12 Best Red Curry Paste Substitutes For Your Recipes (+PHOTOS)

red curry paste substitutes
12 min reading time

Red curry paste is a popular ingredient in many Thai dishes. It is made from a blend of red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and other spices. The paste can be used to cook a variety of different dishes, from soups and stews to stir-fries and curries.

Red curry paste is readily available in jars or cans at most grocery stores. It is also relatively easy to make at home, using either fresh or dried chili peppers.

When made from scratch, red curry paste will typically have a brighter flavor and deeper color than the store-bought varieties.

What Are The Uses Of Red Curry Paste?

Red curry paste is a staple of Thai cuisine. The paste can be used to add flavor and heat to a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to soups.

Red curry paste is also an essential ingredient in Thai green curry. In addition to its culinary uses, red curry paste has a number of health benefits. The capsaicin in chili peppers has been shown to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss. Lemongrass is thought to have antidepressant and antibacterial properties. Garlic is a well-known immunity booster, and ginger is often used to treat nausea. When used in moderation, red curry paste can be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet.

12 Best Red Curry Paste Substitutes

The best red curry substitutes are- Curry powder, Yellow curry paste, Green curry paste, DIY red curry paste, Chili powder, Tomato paste and red pepper flakes, DIY curry powder, Laksa paste, Massaman curry paste, Garlic and chili sauce, Harissa, Panang Curry Paste. They are discussed in detail here –

1. Curry Powder

Curry powder - red curry paste substitutes

If you find yourself out of red curry paste and in need of a flavorful substitution, look no further than your spice cabinet. That’s right, curry powder can be used as a stand-in for red curry paste in a pinch.

Just add approximately one teaspoon of curry powder along with some coconut milk or water for every one tablespoon of red curry paste for the best results.

This simple hack will give your meal the same depth of flavor and spice that red curry paste would provide. So the next time you find yourself without red curry paste, don’t panic. Grab some curry powder and get cooking!

2. Yellow Curry Paste

Yellow curry paste - red curry paste substitutes

Yellow curry paste can be used as a red curry paste substitute. Just keep in mind that the two curries have different flavor profiles.

Red curry is made with red chili peppers and is typically spicier than yellow curry. Yellow curry is made with turmeric, cumin, and yellow chili peppers, and has a milder flavor.

So if you’re looking to add a bit of heat to your dish, go for red curry paste. But if you want to keep things on the mild side, yellow curry paste is the way to go. Whichever type of curry paste you choose, your dish is sure to be delicious!

You can use two tablespoons of yellow curry paste in place of two teaspoons of red curry paste to substitute.

3. Green curry paste

Green curry paste - red curry paste substitutes

Green curry paste can be a great substitute for red curry paste.

While they both have a fiery spice, green curry paste is slightly sweeter and more fragrant, due to the addition of lemongrass and coriander. This makes it ideal for dishes that are heavy on coconut milk, such as Thai green curry.

On the other hand, red curry paste is more savory due to the addition of ginger and cumin. This makes it better suited for dishes with meat or fish.

You can substitute two teaspoons of green curry paste for two tablespoons of red curry paste because both have a similar heat level and consistency.

So whether you’re looking for a change of pace or trying to recreate your favorite Thai dish at home, be sure to give green curry paste a try.

4. DIY Red Curry Paste

DIY red curry paste - red curry paste substitutes
Source: thespruceeats.com

If you’re out of red curry paste, you can easily make your own with a few simple ingredients. All you need is a blender or food processor, and a well-stocked pantry.

Start by roasting some dried chiles, then combine them with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, Shallots, cumin, coriander, and salt. Blitz everything in the blender or food processor until it forms a smooth paste.

You can then use this paste in any recipe that calls for red curry paste. And who knows? Once you’ve tasted your homemade version, you may never go back to store-bought again.

5. Chili Powder

Chili powder - red curry paste substitutes

If you’re out of red curry paste and in a pinch, you can substitute chili powder. Just keep in mind that chili powder is much more potent than red curry paste, so you’ll need to use a lot less of it. if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of red curry paste, you would only need to use 1/4 cup of chilli powder.

On the other hand, add a teaspoon of chili powder to your dish. If it’s too spicy, add more chicken broth or coconut milk to tone it down. You can also add a bit of sugar to balance out the heat. With a little experimentation, you’ll soon find the perfect amount of chili powder to give your dish the flavor you’re looking for.

For best results, avoid being heavy-handed with this substitute — If the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of red curry paste, you would only need to use 1/4 cup of chilli powder.

