Thai Curry Chili: Easy, Healthy, Economical

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Have you ever tried a new recipe and had it become an instant family favorite? That’s what happened with this sweet Thai curry chili recipe. Learn how to make this economical and healthy soup using coconut milk, leftover meat, and fresh vegetables. Since the meat is already cooked, the meal comes together quickly. It’s perfect for using the remains of a holiday ham, turkey, or both. Read on to get the simple instructions and take holiday leftovers to a new level!

The Story of this Thai Curry Chili Recipe

A friend first made this for us, and when she shared the recipe, it included “a lot of dabs and dashes”. The first few times I made this, I had to experiment to get just the right flavor. I also had to go through a lot of trial and error to adjust the spiciness factor to the right level for our family. I’m a spice wimp, while others in my family thrive on spiciness. We found a middle ground. It took a while for me to actually develop measurements for this Thai curry chili. Now that I’ve done all of the testing, here it is for you to enjoy.

Thai Curry Chili Equipment

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One of the best things about making this easy Thai curry chili is that it does not require any special equipment. If you are choosing to steam your squash for the recipe, a covered casserole dish is nice. Other than that, all you need is a knife, a cutting board, and most importantly, a large stockpot for simmering the soup. A 12-quart size is excellent. It’s large enough that you don’t have to worry about splatters when you are adding in the chopped meat and vegetables.

how to make easy thai curry chili pinterest image

Thai Curry Chili Ingredients

1 pound butternut squash, diced and steamed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

2 cups cooked turkey

2 cups cooked ham

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons red curry paste (more or less to taste)

4 tablespoons honey

1 carton chicken stock

2 cans coconut milk (I often use the lite version)

1 packet Thai peanut sauce mix

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 can great northern beans

Shredded pepper jack cheese

Thai Curry Chili Directions

First, peel and cube one medium butternut squash, removing the seeds. Place in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a lid or tent with plastic wrap, leaving a vent for steam.

Thai curry chili butternut squash

I like to use one of my favorite covered casserole dishes for this. One of the casserole dishes I use the most is the 2.5-quart covered French White round dish by Corningware, like this one.

I received a dish like this years ago as part of a set for a wedding present, and I love the way it goes with everything. I have used this dish, and its matching counterparts, countless times. Steaming is a healthy way to cook vegetables quickly in the microwave, so I highly recommend covered casserole dishes.

While the squash is steaming, chop the onion and peppers. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a stockpot while you are chopping. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Add the chopped vegetables and meat to the oil in the stockpot. If you are in a hurry, you can turn the heat up to medium-high.


When the onion is translucent, add the ginger and minced garlic (you can use the minced garlic from a jar or even dried minced garlic).

Thai curry chili searing meat and veggies

Stir, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer together for about 20 minutes. Serve over rice, if desired.

Thai curry chili finished

Easily Finding the Ingredients

Before making this Thai curry chili, I had never cooked with coconut milk, Thai peanut sauce, or curry paste. It was a new experience for me, and I wasn’t sure where to find the ingredients. I learned that the brand of coconut milk does make a difference in the flavor of the dish. My favorite is Lite Coconut Milk by A Taste of Thai.

I’ve only used red curry paste because I could never find the yellow in the grocery store. What is the best Thai curry paste brand? The curry paste I use is also by A Taste of Thai because that’s what I could find. After making this Thai curry chili recipe for a few years, I discovered red curry paste in a jar works just as well. That may be easier for you to find.

The peanut sauce mix I use includes two envelopes. I only use one envelope at a time. The other envelope is safe to store unopened and unrefrigerated on a shelf. I always appreciate visuals before I go shopping, so here’s what the peanut sauce mix looks like.

The nice thing about those three Thai-inspired components is that they are usually all located near each other in the grocery store. In the past, I have been able to find them at Safeway and Winco Foods.

Questions about Thai Curry Spiciness

When this recipe was first shared with our family, the directions advised us to use 2 tablespoons each of red curry paste and yellow curry paste. I was never able to locate yellow curry paste, so I used 4 tablespoons of the red curry paste. That was far too spicy for our family! We could barely eat it. Serving it with rice helped. After that, I gradually cut down the curry paste until I settled on using 2 teaspoons. I realize that might be too mild for some of you. Feel free to adjust to taste. If you choose not to use the entire packet of curry paste, just roll up the little pouch, secure it with a rubber band, and store it in the refrigerator. It will last for months.

Some people are a little nervous about cooking with Thai red curry paste. How spicy is Thai red curry? You might be surprised to learn that Thai red curry is not the spiciest curry. In order of spiciness, here are the rankings: Green curry is the most spicy, red curry is a little less spicy, and yellow curry is the mildest. If you are looking for a sweet curry, try Massaman curry. If you are not fond of to much spiciness and find yourself eating at a Thai restaurant, just request mild spiciness when you order. It’s easy to adjust the spice factor by using less curry. If you want mild flavor, stick with a yellow or Massaman curry from the menu.

