Thai Chicken Curry is one of my favorite one-pot meals. It’s so easy to make in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop, loaded with vegetables, and full of flavor.
Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines to cook at home. All you need are a few staples and you can make a whole lot of delicious meals.
This Thai chicken red curry chicken is a perfect example. It’s a one-pot dish of tender chicken, whatever vegetables you have on hand, curry paste, and coconut milk. It takes just a few minutes of hands-on prep and you can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes easy.
The flavors in this dish intense and super delicious. A rich coconut milk broth is simmered with spicy curry paste, herbs, spices, tender pieces of chicken, and an assortment of vegetables.
What is Thai red curry paste made of?
I love cooking with curry pastes because they deliver layers of flavor, all in one ingredient. Instead of having to load up my grocery cart with all those ingredients, I can buy a tub or jar of curry paste and still have a complex dish with all the flavors I expect from Thai food.
Thai red curry paste combines garlic, red chiles, lemongrass, shallots, galangal, shrimp paste, makrut lime zest, and other seasonings into one pungent spice paste.
There are several brands available in the US and they vary widely in terms of heat level. I like a good amount of spice and find that the Mae Ploy brand delivers. You can buy it in Thai or Asian markets or online.
For a milder version, look for the Thai Kitchen brand curry paste, which is milder and also easy to find in most supermarkets or online.
What ingredients do you need to make Thai curry chicken?
There are just a few ingredients that are essential to this dish. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
- Cooking oil
- Curry paste (I like the Mae Ploy brand)
- Coconut milk
- Optional aromatics including ginger, garlic, fresh chiles, ground coriander, and makrut lime leaves, and fresh basil or cilantro
- Chicken (you can use breast or thigh meat or use skinless, bone-in thighs)
- Vegetables (use any combination of carrots, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, eggplant, green beans, bamboo shoots, baby corn, snap peas, or other vegetables you have on hand)
- Brown sugar
- Fish sauce
- Lime juice
I use makrut lime leaves the way one might use bay leaves—adding a few of them to the simmering pot. I happen to know of a local makrut lime tree where I can get leaves. I usually get a bunch and stash them in my freezer.
You can also find them fresh or frozen in many. Asian supermarkets. If you can’t find them, substitute the zest of 1 lime, or simply skip it.
I like to add fresh basil to my Thai curry just before serving for a hit of herbiness, but if you don’t have it, you can skip it or substitute cilantro.
How do you make Instant Pot Thai curry chicken?
Many of the chicken curry recipes on the internet recommend pan-searing the chicken before simmering it in the sauce, but I think that step is completely unnecessary. In fact, the chicken turns out much more tender if you poach it right in the sauce. Here’s my step-by-step method:
- Heat a bit of cooking oil in the Instant Pot using the saute function.
- Add the curry paste and about 2 tablespoons of the thick cream at the top of the can of coconut milk. Cook this mixture, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the other aromatics, if using, and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the rest of the can of coconut milk, lime leaves if using, and the chicken.
- Pressure cook for 15 minutes if you are using boneless chicken or 20 minutes for bone-in.
- Quick release the pressure, add the vegetables, replace the lid, and set the pot to pressure cook for 0 minutes (the vegetables will cook in the time it takes the pot to come to pressure). By adding the vegetables at the end, you’ll keep them from turning to mush.
- Quick release the pressure, stir in brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and fresh basil or cilantro, if using.
- Serve immediately.
What to serve with Thai red curry chicken?
I like to serve this chicken with sticky rice or steamed jasmine rice. That’s really all you need since this dish contains protein and veggies.
More Thai recipes you’ll love
- Tod Mun Pla or Thai Fish Cakes
- Prik Nam Pla Dipping Sauce
- Thai Chicken Satay
- Thai Peanut Sauce
- Green Papaya Salad
- Thai Curry Puffs
- Black Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk
Thai Red Curry Chicken with Coconut Milk
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 14-ounce can coconut milk, divided
- 4 skinless bone-in chicken thighs
- 3 makrut lime leaves optional
- Assorted vegetables I used 1 red bell pepper, 2 sliced carrots, and 1 12-ounce package of frozen green beans
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ cup julienned fresh basil optional
- Turn the Instant Pot on to Saute. Add the oil and once the oil is hot, add the curry paste and 2 tablespoons of the thick cream at the top of the can of coconut milk. Cook, stirring, for a minute or 2, and then add the garlic, ginger, and coriander. Cook for about 30 seconds more.
- Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, if using, and chicken.
- Cover the pot, set the valve to the sealing position, and set the pot to cook on high pressure for 15 minutes if using boneless chicken or 20 minutes if using bone-in chicken.
- When the pressure cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure and add the vegetables.
- Cover the pot again, set the valve to the sealing position, and set to pressure cook for 0 minutes.
- When the cooking time is up, quick release the pressure again and stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and basil, if using. Serve immediately.