thai red curry with kabocha squash

I have a favorite Thai restaurant around these parts and they serve the most delicious pumpkin curry I’ve ever tasted.

Actually, I take that back. They serve the only pumpkin curry I’ve ever tasted.

But….it’s seriously one of those dishes that you wake up craving at 3am and one of those dishes that you don’t stop craving until drive across town the next day, order and devour. It’s spicy, rich and full of veggies, tofu and pumpkin. Or in this case, kabocha squash.

To make this curry, I ventured down the street to my local Asian market. Holy thai food goldmine! Why do I not shop here normally?! I was able to buy that tofu, the red curry paste, the coconut milk, the chilies, the thai basil and the lime leaves all for only five dollars. Best grocery trip of my life right there. Seriously…if you have never been to an Asian grocery store, now is the time!

Once I got home, throwing together this curry only took about half an hour (after roasting the squash, which you could easily do ahead of time) making it a perfect weeknight dinner.

Be on the watch that you use red curry paste, not sauce for this recipe! Trader Joe’s makes a tasty red curry sauce but what you really want is the concentrated flavor of the paste. Again, this was like….a dollar at Asia Mart. #win

You could also sub cooked chicken breast slices for the tofu in this recipe. I just made it with tofu because that’s what I ordered last Friday night at my Thai place.


Seriously, I wanted to drink this sauce with a straw. It’s definitely the closet to “authentic” Thai curry I’ve ever gotten at home. You must make this!!! Really…if you were debating making the pad thai I made last week, make this instead. Then make that next week. And invite me over for dinner.

Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash

serves 4

Print this recipe!


1 large kabocha squash

8 oz firm tofu, cut into bite sized chunks

1 large handful green beans, cut in half

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 kaffir lime leaves, torn (check your local Asian market for these)

6 Thai basil leaves, chopped (check your local Asian market for these, too)

1 tbsp canola oil

3 tbsp red thai curry paste (not sauce…paste)

1 (15-oz) can coconut milk

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

2 red thai chilies, pierced several times with a knife

cooked jasmine rice for serving


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle olive oil on a foil lined sheet tray. Slice kabocha squash, remove seeds, and place cut-side down on the sheet tray. Roast squash halves for about 30 minutes until tender. Remove and let cool completely.

In a large pot or deep pan, heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the curry paste and mash into hot oil so all the paste gets incorporated. Then, slowly drizzle in the coconut milk, whisking continuously until all milk has been added and no curry “clumps” remain.

Add water, torn kaffir lime leaves, thai basil, fish sauce, brown sugar and thai red chilies and bring to a simmer. Add red bell peppers and green bean halves and continue simmering sauce for about 15 minutes until vegetables are just cooked but not mushy.

Peel or slice kabocha squash away from peel. Chop into large chunks and add along with the tofu to the curry sauce. Serve curry over jasmine rice (don’t eat the chilies!).


1.25 hours (includes time to roast the squash)

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  • Lys
    October 26, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Oh my goodness, I love spicy asian dishes! And kabocha squash!?! Instant childhood memories right there (my mother is Japanese). I can’t wait to make this! I may even use my “lunch break” to venture out to Chinatown to find these ingredients. Super yum yum. Thanks for sharing!

  • Karlee
    October 26, 2011 at 4:11 am

    do you think it would still be good without fish sauce? i have been looking for a good veg curry recipe!

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

      hmm I think you need the fish sauce…you could try but the little bit of fish sauce is what really makes it taste “authentic”

      • Ella, RD
        October 26, 2011 at 9:33 am

        I have to agree – the fish sauce totally makes the curry. I have a Thai chicken curry recipe that I love (, which you could totally sub tofu in for the chicken, but the one time I didn’t have fish sauce it tasted like a completely different dish. The fish sauce really adds something.

          March 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

          I’ve been making a ton a thai food, all vegan- so no fish sauce. A Thai friend of mine suggested that I use Dark Mushroom Soy Sauce to sub for the fish sauce….this works pretty good! Great for veganizing 🙂

          • Kelly
            March 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm

            Well, you may want to check the label of the thai red curry paste because some of them are made with shrimp paste.