Thai Curry Chili Meat Options

If you don’t have leftover turkey, you can use pork loin or pork shoulder. Cooking the meat adds more time to the meal preparation, so I use leftover cooked turkey when I have it. You could also use cooked chicken breasts, chopped into pieces.

Thai Curry Chili Pepper Options

Can other peppers be used instead of jalapeno peppers? Yes, of course! You can use bell peppers for less spice. You can add more spicy peppers, like Thai chili peppers. Varying the peppers will vary the spice level. Experiment with what you have available.

Thai Curry Chili Bean Options

Are great northern beans the only type of beans that can be used in this recipe? No, I often use pinto beans. You could use kidney beans or chili beans. I like using great northern beans because of the color in this recipe.

Thai curry chili in a bowl

Easy Thai Curry Chili

Thai curry chili is easy to make and a great way to warm up on a chilly winter evening. Try making this simple recipe for dinner tonight!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings 12
Calories 210 kcal


  • 1 pound butternut squash steamed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 jalapeno peppers seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups cooked turkey chopped
  • 2 cups cooked ham chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 carton chicken stock
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 envelope Thai peanut sauce mix
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 can great northern beans
  • 1 or 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese to sprinkle on soup after serving


  • First, peel and cube one medium butternut squash, removing the seeds. Place in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with a lid or tent with plastic wrap, leaving a vent for steam. Steam for 6-8 minutes.
  • Chop the onion and peppers.
  • Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a stockpot while you are chopping. 
  • Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add the chopped vegetables and meat to the oil in the stockpot.
  • When the onion is translucent, add the ginger and minced garlic.
  • Stir, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer together for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve over rice, if desired.
Keyword easy recipes, soup

What Goes Well with Thai Curry Chili?

As stated above, we like to serve this Thai curry chili with rice. Brown rice is our preferred choice. You could serve a tossed salad along with this dish. With the squash included in this recipe, there is already a good serving of vegetables. Don’t feel like making rice? No problem! This dish is fine on its own. However, if you do decide to cook rice, and you eat rice often, consider getting a rice cooker or instant pot.

Other Recipes to Warm You Up

Interested in other cozy, comfort food recipes? Try these!

What Are Your Favorite Things to Serve With Soup?

As I was writing this post, I was thinking about all of the different items people serve with soup. What are some of your favorite soup companions? I think my favorite dippers are freshly-baked, homemade rolls. They are soft, tasty, and are delicious when slathered with butter. I’d enjoy learning about your favorite soup partners as well.

More Food Inspiration

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Are You Excited to Make Easy Thai Curry Chili?

This delicious soup is calling my name. If you decide to try this easy Thai curry chili, I’d love to see pictures. If you would like even more recipe ideas, consider following my Easy Recipes board on PinterestHave a fabulous day, and enjoy making easy Thai curry chili!

First Name Signature Conclusion




Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to create and share recipes, often using fresh ingredients from her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To get more easy recipes, click on over to the Food page.

20 thoughts on “Thai Curry Chili: Easy, Healthy, Economical”

  1. Oh yum! This looks amazing! I haven’t tried to make a Thai chicken curry before, but I may just try this one out! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • You are most welcome! It’s a great soup to serve on a chilly evening.

  2. 5 stars
    This is such a great recipe for how to make easy Thai curry chili. There’s nothing better than chili heading into the cold, winter days. I’m excited to give it a try soon! Thank you for sharing!

    • My pleasure! It really is easy to make, especially since the meat is already cooked.

  3. 5 stars
    I love Thai food and find this recipe for Thai curry chili easy and delicious. You always share wonderful recipes!

    • Oh, thank you. I’m glad you are a Thai food fan!

  4. 5 stars
    This Thai curry chili is a great way to use leftovers. Thank you for sharing!

    • You are most welcome. I hope it helps you use your upcoming holiday leftovers.

  5. We had chili yesterday. It’s that time of the year.

    • Yes it is! Maybe you’ll get to try this version sometime.

  6. I love that it uses both ham and turkey!
    I’ve never had thai curry chili before but curry chicken and rice has been one of our favorite new dishes this year. This looks delicious! And what a perfect time of year to try it since the thai curry chili uses so many typical holiday meal ingredients!

    • Yes, it does! I especially appreciate that I can use squash in a way my family will eat!=)

  7. This looks great. We eat curry quite a bit at our house but I’ve never tried a Thai curry before. I love trying new recipes so I will have to add this one to our list of ones to try. I would also likely need to adjust the spice level, I don’t care for much spice though my husband loves spicy food. Looking forward to giving this a try.

    • I hope you do try it, and let me know if you have any trouble finding the ingredients.

  8. 5 stars
    It sounds ideal for a cold and dull winter day! Saving the recipe for one of these evenings:)

  9. Thanks for sharing this delicious Thai curry chili recipe! I love that you are providing options for different ingredients. Looks fantastic and I am sure it tastes great!

    • Thanks for the kind words. Flexibility and options–the true spirit of FluxingWell!

  10. 5 stars
    This looks delicious! I can see this Thai curry chili would be a great way to warm up on a winter evening. I’ll have to make this for dinner soon!

    • I hope you get to try it. It’s perfect for New Year’s Eve!


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