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Which tastes better red or green curry?

Both red and green curry are flavorful and delicious in their own right. They each have unique ingredients and flavor profiles that make them stand out. So which one is better ultimately comes down to personal preference. However, we can compare some key differences between the two curries to help determine which you might enjoy more.

Main Ingredients

The main ingredients in red and green curry are:

Red Curry

  • Red chili peppers
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Lemongrass
  • Galangal
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut milk

Green Curry

  • Green chili peppers
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Lemongrass
  • Galangal
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut milk

As you can see, red and green curry share many of the same ingredients. The key difference is the type of chili pepper used. Red curry gets its signature color and flavor from dried red chili peppers, while green curry uses fresh green chilis.


In general, red curry tends to be spicier than green curry. Here’s why:

  • Dried red chilis used in red curry pack more heat and spice than fresh green chilis.
  • More red chilis are often used compared to green chilis.
  • The drying process concentrates the spicy flavor in red chilis.

However, spiciness can vary depending on the specific recipe and quantity of chilis used. Some green curries can be quite spicy too if enough fresh green chilis are added.


In addition to difference in spiciness, red and green curry have unique flavor profiles:

Red curry

  • Robust, intense flavor
  • Dried red chili flavor
  • Slightly sweeter
  • More complex aroma

Green curry

  • Bright, fresh flavor
  • Grassy, herbaceous green chili taste
  • More lime-forward flavor
  • Leaner coconut milk base

These flavors can vary based on additional ingredients added. For example, red curry that uses more coconut milk will taste richer and sweeter. Green curry with extra basil will have a more pronounced herbaceous quality.

Heat Level Comparison

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hottest, most people find red curry to be around a 7-8 in terms of heat level. Green curry is milder, averaging around a 4-5 in spiciness.

Here’s a visualized heat level comparison:

Curry Type Spiciness (1-10 scale)
Red curry 7-8
Green curry 4-5

Of course, you can always adjust the spiciness by adding more or less chilis. Some red and green curry pastes are available in mild, medium, and spicy heat levels too.


Appearance-wise, red and green curry differ quite a bit based on their signature colors:

Red curry

  • Deep reddish-orange color
  • Opaque from coconut milk

Green curry

  • Vibrant green color
  • More translucent appearance

The red color in red curry comes from the dried red chilis and tends to stain the coconut milk base. Green curry gets its bright green hue from the fresh green chilis and herbs.

Taste Test

To get a true sense of the flavor differences, a taste test is needed. Here are some guidelines if you want to host your own red vs. green curry taste-off:

  • Use the same protein and vegetable ingredients in both curries for an even comparison.
  • Cook using the same curry paste brand and same coconut milk.
  • Adjust spiciness levels to be comparable between the two.
  • Offer a non-spicy rice alongside to cleanse the palate.
  • Try a couple bites of each curry, going back and forth to detect subtle taste differences.
  • Rank the curries on criteria like spiciness, sweetness, savoriness, aroma, etc.

Taste and rate each curry multiple times and average the scores. This will provide you with the best sense of your personal preference.


Red and green curry pair well with a variety of ingredients and side dishes:


  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Shrimp
  • Tofu


  • Bamboo shoots
  • Eggplant
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Basil
  • Bean sprouts


  • Jasmine rice
  • Rice noodles
  • Roti
  • Naan

The sweetness of jasmine rice balances out the heat of the curries. Roti or naan work great for dipping and soaking up the sauce. You really can’t go wrong with classic meat and veggie stir-fry additions.

Regional Differences

Red and green curry are used in the cuisines of Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, and more. Here are some regional differences:


  • Known for balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy
  • Use more fish sauce, lime juice, sugar
  • Red curry often sweeter
  • Green curry very spicy


  • Curries less coconut-y, more brothy
  • More tomato, potatoes added
  • Red curry milder in heat


  • Heavier on the coconut milk
  • Spicier with more chilis
  • More sambal or shrimp paste
  • Lighter on herbs

So your local restaurant’s red or green curry may vary based on the influences of different Southeast Asian regions.


Both curries deliver a blend of nutritious ingredients. Here’s how they compare nutritionally:

Nutrient Red Curry Green Curry
Calories 400-600 calories per serving 300-500 calories per serving
Carbs 15-25g per serving 10-20g per serving
Protein 15-25g per serving 15-25g per serving
Fat 15-35g, mostly from coconut milk 10-25g per serving
Fiber 2-4g per serving 2-4g per serving
Vitamins & Minerals Vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium Vitamin A & C, iron, calcium, potassium

Amounts vary based recipe, but both provide protein, important nutrients, and have relatively balanced macro profiles thanks to the coconut milk base.


Prepared red and green curry pastes tend to cost about the same per ounce. Here are some average prices:

  • Red curry paste – $1.50 to $3 per 2-4 oz
  • Green curry paste – $1.50 to $3 per 2-4 oz

Making your own curry paste from scratch may save a little money, but can be time consuming. The ingredients (spices, chilis, herbs) for each type of paste will also cost about the same.

When dining out, red and green curries are usually close to the same price or within a dollar of each other depending on portion sizes.


In Thailand, green curry tends to be more popular and widely consumed than red curry. Some reasons why:

  • Milder heat appeals to more people
  • Fresh tanginess preferred in hot climate
  • Often served with chicken, a popular protein
  • Featured more at local restaurants

However, red curry has been gaining popularity worldwide as people have been exposed to more Thai cuisine. Its robust, complex flavor profile appeals to many palates globally.


So in the battle of red vs green curry, is one better than the other? The verdict is that it completely comes down to your personal taste preferences. Here are some final tips on determining which curry is right for you:

  • Try each multiple times and critically compare flavors
  • Adjust heat levels to your own spice tolerance
  • Pick the one with the aroma that most appeals to you
  • Go for the color that you find most appetizing
  • Consider which tastes better with your favorite proteins/veggies
  • Think about which curry you most often enjoy eating out

While green curry may have a slight edge in popularity, red curry lovers find the richer, spicier sauce to be irresistible. The best curry is ultimately the one that provides that delicious mouthwatering experience for you. So explore the range of red and green curries at your local Thai restaurants to discover your true favorite.