This healthy, easy vegan Coconut Curry recipe is packed with flavor, texture, and fresh ingredients. Added bonus? It can be on your table in under 30 minutes.

the BEST easy vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry in a bowl topped with fresh herbs

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When we visited Thailand, one of my major trip goals (aside from eating as much Vegetarian Pad Thai as possible) was to determine, once and for all, which of the three major varieties of coconut curry was my favorite: red, green, or yellow.

After extensive sampling (all in the name of research, of course), I determined that it is the red coconut curry that rules my heart (closely followed by this Potato Curry).

The good news for me (and my fellow red coconut curry lovers on this side of the Pacific), is that red coconut curry is also the easiest of the three to make at home since its most important ingredient, Thai red curry paste, is widely available at most grocery stores.

Easy vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry ready in 25 minutes with a spoon

5 Star Review

“I’ve made this a bunch of times and it’s now in my regular rotation. Really easy, delicious, healthy, and quick.”

— Jen —

If you aren’t familiar with Thai coconut curry, I can best describe it as a big, warm bowl of creamy, but clean-feeling, comfort (ditto for this Pumpkin Curry Soup).

Another benefit of this flavorful, healthy Thai recipe is that it is also fast.

From start to finish, you can have this curry on your table in 30 minutes, and if you discount the rice, it’s also a one-pot meal.

Translation: Fewer dishes. Less time. More coconut curry eating!

two bowls of healthy vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry

How to Make Coconut Curry

Just like my Curry Lentil Soup, this easy red coconut curry recipe is richly spiced in an exotic, fragrant way, but it’s not forcibly spicy in a light-your-mouth-on-fire, pass-me-a-firehose way unless, of course, you’d like it to be.

In Thailand, most of the coconut curries we tried were made with chicken (like this Thai Chicken Curry), but to keep this recipe extra super-duper speedy, I turned it into a Thai vegetable curry by using chickpeas instead.


The Ingredients

  • Chickpeas. The chickpeas’ mild flavor meshes well with the bolder spices in the easy curry sauce, and their pleasantly chewy texture is a nice contrast to the sauce’s creaminess. (They also star in this Chickpea Curry recipe.)
  • Red Curry Paste. The star of the show that packs so much punch into every bite of this healthy vegetarian curry with chickpeas. Note that every curry paste is a little different in terms of flavor and heat (some are SPICY!) so take some time to explore to find your favorite red curry paste.
  • Coconut Milk and Coconut Sugar. Infuse this dish with coconut goodness and make it rich, creamy, and slightly sweet.
  • Soy Sauce. For some good old-fashioned umami flavor.
  • Rice Vinegar. Balances the dish and lends it some vital acidity.
  • Vegetables. I used bell peppers, onions, carrots, and peas, all of which I found in my coconut curry bowls in Thailand at one point or another. Feel free to adjust to suit your tastes though. (This Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry is another vegetable-packed curry recipe to try.)
  • Ginger + Garlic. An essential duo of dynamic spices that give this recipe some extra zip.
  • Rice or Quinoa. For serving. Brown rice or cooked quinoa are my favorites to add some bulk and additional plant-based protein to this recipe to make it more filling.
30 minute vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry with Thai flavors

Recommended Tools to Make Coconut Curry

  • Dutch Oven. (This one is outstanding. This is another excellent, more economical option.)
  • Instant Pot. I cook brown rice in my instant pot, and it’s perfect every time. (You can, of course, cook rice in a regular saucepan too!)

It’s comforting to know that while I might not be able to sneak back to Chiang Mai to bathe an elephant anytime soon, at least I can relive the experience via this easy vegan coconut curry recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Coconut Curry Be Made Gluten Free?

Yes! For those with dietary restrictions, this vegan curry recipe can easily be made gluten free. You will need to swap the soy sauce for gluten free tamari and also should check the labels of all other ingredients to ensure you select those that are gluten free and manufactured in a gluten free certified facility.

What Vegetables Go In Coconut Curry?

While the onions, bell peppers, chilis, carrots, and peas I put in this coconut curry dish are traditional options, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, baby corn, sweet potatoes, and eggplant are other tasty options you could add to this Thai coconut curry recipe. Don’t be afraid to toss in any other vegetables you happen to love or have lurking in your produce drawer right now.

Is There A Lot of Sodium in Coconut Curry?

While I don’t calculate the exact sodium content for my recipes for many reasons, generally curry recipes are not the best for those trying to watch their sodium. Both soy sauce and red curry paste tend to contain a lot of sodium. However, there *are* lots of homemade curry paste recipes out there that would help you control the sodium level as much as you’d like. Some brands offer lower-sodium varieties of these ingredients too.