6. Tomato Paste & Red Pepper Flakes

Tomato paste and red pepper flakes - red curry paste substitutes
Source: livingchirpy.com

If you are looking for a punch of heat, tomato paste and red pepper flakes are a great alternative to red curry paste. It gives a bit of sweetness and a little acidity that brings the same flavor profile as red curry paste.

To avoid extreme spiciness, make sure that you follow the exact measurement guide. Add a half tablespoon of red pepper flakes and three or four tablespoons of tomato paste.

Just be careful not to add too much tomato paste, as it can make the dish too sweet. Start with a small amount and add more to taste. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s in there!

7. DIY Curry Powder

DIY curry powder - red curry paste substitutes

DIY curry powder is a great option here. All you need is some ground chili pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and ginger. Simply mix these spices together in equal parts and you’re good to go.

You can use this curry powder in any recipe that calls for red curry paste, but adjust the amount to suit your own taste.

Just remember that DIY curry powder is more potent than store-bought versions, so start with a teaspoon of your homemade curry if your recipe calls for a tablespoon, and then add more if you think the dish requires it. With this simple hack, you’ll never be without red curry paste again.

8. Laksa Paste

Laksa paste- red curry paste substitutes
Source: importfood.com

This Malaysian ingredient has a similar flavor profile to red curry paste, making it a great substitute in a pinch.

Laksa paste is made from a blend of chili peppers, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots. It also typically contains shrimp paste, which gives it a distinct umami flavor.

Both pastes are very similar, you can use a direct substitution — A tablespoon of laksa paste would be substituted for a tablespoon of red curry paste in your recipe.

So if you’re looking for a red curry paste substitute that will still give your dish that authentic Thai flavor, reach for the laksa paste next time you’re at the grocery store.

9. Massaman Curry Paste

Massaman curry paste - red curry paste substitutes
Source: assets.bonappetit.com

If you’re out of red curry paste and looking for a substitute for red curry paste, you can try massaman curry paste. It’s not an exact replacement, but it’ll give your dish a similar flavor.

Massaman curry paste is made with a blend of spices, including cardamom, cloves, cumin, and cinnamon. These spices give the paste a warm and earthy flavor that pairs well with chicken and potatoes.

Just be sure to adjust the amount you use, as massaman curry paste is generally milder than red curry paste. For the finest results, use one tablespoon of massaman curry paste for one tablespoon of red curry paste in a recipe.

With a little experimentation, you’ll be able to create a delicious dish that’s close to the original. And who knows? You might just find that you prefer the new version.

10. Garlic & Chili Sauce

Garlic and chili sauce - red curry paste substitutes

Garlic and chili sauce can be used as a replacement for red curry paste in many recipes.

Just add a little bit of each to your dish, and you’ll be good to go! Garlic and chili sauce are both great sources of flavor, so you’ll still get that delicious taste you’re looking for in your recipe. Plus, they’re both very versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes.

You can use half a tablespoon of this garlic & chili sauce mixture if your recipe calls for one tablespoon of red curry paste. Also, while preparing the dish, taste it so you may season it to your liking.

So if you’re ever in a pinch and need a red curry paste substitute, reach for the garlic and chili sauce!

11. Harissa

Harissa - red curry paste substitutes

Harissa is a North African hot chili pepper paste that is gaining popularity as a substitute for red curry paste.

While the two are not exactly interchangeable, harissa can provide a similar level of heat and depth of flavor. If you’re concerned about adding too much heat, add only a tablespoon at a time and taste after each addition.

Additionally, harissa is usually made with a blend of different chili peppers, which can add complexity to dishes. For those who are looking to add a new ingredient to their pantry, harissa is definitely worth exploring.

12. Panang Curry Paste

Panang Curry Paste - red curry paste substitutes
Source: wandercooks.com

If you’re out of red curry paste and in a pinch, there’s no need to head to the store. You can easily make a delicious panang curry using Panang curry paste as a substitute. Just add a little coconut milk and some fish sauce, and you’re good to go.

The resulting dish will be just as flavorful and fragrant as traditional red curry, but with a bit more of a kick.

Feel free to use it in similar quantities. So, reach for the panang curry paste and enjoy a delicious meal that’s sure to satisfy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is red curry paste made of?

Red curry paste is made by grinding up red chili peppers, galangal root, lemongrass, kaffir lime peel, cilantro stems, and shallots. You can also add shrimp paste, salt, and pepper to taste. The paste is then used to make Thai curries like Red Curry Chicken or Red Curry Pork.

Can I substitute Tom Yum paste for red curry paste?

