Thai red beef curry in a bowl with a bowl of rice next to it

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This Thai red beef curry is super quick to make – you can literally prep, cook and serve in less than 30 minutes. Not only that, but it’s ridiculously delicious. I guarantee this will become a regular dish on your meal plans!

Is it spicy?

Most people assume that Thai red curry is going to be really spicy, owing to the rich red colour. In actuality, it’s usually served (in the west) at a very palatable medium or mild heat. When you make this at home you also have the option to control the amount of spiciness. The Thai curry paste I use is actually quite hot but I only add 1 tsp which results in a fairly mild flavour. You may want to use more curry paste than this if you are using a milder brand.

What’s in Thai red curry paste?

Thai red curry paste is made from a variety of ingredients, which all add to its unique and rich flavour. The main ingredients include chilli, lemongrass, shallots, ginger, coriander, lime and shrimp paste. To make this from scratch you need a fair amount of arm strength as traditionally everything is mashed together by hand in a mortar and pestle. I’m usually pretty happy to buy a decent store-bought version though. They are perfect for curries like this and save a ton of time.

Can you freeze it?

You can freeze this recipe successfully for up to 3 months. Portion into freezer-proof containers, cool and seal well before freezing. Defrost thoroughly before heating in a microwave or on the hob.

You can also keep this for up to 3 days in the fridge and reheat.

What can you eat it with?

The absolute best thing to serve this with is some basmati or jasmine rice. It’s a very ‘saucy’ curry so rice is essential to soak up all the delicious juices.

You can also serve this with some extra Thai inspired side dishes to make a bit of a Thai banquet. I made this with some Thai morning glory, which is one of my absolute favourite Thai stir-fries (and since it takes minutes to make it doesn’t add much extra cooking time.) You could also add some chicken satay skewers for variety.

Thai red beef curry close up in a bowl

What beef should I use?

This recipe is cooked quickly, so you ideally should use a good quality steak, rather than a piece of beef more suitable for stewing. As a rule of thumb, if you’d happily eat it as a steak it’s likely going to work really well in this curry.

Cuts you can use include rump, sirloin or rib eye. However, I’d suggest cutting away any large pieces of fat from the steak.


There are a few ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe, but many of them are simply pouring or spooning items from jars or tins so don’t be put off!

Thai red beef curry ingredients
  • Vegetable oil
  • Steak – good quality (see above)
  • Fish sauce – adds rich saltiness to the dish
  • Red curry paste – you can use any brand but start with a small amount and add more later if you’re unsure of how spicy it is
  • Light brown sugar – although you can swap for any type of sugar (light brown has a deeper flavour though, but it won’t make a huge amount of difference to the end result)
  • Onion – white or brown. Sliced thinly
  • Coconut milk – ideally use full cream milk. It will result in a much creamier texture. However, you can also use light milk if you prefer.
  • Mangetout/snow peas – or sugar snap peas – or green beans…
  • Red pepper (capsicum) – yellow or green work fine too. Or you can substitute any of the veg for a different type of your choice!
  • Lime juice – freshly squeezed or bottled work (just make sure it’s bottled fresh lime juice!)
  • Fresh coriander – chopped – to scatter through at the end

How to make it

First things first, before you even start to make this Thai curry make sure you have all your ingredients prepped. It cooks super fast so you need to have everything ready and at hand.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the beef, spreading it evenly throughout the pan so pieces aren’t on top of each other, and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway through. You may need to do a couple of batches if you are making several portions. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Mix together the curry paste with a little of the coconut milk until combined. Add to the pan with the lime juice and fish sauce and stir through the pan for around 30 seconds to a minute. Add the coconut milk to the pan and the sugar and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for around 2-3 minutes. Season and taste the mixture. If you feel it needs more salt then add more fish sauce. For more of a kick add more curry paste. Next add the onion, pepper, mangetout, and beef. Simmer for 8-10 minutes until everything has softened.

Serve with the coriander scattered over the top.

If you are looking for other great coconut-based curries then check out this slow cooker chicken coconut curry or this slow cooker mango chicken.

Products that work great for this recipe:

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Thai red beef curry in a bowl with a bowl of rice next to it

Thai Red Beef Curry

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x


This recipe is so unbelievably quick to make. You can have it prepped, cooked and on the table in less than 30 minutes. Yet it’s so ridiculously flavoursome that you’ll be sure to make it time and time again! 

The default recipe serves one.


  • 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 100g (3.5oz) steak, sliced into half cm thick strips
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 onion, sliced (50g / 1.7oz)
  • 200ml coconut milk (2/3 cup)
  • 100g (3.5oz) mangetout or snow peas or sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • few sprigs coriander, finely chopped


  1. Mix together the curry paste with a couple of tablespoons of the coconut milk. 
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over high heat and add the steak. Cook for 2-3 minutes until browned on all sides then remove and set aside. 
  3. Add the curry paste mixture, fish sauce and lime juice to the pan and stir around for 1 minute to release the fragrance. Add the coconut milk and sugar and bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for around 2-3 minutes. Taste and season. If you want it saltier you can also add more fish sauce.
  4. Add the steak, pepper, onion and greens to the pan and let simmer for around 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Serve and scatter the coriander on top.


Thai curries are quite watery and thin in consistency so don’t be concerned it if comes out more liquidy than you expected! 

Check the heat of your curry paste. The one I use is fairly hot. If yours is milder then you may want to increase the amount you use. 

You can use a different cut of steak but make sure to use a decent quality! Or you may find the meat is quite tough otherwise due to the short cooking time.

Add more fish sauce if you want a saltier dish

You can use most types of veg in this dish – just make sure to slice them fine enough so they cook in the short period of time. 

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Curry
  • Method: Hob
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 735
  • Fat: 59g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Protein: 29g

Keywords: thai, curry, coconut milk, pepper, beef, dinner, asian

4 Thoughts on “Thai Red Beef Curry”

  • We made this for the full family and it was well received. It was easy to make and had a good kick of spice. We paired it with white rice and added julienned green beans.

  • Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe, we really enjoyed it. The meat was tender and the sauce was very flavorful. It was also quick and easy to make.

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