How to Make Vietnamese Curry Powder From Scratch

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Make your own blend of Vietnamese curry powder from scratch instead of using store-bought or if you don’t have access to a specialty Asian market.

Homemade Vietnamese Curry Powder
Homemade Vietnamese Curry Powder

Before any other curry touched my lips, there was Vietnamese curry. It was, and still is, a staple at my mom’s house.

Coconut- and tomato-based, thickened by starchy potatoes, I prefer my Viet curry not too soupy-thin yet not too stewy-thick. Like all curries and stews, it’s better the next day. Click here for the recipe to my Vietnamese chicken curry.

For the recipe on homemade Vietnamese curry powder, keep reading…

Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Carrots, Potatoes and Taro
Vietnamese Chicken Curry with Carrots, Potatoes and Taro

Until recently, I’ve been making my Vietnamese chicken curry with store-bought Vietnamese curry powder from Vietnam. But as I got down to my last curry packet, I resolved to grind my own spices and make my own blend.

I used to be unfamiliar and confused at all the different kinds of spices. Words like cardamon, fennel, and turmeric were all Greek to me. Especially fenugreek (hah!). But living in Dubai for the last four years and frequenting the spice counters weekly have helped me learn the different spices and their smells and tastes.


Making Homemade Vietnamese Curry Powder From Scratch

To start devising my own Viet spice mix, I first used Google to translate the Vietnamese ingredients in the back of my final curry packet. I don’t know why I didn’t go straight to Vianco, the manufacturer’s website, because I later discovered that all the ingredients were listed there in English.

Vietnamese Curry Powder from Vietnam
Vietnamese Curry Powder from Vietnam

I happened to have every ingredient on the list except for annatto so off I went in search of that in Dubai. I did not find annatto seeds but I was able to find annatto powder (Dubai folks: I have seen it in Geant, Carrefour, and WestZone under the brand Mama Sita).

Sniffing, mixing, grinding, and more sniffing along the way, I experimented with 10 different spice combinations before arriving at the current recipe.

I love using my [easyazon_link identifier=”B001C2GWTI” locale=”US” tag=”outandaboindu-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” popups=”n”]Cuisinart spice grinder[/easyazon_link] to grind the whole spices for this homemade Vietnamese curry powder. It’s awesome because (1) it comes with two stainless steel bowls so you can designate one for coffee and one for spices (so as not to contaminate the taste); (2) the bowls come with lids so you can store unused portions of the spices; and (3) the stainless steel bowls and lids are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

The Taste Test

For the taste test, I made three pots of curries – each identical in ingredients except for the spice powder used:

  • Pot 1 – I used my last final packet of Vianco’s Indian Chef curry powder;
  • Pot 2 – I used my own homemade spice blend;
  • Pot 3 – I used a Madras curry powder because most Vietnamese curries suggest substituting Madras if Vietnamese curry powder is not available.

All three pots of curries tasted very good but it was quite obvious from a side-by-side comparison that the Madras curry was very different. Not bad in any way, just different due to different spice combinations and ratios.

Homemade Vietnamese curry Powder From Scratch
Homemade Vietnamese curry Powder From Scratch

Scotch, as chief taste-tester in our household, and having tried both my mom’s and my version of Vietnamese curry, had to sample all three pots of curry in a blind taste-test. He actually picked my own spice blend to be his favorite of the three – yay husband!

Personally, I like my own blend the best because with each batch, I think my nose may have led me to create a spice mix tailored to my own taste. I hope you get a chance to try this and let me know what you think.

If you like Vietnamese spring rolls, you can also use this Vietnamese curry powder recipe to make Chicken Curry Spring Rolls.

And all the spice blending experiments that didn’t quite measure up?

Reject Curry Powder

I combined them all into a container to be used for future curry-surprise dishes :).

*     *     *     *     *

Also check out my other Vietnamese recipes:

Homemade Vietnamese Curry Powder From Scracth

Homemade Vietnamese Curry Powder From Scratch

Ginger and Scotch
Make your own blend of Vietnamese curry powder from scratch instead of using store-bought or if you don't have access to a specialty Asian market.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 6 minutes
Course spices
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 154 kcal


  • 4 bay leaves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon annatto powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons ground turmeric


  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  • Toast whole spices for 30-45 seconds by placing them in the hot pan and occasionally shake the pan or stir the spices with a wooden spoon or chopsticks to prevent them from burning.
  • Place whole spices in an electric spice/coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  • Add the powdered spices to the grinder and pulse for a few seconds to mix well.
  • Store in airtight container away from direct sunlight.


