Your New Favorite Thai Yellow Curry Recipe

If you're looking for a Thai yellow curry recipe, this is the one. Makes a great beef or tofu dish - or try it over chickpeas, vegetables or potatoes! Note: If you do not want to use fish sauce, feel free to substitute tamari, being careful to taste your curry as you add it – tamari is much saltier than fish sauce, and equal amounts of these condiments will yield two entirely different levels of saltiness. Kiboshing the fish sauce may cause the sauce to lose a touch of that “authentic” flavor, but will still be amazingly delicious. Also, I prefer to use whole toasted herbs that are then ground in a coffee grinder, but go ahead and use pre-ground herbs if you’re in a hurry.
Course Entree
Cuisine Thai
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 270kcal
Author Stephanie Stiavetti


  • 4 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
  • 1/4 large onion chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground galangal or 1/4 fresh grated (if you’ve got it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground lemongrass if you've got it
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yellow curry powder (or to taste – this makes a not so spicy sauce)
  • 24 ounces coconut milk (organic where possible)*
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste – I use Golden Boy brand, as it’s not too stinky)
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon shredded fresh turmeric root (optional)


  • In a large saucepan, add onions* to about four tablespoons heated peanut, olive, or other cooking oil and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Spoon in 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder and stir around for a second until it starts to turn brown.
  • Immediately add coconut milk (have the cans open and handy!) and bring just to a boil, then lower heat to bring sauce to a simmer. Add fish sauce, and remaining spices. Let simmer for about ten minutes and taste. If you like, add more curry until it’s as spicy as you prefer.
  • Add more fish sauce and a little salt if necessary (watch out for the salt… the fish sauce will usually take care of most of the saltiness). Let simmer until desired consistency and fish sauce flavor is not too fishy – I usually let mine simmer an hour or more depending on how I’m feeling that day.
  • If the sauce is too thick, pungent, or spicy you can always add water or more coconut milk and then adjust other spices as necessary to taste. As you cook this sauce, it will turn a beautiful deep shade of ochre. I prefer to let it cook longer to increase both its thickness and aesthetic appeal.
  • How do you tell when your curry is done? Dip a spoon in the sauce, blow on it to cool, and taste. Roll the curry over the back part of your tongue and search for a roundness of flavor. Not salty enough? Flavor a little flat? Missing “something”? Add another tablespoon of fish sauce or soy sauce (in Thailand, fish sauce is a condiment much like our ketchup – they add a lot to every dish). Not enough spice? Add another teaspoon of curry. Play with it, do what feels right.
  • Once the mixture is as thick as you like, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir and pour over veggies, rice, or whatever you like.
  • *Do not use “light” coconut milk, as this is simply watered down. If you prefer a lighter curry, save yourself some money and just use half or two thirds as much coconut milk, making up the remainder of the amount called for with water.
  • **Try adding a chopped, seeded tomato and half a chopped mango with the onion for a sweeter curry. Mmmm!


Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 276mg | Fiber: 3g | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2.2mg