Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

Food

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry combines a medley of aromatic veggies with a vibrant green curry paste, tender butternut squash, and crisp snow peas in a creamy, indulgent coconut base. Top your bowl with fresh lime and basil for a meal you won’t be able to get enough of!

This curry is naturally vegetarian, but still has a good amount of plant-based protein thanks to the chickpeas. That said, it’s easy to add in additional protein — add in some prepared tofu, cooked shrimp, or cooked chicken.

Overhead image of the vegetarian Thai green curry

Overhead image of the vegetarian Thai green curry

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

For some serious comfort food, you’ve come to the right recipe — this Thai green curry feels like a hug in a bowl! It’s rich, creamy, and indulgent tasting while being loaded with good-for-you ingredients and a ridiculous amount of veggies. And the best news is these are veggies your kids won’t turn their nose up at — who can resist ’em when they’re bathed in such a luxurious curry sauce?!

Let’s Chat Green Curry Paste

The green curry paste in this recipe is the main flavor of this dish. Over the past few years red and green curry paste have become more mainstream and easier to find in regular grocery stores.

  • Where to find: You’ll likely find it in the international section or aisle of your grocery store. If you’re near an Asian grocery store, you’ll certainly find it there. It’s also very easy, cheap, and convenient to purchase it online.
  • What does it taste like: Green curry paste will differ a bit from brand to brand but typically you’ll find the following ingredients in the paste: fresh green chiles, garlic, wild ginger, shallot, lemon grass, salt, kaffir lime, sugar, galangal, spices (coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, turmeric), pepper. Green curry paste can be fairly spicy depending on the brand.
  • What brand to use: If you have special dietary restrictions you’ll want to check the ingredients of the curry paste — a lot contain fish sauce or shrimp. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ll want to make sure the brand you use is vegetarian/vegan. If you’re gluten-intolerant, check for that too — a lot of curry pastes are made without gluten. My favorite brand to use is Maesri and Thai Kitchen is another one we’ve used in this Vegetarian Thai Green Curry.
  • How much curry paste to use: The intensity of the curry paste will vary brand to brand. We typically use about 4 tablespoons of Maesri curry paste and 6 tablespoons when using Thai Kitchen — both of these amounts ensure bold flavors without too much heat since the coconut milk sweetness offsets the heat so much.

Process shots-- images of the oil, onion, pepper, carrot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass paste, coriander, and green curry paste being added to the pot

Process shots-- images of the oil, onion, pepper, carrot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass paste, coriander, and green curry paste being added to the pot

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Ingredients

There are a few ingredients worth mentioning and offering suggestions or substitutes for:

  1. Kaffir Lime Leaves are a key ingredient in Green Curry. They add a vibrant, citrus flavor, but can be tricky to find — I’ve only had success finding them at my local Asian market. If you have access to some, crumple a few up and throw them in when you add in the coconut milk and remove before serving. To get a citrusy flavor without the leaves, zest and juice a lime and mix through right before serving. When I do find kaffir lime leaves, I seriously stock up — they actually freeze wonderfully! I’ll keep the bag in the freezer and use them as needed.
  2. Fish Sauce is a common finishing ingredient in Thai curries — it adds that final seasoning and umami flavor. If you aren’t vegetarian, feel free to add some in, but since I wanted this to be a vegetarian recipe, the recipe calls for soy sauce instead. Use regular (not lite) soy sauce. Tamari can be used instead of soy sauce if preferred.
  3. Thai Basil is the preferred topping for Vegetarian Thai Green Curry, but I can’t ever get my hands on it where I live. If you can, great — use that! If not, we enjoy regular basil on this curry!
  4. Lemongrass paste is another tricky to find ingredient, but add loads of flavor. I’ve had no problem finding it at my local Asian market, but typically purchase it online for ease.
  5. Coconut Milk. More on this ingredient below

Coconut Milk

The coconut milk is an integral part of this recipe. It’s sweet and nicely balances the spice from the curry paste. It’s also thick and creamy which makes this curry very rich and indulgent tasting.