This easy vegan Chickpea Coconut Curry is the BEST Thai curry I've ever had! Easy, healthy, and FULL of flavor. Ready in less than 30 minutes! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Coconut Curry

5 from 14 votes
This creamy vegan coconut curry with chickpeas is healthy, fast, and full of flavor. An easy curry recipe that takes less than 30 minutes.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or substitute extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger or in a pinch, 2–3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 small/medium carrots peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large red bell peppers cored and sliced
  • 2 cans light coconut milk (14-ounce cans)
  • 2-4 teaspoons coconut sugar brown sugar, or turbinado sugar
  • 1 can reduced-sodium chickpeas (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 2 teaspoons, or tamari to make the recipe gluten free
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
  • Prepared brown rice or quinoa for serving

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large pot such as a Dutch oven over medium. Once hot, add the coconut oil and onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly softened.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and let cook 30 seconds, then add the red curry paste and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and let cook 1 additional minute. Add the carrots and bell pepper and stir to coat with the spices and curry.
  • Stir in the coconut milk, 2 teaspoons sugar, and chickpeas, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and continue cooking (uncovered) for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly thickened and the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Stir in the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Taste and add additional soy sauce (for more saltiness), sugar (for more sweetness), or red pepper flakes (for more heat) as desired. Stir in the peas and let cook for 3 additional minutes. Serve warm over rice or quinoa, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm in a skillet over medium heat until steaming. YOu can also microwave in a covered microwave-safe container until heated through.
  • TO FREEZE: I do not recommend freezing, as I have not had the best luck freezing sauces that have a coconut milk base.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4), with 1/2 cup prepared brown riceCalories: 519kcalCarbohydrates: 68gProtein: 13gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 785mgFiber: 13gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 15362IUVitamin C: 127mgCalcium: 114mgIron: 4mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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39 Comments

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  1. This looks so delicious and I want to make it — but I’ve resisted buying the red curry paste. >1g sodium per serving of the final dish? I’m presuming most of that comes from the paste (vs soy or the canned chick peas). I can’t justify that in our diet. Have you heard of or have you seen any lower-sodium options that you could recommend?

    1. Hi Nancy, unfortunately I’m not aware of any low-sodium curry pastes. There *are* lots of homemade curry paste recipes out there—I don’t have a recipe or any experience making my own, but I think it’d be a fun project! Plus, you’d be able to control the sodium level as much as you’d like. I hope that helps!

    2. Hey Nancy!
      A chickpea coconut curry is the dish I would eat if I knew the world was going to end in the next hour or so. Anytime I use canned vegetables (even those marked low-sodium), I put them in a sieve/colander and rinse the heck out of them. The flavor is incredibly cleaner and the sodium goes down the drain. The World Foods brand of red curry paste has at least 1/2 the sodium of Thai Kitchen’s, but you may have to get it on Amazon. I like Erin’s idea about making your own curry paste, too. Regarding the soy sauce, I was wondering what would happen if you omitted the soy sauce all together in the recipe, then just used a low sodium version as the condiment it is, sprinkling it on top after you’ve served the curry. -Nikkie

  2. Erin, I am really looking forward to trying this when we get home from our upcoming travels, and it will be perfect for when my sister and her vegetarian husband visit.  If I recall correctly, the different colors of the Thai curry pastes indicate the heat level, green being hottest, red being the most mild.  I think. Green is definitely the hottest.

    As far as getting a rice cooker or instant pot, I can’t see any reason to get either of them.  The rice cooker is of very limited use, and the instant pot duplicates functions you already have in other appliances (except the pressure cooking part).  Personally, I find it perfectly easy to cook rice in a sauce pan, which is also useful for other things.

    1. I hope you all enjoy the recipe, Susan! And thanks for weighing in on the rice cooker and instant pot question!

    1. Hi Julie, I would probably cube the eggplant and start by sautéing it for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the onions and proceed with the recipe from there. If you give it a try, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  3. Hi Erin, I made this tonight for dinner. Followed your recipe exactly and added potatoes and a zucchini .  Husband went wild, best ever curry.  We lived in Asia for 15 years, so we know a true curry and this is it.  Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow.  Thanks.5 stars

    1. I’m SO happy you and your husband enjoyed the curry, Coleen! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this wonderful feedback!

    1. YAY Erin! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment—I’m so glad the recipe is a winner for you!

  4. I made this tonight for dinner and we all really liked it! It came out looking just like your pictures. :) I’ll be making it again in the future.5 stars

  5. Thanks for the delicious curry recipe! It’s flavorful and a great way to load up on veggies. When I tried to print the recipe (I know, I’m old-fashioned), the video for how the curry is made ends up being embedded in the page, which is rather inconvenient. Just wanted to let you know.5 stars

    1. Ana, I am so glad you loved the recipe and thank you for telling me about the video issue. I definitely want to correct that!

    1. Nada, this makes me so happy to hear! Thanks for letting me know and taking time to leave this review!! It means a lot.

  6. This is a great recipe that is very forgiving and versatile. We have added cooked chicken and other vegetables to it, and it still tastes great. We have also made it with regular coconut milk, and it still works. Even my 1 and 3 year olds liked it! Thanks Erin!5 stars

  7. I know it’s not exactly the season for curry but I went ahead and made this tonight. Yum! It’s my new favorite curry. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  8. We made this last night and it was amazing :) Just the right amount of heat from the red curry paste, we LOVED IT! I used edamame in place of the peas just because it’s what I had and it tasted just great.5 stars

  9. I don’t often review online recipes, but this is totally worth it. I didn’t have curry paste so I used curry powder and ground chicken. No rice but a ton of veggies. Bruh it’s awesome5 stars

  10. I’ve made this a bunch of times and it’s now in my regular rotation. Really easy, delicious, healthy and quick. The only thing is I add extra coconut cream for a creamier texture.5 stars

  11. Absolute heaven in a bowl! We loved this dish! So many veggies in a delicious curry sauce, heat just right, I added hot pepper flakes to mine🙌🏼 I thought The Hub was gonna lick his plate:) Served with brown rice, and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top, plus mini naan on the side😋5 stars

  12. This was super delicious and pretty easy to make. Love that I didn’t have a lot of cleanup after.5 stars