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Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Emilie Fosnocht, Prop Styling by Emma Ringness
  • Total Time

    40 minutes

This ode to pasta alla vodka brings in unexpected levels of flavor and intensity by using red curry paste (made with ingredients like chili peppers, lemongrass, and galangal—staples in Thai cuisine) instead of tomato paste. Finishing with coconut milk and lemon juice rather than heavy cream and vodka adds extra layers of complexity to the clingy, rich sauce. A little spicy, a little sweet, and absolutely delicious, this flavor-packed, pantry-friendly meal is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

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What you’ll need


4 servings


lb. spaghetti

Kosher salt


Tbsp. vegetable oil


medium shallots, thinly sliced


garlic cloves, thinly sliced


4-oz. can red curry paste (preferably Maesri)


13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk


Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces


tsp. fresh lemon juice

Thinly sliced scallion greens and lemon wedges (for serving)


  1. Step 1

    Cook 1 lb. spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 1 minute less than package directions.

    Step 2

    Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Cook 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced, and 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add one 4-oz. can red curry paste and cook, stirring often, until paste is fragrant and slightly darkened and beginning to stick to bottom of pot, about 3 minutes.

    Step 3

    Pour in one 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 3 minutes.

    Step 4

    Using tongs, transfer pasta to sauce (a little water coming along is okay). Add 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Increase heat to medium; cook, tossing vigorously and adding more pasta cooking liquid by the ¼-cupful as needed, until sauce is silky and pasta is coated and glossy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; toss to combine.

    Step 5

    Divide pasta among shallow bowls; top with thinly sliced scallion greens. Serve with lemon wedges.

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  • Quick and easy using prepared curry paste but a cardinal sin here is using lemons. Limes are a core element of the Thai taste profile. Lemons are a marginal substitute. I like my curries and sauces flavorful but the comment about reducing the amount of curry paste could be valid indeed - especially for those with tender tastebuds. You may want to use half a can of curry paste to start - and the 50g of curry paste to 1 14oz can of coconut milk is a safe balance in general

    • Mike in BKK

    • Bangkok, Thailand

    • 7/26/2023

  • Interesting switch up on a basic favorite. Crushed up some dried chiles to aid in the kick. Added some minced ginger with the garlic and shallots, and then drizzled some fish sauce on the plated pasta. Will be making this again.

    • Andrew E

    • Louisvillle, KY

    • 7/17/2023

  • This is insanely spicy … absolutely doesn’t need a can of red curry. Few tablespoons maybe?

    • Chris

    • Brooklyn NY

    • 7/16/2023