To mimic the thickness, sweetness, and richness of green curries I’ve had from Thai restaurants, I created this recipe with 2 cans of coconut milk. If 2 cans is too much for you, use 1 can coconut milk and replace the other can with 1 cup of vegetable (or chicken if you aren’t vegetarian) stock. You may need to add a bit more sugar to compensate for this change so the curry isn’t overly spicy.

It can be overwhelming to navigate coconut milk in the grocery store. Look for shelf-stable, not refrigerated, cans of coconut milk. You’ll find canned coconut milk on the international aisle, with Latin or Asian products. Here’s an article outlining the best brands to use. I personally use Imperial Kitchen® since I can find it often at my local grocery store and enjoy the richness of this brand. Use full-fat coconut milk for the best flavor and thickness. Lite coconut milk won’t thicken and give you the rich, full flavor that regular coconut milk will. Cream of coconut is far too sweet and coconut cream tends to be too thick (and overpoweringly coconut flavored) for this curry.

Process shots of this vegetarian Thai green curry-- images of the chickpeas, butternut squash, and coconut milk being added

Process shots of this vegetarian Thai green curry-- images of the chickpeas, butternut squash, and coconut milk being added

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Tips

  • Take time to sauté the curry paste & seasonings. Instead of immediately dumping everything else into the pot, we want to take time to sauté everything thoroughly which creates a more heightened flavor dimension.
  • In order for everything to cook in time and ensure the veggies are tender, it’s important to cut the butternut squash into small & even pieces (1/2-inch pieces). Check out this roasted butternut squash post for step-by-step photos on how to prepare and chop a squash or see the “short-cut” idea below!
  • Finishing the curry. After the curry has thickened and squash is tender, its time to really bring the flavors alive! This is where some taste testing and experimentation comes on your part. Add fresh lime juice and zest, sugar, soy sauce, salt, etc. all to personal preference. The amounts of these ingredients will vary based off the curry paste and coconut milk you used and your personal taste preferences. Salt is hugely important in helping to bring out and enhance existing flavors.

SHORTCUTS

For a quicker prep time, grab a bag of already cut butternut squash in the produce section of the store. If the pieces are overly large, cut them down a bit so they’ll cook in time for this Vegetarian Thai Green Curry.

Process shots-- images of the curry simmering and the snow peas being added and mixed together

Process shots-- images of the curry simmering and the snow peas being added and mixed together

STORAGE

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Storage

One of my favorite things about curry recipes is how well they store! Leftovers only get more and more flavorful as they sit. Store any leftover curry in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat over low heat, adding a splash of vegetable broth/stock (chicken stock if you aren’t vegetarian) as needed to thin the sauce.

Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost fully in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop.

Overhead image of the vegetarian Thai green curry in a pot ready to be served

Overhead image of the vegetarian Thai green curry in a pot ready to be served

 

More vegetarian recipes to love

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry combines a medley of aromatic veggies with a vibrant green curry paste, tender butternut squash, and crisp snow peas in a creamy, indulgent coconut base. Top your bowl with fresh lime and basil for a meal you won’t be able to get enough of!

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry combines a medley of aromatic veggies with a vibrant green curry paste, tender butternut squash, and crisp snow peas in a creamy, indulgent coconut base. Top your bowl with fresh lime and basil for a meal you won’t be able to get enough of!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup (130g) each: finely diced red onion, red bell pepper, carrots Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (~4 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste Note 2
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) up to 6 tablespoons green curry paste Note 3
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 cups (390g) peeled & diced butternut squash
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.; 439g) chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cans (13.5 oz.; 400mL each) full-fat coconut milk Note 4
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves, optional Note 5
  • 1-1/2 cups (135g) snow peas, trimmed and halved
  • 1-3 tablespoons light brown sugar Note 6
  • 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce Note 7
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
  • Garnish: Thai basil if you have some or regular basil if not!
  • For serving: cooked rice and warmed roti bread (optional)

Instructions

  • PREP: Start by prepping ingredients: dice the red onion, carrot, and bell pepper (by hand or quickly in the food processor!). Mince the garlic & ginger. I peel the ginger with a spoon or vegetable peeler first. Peel and then chop the butternut squash into small bite sized pieces (1/2-inch in size). Keep the squash pieces fairly small so they’ll cook at the right time. Drain & rinse chickpeas.

