Panang Curry Recipe

If you love bold, aromatic flavors, then this Panang Curry recipe is definitely for you! Panang chicken curry is a staple of Thai cuisine and has a rich, creamy sauce you’ll love. In this recipe, we’ll show you how to make this classic dish at home instead of ordering it from your favorite take-out restaurant, all while using readily available ingredients. Whether you’re a seasoned pro in the kitchen or a beginner cook, we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips. So let’s get cooking and take you to Thailand!

Panang curry

Why I Love Panang Curry?

For many years, I thought I hated curry. I tried it and was not a fan. Turns out, I am obsessed with almost all Thai curries! You see, I made the mistake of dismissing anything with the “curry” label instead of taking the time to understand that there are countless versions of curries. Many from India and many from Thailand. And I love the ones from Thailand.

Last month, I ordered two different curries from our favorite local Thai take-out place and after paying over $50, determined it was time to learn how to make it at home. After a lot of research on what an authentic Panang curry includes and a few recipe tests, I came up with what I think is the best recipe! Even better than our favorite take-out place. This will be on regular “take-out at home” rotation, along with our favorite Easy Chicken Fried Rice and homemade sushi with our Sushi Rice Recipe. In an effort to save money, I’ve also mastered Hunan Beef and Moo Shu Chicken.

What is Panang Curry?

Panang curry is a sweet Thai curry recipe made with a creamy, peanut-based red curry sauce. It is usually made with beef or chicken, but it can also be made with tofu or only vegetables as a vegetarian option. The curry is flavored with a blend of spices, including red chili peppers, lemon grass, coriander, cumin, and lime leaves. Serve it over rice or rice noodles. Panang curry is known for its creamy, slightly sweet and spicy flavor, and it is a popular dish in Thai restaurants around the world.

bowl of panang curry

Panang Curry Recipe Ingredients and Tools

  • Boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Red bell pepper
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Red onion
  • Serrano chile
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Peanuts
  • Coconut milk
  • Peanut butter
  • Panang curry paste
  • Fish sauce
  • Canola oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Large, deep skillet

How to Make Panang Curry?

If you can mix together some ingredients in a pan and bring them to a simmer, you can make this curry in 20 minutes!

Time needed: 20 minutes

How to Make Panang Curry

  1. Bloom the panang curry paste in hot oil

    This is done simply by cooking a small amount of paste in a tablespoon of oil in a hot skillet. This makes the flavors of the panang curry paste come alive. Add a dash of coconut milk to deglaze the pan.

  2. Add the chicken

    Simply stir the cut chicken into the bloomed curry paste until it is coated.

  3. Add the vegetables

    The skillet will be full, but stir in the vegetables until they are coated in the curry paste.

  4. Add coconut milk and seasonings

    Bring it to a gentle simmer and cook just until the chicken is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Don’t simmer too long or the chicken will become tough and the vegetables mushy.

  5. Add lime juice and basil

    Adding this at the end keeps the finished curry tasting fresh and bright, even after it is fully cooked.

  6. Serve immediately over hot jasmine rice with a sprinkle of salted peanuts

    You can use other rice but the flavor of jasmine rice pairs perfectly. The salted peanuts on top add some needed crunch and texture to the finished dish.

panang curry in a bowl

Recipe FAQs

Is panang Thai curry hot?

The spice level in panang curry doesn’t come from the curry paste. While there are chilis in panang curry paste, they don’t add intense levels of heat. Any spiciness comes from the ingredients added to dish, like fresh chilis or sriracha. For this recipe, a fresh Serrano chili is used but one that has been seeded and the white membrane removed, letting for a mild spice level come through. You can always omit it completely if you want no spice, or keep the seeds and membrane if you want it hot.

Why is it called panang curry?

There are multiple ways to spell this type of curry (phanaeng, penang) but the origin of the name is from where the dish was created, the island of Penang, located off the west coast of Malaysia. 

Thai chicken panang curry

What is Panang Curry Paste and Where do I Find it?

Panang curry paste is similar to a standard red curry paste using chiles, lemongrass, galangal, makrut lime zest, cilantro, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, white pepper, coriander, and cumin seeds. Where this paste differs is with the addition of roasted peanuts and nutmeg. They provide a warm, nutty flavor to the finished curry dish.

Can I Use Something Besides Coconut Milk?

Unfortunately, coconut milk is a must-have ingredient for Panang curry. The flavor, slight sweetness, and thickness cannot be easily replicated with other substitutions. Don’t worry about an overwhelming coconut flavor. It is extremely subtle and you won’t be able to pick out a “coconut” flavor from the bold sauce.

How do I Cut the Chicken Against the Grain?

how to cut chicken across the grain

Cutting chicken across the grain provides the most tender chicken when you bite into it. Look at the picture above to see what it means to cut against the grain. You’ll cut your chicken breast like this, creating strips of meat. Then, cut those strips into smaller bite-sized pieces. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!

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Panang curry

Panang Curry Recipe

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Ready in 20 minutes and better than your favorite Thai take-out place!

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoon panang curry paste
  • 214 oz cans coconut milk
  • 2 pounds chicken, cut against the grain into small pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 bell peppers (green, yellow, red) sliced thin
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeds and white membrane removed, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
  • Cooked jasmine rice

Instructions

  1. In a large deep skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the Panang curry paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute to bloom the seasonings. Add about a 1/4 cup of the coconut milk (just eyeball it) to deglaze the pan and stir to combine. Let cook for another minute.
  2. Add the chicken. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the onions, bell peppers, serrano chili, and garlic. Stir to combine.
  4. Add remaining coconut milk, brown sugar, peanut butter, and fish sauce. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat.
  5. Let gently simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Do not cook too long or the chicken will become tough and the veggies will overcook.
  6. Add fresh lime juice and basil. Stir to combine.
  7. Serve immediately over hot jasmine rice topped with chopped salted peanuts.

Notes

You can certainly use regular white or brown rice but jasmine rice has the authentic Thai flavor.

  • Author: Carole Jones
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Thai

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8th
  • Calories: 489 kcal
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 388 mg
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated Fat: 13 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 36 g
  • Cholesterol: 95 mg

Looking For More Great Thai Recipes?

If you want even more delicious recipes like this Panang Curry, click on the pictures below to jump over to more of my amazing Thai recipes.

Carole Jones

Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.

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