This vegan Thai red curry recipe with your choice of veggies in the simplest of creamy, spicy sauces with Thai red curry paste is a 30-minute, or less, prep to table plant-based dinner recipe. If you want to slim this meal down and still enjoy maximum coconut flavor, stay tuned – we’ve got you covered.
If you’re thinking about quick, healthy meals, a veggie curry should be at the top of the list. Tender, crispy veggies offering varieties of tastes, colors, and textures are combined with an uncompleted, flavorful sauce. Serve this over rice or noodles, and you’ll have a satisfying meal that looks like a celebration.
Before dust off your wok, let’s discuss how to make mouthwatering curry, using the best ingredients that won't take days to locate.
It’s all here. And it's time to prep for success.
Red curry paste – The foundation of any flavorful Thai curry is the curry paste used. My rule – the freshest curry paste makes the freshest curry.
Red curry paste is a flavorful base made with chilies, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and other herbs and spices. If you look for curry paste, you may be confronted with several brands – all with their own ingredients.
You can find curry paste in many supermarkets or specialty stores, usually in glass jars. For this recipe, look for Thai red curry paste or just red curry paste. There may be other kinds like green curry paste or massaman curry paste, and all of them will have their own specific uses.
If you want to ensure that you are serving a vegan meal, then curry paste is the ingredient you want to be mindful of. Shrimp or fish paste is a common ingredient, so look for brands that are clearly labeled as vegan.
As you’re looking through the ingredient list, try to find brands that do not have added oil. Oil is often used to blend the paste smoother and as a preservative. We don’t cook this oil. We avoid products that contain it because it's extra calories and fat without any nutritional benefits. It also smothers all the fresh flavors you want to burst through in your curry.
Want a fool-proof solution?
Make your own curry paste. It’s easy, tasty, and you can control the spice to your liking. The fresh flavor is undeniable. Once you make it and use it in curry, you'll never purchase it again. At least, that's what happened to me.
The good news is that if you make a batch, use a few tablespoons for your veggie curry, you can then freeze the rest in tiny portions, so you’re ready for next time.
Soy sauce – Add soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free) for a little salty, umami flavor. It doesn’t take a lot, and you can always add more at the end of cooking.
Vegetable stock – Vegetable broth or stock is mixed with curry paste and soy sauce. This distributes the paste and is used to mix the ingredients and to deglaze the wok or skillet. This helps to release any bits of vegetables that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Once you add the stock and let it simmer for a few minutes, some of it will dissipate. If you are concerned that this will make the sauce too thin, you can cut the amount of broth back to ½ a cup. You can always add more after you add the coconut milk.
Coconut milk – Coconut milk gives curry a creamy, rich flavor. You don’t need to use full-fat coconut milk. You'll get plenty of flavor from the lite kind too.
If you don’t happen to have coconut milk, or you want to really slim it down, I've got a method that I first used to make a mango curry sauce.
Plant milk laced with coconut extract. Yep, it’s that easy, and it's one of my favorite hacks. If you want a thicker sauce, you can also stir in a teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder before adding it to the curry.
Lime juice – At the end of cooking, add half a lime. Citrus brightens the curry and compliments the coconut flavor. Serve additional lime wedges at the table so folks can freshen it up as they eat.
You can use just about any vegetable and make a delicious curry. We have a few favorites, but they should serve as a guide. If you want maximum convenience, grab a bag of frozen or pre-prepared stir-fry veggies. That’s dinner on the quick.
Onion – Use thin slices of yellow onion. You can also add scallions (green onions), including the green parts.
Tenderstem broccoli – Tenderstem broccoli tastes amazing in curry. Cut the thicker stalks in half but leave them long if you want. Cut them in bite-sized pieces if you are feeding younger diners as they are easier to handle.
Tenderstem broccoli, Bimi, or broccolini has a more delicate flavor than regular broccoli. It tastes a bit like asparagus but crunchier. It’s also easier to prepare as it comes in individual stems rather than large stalks.
Mushrooms – I grabbed a box of chestnut mushrooms (10 ounces/300 grams). They are the brown versions of common white button mushrooms. Use any mushrooms you like.
Be sure to wipe, not rinse the mushrooms to prevent them from absorbing additional moisture. Mushrooms are usually grown indoors in specific facilities, so they really don’t need to be cleaned. That said, it won’t hurt to take a paper towel, cloth, or soft brush and whisk away and dirt (real or imagined).
Baby corn – I just learned that some people call baby corn, young sweet corn, cornlets. How cute is that?