  • COOK: Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and red pepper and sauté for 7-9 minutes, or until onions begin to turn golden. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass paste. Stir to coat everything with the oil. Season to taste with salt, I add 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Lower the heat to medium and add in green curry paste and ground coriander. Stir often for 2-3 minutes or until very fragrant. Add in the chickpeas and butternut squash and stir to coat for 1 minute.

  • COOK CONT: Pour in the 2 cans of coconut milk. Stir. Scrape the bottom of the pot and press all squash below the liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a rapid simmer (over medium-low heat; it should be bubbling at the edges but not boiling) for 18-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The butternut squash should be fork tender and curry sauce reduced; this happens at around 20-22 minutes for me. Add a splash of vegetable stock/broth or water if sauce is reducing too quickly and squash isn’t getting tender (this also means you may need to lower your heat a little. Alternatively, increase the heat slightly if squash isn’t getting tender and the sauce isn’t reducing). Add in snow peas and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until tender.

  • FINISHING: Add sugar (start with less you can always add more), soy sauce, and lime juice to the curry (feel free to adjust these three ingredients to personal preference — adding more soy sauce for seasoning/umami flavor, more lime for a fresh flavor, and more sugar if it’s too spicy). Taste and add more salt if needed, I’ll typically add another 1/4 up to 1/2 teaspoon — flavors should be vibrant!

  • ENJOY: Remove curry from heat. Garnish individual bowls with basil. I also like to serve lime wedges on the side — the more lime the better in my book! Serve over cooked rice with warmed roti bread. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Veggies: This is about 1 large red onion, 3-4 large carrots, and 1 bell pepper. Dice finely — we want fairly small pieces.

Note 2: Lemongrass paste: this is a somewhat tricky to find ingredient, but add loads of flavor. I’ve had no problem finding it at my local Asian market, but typically purchase it online for ease.

Note 3: Green Curry Paste: The green curry paste in this recipe is the main flavor of this dish. You’ll likely find it in the international section or aisle of your grocery store. Otherwise, purchase at an Asian grocery store or online. My favorite brand to use is Maesri and Thai Kitchen is another one we’ve tested in this recipe. The intensity of the curry paste will vary brand to brand. We typically use about 4 tablespoons of Maesri curry paste and 5 or 6 tablespoons when using Thai Kitchen — both of these amounts ensure bold flavors without too much heat since the coconut milk sweetness offsets the heat so much. Add to personal preference and if you aren’t sure start with less since you can always add more later.

Note 4: Coconut Milk: I created this recipe with 2 cans of coconut milk for an ultra rich, thick, and creamy curry similar to ones I’ve had at restaurants. If 2 cans is too much for you, use 1 can coconut milk and replace the other can with 1 cup of vegetable (or chicken if you aren’t vegetarian) stock. For coconut milk, I use Imperial Kitchen® since I can find it often at my local grocery store and enjoy the richness of this brand. Use full-fat coconut milk for the best flavor and thickness. Lite coconut milk won’t thicken and give you the rich, full flavor that regular coconut milk will.

Note 5: Lime Kaffir Leaves: these are a key ingredient in Green Curry. They add a vibrant, citrus flavor, but can be tricky to find — I’ve only had success finding them at my local Asian market. If you have access to some, crumple a few up and throw them in when you add in the coconut milk and remove before serving. To get a citrusy flavor without the leaves, zest and juice a lime and mix through right before serving. When I do find kaffir lime leaves, I seriously stock up — they actually freeze wonderfully! I’ll keep the bag in the freezer and use them as needed.

Note 7: Soy Sauce: Fish Sauce is a common finishing ingredient in Thai curries — it adds that final seasoning and umami flavor. If you aren’t vegetarian, feel free to add some instead of the soy sauce, but since I wanted this to be a vegetarian recipe, the recipe calls for soy sauce instead. Use regular (not lite) soy sauce.

Note 8: Sugar: Add sugar to personal preference and to offset potential spiciness. You may not even want any! Add slowly and to taste preference.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 72.3g | Protein: 20.1g | Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 552.7mg | Fiber: 22.1g | Sugar: 12.5g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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