Thai Green Curry, Gaeng Khiao Wan, is a beautifully aromatic dish that’s both sweet and spicy, and it comes together in just about 30 minutes! It’s an easy recipe that features homemade green curry paste (or store-bought curry paste if you prefer), coconut milk, chicken, and vegetables. The bright flavors and aromas come from the curry paste and the addition of kaffir lime leaves, fresh Thai basil, lime juice, and fish sauce.
Thai Green Curry
When it comes to authenticity, this easy to make curry checks all of the right boxes. There’s really no Thai restaurant in business that doesn’t offer Gaeng Khiao Wan (directly translates to sweet green curry), or Green Curry, on their menu. The most popular Green Curry dish is Gaeng Khiao Wan Gai, which is green curry with chicken. This is a dish from southern Thailand that combines spicy curry paste with fresh vegetables, chicken, and coconut milk.
Traditionally, this dish uses homemade Green Curry Paste, but not just homemade – the most authentic way to make it is to use a mortar and pestle. Since it’s quite time consuming and exhausting, most people now rely on pre-made curry paste. While you can get store-bought curry pastes in Asian markets, none of them will be as flavorful or as fresh as homemade. Of course, there is also an option to make your homemade curry in a blender, which is the option that I personally take. It’s much easier, and you can freeze extra paste for later use!
Thai Green Curry is a favorite dish of mine to make when I want a well rounded meal in under an hour that really hits the spot. It’s a slightly sweet, yet still spicy dinner that’s anything but bland. When you make it at home, you also have the wonderful added benefit of deciding exactly how spicy you’d like it to be.
You can also customize what vegetables you add to it, like Thai eggplant, bell pepper, sweet peas, and bamboo shoots. I try to sneak in as many vegetables as I can to make this simple, flavorful dinner as healthy as it can be.
How to Make Thai Green Curry
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Green Curry Paste – In a pinch, you can certainly use a store-bought curry. For the best results, though, use my easy homemade recipe! See below for recommendations.
- Chicken Stock – I always try to have some Homemade Chicken Stock on hand (portioned in the freezer) to keep all of my recipes as delicious as they can be.
- Coconut Milk – Make sure to use “unsweetened” coconut milk meant for cooking. (Sweetened coconut milk is meant for frozen cocktails).
- Fish Sauce
- Pure Cane Sugar – try to use pure cane sugar but if in a pinch, use brown or white granulated.
- Coarse Salt – Coarse sea salt, or kosher salt, is a better choice.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves – Most Asian markets offer these leaves, but you’ll likely only find them frozen or dried. Either option will work just fine. (Remember, you can also grown your own!)
- Chicken – Use boneless, skinless chicken breast meat that’s had all of the fat removed.
- Thai Basil – Always try to use holy basil or Thai basil in Thai recipes. You can use Italian basil if you can’t find Thai basil, but there will be quite a difference in flavor.
- Lime Juice – Only use freshly squeezed lime juice in this recipe, not the bottled alternative.
- Thai Chili Peppers – These red peppers bring the heat, so use more or less of them depending on your preferences. Remember that curry paste will already be spicy.
- Vegetables – Optional vegetables you can toss into the mix include Thai eggplant, bell pepper, sweet or snow peas, bamboo shoots, and many more. See recommendation below.
Make sure you prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time, that way you’re not chopping or measuring while you’re trying to cook this fast paced recipe.
Cook the first few ingredients.
In a sauce pot over medium heat, add about 3/4 of the coconut milk. Bring it to a simmer while slowly and constantly stirring. Once it starts to thicken, stir in the green curry paste.
Stir in the chicken, chicken stock, and remaining coconut milk. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to cook until the chicken is almost done.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Stir in the salt, sugar, half of the fish sauce, kaffir leaves, and veggies of your choice. Cook until the veggies have softened.
Once the veggies are softened, toss in the Thai basil, scallions, and sliced Thai chili peppers. Let everything cook for just a few more minutes before removing the pot from the heat.
Serve your Thai Green Curry with freshly fluffed jasmine rice, and enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Thai Green Curry spicy?
Short answer is yes. In both restaurants and store-bought jars, Green Curry will be spicy because it’s made with a combination of Thai chilis and other green chilis that are less spicy, but still bring the heat. Even though the literal translation is “sweet green curry,” this dish is more spicy than sweet. There is a slight sweetness to it from the coconut milk and a little additional sugar, but the spice is still present. If you’re sensitive to spice, you can completely control the level of peppers that are in your curry.
How to Serve Thai Green Curry
The best way to serve Thai Green Curry is with jasmine rice. Don’t attempt to thicken the curry, because it’s supposed to be soupy, not a thick sauce!
What vegetables are in Thai green curry?
The most common vegetable you’ll find served in this curry dish is Thai eggplant, although it’s not always easy to come by in the Western supermarkets.
You can use small Japanese or Indian eggplants if those are more readily available for you. Some other options include bamboo shoots, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, sweet snow peas, baby corn, and/or green beans.
Using store-bought green curry paste:
In the interest of saving time and make it easier of yourself, you may choose to use store-bought Thai curry paste. There are some brands that are better than others and if you want the best tasting one, I recommend that you buy it at an Asian food market. You may have to try a few to see which brand you like best.
To enhance the flavors of the jarred curry paste, you will need to try it and possibly add more aromatics. Feel free to add more lime juice, more fresh grated galangal or ginger, more garlic, or more lemongrass paste.
Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Khiao Wan)
Thai Green Curry
- 1/2 cup green curry paste
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp pure cane sugar
- 1/2-1 tsp coarse salt to taste
- 6-8 kaffir lime leaves*
- 1.25-1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat fat removed and chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil packed
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1-2 red Thai chili peppers
- 3-4 scallions stalks
Optional vegetables (about 5 oz)**:
- Thai eggplant, or Indian eggplant, or Japanese eggplant,
- Bell pepper
- Sweet peas or snow peas
- bamboo shoots
- 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
- Prepare all of your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready. Some ingredients are added in the beginning and some at the end, you can separate the ingredients so it's easer to add them at the right time.
- Preheat a 2.5-3 quart sauce pot over medium heat.
- Add about 3/4 of the coconut milk to the pot and let it simmer, while slowly and constantly stirring, until the coconut milk reduces and starts to thicken. (It will take just a few minutes.)
- Add green curry paste, stir, and let it simmer for a few seconds.
- Stir in chicken, chicken broth, and remaining coconut milk. Lower the heat to medium low and let it cook until chicken is done.
- Once chicken is done, stir in salt, sugar, half the fish sauce, kaffir leaves, and vegetables you're using. Let it cook a few more minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
- Stir in Thai basil, scallions, and sliced Thai chili peppers. Let it cook just a couple of minutes and take off heat.
- Serve with cooked jasmine rice. (Note: people find kaffit lime leaves too think and tough to eat so you can discard those from your bowl.)