Response surface methodology (RSM) was applied to optimise the extraction of curcuminoids (curcumin, demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin) from turmeric using ethyl lactate (EL), ethanol and water under mild conditions (magnetic stirring at room temperature). An augmented simplex-centroid mixture design was used to monitor the dependence of the extraction efficiency from the proportions of the three solvents in the extraction medium. HPLC was used to establish the content of curcuminoids in turmeric and in the extracts. Surface plots for the extracted amount of each curcuminoid covering the whole composition domain were generated by interpolation of the experimental data with quadratic canonical polynomial models. The response surfaces of the three curcuminoids are qualitatively similar and the maximum extraction efficiency was obtained with water-EL 30:70 v/v that ensured the almost quantitative recovery of the three compounds from turmeric. While degradation of the three curcuminoids in water at moderate alkaline pH is relatively fast (half-times are between 0.23 and 8.5 h at pH = 8.6), their stability is noticeably greater in EL (half-times are within 21–69 days). Addition of EL to water is also able to inhibit the alkaline hydrolysis of curcumin and its derivatives, their half-times in the water-EL 30:70 v/v, being within 40–70 h at pH = 8.6. The above evidences suggest that EL is a promising solvent for the extraction of curcuminods from turmeric and a suitable medium for vehiculation of these compounds into drugs or foods.