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Red Curry vs Yellow Curry: Understanding the Key Differences

Thai cuisine is famous for its bold flavors and complex spices, and curry is one of the most popular dishes in Thai cuisine.

Red and yellow curries are two of the most commonly found curries in Thai cuisine, and they are often compared to each other.

While both curries share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that set them apart.

The main difference between red curry and yellow curry is their spice level. Red curry is known for its spiciness, and its heat comes from the use of red chilies. On the other hand, yellow curry is milder, and its flavor is derived from the use of turmeric, which gives it a distinct yellow color.

The other ingredients used in both curries may vary, but these two spices are what give them their unique identities.

While both curries are delicious and flavorful, they are best suited for different palates.

If you enjoy spicy food, then red curry may be the perfect choice for you.

However, if you prefer milder flavors, then yellow curry may be more to your liking.

In this article, we will explore the differences between red curry and yellow curry in more detail, so you can choose the perfect curry for your taste buds.

What is Red Curry?

Red Curry

Red curry is a spicy and flavorful Thai curry that is made with a blend of red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, and other herbs and spices.

The curry paste is typically cooked with coconut milk, meat, and vegetables to create a rich and creamy sauce that is bursting with flavor.

The primary ingredient that gives red curry its distinct flavor and color is the red chili pepper.

These peppers are dried and ground into a paste, which is then mixed with other ingredients to create the curry paste.

Red curry is known for its spiciness, but the level of heat can vary depending on the amount of chili peppers used in the recipe.

In general, red curry is considered to be spicier than yellow curry but less spicy than green curry.

However, the exact level of spiciness can vary depending on the recipe and the cook’s preferences.

What is Yellow Curry?

Yellow Curry

Yellow curry is a type of Thai curry that is milder and sweeter than its red and green counterparts.

It gets its yellow color from the turmeric powder used in the curry paste.

The paste also typically contains lemongrass, galangal, coriander, cumin, and other spices.

Yellow curry is often made with chicken, potatoes, onions, and carrots, and is typically served with jasmine rice.

It has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet taste, and is less spicy than red and green curries. Yellow curry is a popular choice for those who enjoy the flavors of Thai curry but prefer a milder spice level.

Yellow curry can be made from scratch using a homemade curry paste, or can be purchased pre-made at many grocery stores.

It is a versatile curry that can be customized to suit individual tastes by adjusting the spice level or adding different vegetables or proteins.

Differences Between Red and Yellow Curry

Thai cuisine is known for its curries, which are a blend of spices, herbs, and vegetables. Red and yellow curries are two popular types of Thai curries, and while they may seem similar, there are some key differences between them.

  • Spice Level: One of the most noticeable differences between red and yellow curries is their spice level. Red curry is usually spicier than yellow curry. Red curry paste is made with dried red chili peppers, which can pack quite a punch, while yellow curry paste is made with milder turmeric.
  • Color: As the name suggests, red curry is red in color, while yellow curry is yellow. The red color comes from the red chili peppers used in the curry paste, while the yellow color comes from the turmeric.
  • Ingredients: While both curries share some common ingredients like coconut milk, fish sauce, and lemongrass, they also have some differences. Red curry paste typically includes ingredients like garlic, ginger, and shrimp paste, while yellow curry paste may include additional ingredients like cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.
  • Flavor: Red curry has a rich and complex flavor profile, with a balance of spicy, sweet, and savory notes. Yellow curry, on the other hand, has a milder and sweeter flavor, with a hint of spice.

Overall, both red and yellow curries are delicious and flavorful, but they do have some differences in terms of spice level, color, ingredients, and flavor.

Whether you prefer your curry spicy or mild, there’s a Thai curry out there for everyone to enjoy.

How to Cook with Red and Yellow Curry

Both red and yellow curries are versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some tips for cooking with them:

Red Curry

  • Red curry is great for adding heat and depth of flavor to dishes.
  • It pairs well with meats like chicken, beef, and shrimp, as well as vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and eggplant.
  • When using red curry paste, start with a small amount and adjust to taste. It can be quite spicy!
  • Red curry can be used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and marinades.
  • Try making a classic Thai red curry by simmering chicken, bell peppers, and onions in coconut milk and red curry paste. Serve over rice.

Yellow Curry

  • Yellow curry has a milder flavor than red curry, with a slightly sweet and tangy taste.
  • It goes well with chicken, fish, and tofu, as well as vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and green beans.
  • Yellow curry paste often contains turmeric, which gives it its bright yellow color.
  • Yellow curry can be used in soups, stews, curries, and even as a sauce for noodles or rice.
  • Try making a yellow curry chicken by simmering chicken, potatoes, and carrots in coconut milk and yellow curry paste. Serve over rice.

Experiment with different ingredients and cooking methods to find your favorite ways to use red and yellow curry in your meals. Whether you prefer spicy or mild flavors, these versatile ingredients can add depth and complexity to any dish.


Red curry and yellow curry are both delicious Thai curries that have their unique flavors and ingredients.

While red curry is spicier and has a stronger flavor, yellow curry is milder and has a sweeter taste. Red curry typically contains more chili peppers, while yellow curry includes turmeric and cumin.

When it comes to choosing between the two, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you prefer spicier food, then red curry is the way to go. However, if you prefer a milder taste with a hint of sweetness, then yellow curry is the better option.

Regardless of which curry you choose, both red and yellow curries are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, and stir-fries. Experiment with both curries to discover your favorite dishes and how you can incorporate them into your cooking.

jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.