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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Red Curry Paste Substitutes

Have you ever found yourself ready to whip up a Thai dish, only to realize you’re out of red curry paste?

It’s a buzzkill for sure.

Good news! We’ve got your back with some awesome swaps that’ll save your dish.

You might think red curry paste is irreplaceable.

Guess what? There are plenty of substitutes that can kick your dish up a notch.

And we’re here to spill the beans on the 5 BEST alternatives to keep your Thai cooking game strong.

No red curry paste? No problem.

With these substitutes, you won’t even notice it’s gone.

Ready to get your Thai cuisine on track with these simple swaps?

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Curry Paste

If you’re out of red curry paste or can’t find it at your local grocery store, don’t worry.

There are several substitutes that will work just as well in your recipe.

1 – Curry Powder

curry powder

Curry powder is a blend of spices that originates from India.

The precise ingredients vary depending on the region, but common spices include turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chili pepper.

Curry powder can be used to add flavor to both meat and vegetable dishes.

When cooking with curry powder, it is important to add the spices early in the process in order to give them time to release their flavor.

Like curry powder, red curry paste can be used to add flavor to both meat and vegetable dishes.

Red curry paste is generally spicier than curry powder, so it is important to adjust the amount used according to your preferences.

If you do not have red curry paste on hand, you can substitute an equal amount of curry powder.

2 – Yellow Curry Paste

lemon curry powder

Curry pastes are a blend of fresh or dry-roasted spices, herbs, and other seasonings ground into a paste.

They are used as a base in many curries and other dishes for their intense flavor.

While there are many different types of curry pastes, yellow curry paste is popular due to its vibrant color and milder flavor.

To make the yellow curry paste, the most common ingredients include turmeric, cumin, coriander, lemongrass, galangal, and chili peppers.

These ingredients are often roasted and then ground into a fine paste.

Some recipes may also call for additional seasonings such as ginger, garlic, shallots, and lime leaves.

Once the curry paste is prepared, it can be used in various dishes.

It is often added to coconut milk to create a rich and flavorful curry sauce.

Yellow curry paste can also be used as a marinade for meats or vegetables before grilling or roasting.

And it makes an excellent addition to soups and stews for a flavor boost.

If you cannot find red curry paste at your local grocery store, it can easily be substituted with yellow curry paste.

However, remember that the flavor will be slightly different than what is traditional for red curry dishes.

3 – Green Curry Paste

green curry paste

Green curry paste is a key ingredient in Thai green curry.

It is made with a blend of aromatic spices, including green chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and cilantro.

The paste can be used to flavor both chicken and vegetarian dishes.

To cook with green curry paste, simply add it to a pan with oil and cook until fragrant.

Then add your chosen protein or vegetables and continue to cook until they are cooked through.

Green curry paste can also be used as a marinade or added to soups and stews for an extra boost of flavor.

If you don’t have red curry paste on hand, you can substitute green curry paste.

However, keep in mind that red curry paste is generally hotter than green curry paste, so you may want to start with less and add more to the taste.

4 – Sambal Oelek

sambal oelek

Sambal oelek is a chili sauce or paste originating from Indonesia.

It is typically made from a blend of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt.

The ingredients are ground together to form a thick, fiery paste.

Sambal oelek can be used as a condiment, added to soups or stews, or used as a marinade for meats.

It can also be used as a substitute for red curry paste.

When cooking with sambal oelek, it is important to keep in mind that a little goes a long way.

The paste is very spicy and can quickly overwhelm a dish if too much is used.

For this reason, it is often added to dishes towards the end of cooking.

When substituting sambal oelek for red curry paste, start with half the amount of curry paste and then add more to taste.

5 – Harissa Paste

harissa paste

Harissa paste is a North African chili paste that is common in Tunisian, Algerian, and Moroccan cuisine.

It is made from a blend of chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices such as cumin and caraway seed.

The paste can be used to flavor soups and stews or as a condiment for grilled meats or vegetable dishes.

Harissa paste can be purchased at most Middle Eastern markets or made at home using fresh or dried chili peppers.

When cooking with harissa paste, be mindful of the heat level and start with less than you think you need; the spice level can always be adjusted upwards, but it is difficult to tone down the heat once the dish has been cooked.

For a milder paste, substitute red curry paste for the chili peppers.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Curry Paste

Looking to switch up your recipe that calls for red curry paste? We've got you covered! Here's a guide to the 5 best substitutes for red curry paste, ensuring your dish maintains its delicious flavors without compromising on taste and authenticity.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Curry Powder
  • Yellow Curry Paste
  • Green Curry Paste
  • Sambal Oelek
  • Harissa Paste


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for red curry paste
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