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Massaman Curry is a mild, slightly sweet, and lightly tangy Thai curry made by simmering meat, potatoes, vegetables, in a mixture of coconut milk and fragrant curry paste. It tastes thick and creamy, richly aromatic, and oh-so-wonderful!

Massaman curry and rice in a bowl

Why You’ll Love This Massaman Thai Curry Recipe

  • No Massaman Curry Paste Needed. To make an easy Massaman curry recipe, I chose to doctor up Thai red curry paste (which is widely available at grocery stores, while Massaman paste is not) with the warm Massaman spices that make it unique.
  • Customizable. For add-ins, I kept the traditional potatoes, added carrots for a nutritional boost, and opted for chicken for the protein. But curry recipes are wonderfully flexible! Feel free to add other veggies (like green beans or baby corn) and/or swap out the chicken for chickpeas or tofu to make your Massaman curry vegetarian.
  • Mostly Hands-Off. While it might not be quite as easy as a set-it-and-forget-it recipe like Slow Cooker Butter Chicken or Instant Pot Lentil Curry, once you prep the ingredients and get the recipe started, you can step away from the stove while this Massaman curry recipe cooks.
  • You’ll Love Forward to Leftovers. Thai Massaman curry is one of those glorious dishes that tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge. All those flavors have time to mix and mingle, making your curry extra tasty! (This Vegetarian Chili is also delicious for days.)
Vegetables and chicken in a pot of broth

5 Star Review

“Wonderful recipe and super simple! Perfect fall flavors for a dreary cold October day. Thank you!”

— Julie —

About Thai Curry

So where does Thai Massaman curry fit in the spectrum of Thai curry recipes? I’m glad you asked!

Thai curry encompasses a broad category of dishes that consist of meat and/or vegetables cooked in a creamy, vibrantly spiced coconut milk-based sauce, usually served with rice.

Compared to Indian curries (like Chicken Tikka Masala), Thai curries cook more quickly, use more fresh (vs. dried) herbs and spices, and their sauce tends to be a little thinner.

  • The color of the curry depends upon the type of curry paste used to make it. Each curry type has its own unique flavor profile.
  • Red curry uses red curry paste and tends to be the spiciest (see Thai Chicken Curry, or Pumpkin Curry), green curry uses green curry paste and is more herbal (I love it in Chickpea Curry), and yellow curry is made with yellow curry paste.
  • Massaman curry and Panang Curry are unique in that they are made with dried spices, whereas red, yellow, and green curry pastes are made with fresh ones.

Massaman curry differs from Panang curry in its use of warm spices, like cinnamon and coriander (Panang curry is more thick and nutty).

Massaman curry is the sweetest Thai curry; it is not spicy, though you can add red pepper flakes or Sriracha to taste.

For a different type of curry with similar flavors, check out Japanese Curry.

A bowl of rice and massaman curry

How to Make Massaman Curry

The Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs. Tender, juicy chicken thighs work beautifully in Massaman Thai curry. Chicken thighs are rich in protein and iron. You can also use chicken breasts in this recipe.
  • Thai Red Curry Paste. This ingredient is key to the deep, rich flavor of the Massaman curry. It’s a flavor powerhouse that can’t be substituted.
  • Ginger + Garlic. This classic duo helps build intense flavor.
  • Spices. A bold blend of cumin, coriander, and cinnamon adds depth and warmth to the curry.
  • Coconut Milk. To achieve the ideal consistency while keeping things light, we’re using a combination of full-fat coconut milk and light coconut milk. If you prefer a richer curry, you can use entirely full fat.
  • Potatoes. As this Potato Curry demonstrates, creamy potatoes are fabulous in curry recipes, because the chunks become creamy and absorb the curry flavor. Don’t skip them.
  • Carrots. Sweet and tender carrots are delicious in this curry. They’re also packed with vitamins and fiber.
  • Fish Sauce. Bold umami goodness. The fish sauce really boosts the overall flavor of the curry (and does not taste like fish!). It’s widely available, and if you want to cook Thai food, it’s a necessary purchase.
  • Peanut Butter. Adds rich, peanut butter flavor to the curry and helps make it thick and creamy.
  • Lime. A touch of lime juice and zest add brightness and acidity.
  • Peanuts. For a delicious crunch.
  • Cilantro. For freshness that complements the other flavors.

Dietary Note

  • To Make Gluten Free. To ensure this recipe is gluten free, use a gluten free fish sauce.
  • To Make Vegetarian. Swap the chicken for tofu (Air Fryer Tofu, Baked Tofu, and Crispy Tofu are two great options) or chickpeas.
  • I have not tried making a vegan Massaman curry before, as it would require omitting the fish sauce. If you decide to experiment with a swap, I’d love to hear how it goes.

The Directions

Curry paste, onions, garlic, ginger, and spices in a pot
  1. Bloom the Spieces. Heat the curry paste with the aromatics and spices. Add the coconut milk and PB.
Potatoes being added to a pot
  1. Add the Carrots and Potatoes. Or any other veggies you choose.
Massaman curry in a Dutch oven
  1. Add the Chicken. Simmer.
Vegetables, chicken, and sauce in a pot
  1. Finish. Remove the pot from the heat, then zest and juice the lime into it. Serve with chopped peanuts and cilantro. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate chicken Massaman curry for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. I don’t recommend freezing coconut milk based dishes or dishes with potatoes, and the texture is not good once thawed and the coconut milk will separate.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, chop the onion, mince the garlic and ginger, scrub and cut the potatoes, and trim and cut the chicken. Refrigerate until you’re ready to finish the recipe. You can also chop peanut weeks ahead and store them at room temperature.

