Massaman Curry {Easy Recipe} – WellPlated.com

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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!

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!
  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

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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