chicken thighs. Sauté the chicken until it’s just done and browned, and remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.

Add the onion and carrots to the pan, and cook just until crisp tender, about 6-8 minutes. Then add the curry paste, potatoes, and turmeric. Stir to combine, breaking up the curry paste, about 1 minute. Finally add the coconut milk and lime zest.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the curry has thickened and the veggies are tender, 10-15 minutes.

To finish the curry add the chicken back to the pan along with the lime juice, nut butter of choice, and fish sauce if you’re using it. Stir to combine, then add sea salt to your taste.

Turn the heat off and add the chopped baby spinach. Stir to combine and let the curry sit just long enough for the spinach to wilt, about 3-4 minutes.

Serve the curry with your choice of toppings, and your choice of veggie noodles/rice/cauliflower rice.

Notes

Use unsalted, unsweetened nut butter for this recipe.

I’ve added potatoes to this recipe recently from a reader suggestion and it’s been an awesome addition!

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: Creamy Yellow Thai Curry, Yellow Thai Curry, Yellow Thai Curry Recipe, Thai Yellow Curry Paste, Yellow Thai Curry Chicken

This recipe was originally published in 2018, but has been updated with new photos, lots more tips, and a video in 2022.

118 thoughts on “My Favorite Yellow Thai Curry”

  1. This turned out pretty fantastic. Been trying to make a good yellow curry for a while and been failing. Finally found your recipe and made the crucial adjustment of using Mae Ploy and adding peanut butter. Genius! Delicious.

    I made a few other adjustments, some of which I’ll need to change next time. Added my own coriander/garlic/ginger/turmeric as well as curry paste. May need to back off on that next time and let the paste stand on its own. Also used coconut cream instead of milk, to make it slightly thicker (which I wanted!). Sliced up 4 Thai chilis and threw those in for some extra heat (perfect level!) Used sesame oil to fry the onions instead of avocado. Also, once I threw in the chicken to cook along with the onions, never took the chicken out again! Seemed to work out ok. I also didn’t use spinach/carrots but did throw in a green pepper and red pepper near the end. Potatoes are a good add, but the ones I got this time were a little softer so were slightly too mushy in the curry so will need to watch that better next time! Ok I’m rambling now!! All in all, this turned out amazingly and I have so much nice leftovers now, as well as lots of curry paste in little baggies in my freezer for future use! This recipe was the key to my success, giving me the pointers for Mae Ploy and peanut butter. Thank you =)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much James for writing with everything you did, I always get inspiration to try new things this way and so does everyone else in the future, so thanks! Also I’m so glad you enjoyed this, and I was like you in that my yellow curry never turned out great until I found Mae Ploy paste – so good!

      Reply
  2. Where can I buy the Mae Ploy yellow curry paste & Kaffir lime leaves -woudl it be available at wholefoods or Jewel-Osco?

    Reply
    • I’m not sure about the 2 stores you mentioned because we don’t have them here. In fact it’s difficult to find those sorts of things where I live so I buy mine from Amazon, but it’s available at some Walmarts and some Target stores as well. The Kaffir lime leaves are sometimes available through Super 1 which is the main grocery store we have here. I would check in the herb section of your largest grocery store where you live, or any grocery store that carries slightly different items. Also if you happen to have an Asian grocery store where you live, they almost always have lime leaves. I hope this helps, but be sure to let me know if you have any more questions, I’d be happy to try and help!

      Reply
    • I live in the UK and buy mine on Amazon.
      I’ve just checked the US Amazon site.
      You can buy a kilogram (2lb) container for a little over 14 dollars.
      I’ve yet to use the yellow paste, but I have used Mae Ploy red paste which was really tasty.
      There’s a sealed bag full of paste inside the container. So I tend to portion it up into 100g portions and freeze it.

      Reply
  3. We are big fans of Thai Curry. This is the best recipe I have made. It came out fantastic. I omitted the spinach because that’s not what we are used to. I topped it with ground peanuts fresh cilantro.
    I will make this my “go to” recipe.
    TK for sharing this recipe!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it and that you made it your own! That’s always my hope in sharing recipes that they can be altered to suite anyone’s taste, and I love the idea of ground peanuts too!

      Reply
  4. I never thought to put peanut butter in yellow curry. It’s a game changer. Adds a whole new depth of flavor in a subtle and satisfying way. I made a veggie one with tofu and added some red chili pepper flakes.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much for writing with your veggie version, it’s so helpful to anyone else wanting to make some changes! And I definitely agree, the peanut butter is game changer, never thought to add it before I tasted it in the restaurant I mentioned in the post!

      Reply
    • I’m about to try your yellow Curry recipe tonight. I was reading the instructions and I thought I’d share a tip I learned from a Thai coworker. heat up a dash of coconut milk, carefully watching it so it doesn’t burn, until the solids separate from the oil in the coconut milk. The oil will rise to the top, then use this oil and solids mixture to fry the curry paste, instead of adding more cooking oil. I have high hopes for your recipe, it looks great and has lovely reviews. Greetings from BC.

      Reply
  5. This was fantastic! We substituted the chicken thighs with broccoli, red pepper and sweet potato. It tasted like a restaurant curry and is now mixed in our dinner rotation. Thank you!

    Reply

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