I’m a fan of baby corn. It’s such an easy ingredient to add to curry, soups, and stews. It also adds crunchy flavor to salads. Next time you make a taco salad, give it a try. It’s more than pretty. It has a sweet taste that is a bit more subtle than the more mature sweet corn.
Bell pepper – Use a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper for a sweet flavor. Green peppers tend to be less sweet and slightly bitter, so I don’t recommend them for Thai curry, but if you like ‘em, add ‘em.
Carrots – Bright, sweet, and if you slice them thin, they are quick-cooking. If you have large pieces of carrots, you can cut them lengthwise, then into thin slices. You can use small matchsticks as well. They take a few extra minutes to cut but give your dish a slight change in texture.
- You’ll be cooking for about 20 minutes tops, so be sure to have everything prepared before you start cooking. Mix the curry paste, soy sauce, and vegetable broth. Gather the coconut milk or mix together the plant milk and coconut flavoring if you opt for the lower-fat option.
- Because the cooking time is short, consider the cooking time for the rice or noodles.
- Be sure the wok or skillet is hot before you add the vegetables. This helps to keep them from sticking. If the vegetables begin to stick, add water, a tablespoon at-a-time.
- Add the vegetables from the hardest to the softest and keep them moving during the cooking process. You want the vegetables crisp and vibrant and just tender.
- To ensure that the vegetables remain crisp, make sure they are dry before cooking them. Use a big enough wok or skillet so that you aren’t overcrowding the vegetables. This ensures that you don’t have some veggies piling at the bottom and other pieces remaining uncooked on the top.
- Give the vegetable broth mixture about 3-5 minutes to simmer after you’ve crisped the vegetables. This will further cook them and deglaze the pan.
- Add the coconut milk at the end. It only needs to be heated through. Then add the lime juice once you cut the heat.
If you want to add more protein to curry, try our crispy baked tofu, soy curls or soy strips, tempeh, or even adzuki beans. You can also serve the curry over a high-protein grain such as quinoa.
The best way to thicken curry is to make a slurry using cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or flour. Mix a teaspoon of either with ¼ of a cup of water and stir it into the curry. In a pinch, you can do this after coconut milk.
If you start with flavorful, ideally a homemade, curry paste, you may not need to add additional spices. However, if you want a flavor boost, you can add minced ginger or garlic or herbs such as Thai or regular basil, cilantro, lime zest.
Other Thai recipes to explorePrint
vegan Thai red curry
Vegan Thai red curry with crispy veggies in the simplest of creamy, spicy sauces with Thai red curry paste is a 30-minute plant-based meal.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: curry
- Cuisine: Thai
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half, and sliced thin
- 8 oz (200 gm) tender stem broccoli (broccolini/Bimi)
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (10 oz./300 gms.)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 6 oz. (180 gm.) baby corn (about 12)
- 15 oz. (400 ml.) can lite coconut milk or 1 ½ cups plant milk with ½ teaspoon of coconut extract
- I lime (half for the curry and the other half cut in wedges)
- Rice or rice noodles
Cooking tip: You’ll need 15 minutes of cooking time, so consider when you need to start your rice or noodles (if using).
- In a small jar or bowl, mix the broth, Thai red curry paste, and soy sauce. Set aside.
- If you are mixing plant milk with coconut extract, do that before cooking and set it aside.
- Begin with a heated wok or skillet. Start adding the vegetables from the hardest to the softest. Stir constantly until the vegetables are crisp and slightly tender.
- Add the broth and allow the vegetables to cook for another 5 minutes until they are a bit softer.
- Add the coconut milk and squeeze in half the lime (1 tbsp lime juice, reduce the heat and allow everything to slowly simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice or noodles with lime wedges at the table.
- Nutritional information is for the curry, made with lite coconut milk.
- The best curry is made with a flavorful homemade curry paste. If you buy curry paste, select a brand that is vegan and contains no added oil.
- For best results, cut harder vegetables such as carrots into thin slices or small pieces. This ensures quick and even cooking.
- Use a large enough wok or skillet so that the vegetables can easily be moved. If the vegetables begin to stick, you can deglaze them by adding a tablespoon of water or using the vegetable broth mixture.
- If you want to add more protein to your curry, consider adding crispy tofu, soy strips or soy curls, sauteed tempeh, or adzuki beans. You can also serve it over a high-protein grain such as quinoa.
- If you want to thicken the curry, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder mixed directly with the vegetable broth or with ¼ of a cup of water. Stir this into the curry.
Keywords: vegan Thai red curry