Butternut Squash Red Curry

Cozy, comforting, & totally wholesome, this Butternut Squash Red Curry recipe will be on your regular dinnertime rotation! This vegetarian red curry recipe is packed with peppers, onions, & tender butternut squash all simmered in a cozy coconut curry sauce. Delivering all the flavor you expect out of Thai red curry, this Butternut Squash curry is completely vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, & perfect for weeknights!

Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

Pin this Butternut Squash Red Curry recipe for later!

HELLOOOOOO COZINESS!!!

Hello, HELLO oh-so good-for-you, one-skillet-wonder, perfect-for-weeknights, chock-full-of-veggies, GLORIOUS coziness.

Butternut squash red curry (AKA my absolute favorite Thai red curry!) is HERE, & I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be on repeat in your dinnertime rotation all winter long.

(At least, that’s what’s certainly been the case for the PWWB kitchen so far this winter!)

Close shot of butternut squash in this Thai red curry.

I’ve been making some version of Thai red curry ever since I began learning my way around the kitchen back in college. To this day, it’s one of my go-to weeknight meals: it’s easy to make, totally wholesome, budget-friendly, & delivers major flavor without major effort. Total weeknight win.

& this butternut squash version? Oooh baby, it might just be my best Thai red curry recipe yet!

Peppers, onions, & cubed butternut squash simmer away to tender perfection in a creamy red curry coconut sauce. The butternut squash is seriously the star of this vegetarian curry show; its mild flavor & hearty texture makes for the perfect vehicle for all the warm, spicy goodness in the red curry sauce.

So satisfying & comforting. So rich & hearty. & SO totally wholesome! This butternut squash red curry is packed with veggies in every single bite – just what I like when I eat a plant-based vegan meal!

Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

Best of all, the whole recipe happens in a single skillet, in 45 minutes or less. Creamy, cozy, comforting, good-for-ya plant-based goodness on a weeknight? HECK YAS! ♡ Read on to learn more about this butternut squash red curry, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Ingredients you’ll need for this vegetarian red curry recipe

Among the many reasons why I love this butternut squash red curry is the fact that it’s filled with hearty veggies! A combination of winter veggies & some staple kitchen ingredients makes this vegetarian Thai red curry recipe really easy to throw together any night of the week during the colder months.

The main line-up includes… (Note: the full Ingredients List, including measurements, is provided in the Recipe Card, below.)

  • butternut squash, of course!
  • bell peppers & onion
  • kale, or your greens of choice
  • plenty of garlic & ginger
  • good red curry paste (more on this below!)
  • coconut milk

What is Thai red curry paste made of?

Red curry paste is a total pantry staple ingredient at my house. Its concentrated flavor makes for an easy & quick way to add tons of rich, punchy flavor to any dish.

The best Thai Red Curry paste - Maesri curry paste

Most Thai red curry paste is made with some combination of…

  • Thai chiles
  • shallots & garlic
  • lemongrass
  • cilantro
  • kaffir lime
  • shrimp paste (more on this in a sec…)
  • spices (such as cumin & coriander – yum!)

Not all red curry pastes are created equally. A good curry paste is loaded with complex layers of flavor. It’s so important to use good curry paste whenever you make curry since it’s really what creates the foundation of flavor in the dish!

The brands available in most conventional grocery stores taste bland & leave much to be desired when it comes to making awesome Thai red curry at home. (After all, who wants bland curry??)

In my experience, this is the BEST Thai red curry paste money can buy. It’s incredibly rich in flavor, made with very simple ingredients, has nice heat (but it won’t burn your face off), & as a major bonus, it is completely vegetarian- & vegan-friendly (no shrimp paste!). You can find it pretty easily at most Asian food stores, or just order it from Amazon & have it shipped straight to your door. So easy!

How to make butternut squash curry:

I love turning to this easy Thai red curry recipe on busy weeknights since it’s so easy to make. It comes together in just 1 skillet, with plenty of inactive cooking time – just the kind of thing I love in a weeknight dinner recipe!

The basic gist of it goes something like this… (Note: full Recipe Directions are provided in the Recipe Card, below.)

