Authentic Thai Yellow Curry Paste

Authentic Thai yellow curry paste in a bowl

The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
166 Calories
8g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 166
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 787mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 33mg 167%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 527mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is a true Thai yellow curry paste made the authentic way, and if you've had dishes including more of an imitation yellow curry, you will definitely taste the difference. Made with yellow chilies, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, and spices, including turmeric, this recipe is as real as it gets. Yellow curry paste is the mildest of the three Thai curry pastes, which include red, yellow, and green.

Yellow curry paste is so versatile, you'll want to try it with a variety of meat, seafood, vegetable, noodle, and even soup recipes. This fragrant yellow curry paste makes Thai food easy to cook and quick to make, as well, especially if you make the paste ahead of time. Use it right away in a delicious Thai curry or store it in the refrigerator or freezer to use anytime. 

"A flavorful yellow curry paste that will knock any curry powder or store-bought paste out of the park. If you can't quite find all of the ingredients, the substitutions provided will serve you well." —Laurel Randolph

Yellow curry paste in a glass jar with chopped veggies alongside
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 to 1 stalk lemongrass, minced

  • 1 to 2 yellow chiles, sliced

  • 2 shallots, sliced

  • 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, sliced

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste

  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 large pinch white pepper

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

  • 3 to 5 ounces coconut milk, divided

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Authentic Thai yellow curry paste ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  2. Place all ingredients—lemongrass, chilies, shallots, galangal, garlic, coriander, garlic, coriander, ground cumin, cumin seeds, cinnamon, fish sauce, shrimp paste, turmeric, white pepper, brown sugar, lime juice, and tomato puree—using just 3 ounces of coconut milk, in a food processor or blender. Add more coconut milk as needed to blend ingredients into a smooth paste or sauce. Process well.

    Thai yellow curry ingredients in a food processor

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  3. Use in your favorite curry dish or store for later use. Enjoy!

    Authentic Thai yellow curry paste in a jar with a spoon alongside

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner


If your paste isn't as bright yellow as you'd like, try adding another 1/4 or up to 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.

Recipe Variations

Some of the ingredients in this recipe are specifically Asian; if you don't have a store that sells Thai ingredients, don't worry—there are a few substitutions you can make.

  • If you can't find fresh lemongrass, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of frozen prepared lemongrass.
  • You can use red chilis instead of yellow, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed chili.
  • Instead of shallots, substitute 1/3 cup chopped onion.
  • Fresh ginger works well in place of galangal.
  • If you don't have shrimp paste, use an additional tablespoon of fish sauce.
  • Black pepper may be replaced for the white.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
  • Freeze in an airtight container for up to three months. A great way to freeze any paste is to spoon it into an ice cube tray, freeze, and then transfer it over into a freezer bag for storage. You can then take out and thaw how many cubes you need for whatever Thai dish you're making.

How to Use Thai Yellow Curry Paste

Whether you are using the paste right away or grabbing it from the freezer, this yellow curry paste is simple to turn into a delicious curry:

  • Place the paste in a wok with some vegetable oil. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  • Add 1 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock plus your ingredients—chicken and potatoes is a classic choice, or try about a pound of other meats, seafood, or a package of tofu or wheat gluten along with 2 to 3 cups of vegetables.
  • Add a little more coconut milk for more sauce, reserving a bit to add to each serving at the end.
  • Simmer until the meat is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
  • Always taste test for salt and sourness/sweetness after a curry is done cooking, adding more fish sauce or salt if not salty enough and more sugar if too sour. If too salty, add a little more lime juice.
  • Add more coconut milk for a creamier, richer sauce. Before serving, top with fresh coriander or basil. Makes four servings.