Homemade Thai Green Curry Paste is bright-colored with a fresh and spicy, yet well-balanced flavor profile. Here we scale back a bit on the heat level that you’d find in green curry in Thailand without sacrificing any of the flavor.
Ever since I visited Thailand a few years ago, green curry has been one of my favorite curries.
I’ve made it upwards of 10 times in the past 5 years, but I just recently started making my own green curry paste from scratch! There are some good-quality store-bought versions available, but I have to admit that homemade is so much better.
Thai green curry paste isn’t difficult to make. You can likely find all the ingredients you need at your local Asian market. And then it’s just a matter of washing, peeling, or prepping the ingredients.
Traditionally, the paste was hand-ground in a mortar and pestle. Today, it’s common to use a food processor. But you can do whatever works best for you!
Not only is homemade curry paste a lot fresher than store-bought curry paste, but making it from scratch lets you customize it to suit what works best for you.
For example, I’m allergic to shellfish, but shrimp paste is a common ingredient in authentic Thai green curry paste. Making it at home gives me the option to replace the shrimp paste with fish sauce to keep the salty umami flavor. And if you’re vegan, you can take it one step further and use vegan fish sauce!
Additionally, using homemade paste lets us scale back on the spicy heat level if need be. Thai green curry is the hottest of the curries, but if you aren’t used to that level of spicy heat, it can be too much.
To tone it down a bit, we reduced the amount of green Thai chile peppers and added sweet, fragrant Thai basil.
Give this recipe a try and I think you’ll fall in love with it just like I did!
Why This Recipe Works
- You should be able to find most (if not all) of these ingredients at your local Asian market. However, I’ve noticed that even my local Asian grocery stores sometimes don’t carry all the ingredients needed to make this (such as kaffir/makrut limes). Not to worry though; I give easy substitutions so you can still make it without sacrificing the traditional flavor.
- This recipe is authentic, but made a bit milder than how you’d find it in Thailand. We achieve this by reducing the amount of Thai chile peppers and adding Thai basil instead.
- You can keep this curry paste in your fridge for up to 2 weeks, so it’s easy to make green curry any time you want! And even better, you can freeze it in ice cube trays for up to 6 months and just thaw a few ice cubes as you need them.
Authentic Thai Green Curry Paste Recipe
- Green Thai chile peppers
- Galangal (or ginger)
- Cilantro roots (or stems, if you can’t find the roots)
- Fresh Thai basil leaves
- Makrut lime zest
- White pepper
- Sea salt
- Fish sauce
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it up.
Turn the processor on high and let it run until the mixture forms a paste, about 10 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides as necessary.
Traditionally, you would use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients to make a paste. It takes a lot of stamina! For people who do have had practice doing this, it typically takes about 1 ½ hours.
Store green curry paste in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. To help preserve the bright green color, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the paste.
Additionally, you can freeze this curry paste in ice cube trays for up to 6 months and just thaw a few ice cubes as you need them.
To Make Vegan Thai Green Curry Paste
Use a vegan fish sauce instead of regular fish sauce, such as this vegan soy-free fish sauce on Amazon.
Green Curry Paste FAQs
What Do You Use Thai Green Curry Paste For?
This versatile paste can go well beyond just green curry!
You can use it to make:
- Salad dressings (add a splash of olive oil and thin it out with water until it reaches your desired consistency)
- Meat and vegetable marinades
- Soup or stew flavor base
- Sandwich or wrap condiment
- Flavoring for eggs
How Hot is Thai Green Curry Paste?
It’s fiery hot! Thai green curry is the hottest of the Thai curries. It’s hotter than red curry and yellow curry, and that is really saying something.
As chile peppers mature, they turn color from green to red and their flavor tends to mellow a bit. We use green chile peppers to make green curry, and the end result is spicy hot.
Pro Tip: Be careful when handling these peppers, and use food-safe gloves if possible.
What Does Green Curry Paste Taste Like?
It’s a blend of spicy heat, verdant and grassy cilantro (usually from the use of cilantro roots), and bright citrus (thanks to makrut lime and lemongrass). There are several other aromatics, including ginger, garlic, and shallot. Overall, the flavor of Thai green curry paste is a fresh-flavored well-balanced spiciness.
Don’t forget that this curry paste is highly concentrated, so depending on how big of a batch of curry you’re making, you might only use a few tablespoons of paste. This paste is typically used to flavor curries with coconut milk and other liquids added.
More Thai Dishes to Make
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
- Coconut Thai Fish Curry
- Thai Noodles Recipe with Vegetables and Chicken
Thai Green Curry Paste Recipe
- 50 g green Thai chile peppers stems removed (see Note)
- 12 large cloves fresh garlic peeled
- 2 inch piece fresh galangal peeled and grated (or fresh ginger)
- ¼ cup peeled shallots
- 2 stalks lemongrass outer leaves removed, pounded with a meat mallet, and chopped into 2 to 3-inch pieces
- 1 cup chopped cilantro stems or 3 cilantro roots
- 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves see Note
- 1 tablespoon makrut lime zest see Note
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander or 1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin or ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ tablespoon sea salt
- ½ tablespoon fish sauce see Note
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it up. Turn the processor on high and let it run until the mixture forms a paste, about 10 minutes. Stop to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 1 cup of paste. For the purposes of the nutritional information, each serving is considered 1 tablespoon for a total of 16 (1-tablespoon) servings.
- Green Thai Chiles: If desired, you can remove as many seeds as possible from the chilies to make this less spicy. To make it spicier like how you’d find this dish in Thailand, increase the amount of green chilies to 150 grams and omit the Thai basil.
- Makrut Lime Zest: Formerly called kaffir limes, you can usually find makrut limes at Asian markets. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with regular lime zest.
- Thai Basil Leaves: If you want this dish spicier (like how you'd find it in Thailand), omit the basil and increase the amount of chilies to 150 grams.
- Coriander and Cumin: For more depth of flavor, use whole seeds and briefly toast them in a dry skillet. Let them cool, and then proceed with the recipe.
- Fish Sauce: Thai fish sauce is commonly made from fermenting anchovies and salt. It adds a salty, umami flavor to this dish. Shrimp paste is a more common addition to this curry, but I'm allergic to shellfish. If you prefer, omit the fish sauce and use 1 tablespoon shrimp paste instead. Or to keep this vegan, use a vegan fish sauce instead, such as this vegan soy-free fish sauce on Amazon.
- Storage: Store this curry paste in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. To help preserve the bright green color, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the paste. Additionally, you can freeze this curry paste in ice cube trays for up to 6 months and just thaw a few ice cubes as you need them.
- To Make This the Traditional Way: Traditionally, you would use a mortar and pestle to grind up all these ingredients to make a paste. It takes a lot of stamina! For people who do have had practice doing this, it typically takes about 1 ½ hours.