  1. Blister the veggies: Heat up some coconut oil in a large skillet. Toss in the curry veggies (onions, pepper, butternut squash). I like to cook the veggies in batches – more on that below! Cook until slightly softened – they may begin to brown around the edges & that’s totally fine. The charred flavor is yummy!
  2. Toast the aromatics: Add garlic, ginger, & red curry paste, stirring to coat the veggies in the skillet. Let everything toast for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant.
  3. Simmer: Add coconut milk to the skillet, then simmer for 10-15 minutes. The curry will thicken as it simmers.
  4. Finishing touches: Add some shredded kale, or your greens of choice, & squeeze in some fresh lime juice to liven up the flavors of the curry.
  5. Serve immediately with your grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc.). I like adding cashews & pomegranate arils for some satisfying crunch & color.

Quick tips for making the best Thai red curry at home:

  1. Cook the veggies in batches: Many of the curry recipes I’ve read call for cooking all the veggies for the same length of time. I prefer to cook the veggies in batches, ensuring that they’re nicely softened but still have a great texture.
  2. Always, always toast your aromatics! Whenever you add ingredients like garlic, ginger, & curry paste to a skillet, give them a minute or 2 to toast. This “wakes up” the spices, creating an even more flavorful curry.
  3. Finish with squeeze of lime juice. Curry is very rich & creamy by nature. Fresh lime juice adds bright acidity to curry, helping cut through the richness of the coconut milk & bringing to life the flavors of the curry paste. Don’t skip on fresh lime juice!
Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

Butternut squash red curry substitutions, variations, & FAQs:

Is Thai curry vegan?

It depends on the recipe! As written, this butternut squash red curry recipe is totally vegetarian & vegan.

It’s worth noting that red curry paste is often made with shrimp paste. You’ll want to be sure to check your labels if keeping your curry vegetarian/vegan/shellfish-free is a priority for you. This is my favorite Thai red curry paste, which just so happens to be 100% vegan/vegetarian.

Can you substitute sweet potatoes for butternut squash?

YES! If sweet potatoes are your jam (or if you simply don’t have butternut squash on hand), definitely feel free to substitute them for the squash in this recipe. You’ll need about 2 medium sweet potatoes, yielding 4 cups diced.

What other vegetables go well with curry?

Where to begin?! You can add any veggies you love to this Thai red curry recipe: broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, mushrooms, & so on!

If you’d like to give this vegetarian red curry recipe a little boost of protein, feel free to add chickpeas, tofu, or another one of your favorite plant-based proteins.

What can I eat with curry instead of rice?

Whatever you love most: quinoa, cauliflower rice, noodles, spiralized zucchini or carrots & so on!

You can also definitely eat this butternut squash curry like a stew & without any grains, though I really like having some starchy goodness to soak up all of the curry.

Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

I hope you give this Butternut Squash Red Curry recipe a try sometime very soon. It’s 100% good-for-ya goodness, perfect for a cozy weeknight dinner this winter. I think you’ll love it!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know by leaving a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡

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Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

Butternut Squash Red Curry

  • Author: Jess Larson | Plays Well With Butter
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4 1x
  • Category: Soup, Stew & Chili recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai, Asian-Inspired

Description

Cozy, comforting, & totally wholesome, this Butternut Squash Red Curry recipe is cozy, comforting & totally wholesome. Peppers, onions, & butternut squash simmer to tender perfection in an easy Thai red curry coconut sauce. Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, & perfect for weeknights!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 2 large bell peppers, deseeded & sliced (I like orange & red)
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded & cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 24 tablespoons red curry paste (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 cans 15-ounce full-fat coconut milk (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/2 bunch kale, destemmed & shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • for serving, as desired: rice, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, chopped cashews, pomegranate arils, etc.

