This vegan red curry recipe features a richly creamy peanut-coconut sauce. Along with veggies and tofu, it makes a tasty and easy meal.
The sauce recipe uses Thai red curry paste. Packed with spicy flavor, this aromatic ingredient is the easiest way to add a ton of flavor!
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Is Red Curry Vegan?
Red curry is a broad term, but generally refers to curries made with Thai red curry paste. These curries are often made with coconut milk and typically feature some type of meat.
To make a vegan red curry, simply replace the meat with a plant-based protein alternative such as tofu!
Red curry paste, the main flavoring ingredient in this recipe, is made with aromatic vegetables and spices. Curry pastes are almost always vegan, but it never hurts to read ingredient labels and be sure.
Ingredients to Make this Vegan Red Curry
This tasty curry uses basic ingredients that should be available in most grocery stores. If you have trouble finding red curry paste, you may need to try an international/ Asian grocery store or buy it online.
- Tofu: Extra firm tofu is a delicious vegan protein option that’s easy to use in this recipe. I buy tofu in a vacuum sealed package, which doesn’t need to be pressed. You’ll likely need to press other types of tofu, even if they are extra firm, before you begin.
- Vegetable oil: To get the curry started, you’ll need some oil to pan-fry the tofu and sauté the vegetables.
- Onion and ginger: These flavorful vegetables provide a delicious curry base. Use to your taste; my curry paste contains plenty of garlic so I haven’t added it to the recipe, but you certainly could if you like extra garlic!
- Broccoli, bell pepper, bok choy: While these delicious veggies make for a great curry, you can use almost any vegetables you like. This recipe is great if you have veggies around that need to be used. Cook times may differ for other vegetables so keep that in mind.
- Coconut milk: For an ultra creamy, rich sauce, coconut milk is the way to go! This ingredient is common in Thai curry recipes.
- Peanut butter: To make peanut coconut sauce you’ll need some peanut butter. It’s best to use “natural” peanut butter that doesn’t contain sugar unless you want a sweet curry. Chunky peanut butter also works if you like the texture!
- Red curry paste: This common Thai ingredient is made with aromatic vegetables and spices to create a flavorful paste. Not all brands use the same ingredients, so try a few to find what you like best. If you don’t like spicy food, this may not be the recipe for you as one of the main ingredients in red curry paste is red (hot) chili peppers. This creates a spicy curry and there isn’t a good substitution considering it provides much of the recipe’s flavor.
- Soy sauce: For some salt and a delicious depth of flavor, I like to add soy sauce to this recipe. Use tamari for a gluten-free option (or some other soy sauce alternative like coconut aminos).
- Lime juice: I almost never cook without citrus or vinegar. Lime juice brightens heavier flavors in the curry and balances everything for a delicious, mouth-watering meal!
- Cilantro: While this is optional, fresh herbs always take recipes to the next level. Cilantro is my herb of choice for this curry, but you could use parsley, basil or even mint for new flavor variations.
How to Make Thai-inspired Red Curry with Tofu
This recipe is simple to make and comes together in a few simple steps. While it doesn’t take too long to make, there’s an even faster, alternate cooking method provided below if you’re short on time!
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
Before you cook, prepare all the vegetables including onion, ginger, broccoli, bell pepper, bok choy and cilantro.
You can cut these ingredients however you like, but bite-sized pieces are best for broccoli, peppers and bok choy. Finely mince or grate your ginger.
If you plan to serve with rice, it’s best to start this now as it takes a while to cook.
Step 2: Pan Fry Tofu
When the veggies are ready, it’s time to prep your tofu.
I use extra firm tofu that comes in a vacuum sealed package and doesn’t require pressing. If you buy any other type of tofu, press it first to remove excess liquid.
Slice the block of tofu every ¼ inch (½ centimeter).
Warm some vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add as many tofu slices as you can; you’ll likely need 2-3 batches to cook all of it.
Pan fry your tofu for about 3 minutes on the first side, or until it’s golden brown in color. Flip the tofu slices, then cook on the second side for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove the tofu from your pan and repeat as needed until all the tofu is cooked.
If the tofu browns too quickly or turns dark brown, lower your heat.
When the tofu slices cool slightly, cut them into bite-sized pieces. For my tofu, I cut each slice into 6 pieces.
Step 3: Cook Curry and Serve
Warm your remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the large pan, over medium heat.
Add the onion and ginger and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onion softens. This may take longer if you chopped the onion in large pieces.
Next, add the broccoli and bell peppers and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Then add the remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro. This includes pan-fried tofu, bok choy, coconut milk, peanut butter, curry paste, soy sauce and lime juice.
Mix well, fully dissolving the curry paste into your sauce. This takes a few minutes as you wait for the bok choy to cook down.