    • Christina
      September 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      Hi~ I made this just last night and omitted the fish sauce. It was amazing. I highly recommend you try it.

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    October 26, 2011 at 4:15 am

    How cool! I am loving the colour and recipe!! Defs something I want to try 🙂

  • Emmy (Wine and Butter)
    October 26, 2011 at 4:17 am

    I LOVE squash in curries and chillies!! This looks super good!
    I also love pumpkin but Im amazed any home chefs take the time and effort to deal with it… I mean really!?!

    • Jen
      October 26, 2011 at 5:12 am

      Why would it take more time and effort? Roasting pumpkin takes the same time and effort of the Kabocha squash I assume. Or less if you just open a can!

  • Katrina
    October 26, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I haven’t tried kabocha squash so this sounds really interesting to me. Love it!

  • Luv What You Do
    October 26, 2011 at 4:30 am

    That looks delicious! I just made my first curry and it was a success. Would love to try a red curry.

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    October 26, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Jenna this looks amazing! And yes, I could totally drink that sauce with a straw, too. And I liked how you said make this meal rather than last week’s Asian meal.

    And I’ve never had pumpkin curry either…it sounds amazing.

    Asian markets are the best for cheap and unique finds, too. Love them!

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    October 26, 2011 at 4:38 am

    I need to google this kabocha squash that you’re all about. I’m not 100% sure what they even look like!

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

      They look like wrinkled green pumpkins and are everywhere right about now!

      • Molly @ RDexposed
        October 26, 2011 at 3:56 pm

        Googled and realized that I’ve walked by this squash and never knew! Must get on it!

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  • Anne
    October 26, 2011 at 4:55 am

    Looks good. I think I would cook the tofu before though.

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    October 26, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Sounds delicious Jenna! Going to the Asian market is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages now too. Have you ever been to Ar Roi Thai Cuisine in San Francisco? I ate there twice when I was traveling last week – ordered the same thing both times because it was SO good! They did have a spicy pumpkin dish on the menu too, and had I had time to go back a third time, I would have been all over it!

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 8:08 am

      I haven’t—but I’ll keep that in mind!

  • Kim @ Eat, Live, and Blog
    October 26, 2011 at 5:22 am

    This look amazing!! I love curry and kabocha squash! I am definitely making this dish soon! 😀

  • Heather @ Better With Veggies
    October 26, 2011 at 5:26 am

    This looks delicious – I just pinned it so I can remember to make this in the next few weeks. Thanks for sharing!

  • Amanda
    October 26, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I’ve never been to an asian market. Guess I should find out which one is closest to me so I can check it out!

    I love the vibrant colors in your photos. My husband is a huge curry fan, so this would be a perfect dinner recipe for us. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    October 26, 2011 at 5:54 am

    This is one of those times I curse living in the middle of no where with no Asian food stores anywhere near me!

  • Rachael @ FreshlyMinted
    October 26, 2011 at 5:54 am

    This looks delightful!

    We have an Asian Grocery in our little Ohio town, but I’ve always been afraid to go in (maybe it’s the chicken feet…or the dark windows.) BUT, this makes we want to grab a few pals and brave it out!

    • joe
      March 30, 2020 at 6:54 pm

      ….white people….

  • Rebecca
    October 26, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I’m bookmarking this one! I love curry and I’ve been looking for a recipe to use kabocha squash in!

  • Nicole @ Giraffelegs
    October 26, 2011 at 6:14 am

    mhmmm. There is something about curry that is just so comforting.

  • Krystina (Organically Me)
    October 26, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Thai curry is one of my FAVORITE things on the planet. Especially green curry with tofu. Ugh, I want it now.

    I actually make a thai kabocha soup with keffir lime leaves, galangal, coconut milk and lemongrass. It’s my favorite soup EVER.

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    October 26, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Love curry, love thai food…great recipe Jenna!

  • Skyoga
    October 26, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Random question not related to this at all – do your yogi bars freeze well, do you know?

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 8:07 am

      I’ve never frozen those but I don’t see why not!

  • Joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    October 26, 2011 at 6:47 am

    I’ve never had curry anything, even though I love good Thai food. That sauce looks lovely over that white rice though!