It really depends on what you’re looking for in a substitution. Tom Yum paste is going to be more tangy and have a lemongrass flavor, while red curry paste is going to be more spicy and have more of a garlic flavor. If you’re making something that already has those flavors in it, then they might work well together. However, if you’re looking for a 1:1 substitution, then you might want to go with something else.

What’s the difference between Thai curry and Indian curry?

Well, there are a few key differences between Thai and Indian curries. For starters, Thai curries tend to be more fragrant and luscious, thanks to the addition of lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), and kaffir lime leaves. Indian curries, on the other hand, are usually spicier and often contain more of a robust assortment of spices like cloves, cardamom, cumin, and curry powder.

How spicy is Thai red curry paste?

Thai red curry paste is fairly spicy, but it can vary depending on the brand. I personally find it to be on the spicier side, but not overwhelmingly so. I would say it’s about a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the heat scale. If you’re sensitive to spice, you might want to tone it down by adding less curry paste to your dish. Or, you could always try a milder variety of curry paste instead.

Is red curry paste the same as chili paste?

No, red curry paste is not the same as chili paste. Curry paste is made from a combination of spices, while chili paste is simply made from ground chilies.

Is red curry paste spicy?

Yes, it can be quite spicy, depending on the brand. Most red curry pastes have a heat level of 3-4 out of 10, with 10 being the hottest. So it’s definitely not for the faint of heart! But if you’re looking for a flavorful and spicy sauce to add to your meals, red curry paste is definitely a good option.

Is red curry paste the same as harissa?

There is some overlap, but red curry paste and harissa are not exactly the same. Red curry paste is typically a mix of different red chilies, while harissa contains roasted red peppers, chili peppers, garlic, and spices. Both are delicious additions to various dishes!

Can I use curry powder instead of curry paste?

Yes, you can use curry powder instead of curry paste. Curry powder is a blend of different spices, including cumin, coriander, and turmeric (which give it the characteristic yellow color), so it won’t have quite the same flavor as curry paste. But it should come close. Enjoy!

What is the difference between red curry paste and green curry paste?

Red curry paste and green curry paste are both made from a blend of ingredients including chili peppers, garlic, turmeric, and lemongrass. The key difference between the two is the type of chili pepper used. Red curry paste typically uses red chili peppers, while green curry paste uses green chili peppers. As a result, red curry paste has a slightly spicier flavor than green curry paste.


I hope this post has shown you that there are plenty of delicious and easy-to-make red curry paste substitutes. If you’re ever in a bind or just don’t feel like making your own, any of these recipes will do the trick. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy cooking up some delicious curries!

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  • Phoebe ovie

    Curry powder as a substitute? Not sure about that. 🤔

  • Rebecca Howard

    Curry powder as a substitute? Not sure about that. 🤔

  • Tilly Harrison

    I love the idea of DIY red curry paste! That’s my weekend project sorted. 👩‍🍳

  • Georgia Burke

    I’ve tried the green curry paste substitute. It’s not quite the same, but it does the trick in a pinch. 🍛

  • Leah Murray

    Yellow curry paste is a great substitute, but be prepared for a different flavor profile. 😋

  • Eloise Chandler

    Harissa paste? That’s new to me. Might have to give it a shot. 🌶️

  • Abby Daniels

    Curry powder doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as red curry paste. In my opinion, it’s not a great substitute. 😐

  • Chloe Franklin

    Substituting red curry paste with chili powder seems like a good idea, but remember it won’t have the same complexity of flavors. Red curry paste has a unique blend of spices and herbs that simply can’t be replicated by chili powder alone. If you’re really in a bind, I’d recommend making your own red curry paste. It’s more work, but the result will be worth it. 🍲👍

  • Grace Slater

    Who needs substitutes when you can easily buy red curry paste online or at any Asian supermarket? 🛒

  • Katherine Holden

    I used to substitute red curry paste with yellow curry paste until I realized they have totally different flavor profiles. Yellow curry paste is milder and sweeter while red curry paste is hotter and more savory. They’re not interchangeable. 🙅‍♀️

  • Kennedy

    I think the best substitute for red curry paste is homemade red curry paste. Nothing beats fresh ingredients! 🥘

  • Francesca Tucker

    I don’t understand why people would want to substitute red curry paste. It’s the heart and soul of many Thai dishes. Without it, the dish just isn’t the same. 😤

  • Corac

    I appreciate your recipes, as well as your substitution ideas! However, may I suggest your writer(s) always have 2-3 other people proof-read your suggestions. Using 1/4 C of chili powder as a substitute for 1 TB curry powder is not good advice.

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