A bowl of healthy Massaman curry and rice

What to Serve with Massaman Curry

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Stir and Cook Until the Curry Paste Is Fragrant. In the first step of the recipe, you’ll add the curry paste and spices and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t rush this part! This step involves blooming the spices, which makes them more fragrant and flavorful. It really makes the difference between a stellar curry and one that’s ho-hum.
  • Have Your Ingredients Ready to Go. Although there’s a long simmer required for this chicken Massaman curry recipe, the first few steps go by quickly and you won’t have time to pause for chopping or measuring ingredients.
  • Cut the Vegetables Into Evenly Sized Pieces. This ensures that they’ll all be done cooking at the same time. You don’t want some tender potatoes and some that are hard and raw tasting!

Massaman Curry

4.85 from 38 votes
Massaman curry is mild, sweet, and tangy! An easy Thai curry that isn't too spicy, made with chicken, vegetables, and spiced coconut milk broth.

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil grapeseed oil, or similar neutral cooking oil
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar Thai red curry paste
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk do not use light or your broth will be too thin
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk or full-fat for a richer curry
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or baby yellow potatoes scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 3 medium carrots scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch coins
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter creamy or crunchy
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small lime zest and juice (about 1 1/2 tablespoons juice)
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Prepared brown rice for serving (see Instant Pot Brown Rice for an easy method)

Instructions
 

  • Measure and prep all of your ingredients and keep them near the stove (measure the spices into a bowl, open the coconut milk, chop the veggies, etc). In a Dutch oven or similar large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it is hot and shimmering, add curry paste, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste darkens and the spices smell ultra fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the full-fat and light coconut milk, potatoes, carrots, fish sauce, peanut butter, and salt. If needed, use a whisk to blend everything together until smooth.
  • Bring to simmer. Cook until potatoes and carrots are barely tender, stirring periodically, about 12 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken. Continue simmering, stirring periodically, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes more.
  • Remove from the heat. Zest the lime directly into the pot, then squeeze in the juice. Serve over cooked rice with a generous sprinkle of chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate curry in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze curry in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4), without riceCalories: 731kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 37gFat: 47gSaturated Fat: 29gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 135mgPotassium: 1398mgFiber: 7gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 12228IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 136mgIron: 7mg

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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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Recipe Rating




34 Comments

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  1. Wonderful recipe and super simple! My kids love curry, but takeout is expensive when you are feeding a family of 6, like we have. I doubled the recipe and with rice, we should have plenty plus leftovers! For those who don’t care for spice, there is a good amount, but my kids are ok with that. Perfect fall flavors for a dreary cold October day. Thank you!!5 stars

  2. This is delicious! I substituted the chicken for tofu but other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe (I did use a little less paste). SO YUMMY! I really love the flavors.5 stars

  3. My family just LOVES this recipe!!! We make it with chickpeas instead of chicken and it is so yummy!!! I have to make a second batch each time I make it to take to my best friend as her family loves it too!! Thanks so much for the recipe!5 stars

  4. Massaman paste is easily available at Woolworths. Thai red curry paste is usually missing the tamarind, shallots, and kaffir lime that is essential for a good massaman curry.

  5. Will be making this tonight and wanted to let you know that vegan (and gluten free) fish sauce is available! It’s made with seaweed, so a bit less bite, but still amazing that us vegans can have the alternative!

  6. YUM this was so good! My husband and I love Thai food, so, expecting to love it, I doubled it. It worked well in my Dutch oven. We added a little sriracha to our own bowls to spice it up a little to our own liking. Roasted peanuts and cilantro was absolute perfection. So glad we have leftovers now! Thanks for sharing5 stars

  7. My whole family loved this! It smelled so good and tasted even better. I would add extra veggies next time. Combination of flavors was amazing. Top Notch!5 stars

    1. Hi Pauline, These numbers are meant to be a guide, not a statement of fact. Many elements can cause the dish I make at home to vary nutritionally from the iteration you create, including brands of ingredients, measuring styles, and final serving size. Further, the accuracy is limited by the information available in the Wordpress Recipe Maker databases. When in doubt I would double check with a free source like myfitnesspal.com. Hope this helps!

  8. I sautéed the veggies just a little longer as my family likes veggies on the softer side. Added some zucchini which was a great add. Only real difference to the recipe is that I double the amount of peanut butter (we love peanut butter flavor) and a little extra lime juice and fish sauce. This recipe will definitely go into our regular dinner rotation!5 stars

  9. My hubby and I loved this recipe. Proper comfort food that didn’t leave us feeling bloated and gross. The only changes were 3 tbsp Mae Ploy Massaman Curry Paste in place of red curry paste and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Added fresh baby spinach at the end, for extra nutrients and color. A new staple in our household for sure and we didn’t feel the need to add a side, so it was a lovely easy one-pot dish.

    PS My dear friend and former neighbor cooked this together, whilst chatting on the phone, 100’s of miles apart. We prepped the ingredients beforehand and caught up on life whilst making dinner together. Perfect!5 stars

  10. So delicious! I only used about 4 tablespoons of the curry paste because my daughter is sensitive to spicy foods, but the dish was still wonderfully flavorful.

    Thank you.5 stars

  11. I substituted vinegar for the fish sauce and orange juice for the coconut milk. It was horrible.

    Would make it again!5 stars

  12. Absolutely delicious! I also added cauliflower with the potatos/carrots and spinach at the end. As well, some red pepper flakes to spice it up. I also used 2 cans of full fat coconut milk. Look forward to the leftovers!5 stars