Instructions

  1. Blister the onions & peppers: Add the coconut oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the sliced onion & peppers. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & toss to combine. Cook, tossing the veggies every so often, until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Carefully transfer the veggies to a plate and set aside.
  2. Blister the butternut squash: Add the cubed butternut squash to the same skillet used in Step 1. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & stir to combine. Cook, stirring the squash every so often, until slightly tender, 7-10 minutes. The squash may begin to brown around the edges & that’s totally fine.
  3. Toast the aromatics: Working quickly, add the garlic, ginger, & red curry paste to the skillet with the squash, stirring to combine. Let the aromatics toast for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant.
  4. Simmer the butternut squash red curry: Pour the coconut milk into the skillet, stirring to combine. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
  5. Finish the curry: Add the blistered peppers & onions & shredded kale to the curry, stirring to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the kale wilts. Finish by squeezing in the fresh lime juice, stirring to combine.
  6. Serve: Portion the curry into individual bowls over a bed of rice or your grain of choice (brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc.). Top as desired, with cilantro, cashews, pomegranate seeds, etc. Finish with one last squeeze of lime juice & devour. Enjoy!

Notes

  • How much curry paste to use will depend on how spicy you’d like your curry. I suggest using 2 tablespoons for a mild red curry. At our house, spicier curry = life, so I usually use 4 tablespoons.
  • A note on curry paste: Not all curry pastes are created equally! Since it’s a key component of any curry dish, it’s so important to use really good curry paste. A good curry paste should have rich, complex flavors. In my experience, the stuff that is sold in the “ethnic” aisle at conventional grocery stores isn’t usually very good – please don’t waste your money on it! This is my favorite red curry paste – it’s very flavorful, mildly spicy, & contains no shrimp paste/fish sauce (so it’s 100% vegan- & vegetarian-friendly). You can find it in most Asian food stores, or just order it from Amazon. I highly recommend!
  • Coconut milk: To achieve the desired creamy texture of this red curry, I suggest using full-fat coconut milk, vs light coconut milk (which is much waterier due to the lower fat content). If you’d like to lighten it up a little bit, you can swap out 1 can of full-fat coconut milk with 1 can of light coconut milk; note that the red curry may be a little more liquidy as a result.
  • Meal prep: The majority of the prep time involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop all the veggies in advance to get a head start on your curry – it’ll take about 15 minutes. Keep everything in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. At dinnertime all you have to do is get cooking – so easy!:
    • Slice 1 large red onion
    • Deseed & slice 2 large bell peppers
    • Peel, deseed, & dice 1 small butternut squash into 1/2-inch cubes
    • Destem & shred 1/2 bunch of kale (or enough to yield 2 big handfuls of shredded kale)

Keywords: Butternut Squash Red Curry, vegan recipe, vegetarian recipe, dairy-free, gluten-free, healthy, Meatless Monday, easy weeknight recipe

Love plant-based cooking? Here are a few more easy vegan recipes you have to try!

Plus, more weeknight dinner inspiration:

Butternut Squash Red Curry in a speckled white bowl, with white rice, chopped cilantro, cashews, & pomegranate arils.

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Don’t forget to pin this Butternut Squash Red Curry recipe for later!!!

Butternut Squash Red Curry with graphic text overlay for Pinterest.

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 2.21.20
    Megan said:

    This was fantastic! I added chickpeas and mushrooms for a little protein boost (cooked mushrooms separate and added chickpeas when I added the coconut milk, but could have done them sooner probably). The pomegranates were a nice little kick and I was surprised I liked them as much as I did. This will definitely be in the meal rotation at our house!

    • 2.25.20
      jess said:

      I love the addition of chickpeas & mushrooms! So glad you enjoyed this curry as much as we do, Megan. Thanks for sharing! (& yes, the pomegranate arils are a must!!!)

  2. 2.9.20
    Morgan said:

    Delicious and so easy! Made it for my lunch meal prep. Nice opportunity to use some good red curry paste my friend brought me from Thailand!

    • 2.12.20
      jess said:

      Oooh, I’m so jealous of your curry paste! So glad you were able to put it to good use. Enjoy your lunches, Morgan!

  3. 1.29.20
    Kathleen said:

    This curry sounds aaaamazing! I love the idea of topping with pomegranate seeds. So fun!

    • 1.30.20
      jess said:

      They add gorgeous color, of course, but also a little acidity. I love them! Hope you try soon! xx