Thai Foods Ep.9

Yellow Thai Chicken Coconut Curry

by Thomas M. Tillman
Thai Yellow Curry with Chicken — Better-than-takeout yellow curry is EASY and ready in 25 minutes!! Healthy comfort food with the PERFECT amount of heat and lots of textures and flavors in every bite! Impress your friends and family and make this DELICIOUS curry at home!!

Easiest Thai Yellow Curry Recipe

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. 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! 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.

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 milk – or 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.
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.
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.
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.


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.

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.