  • Samantha
    October 26, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Asian grocery stores are the best! when we are in NYC visiting the family we always go to China town and stock up on tons of stuff it’s so cheap I love it !
    Awesome recipe can’t wait to try it 😉

  • Shana
    October 26, 2011 at 6:53 am

    I love kabocha squash! There are so many in Sonoma County this time of year. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    I’m not sure if you have ever tried growing your own Thai Basil or Kaffir lime, but I thought I would mention it since I am in Santa Rosa too and I have discovered they both grow GREAT here! My basil is just about done for the season, but I had so much Thai basil all summer for curries and pho. You can also grown the Kaffir lime tree in a pot and just protect it when it gets cold/frosty. Having both on hand sure saves trips to the Asia Mart!

  • Hilliary@HappilyEverHealthy
    October 26, 2011 at 6:54 am

    This sounds delicious!

  • Morgan
    October 26, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Hey Jenna,

    Just wondering if you know of an alternative to using coconut milk to make curry? I LOVE curry, but am allergic to any form of coconut. 🙁 I’ve searched for alternatives, but nothing really has worked out well.

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

      Oh no! I’ve never made curry without coconut milk but you could try almond milk and see what happens? it won’t be as thick but you could totally try it! Let me know how it goes!

    • Katherine
      October 26, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Rice milk might work. It has a similar consistancy. Or make some almond cream so that it is thick like coconut milk! Use an almond milk recipe, but cut the water amount in half.

    • Laura
      October 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

      Morgan: Try stirring in Greek yoghurt at the end instead. I always use it instead of coconut milk, I actually prefer it. 🙂

      • Morgan
        October 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm

        Thanks for all the suggestions! I have Greek yogurt, so I’ll definitely give that a try. @ Katherine- almond cream? care to share a recipe?

  • Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine
    October 26, 2011 at 7:13 am

    This is such a pretty dish! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef
    October 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

    pumpkin curry?? wow, i need to try that! this looks great too.

  • Faith @ For the Health of It
    October 26, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Gah, anything with curry sauce pretty much owns my soul. I usually go for yellow curries, but I’ll have to hunt down that red curry paste. I live near a little vietnam district in Orlando, and there are Oriental markets on every corner. Looks like something I’ll have to check out on a Saturday when I have some extra time!

  • Cait's Plate
    October 26, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I might forgo drinking it with a straw in place of sopping it up with a huge piece of naan…but either way, looks incredible.

  • Christelle
    October 26, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I’ve been craving for curry for a few days, and I’ve been browsing the web for recipes, none that I found jumped out at me, but this one did! Thank you for posting! It will also be my first trip to an Asian food store!

  • Katherine
    October 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

    My mouth is watering with excitement! Must get into the kitchen soon! I absolutely love thai food. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Heather
    October 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I was just looking up a recipe for pad thai (that wouldn’t give me a heart attack before 25) but this bad boy might trump my search. I. LOVE. ASIAN. CUISINE. Come make me dinnerrrrr.

  • Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries
    October 26, 2011 at 10:33 am

    My husband and I LOVE Thai food! Can’t wait to try this!

  • Kelsey
    October 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I just found out what a Kabocha squash was the other day, then I see this.. must be a sign from the veggie gods!

  • Rachel
    October 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I’ve been reading your blog faithfully for the past couple months and tried several of your recipes, including the Pad Thai. So good! I miss all the delicious international restaurants in the Bay Area, but now that I live in Iowa I’m finding it rewarding to make my own. Thanks for all the great recipes, and keep up the good work! Will definitely try this one, because what could be better than Thai curry with squash? Not much!

  • Stephie
    October 26, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Seriously, Asian food markets are the best. We always buy our rice there (obviously the best rice ever) and I could spend hours just wandering up and down the aisles, looking at all of the fun things to buy and try. Oh wait…I DO do that.

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen
    October 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

    HOLY OMG! This looks amazing. I really need to take a trek to the Asian markets here in LA. We have some good ones. This really does look like the perfect weeknight meal!