  • Makes about 1/2 cup of curry powder.
  • Nutrition information based on 1/2 cup of curry powder
  • This is my recommended electric spice grinder from Cuisinart.
Keyword curry powder, vietnamese curry, Vietnamese curry powder

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve made this a few times without even toasting. Now I wonder, could garam masala be used as a substitute shortcut to make this Vietnamese curry blend?

  2. Thank you so much for your recipe. I have been grinding my own spices for years. After having had the privilege of living in India for a short time I have really stepped up my game in trying to use authentic spice/ingredients when cooking. It can be a challenge but the final results are so satisfying.

  3. thanks for this content. I am making a Vietnamese Pork Curry, I’ve slow cooked shoulder abuot 70% first then made the curry. Added Ginger, Lemongrass, Garlic, I’ve used Madras as I couldn’t find the correct product in the supermarket. Strangely having found this post via a search for the curry powder, I am enjoying a wee dram of Islay Malt, and my Grandad was a Scot.

  4. Hi Sandy! I noticed another site copying this same recipe except for the turmeric. That copycat recipe calls for only 3 TSP of turmeric. Your recipe calls for 3 TBSP of turmeric while the other spices add up to about 3 TBSP (approximately 9-10 TSP). That seems like an excessive amount but I’m guessing it wasn’t a typo.

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thank you for letting me know.

      Yes, there seems to be a couple sites copying my recipe that took me months to develop. It is very frustrating. I have asked to be credited but my comments just get deleted. One copycat is a celebrity chef (who specializes in Indian recipes) that has even published my recipe on his cookbook and when I called him out on it he put the blame on his “research team”. So disappointing.

      My only hope is that people will recognize my recipe as the original and authentic one and as a result share it so that more people will know about it and learn about Vietnamese curry and cuisine.

      Happy eating!

  5. I love creating homemade spice blends. They always end up tasting so much better than prepackaged. I agree that some flavors on their own might not be great (smoked paprika) but when used in the right capacity (BBQ chicken) it really takes food to the next level. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I made a batch of this for a vietnamese coconut curry recipe that referenced yourmwebsite and Vietnamese Curry Powder. My question is How do I make the cocnut curry sweeter like some of the restaurants? I’ve read that some say to add a little Palm Sugar. It was fun collecting, cooking, grinding and mixing all the spices! Thanks!

    1. I don’t know what other people use to sweeten their curries but I my mom uses plain old granulated sugar. Sometimes, if she has it at hand, she will add Longevity Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (a Vietnamese product popular in Vietnamese desserts and Vietnamese coffee).

      However, I believe that Palm Sugar is supposed to be a healthier alternative to granulated sugar because it is less processed. Don’t quote me on this though!

  7. The taste of Indian curry is too strong that is why i prefer asian curries because they mixed with fresh herbs.

  8. Hi Ginger, thanks so much for your prompt reply.

    I did get nervouse about using the 3 tbs so I used just 2. I have previously wondered if it were for the colouring and when I added to 2 tbs, there was a definite colour there so decided to leave it at that.

    Unfortunately I did not make it for curry but to try singapore noodles as I just can’t get the flavour right with indian curry powder as most people use. Unfortunately, this did not work for the noodles.

    But, the flavours were good and I can imagine in a curry this spice mix would be amazing so will be making that soon.

    Thanks again,

    Debs, x

    1. Hi Debs,

      I used 3 tablespoons in my recipe to obtain the right coloring for the curry but I didn’t think my turmeric was very strong. I’ve noticed that spices can vary in strength (taste and color-wise) based on how long they’ve been kept and also the brand.

      The recipe has room for customization as well so if you think 3 teaspoons is sufficient for the turmeric that you have, then use that for now and then adjust for the next time.

      Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  9. How wonderful that you experimented and came up with a spice blend that you think is better than the store-bought Viet curry powder! I would be very interested to try your recipe. Even though I can find Viet curry powder at one of the Asian grocers where I live (in Zurich), there is something about a homemade spice blend 🙂

    Btw, did you use fresh or dried bay leaves?

  10. I love the look of that curry, and I admire your intrepid work in back-engineering the curry powder recipe. I'm looking forward to seeing your recipe for the curry stew itself!

  11. "Future curry surprise" dishes – lol!

    I'm greek and I make my own gyros seasoning – which I also use for lamb-burgers. I tries the greek seasoning from Penzey's, but I was happy when my husband liked the blend I make better.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  12. So sorry I didn't join in this – really intended to but we're on a vegetarian month and all Vietnamese recipes included tofu (family can't abide). Your idea of a spice mix was inspired. Can't wait to see the round-up. Maybe I'll find something my fussy family will like there!