Vegan Thai red curry with tofu is as close as you can get to order Thai food take-out. Bright, aromatic and absolutely delicious. Takes less than thirty minutes to make. Bell peppers, vegetables and chewy tofu simmer in a perfectly balanced salty, sweet, red Thai curry sauce.
I tried for years to come up with the best homemade red Thai curry. I tried out tons of different recipes. So many of them never turned out how I wanted.
Something was always missing.
Sure, they tasted good, but I wanted them to taste like my favorite take-out place.
I blended these two recipes a bit and adjusted them to be vegan (Pailin’s already was). I discovered some essential ingredients and cooking techniques that I was missing and that I'm about to share with you, so that you can perfect this recipe the first time you make it.
Thai cuisine is incredible because they have developed amazing cooking techniques and flavor combinations over generations.
Thai curries do an amazing job of balancing acid, salt, sweet and savory.
If you need more help cooking tofu, check out my article called how to cook tofu for beginners.
❤️ Why you'll love this curry
- it's vegan and vegetarian
- More affordable than ordering from a restaurant
- Full of flavor
- Great for a weeknight dinner
- Can be made gluten free
- Healthy since it's full of protein from the tofu and fiber from the vegetables
🥦 Ingredients & substitutions
- Thai red curry paste - Make sure to buy one that doesn't contain shrimp or fish sauce. The brand I linked here is vegan.
- Full-fat coconut milk - you can also use lite coconut milk. Make sure it's canned coconut milk. Use cashew cream if you want to substitute the coconut milk.
- Kaffir lime leaves - Very important to have if you want this to taste bright and more authentic.
- Vegan fish sauce - or soy sauce. This will deepen the flavor of the red curry and add a nice saltiness.
- Vegetable broth - to add even more flavor use a vegan chicken flavored broth cube.
- Vegetables of choice - I love using red bell pepper, green bell pepper, broccoli and bamboo shoots. Green beans, potatoes, carrots and green onions are also delicious in this.
- Extra firm Tofu - Extra firm will give you the best, chewy texture. Make sure to press the tofu to remove the excess water, so it becomes even more chewy.
- Sugar - This balances out all the saltiness. This was one of the keys to getting my homemade curry to taste like take-out curry. You can substitute with brown sugar or coconut sugar. Maple syrup also works.
- Thai basil - This is also essential. If you can't find Thai basil, use whatever type you can find. This will also help to brighten the dish and round out all of the flavors.
- Lemongrass paste - this is optional, since it's already in the Thai curry paste, but it can add a little more flavor to the vegan red Thai curry.
👩🍳 Recipe tips
It's important to use a good quality red curry paste. Thai Kitchen is the most readily available in most grocery stores, and is usually vegan, but it's not the most flavorful.
If you want to take your curry to a whole new level, I recommend using the Measri brand. It's also vegan and doesn't contain fish sauce.
If you love spicy food and want to up the spice level, add some red chili flakes, red chilies or hot sauce. The Measri brand comes pretty spicy, so taste it first. Thai Kitchen brand isn't very spicy.
Adding a little bit of sugar helps balance out the whole dish
Make sure to scroll to the recipe card for complete ingredients and instructions.
Step one: Pat the tofu with a paper towel and press for 15-30 minutes. Cut tofu into cubes and sprinkle on corn starch, coconut oil and salt. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the tofu is crispy and golden brown. Set crispy tofu aside.
Step two: Add coconut oil to a large pan on medium heat and sauté the red curry paste and tomato paste for 2-3 minutes to release their flavor.
Step three: Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk and sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Step four: Add the kaffir lime leaves, bell peppers and vegetables and simmer until vegetables are slightly tender. Add in the crispy tofu once it's done baking and serve over rice. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and add some chopped Thai basil.
🍋 Where to find kaffir lime leaves
If you want your curry to taste more authentic, kaffir lime leaves are essential. They brighten up the curry and make it taste exactly like Thai take out.