  • Melanie
    October 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Hahahaha! I really WAS debating whether to make your pad thai or this when I saw it–I knew I wanted something spicy and vegetarian, but your pictures convinced me! I am so excited for my food tonight. Thank you Jenna!!!!!

  • Lena @Fit on the Rocks
    October 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Thai food is one of my favorites! Maybe I will eventually get the nerves needed to make it myself.

  • Sara
    October 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Just got a pie pumpkin from my CSA last week and was planning to track down a recipe for pumpkin curry. You’ve saved me so much time and effort. I used to live in Rohnert Park (Sonoma County) and there was a Thai place there (actually in Cotati next to Oliver’s) that had amazing pumpkin curry. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I moved to Colorado. Can’t find it here in a restaurant so I will have to take matters into my own hands. Thank you!

  • Mauimandy@The Grains of paradise
    October 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Asian markets are the best!! Luckily I have tons near by!

  • Moni'sMeals
    October 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    THIS LOOKS AMAZING! This is so my type of meal Jenna.
    Well done and I will have this on my mind for awhile and make it (or something similiar to it)… soon.

    All my fav flavors and Yes, straw please! 🙂

  • Ashleigh @
    October 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I have never tried my hand at a curry dish but need to ASAP! It looks so yummy! I’ll have to give this one a shot.

  • Mel @ Mel a la Via Paradiso
    October 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I wanted to let you know that I like the updates you did to the recipe section! It’s definitely more streamlined and user friendly.

  • Julie from Burnt Carrots
    October 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I’m so excited to try this recipe. We just moved to Boulder from NYC and cannot find any good Thai food and have been battling a serious craving! Thanks!

    • Sara
      October 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      Try Panang Thai on South Boulder Rd in Lafayette. It’s a bit of a trek from Boulder, but very good.

  • Christine
    October 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I had a similarly pleasant surprise when I went to an Indian market to buy chutney ingredients. I was psyched to get tumeric, garam masala, kalonji seeds and fennel seeds for less than $10 total!

  • Sharon
    October 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I lurve pumpkin curry-this and pad thai are pretty much my favorite thai foods to order…also green papaya salad, and thai iced tea! You must spill which Asian market you went to in Santa Rosa, so I can go stat and get all my ingredients 🙂 Also if you wanted to stick to pumpkin, would the prep directions be the same? squash is squash?

    • jenna
      October 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      I love Asia Mart on guerneville road….and yes, the pumpkin would be the exact same prep as the kabocha squash!

  • Emily
    October 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    This dish looks and sounds sensational! You can’t go wrong with the combination of curry and kabocha- two of my favorite food items right now!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. (:

  • Gillian G. @ When Bread Is Broken
    October 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    that’s cray, I JUST had my first pumpkin curry as well at a Thai place! (Seriously, like, a week ago: Oh my god, it was so creamy and delicious – I’m definitely putting this recipe on my list.

  • Kiran @
    October 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I love Thai food!! So much!!

    The only problem I face is getting kaffir lime leaves. Everything else is available here in Orlando. Blah!

  • Miranda
    October 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Perfect! Just got a kabocha squash in my CSA box and my friend brought over that EXACT thai curry paste. Asian markets are RAD!! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Heather Michelle
    October 27, 2011 at 3:32 am

    This looks amazing! I love that you substituted the squash for pumpkin. Yummy!!!

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  • Jenna
    October 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Can I ask which Thai restaurant in Sonoma County serves the pumpkin curry? I am going to be home for the holidays soon and I would love to check it out! Is it Thai Pot?

  • Lindsey
    October 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    This curry looks amazing! We have a bunch of pumpkins from our garden right now, so I’m going to use pumpkin instead. I’m going to make this tomorrow night!

  • Kim
    October 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Mmm, I love thai red curry. My fiance makes amazing curry of any kind (he’s Sri Lankan), and I cannot get enough of it! I’ve never thought to try pumpkin or kabocha squash in it though. Great idea! I can’t wait to share this recipe with him.

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  • Audrey
    February 25, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    So interesting to see everyone say that these recipes “sound great.” Of course they do, but the point is to make them!

