Making Thai food at home

When I have tried to make Thai food at home I have not managed to make it really taste as good as takeout food, Now there is something special that needs to be done to make it taste as it was made in a restaurant? I mean Iam not an expert at cooking or anything. Also because of the economy. I don’t want to spend that much money on specific spices etc that I might have to throw. If you like follow an exact recipe in a book will the food taste better? That would mean that I would have buy several ingredients that I usually dont have (the only thai spice thing I have right now is curry powder and fish sauce). On a general note one problem with recipes in many books that most recipes is usually for 4 persons while Iam single…

Iam a bit curious about is how important coconut milk is in Thai cooking as it is an ingredient that I like very much.

If you cant afford the ingredients, then perhaps pick up some simmer/stir fry sauces that you can add to veggies and proteins. That would get you the final flavors without buying all the ingredients, even though its not cooking from scratch.

And yes, those ingredients (including coconut milk) are important to the final flavors.

If your recipes are made for four, you have leftovers for later in the week or to freeze for another meal when you are too busy or tired to cook. This will also help use up ingredients.


Yes seems as a great idea. I actually these days mostly buy some veggies and proteins which I then cook. So yes its like I guess need to know which are “the most important” Thai ingredients for taste and texture. So I maybe should buy a few additional ingredients (although I might not buy all the ingredients). The thing is that I want to keep the cooking relative simple.

Yeah good idea as well.

Thai food is much less reliant on a cabinet full of different spices than, for instance, Indian food. A can of red or green curry paste can get you a long way, and you can just stick the unused paste in a plastic container in the fridge or freezer—it keeps for a long time if you wrap the paste in plastic so it doesn’t dry out. Thai food does require the four elements of hot, sour, salty, and sweet in pretty much each dish, but one hot pepper, one lime, some fish sauce, and a bit of sugar is all you need to accomplish that if you don’t have anything else on hand. Fresh vegetables and proteins are the key, and you don’t need to buy those in large amounts.


Welcome Oliver.

Do you have a freezer please? Kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass really help to get towards restaurant tasting dishes, and keeping a pack of each in the freezer seems to work if you are only making enough for yourself.

For the curries then, yes, coconut milk is a must-have, but again I find that half a can keeps fine when frozen.

I am eating the cold remains of last night’s red chicken curry for lunch at my desk as I type this!


This YouTuber has yet to fail me on Thai dishes.

In addition to her recipes/methods, I like her ingredient focused episodes.


I’ve not had Thai food that had curry powder in it, but Maesri makes wonderful curry paste in flat little cans that are a great base for Thai curries. Just add broth, coconut milk, the protein & veg of your choice.

It sounds like you are not all that familiar with Thai cooking or ingredients, so perhaps check out a youtube channel or a basic Thai food cookbook at your local library.

Good luck & happy cooking!


A good resource for Thai recipes is

If you can get yourself light and dark soy and some oyster sauce, you’re already set for a few delicious dishes. A good, easy one to try is:


What dishes are you making at home and what are you using for flavoring them that’s falling short?

For curries, Thai brand pastes (Maesri, Mae Ploy, ArroyD) are night and day difference from grocery store varieties (like Thai kitchen).

You can get away without additional lemongrass or makrut lime leaves with a Thai paste, but it makes a difference to finish with fish sauce, brown sugar (if you don’t want to buy palm sugar or jaggery), and a squeeze of lime to balance everything out.

For noodles, some of the adjustments are the same, some will be different.


There’s also this for small amounts of ingredients. I’m sure it cost more than buying them separately.

A jar of curry paste is what you want for Thai curries–do you have a market in your town where you can get it? But of course there is more to Thai cuisine than just curries.
A good tip I got a long time ago is to cook the fat from the top of the coconut milk first–it will go clear as it melts. Then add your curry paste, then later add the liquid portion of the coconut milk.

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I have had very good luck with a line of jarred Thai sauces made by Thaifusions Co. of Seattle. Supposedly now available at Williams-Sonoma.

Some rice Thai noodles, some galanga root, and some lemongrass should also help!

I think there are a lot of good suggestions here.
I think first you need a good source of recipes. As others have alluded to above, Pai of Hot Thai Kitchen, is an excellent source of recipes and techniques.
As others have posted, you should have a few basic ingredients…thai curry pastes (not a curry powder. “Curry” simply means a spice mixture. Thai curry paste has different ingredients than an indian or japanese curry powder or mix), oyster sauce, a dark soy sauce, regular soy sauce, and a quality fish sauce should be the basics you can purchase, for use in most thai recipes… Canned coconut milk is pretty essential as well. As others have mentioned kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass freezes well. Ginger and garlic are readily available. The curry pastes keep forever refrigerated.
So you really dont need that many new or “exotic” ingredients…and many of them can be used in other asian cuisines.
I would go so far as to say YES, you do need to follow the recipes, and you do need some specialized ingredients to obtain the taste that you find so familiar from Thai restaurants.
I am just an avid home chef, but feel pretty comfortable turning out pretty tasty if not authentic Thai dishes at home.


+1 for Palin’s Kitchen. Lots of good basic info for folks about general Thai ingredients, methods and equipment.

Her chicken Rad Nah is a go to recipe here at on Planet X.

+1 on hot Thai kitchen
Shesimmers used to be very good as well

Thai food is not nearly as difficult as it may seem, but it does rely heavily on fresh ingredients
Your way around it is buying Thai curry paste. I would say that the red one is the most versatile type.
A lot of curries use coconut cream or coconut milk, but not all.
Lime leaves give a lot of dishes that bit extra. But the dishes are still good without, just not the same.

Do you have a specific dish you really like?
I’m sure we can help with a recipe/method

No offense, but maybe it’s because you’re just not as good at making Thai food as people who work at Thai restaurants?

There’s a reason we pay others to do things. It’s usually and most often because they are better at it than we are.

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Of all the unhelpful responses, this one stands out on a board with plenty of avid home cooks who regularly attempt dishes and cuisines not in their native repertoire.


It was not met as a dig to the OP.

To the contrary it was intended to placate and perhaps put in context any frustrations the OP was having qua home cook.

Appreciating one’s own limitations ensures that one is not frustrated unnecessarily by those same limitations.

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Oh Iam very touched by all of the responses, so many good advices! Thanks very much :). I think the easiest step would be for me to go to the store and buy some spices and premade sauces which I can then use in the cooking. Guess also it would make sense for to me buy some lime (which I have not used to date).

Well I like wok dishes most. That said I gues it could be cool to try anohter dish sometime.

Here is btw a picture of last night’s Thai inspired dinner (make something similar basically every evening).



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