Can I substitute chili paste for curry paste?

In this brief article, we will answer the question “Can I substitute chili paste for curry paste?” with an in-depth analysis of the difference between chili paste and curry paste. We will also list down some uses of chili paste and share a recipe for you to try on your own.

Can I substitute chili paste for curry paste?

Yes, you can substitute chili paste for curry paste given that your recipe requires red curry paste. This is because red curry paste contains primarily red chillies. The only requirement for substituting chili paste for curry paste is that you have all the other ingredients like ginger, garlic, turmeric, sea salt, fish sauce, lemongrass, basil, and sesame seeds.

What is the difference between chili paste and curry paste?

The reason for having all the other ingredients is that chili paste does not have the same flavor profile as curry paste. These other ingredients are what give the curry paste its unique flavor. This is also why different types of curry pastes taste different and also have different colors.

Chili paste is used widely in a lot of dishes to make the food more spicy. Depending on one’s own preference, they can add as much or as little chili paste as they like. It is added as an ingredient. On the contrary, curry paste is used with a lot of different meats and vegetables. The star of the dish is the curry rather than an ingredient. 

When to use chili paste?

We will list down some popular ways in which chili paste is used for its flavor and spiciness. If you have not tried any of these before and you are a fan of spicy food, then maybe you should try to spice up your food with these tips.

  • Add a couple of teaspoons to your soup for some extra heat.
  • Use it as a marinade for fresh chicken. 
  • Use it as an ingredient for making chicken breasts for burgers.
  • Add it to stew to make it a little hotter.
  • Mix it with mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and paprika to make a dip. This type of dip goes well with fries and chicken strips.
  • Alternatively you can add soya sauce or oyster sauce to chili paste to make Asian style dipping sauce.

Chili paste is widely used in Korean cuisine. They call it “gochujang”. They add it to most of their dishes. Kimchi, an important Korean staple, is also made from gochujang.

Red chili paste recipe

You can make your own chili paste at home or buy a ready made paste from any store. They come in different spice levels. If you make it at home, you can make it spicy or mild according to your own liking.

Here is a simple recipe for homemade chili paste


  • 1 large onion
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 100 gm dried red chillies or 1lb fresh red chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 5 candlenuts or macadamia nuts or cashew nuts (whichever ones you have)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying


  1. Put some water in a pan and place it over the stove to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cut up the chillies in 2-3 pieces using kitchen scissors. If you are using a knife, wear gloves as the chillies are very hot and can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin.
  3. When the water is just about to boil, pour it over the cut up chillies, soak them and cover them for 20 minutes.
  4. While the chillies are soaking, peel the onion and garlic and cut them in halves or quarters.
  5. After 20 minutes, drain the chillies and put them in a blender.
  6. Add all the other ingredients in the blender too apart from oil and blend them together to make a paste.
  7. Next, heat oil in the wok and put your paste in the oil and fry.
  8. Fry for 15 minutes at medium heat.
  9. Then fry for another hour uncovered. Stir it every 15 minutes. As the chili paste becomes drier, it may start to stick at the bottom of the wok or pan so stirring continuously every 15 minutes is necessary.
  10. After 1 hour, remove it from the heat. Let it cool down or come down to room temperature. 
  11. After that, place it in an airtight jar and store in the fridge. It can last upto two weeks in the fridge.


In this article, we answered the question “Can I substitute chili paste for curry paste?” with an in-depth analysis of the difference between chili paste and curry paste. We also listed down some uses of chili paste and shared a recipe for making homemade chili paste.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.