Red Curry Paste Substitute – 7 Spicy Alternatives That Work

Looking for a Thai red curry paste substitute?  Discover here the best 7 alternatives to use in place of this curry paste.

Red curry paste is a staple ingredient that forms a flavorful base for several Thai dishes. It’s used with everything from duck, chicken, and beef to pork and shrimp. Adding a bit of this red curry paste in soups and stews to dressings, condiments, and marinade is common in Thai cuisine.  Not only that, now more cuisines across the world have adopted this spice mixture in various dishes like adding it to mayo for sandwiches, scrambled eggs, pasta sauce, compound butter for grilled chicken, and more.

Best Red Curry Paste Substitutes

Red curry paste is available in most supermarkets, especially in places where Thai dishes are popular. If you have the ingredients, you can also easily make them at home. However, if you can’t get it for immediate use, there are several replacement ingredients to use. Here are the best seven substitutes that can very well replace red curry paste though they taste noticeably different.

1. Green Or Yellow Curry Paste

Just like the red curry paste, green and yellow curry pastes are also often used in Thai dishes.  All the varieties of curry pastes contain similar ingredients but differ in the color of the chilies used in them. Green curry paste is slightly milder than red curry paste in flavor but they both have totally different colors.  Yellow curry paste which relies on turmeric is the mildest of the three Thai curry pastes but more versatile than the other two. You can interchangeably use different curry pastes though they differ in color and taste. Adjust the amount of curry paste to be used according to the desired flavor profile of your dish.

2. Curry Powder

Curry powder made of chili peppers and a few other spices like coriander, cumin, ginger, and turmeric is a flavorful base for different Indian-style curries. Depending on the blend, curry powder is spicier than red curry paste but both add similar flavors to a recipe, especially to vegetable dishes.  Usually, a mixture of curry powder and tomato ketchup will be a more suitable alternative for red curry paste.  Curry powder would work well in most Thai dishes that call for red curry paste; begin with adding this powder to your dishes in lesser quantity.

3. Chili Paste

Chili paste, easily available in most groceries, is a viable alternative to Thai red curry paste. Usually, it’s made of roasted chilies pulverized to make a hot flavorful paste. It’s as hot as the curry paste but lacks the complex flavor profile of the red curry paste.

Chili paste can be used in any dish just as you do with Thai curry paste. However, chili paste is primarily made of chilies and it does not include other ingredients used in red curry paste. Adding a few additional ingredients to chili paste such as lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and coriander can make it taste more like the red curry paste.

4. Harissa Paste

Harissa paste is the North African counterpart of Thai red curry paste. Both these spicy pastes include common ingredients like red chilies, garlic, coriander, and a citrus component. However, harissa paste is more tangy and acidic because of vinegar and it’s hotter than red curry paste. Harissa paste is usable in most Thai dishes that require red curry paste but be mindful of its higher heat, tanginess, and oiliness.

5. Chili Powder

Chili pepper is the most important ingredient in both chili powder and red curry paste. They have similar colors and the same levels of heat. Even so, chili powder lacks the complex flavor of Thai curry paste that is tangy, hot, and fishy. Chili powder is a good replacement for red curry paste, especially with the addition of ingredients like tomato ketchup, garlic, galangal, and coriander added to it.

6. Tomato Paste Plus Red Chili Flakes

In place of red curry paste, a combination of tomato paste and red chili flakes will be a good substitute option. Use one teaspoon of chili flakes for every 3 tablespoons of tomato paste to make this mixture.  This seasoning blend is a great addition to soups, sauces, stews, and noodles instead of red curry paste despite their significant differences in taste.

7. Chili Sauce Plus Garlic Paste

Another recommended substitution for Thai red curry paste is a mixture of chili sauce and garlic paste. Chili sauce is hot and spicy and adding a bit of garlic paste to this sauce renders a complex flavor similar to red curry paste. To make this mixture, add one teaspoon of garlic paste to every two tablespoons of chili sauce. Use 1 tablespoon of this mixture to replace two tablespoons of red curry paste.

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