The sauce for this Pineapple Curry is creamy with coconut milk and full of fragrant lime leaves! It’s that wonderful combo of sweet and spicy that will have this recipe on your menu weekly. It’s also loaded with veggies as well as naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. You can make this curry with red Thai curry paste or Panang curry paste. The key is using a certain brand for the best flavor and you’ll find all the details below.
The inspiration for this curry recipe came from our local Thai restaurant just like my Yellow Curry recipe! One of my best friends and I have been meeting for dinner at this local Thai place for over 20 years.
Their #54 yellow curry has always been my go-to. But it was high time I branched out a bit more so I ordered their Pineapple Curry. The sweet spicy flavors with fragrant flavor from lime leaves made it an instant hit with me.
So of course I went straight home and started testing to share it with you. I think you’ll enjoy this easy-to-make curry packed with protein and veggies, and so much flavor.
Watch how to make Pineapple Curry
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chicken – I used boneless skinless chicken breasts here because that’s how they made it at the local restaurant I mentioned. However, you can use chicken thighs as well and they’re much more forgiving and don’t dry out as easily when overcooked.
- Onion & garlic – these both add depth of flavor to this curry. I chose not to add ginger to this curry because the restaurant version I had was all about the purity of the curry paste together with the lime leaves.
- Curry paste – the best curry paste I’ve used is the Mae Ploy brand. It has the perfect flavor that makes your at-home curry taste as good or even better than a restaurant. I’ve used their Thai red curry paste and Panaang curry paste with this recipe which is a touch spicier, but so good!
- Bell pepper – adds a bright pop of color along with lots of flavors. But feel free to use whatever veggies you like/have on hand.
- Coconut milk – makes up the creamy sauce for most types of Thai curries. This recipe blends creamy coconut milk with some mangoes for a slightly sweet and super silky sauce. You want to be sure you use full-fat coconut milk. Low-fat coconut milk or light coconut milk won’t give you good flavor in a curry.
- Pineapple – I’ve tested this recipe with fresh pineapple and frozen pineapple and they both work great. Canned pineapple would be my last choice, and be sure it is unsweetened. Drain the pineapple juice and reserve it to add to taste at the end if you use canned.
- Kaffir Lime leaves – lime leaves add incredible flavor simmered in the sauce. However if you can’t find them, you can add the lime zest listed in the recipe. This recipe uses a lot of lime leaves to achieve the right fragrant flavor of what I had in the restaurant. But I don’t think you’ll regret tracking them down if they’re available for you.
- Coconut sugar – can be omitted or added to taste. I don’t care for very much sugar, but a touch does round out this curry, and is traditional in Pineapple Curry.
- Fish sauce – adds the depth of flavor you’re looking for in a good red or Panang curry.
- Cilantro – chopped fresh cilantro added in at the end to add lots of fresh flavor. Thai basil is also really good with this curry.
How to make this recipe step by step
Step 1: After you’ve prepped your ingredients, start by sautéing the onion and garlic together.
Step 2: When the onion has just softened, add the curry paste and break it up as you sauté for 1-2 minutes.
As you fry the curry paste the heat helps to bring out more flavors. Also, I use 2 tablespoons for a mild curry but you can use up to 4 or more tbsp for a spicier version.
Mae Ploy is on the mild side compared to other curry pastes I’ve tried. So go easy if you choose another brand.
Step 3: Add the coconut milk, bell pepper, and lime leaves.
Stir to combine, then simmer as low as possible until the bell pepper is tender, 6-8 minutes.
Step 4: Next add the cubed-up chicken, and stir to combine.
Step 5: Add the pineapple, stir to combine again. Then cook just until the chicken is done.
Season to taste with fish sauce, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Remove the lime leaves and serve.
Ways to serve this
- This curry is perfect served with steamed Jasmine rice or Basmati rice. It’s also fun to change things up with cooked vermicelli rice noodles, pad Thai noodles, or even gluten-free Ramen noodles which are made from rice.
- Add a fresh veggie with my Asian Cucumber Salad.
- For a cooked vegetable side dish, try my Roasted Carrots, Roasted Broccoli, or Perfect Roasted Asparagus. For a stovetop option, try my Sautéed Green Beans.
Pineapple curry can be traced back to both Thai and Indian cuisines. This recipe for Pineapple Curry is Thai based on a curry from our local Thai restaurant.
Yes chicken thighs work really well in curry and don’t dry out as easily as chicken breasts.
Several elements make a good curry. For this Thai curry, the right curry paste is really important, and using full-fat coconut milk for the best creamy coconut curry base.
- To store – place any leftover curry into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Make ahead – curry reheats well if you’re careful not to overcook the chicken. So you can make it ahead as part of meal prep or to make meal times simpler. Just remember it needs to be spread thin to cool quickly, then stored as directed above.
- Reheating – place any leftover curry into a small skillet or saucepan and reheat over medium heat covered until heated through. If you have leftover rice, heat it with the curry to soften it again.
- To freeze – this curry freezes ok, but the bell pepper and pineapple will be softer after it’s defrosted. Place it into an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Tips & Tricks
- The Mae Ploy curry paste really is worth tracking down! It’s not easily available where I live so I buy mine online. The tubs are fairly large unless you make a lot of curry. So try portioning out the curry paste to freeze in an ice cube tray then transfer to a sealed container in your freezer.
- It’s nice to have a dedicated tray for freezing things like curry paste, otherwise, your next batch of ice cubes might taste a bit strange!
- Lime leaves are also worth tracking down but can be expensive in certain grocery stores. If you live near an Asian grocery they’re usually a good source. I used to get a large package for a few dollars, then freeze all the extra lime leaves to use over the months to come.
- Add chopped baby spinach for an additional boost in veggies.
Dietary Options & Substitutions
- Dairy-free Whole30, & Paleo – this recipe is dairy-free and paleo. For Whole30 omit the coconut sugar (the sweetness from the pineapple is enough even without the sugar) and be sure your curry paste is Whole30 compliant. Serve it with cauliflower rice if you’re looking for a paleo or Whole30 side dish option.
- Vegan or Vegetarian – Use a can of drained rinsed chickpeas or cubed-up tofu in place of the chicken. Also, omit the fish sauce, and be sure any curry paste you buy is vegetarian or vegan. Many red curry pastes contain shrimp.
I hope you enjoy this Pineapple Curry! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
- 1 tbsp avocado oil - or cooking oil
- 1 medium onion - diced 1/4"
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tbsp red Thai curry paste - or Panang curry paste, Mae Ploy brand, see notes
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk - 13.5 oz
- 1 medium red bell pepper - seeds removed and diced into 1" pieces
- 6-8 lime leaves
- 1 pound chicken breasts - cut into 1" cubes
- 2 cups fresh pineapple - diced, or frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar - more or less to taste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce - more or less to taste
- 1/4 cup cilantro - chopped, or Thai basil
- Optional lime wedges for squeezing over the top
- Preheat a large pot over medium heat. When the pan is hot but not smoking, add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add the diced onion and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until just tender, 3-4 minutes.
- Next add the coconut milk, diced bell pepper, and lime leaves to the pan. Stir to combine while bringing the curry to boil.
- Then lower the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook until the bell pepper is tender, 6-8 minutes.
- When the bell pepper is tender, add the chicken to the curry and stir to combine. Then add the pineapple and stir to combine again.
- Bring the curry back to a simmer and cook until the chicken is just done. Remove the curry from the heat and season to taste with the coconut sugar, fish sauce, and sea salt if desired.
- Remove the lime leaves and serve with freshly steamed rice.