Bonus as well if you can find lemongrass…but I wasn’t able to find any for this recipe.
Don’t worry, kaffir lime leaves are super easy to get. Just order kaffir lime leaves online and then have them in your pantry ready to go every time you want to make Thai red curry at home.
🍚 Serving suggestions
Red Thai curry tastes amazing served with jasmine rice, but you can use any white rice or brown rice. It also tastes delicious served with rice noodles.
Serve these Vegan Tofu Summer Rolls as an appetizer.
❓ Recipe FAQs
Most red curry has shrimp paste or fish sauce. There are some red thai curry pastes that you can buy at the grocery store that don't have any fish or shrimp in them. Thai kitchen and Maesri brands are usually vegan. Substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce.
This red curry is gluten free as long as you check to make sure the coconut milk, soy sauce, vegetable broth and Thai red curry paste are certified gluten free, if you have a severe allergy. Make sure to use a gluten free soy sauce.
This will last in an airtight container in the fridge for about 5 days. You can also freeze this recipe for up to three months. Just thaw it out in the fridge before warming it back up.
🍛 More delicious recipes to try next
If you loved this recipe, leave a 5 ⭐️ rating on the recipe card and comment below!
Vegan Red Thai Curry with Tofu
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste (check ingredients for one with no fish sauce)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon Vegan fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 8 kaffir lime leaves (these are essential for a good Thai curry and easy to order online. )
- 6 white button mushrooms (sliced)
- ½ red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
- ½ green bell pepper (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- Handful of Thai basil (or whatever basil you can find)
- Jasmine rice
- ½ block of firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Bake the tofu
- Pre-heat oven to 420 degrees. Cut your tofu block in half. Then cut into cubes. Drizzle on oil. Sprinkle on corn starch and salt. Shake a few times in a bowl to mix well. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and let it sit for five minutes before adding it to the curry.½ block of firm tofu, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon corn starch, ¼ teaspoon salt
Cook the rice
- Rinse your rice and cook it according to directions on the package.Jasmine rice
Prepare the curry
- When the tofu has about 10 minutes left, start cooking the sauce curry. Heat oil in large pan on medium heat for 1 minute. Add the Thai curry paste and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes in the oil, stirring often so it doesn't burn.1 tablespoon coconut oil, 3 tablespoons red Thai curry paste, 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Add the can of coconut milk, vegetable broth and sugar and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes until everything dissolves.1 can coconut milk, 1 cup vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Gently bruise the kaffir lime leaves by crushing them in your hands a few times. This will bring out the flavor more. Add the kaffir lime leaves, vegan fish sauce, bell peppers and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes1 tablespoon Vegan fish sauce, 8 kaffir lime leaves, 6 white button mushrooms, ½ red bell pepper, ½ green bell pepper
- Add the broccoli and baked tofu. Simmer for 8 minutes. If the sauce starts to get too thick, add a dash or two more of vegetable broth.1 cup chopped broccoli, ½ block of firm tofu
- Turn off heat. Add basil and let sit for 5 minutes, so it wilts. Food is always better once it cools down a little bitHandful of Thai basil
- Serve over rice and ENJOY!
- Use a full fat, canned coconut milk, not lite coconut milk. It will make this curry a lot more rich, creamy and delicious.
- Kaffir lime leaves are a must, if you want this recipe to taste more authentic.
- It's important to use a good quality red curry paste. Thai Kitchen. is the most readily available, and vegan, but it's not the most flavorful. If you want to take your curry to a whole new level, I recommend using the Measri brand. It's also vegan and doesn't contain fish sauce.
- Adding a little bit of sugar helps balance out the whole dish
- Baking the tofu before adding it to the curry will give it a better texture, but if you're in a hurry just throw it in.
- Use vegan fish sauce, or substitute for soy sauce if you can't find this. It will deepen the flavor of the curry and add a nice saltiness.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.