    Well I found this one on a google search and oh my I am so glad I did. On a meditation retreat in Thailand I ate bowls of this stuff and thought I would never taste anything like it again. Yours is so simple, and so delicious. I stuffed myself silly, and thanked the universe over and over for it. Cant wait to try more of your recipes!

  • mjskit
    March 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    WOW! I love everything about this recipe! Kabocha is my favorite winter squash and Thai red curry is one of my most favorite condiments, seasoning, dishes! So this combination has me in awe. Beautiful and delicious!

  • Kelly
    March 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Just made this for dinner, oh my goodness! So good! It has the sweet and spicy that I crave and love. I’m growing some kabocha right now, hopefully I will be eating more of this in the fall.

  • Madelyn
    March 17, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I made this last night. It was GREAT!! We had it tonight reheated and it was even better. This is a favorite when we go out for Thai too. Thank you. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!!!

  • scarlet
    April 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    This recipe is a godsend! I had bought a kabocha squash and found I didn’t like it after cooking 1/2 of it. So I looked around the internet and found your site, made this and it is just like my favorite Thai restaurant!!! Amazing!! Thanks! Will try the Pad Thai next. You really know how to make this stuff.

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    August 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Is there another substitute for the kaffir lime leaves or is there another name for it? I’ve gone to 3 asian supermarkets and still can’t find it.

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    September 25, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Happy Tasty Tuesday! We loved this recipe and it is featured on our Autumn Squash Recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ashley Lynn
    September 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

    This is still one of my favorite recipes of all time, making it tonight for these cool fall temps. Thanks for being a genius!!

  • Bruce H
    October 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    That was delicious! Once all the ingredients are rounded up, that is. I though i had it all but had to make a trip just for the coconut milk tonight. Well worth the effort. I love panang curry but was looking for a recipe that coated but didn’t drown all the ingredients. This is it!

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  • Anna
    November 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Just made this but I found that 1 large kabocha squash was too much, my pot looked nothing like yours, I had way too much squash on top of the liquid. Plus after coming out the oven it wasn’t cooked all the way through so I had to leave it in the pot for quite some time to cook the hard pieces and beans. Did you use the whole squash?

  • Mary @ Fit and Fed
    November 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Hit up the huge Asian grocery here (Uwajimaya) for kabocha squash, Thai basil, and galangal, made a similar curry, but it was lacking compared to the restaurant entree I was trying to duplicate. I did use Thai red chilis and cumin but not any Thai red curry paste or fish or soy sauce. Next time I’ll Vitamix the spices with the coconut milk before simmering everything, I think that will help. Also, I need to use some fish sauce as you suggest, or very savory soy sauce. Some lemongrass and/or kaffir lime leaves would have been good too, I only used a fresh lime.

  • Laura
    November 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    I finally made this tonight and OMG it is amazing! It also took surprisingly little time to come together which is always a bonus. Like the commenter above I did find that a whole kabocha was too much so I only added half and it was perfect.

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  • Anon
    June 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Yea, I lived in Thailand; great recipe.

  • sara
    October 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I made this last night and LOVED it – so delicious!! What a great dish – thanks for sharing! We had little sugar pie pumpkins from our CSA box, and used those. They were great!

  • Sarv
    January 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Can I use oyster sauce instead of fish sauce?

  • Lucine Drake
    September 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Agreed that one entire kabocha would be too much. I just added half and find that to be perfectly sufficient. Now I can prepare something different with the other half. I wonder if what you consider to be a “large” kabocha may differ based on where you live and how large they get in your neck of the woods? I’m near Seattle. May I suggest you use a weight reference for your recommended amount of squash versus “1 large” as I can see how it wouldn’t have turned out very nicely if I had used the whole thing.

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  • graphista
    November 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Holy Thai flavor. This is a super yummy dish. I sub’d panang curry paste and butternut squash because it’s what I had on-hand, still this dish was amazing! I was worried about the spice but the squash really mellows it out and gives you nice, slow burn. I added mushrooms and baby corn to the dish because they’re great in Thai dishes. I think this recipe takes less effort and packs much more flavor than some of my previous attempts at similar curries. I will definitely make this again. 🙂

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