Does curry paste need to be cooked?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does curry paste need to be cooked?, list down a few uses of curry paste, and also mention a list of substitutes for red curry paste.

Does curry paste need to be cooked?

Yes, curry paste needs to be cooked. Curry paste is a blend of raw aromatic spices mixed together with vegetable oil. In order for them to make a flavorful curry, they need to be cooked beforehand. If you eat raw curry paste, it may taste bad.

Fry the curry paste with a dash of oil in a pan before adding meat and vegetables. Or just simmer the curry paste in water or stock for a while before adding other ingredients. This ensures that the spices burst out their flavor.

In addition, you never know where the raw spices have been while they are being processed. They might as well contain some bacterial spores which need to be killed by heating them.

Some people also suggest microwaving the curry paste as it is over rice for example. If this works for you, go ahead.

Our suggestion is to properly cook the paste before you go ahead with adding other ingredients to it for best results.

What are the uses of curry paste?


Well, of course the most common use of curry paste is to make curry. Just fry a little bit of curry paste in a pan with some oil to pop out the flavors. Then add your desired meat and vegetables. Add coconut milk, stock, or water to thin out the consistency of the curry.


Yes, you read that right. You can use curry paste to make soup. You can add cream or coconut milk to make cream based soups. The milk or cream adds smoothness and richness to the curry paste.


You can use curry paste to make pasta sauce. Pick whichever type of thai curry you like best and just add cream to it. Let it simmer for a while then pour it over spaghetti or any type of paste that you prefer. You can also add vegetables and protein according to you liking.

Salad dressing

If you are bored of eating the same bland salad everyday, try making a salad dressing of curry paste to give it a kick. Add curry paste in yogurt or mayonnaise and give a little stir until fully combined. Then pour it over your salad.


Use curry paste as a marinade for chicken. Add curry paste in some curry paste, then add your chicken to it. Coat all the chicken evenly and leave it in the fridge overnight. 


Curry paste adds a bunch of flavor to seafood. Either marinate the seafood in it or use it to make the sauce served with seafood. It goes well with salmon.

Learn some more uses of curry paste here.

What are the substitutes for red thai curry paste?

Refer to this list of substitutes for when you have run out of red curry paste. They will not exactly taste the same as red curry paste, but they are the next best thing.

Green curry paste

The main difference between red and green curry pastes is that green curry paste has green chillies. However you can add paprika or chili powder to green curry paste to make it spicier and add a tinge of red color. 

Yellow curry paste

Although yellow curry paste is milder than red curry paste and predominantly has turmeric in it, it can also be used as a substitute for red curry paste. You can add chili powder or chili flakes to the paste and make it more spicy,

Red chili paste

Red chili paste can be used in place of red curry paste because it has red chillies. However it lacks the other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and basil. So they can be added to chili paste to make it taste like curry paste.

Turmeric with chili paste

Another main ingredient in curry paste is turmeric so addition of turmeric to chili paste can be used as a substitute for curry paste.

Tomato paste with chili flakes

This combination will obviously not give the same flavor profile as curry paste but can be used to make a lot of sauces and pastas. Moreover chili flakes can give the same amount of heat as the red curry paste.

Other FAQs about Curry that you may be interested in.

What is the secret to a good curry?

What is the healthiest Thai curry?

What is the difference between green and red Thai curry paste?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does curry paste need to be cooked?, listed down a few uses of curry paste, and also mentioned a list of substitutes for red curry paste.


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