Thai Green Curry Coconut Sauce


Grace Parisi's Thai-inspired green curry sauce allows you to bring highly aromatic Thai flavors into your kitchen. Green curry sauce is easily one of the most popular Thai curries, utilizing green chili peppers, garlic, lemongrass, coconut milk, makrut lime leaves, and basil. After you've made this flavorful green curry sauce, use it as the base to create different meals. If you want to use this sauce in a classic Thai Green Chicken Curry, you can add protein and vegetables to the sauce and serve with rice. Or, you can stir-fry it or use it as a poaching liquid for chicken, shrimp and vegetables as with our Green Curry Beef Skewers with Fried Basil Oil

Total Time:
35 mins
2 cups

Thai green curry is referred to as kaeng khiao wan, which translates to sweet green curry — but don't be misled, this is not a dessert sauce. The name refers only to its color. While other curries have a longer and more traceable history in Thai cuisine, green curry is a bit more mysterious due to its relatively recent conception. The first chilies arrived in Thailand around the late 1600s, brought by Portuguese traders. As with many other Thai dishes, green curries contain cumin and coriander, which are indicators of the Indian influence on Thai curry. Although its ingredients date back centuries, green curry first appeared in print in a 1926 cookbook under the pen name L Phaehtraarat, during the reign of King Rama VI. The origin of this text is unclear, but given that the 1920s were a time of intense political change in Thailand as the kingdom transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a democracy, it is likely that green curry was born out of culinary innovations inspired by change and progress during that period. In the years since, green curry has achieved global popularity, winning over hearts and stomachs all over the world.

There are a number of ingredients present in a traditional fresh green curry paste. Galangal, green chilies, lemongrass, white pepper, cumin, coriander, shallots, coriander, garlic, and kapi (shrimp paste) are ground together with a mortar and pestle. Green curry paste is traditionally made with makrut lime zest; if you can't find makrut limes use chopped lime leaves or lime zest as an alternative.


  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste, or more to taste

  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • Four 1-inch strips of lemon zest (see Alternatives)

  • One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger—peeled, thinly sliced and lightly smashed

  • Four 1-inch strips of lime zest (see Alternatives)

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk 1/4 cup of the coconut milk with the curry paste. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, the stock, lemon zest, ginger, lime zest, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook the sauce over moderately high heat until reduced by one-quarter, about 15 minutes.

  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the lemon zest, ginger and lime zest and discard. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, basil and the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce; transfer to a bowl.

Make Ahead

The curry sauce can be refrigerated in a glass jar for up to 2 days.



Replace the lemon zest with the bottom 4 inches of 1 stalk of lightly smashed fresh lemongrass, and replace the lime zest with 4 makrut lime leaves that have been lightly crushed. Applications: Use as a stir-fry sauce or as a poaching liquid for chicken, shrimp and vegetables. Or, toss with noodles or serve over rice.

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