Cook the curry over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until your vegetables are tender.
Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro.
Serve as-is or alongside cooked rice or rice noodles. Top with extra lime, cilantro and/or peanuts.
Alternate Cooking Method
To save some time, there’s an alternate way to cook this vegan red curry.
Simply follow the directions listed above, but instead of adding pan-fried tofu to your bok choy and sauce ingredients, add cubes of uncooked tofu.
In this method, tofu simmers in sauce and soak up flavors from other ingredients.
This alternative isn’t quite as flavorful as pan-frying the tofu, but it saves time. The tofu has a softer texture when following this method, but if you’re okay with that, save yourself the effort!
How to Serve a Balanced Vegan Meal
This recipe is higher in protein from the tofu. There’s also some protein in peanut butter used for the sauce.
You’ll have plenty of vegetables in this curry as well!
This recipe is higher in fats from coconut milk, peanut butter and tofu. Fats add flavor to meals and are essential to absorb certain vitamins. They also boost satiation and satisfaction!
There’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying higher fat meals. However, if this concerns you, use a lower fat coconut milk. Keep in mind the curry won’t be as rich, creamy or delicious, but do what you like!
Overall, the recipe is lower in carbohydrates. You can easily serve the curry sauce with rice or rice noodles to add some carbohydrates.
Carbs are great to include with meals because they provide energy and are found in nutritious foods like whole grains. Fats also provide plenty of energy so I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to add carbs to this recipe, but you certainly can if you like!
Thai-inspired Curry Variations
There are countless ways to make a tasty, Thai-inspired curry. This includes using any type of vegetables you like, which is perfect for when you need to get some veggies used up.
You can also add flavor variations with how the curry is served. Rice and rice noodles are delicious, but you could also serve with quinoa or cauliflower rice.
Topping your curry with extra peanuts is a delicious way to add a crunchy texture!
You can also play around with different types of curry paste. While I love red curry paste, green and yellow curry pastes are delicious too.
If you want to skip the tofu, rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, beans or lentils instead.
You may also like my red curry pasta recipe. It’s made in one pot with minimal effort and creates the perfect weeknight meal!
How to Store Leftover Vegan Red Curry
Refrigerate curry leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Warm in your microwave, or in a pot over medium heat.
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Red Curry (with Peanut Coconut Sauce and Tofu)
- 350 grams extra firm tofu , pressed if needed
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil , divided (into ⅔ and ⅓)
- 1 cup onion , diced (120 g)
- 1 tablespoon ginger , grated or finely minced
- 2 cups broccoli , cut into florets (140 g)
- 2 cups bell pepper , diced (or zucchini) (250 g)
- 4 cups bok choy , chopped (280 g)
- 1 ¾ cups coconut milk (14 oz/ 400 mL can)
- ¼ cup peanut butter , natural
- 4 teaspoons red curry paste
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce *
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ cup cilantro , chopped (10 g)
Step 1: Prep Vegetables
- Dice the onion and finely mince or grate your ginger.1 cup onion, 1 tablespoon ginger
- Chop the broccoli, bell peppers and bok choy into bite-sized pieces.2 cups broccoli, 2 cups bell pepper, 4 cups bok choy
Step 2: Pan Fry Tofu
- If needed, press your tofu. Then, slice into ¼ inch (½ centimeter) thick pieces.350 grams extra firm tofu
- Warm ⅔ of your olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Add your sliced tofu to the pan and cook on one side for about 3 minutes, or until the tofu is golden-brown. Flip the tofu over (tongs work well) and cook for anther 2 minutes on the second side, or until golden brown.
- If the tofu browns more quickly, or becomes a dark brown color, lower your heat.
- Remove tofu from the pan and set aside. You may need to work in batches to pan fry all the tofu.
- After the tofu cools slightly, cut into bite-sized pieces (I cut each slice into 6 pieces).
Step 3: Cook Curry and Serve
- Warm the remaining ⅓ of your oil in your pan over medium heat.3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Add onion and ginger and cook 4-5 minutes, until the onions soften. This may take longer for larger pieces of onion.1 cup onion, 1 tablespoon ginger
- Add the broccoli and bell peppers, then stir fry for an extra 3-4 minutes.2 cups broccoli, 2 cups bell pepper
- Add the remaining ingredients excluding the cilantro.350 grams extra firm tofu, 4 cups bok choy, 1 ¾ cups coconut milk, ¼ cup peanut butter, 4 teaspoons red curry paste, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Stir to combine. Make sure all the curry paste is well mixed into the sauce.
- Cook the curry for about 10 minutes, until your vegetables are tender and the curry has simmered for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the curry from heat and stir in chopped cilantro.¼ cup cilantro
- Serve with cooked rice or rice noodles. Garnish with extra lime, cilantro and/or peanuts.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.