Asian Recipes/ Curry/ Dinner/ Recipes

Authentic Thai Panang Curry Paste

28/10/2021 (Last Updated: 19/11/2021)

Learn how to make this authentic Panang Curry Paste recipe from scratch! Full of fragrant herbs and warm toasted spices, this Thai curry paste is way better than store bought.

Vibrant orange curry paste in a mortar with pestle.

Why We Love This

While using the mortar and pestle does take a little more effort than unscrewing the lid off a jar – about 30-40 minutes worth if we’re honest – but despite the ‘effort’, it’s actually really easy to make your very own paste at home. 

We recommend throwing a curry party! Go in together with ingredients and make your friends or family earn their dinner! Make a huge batch so everyone can take home a portion!

Small bowl of fresh Thai Panang curry paste with chilli in the background.

What is Panang Curry Paste? 

Panang curry paste (also written as penang, phanang or phanaeng) is said to have originated in central Thailand, with some influences from Indian and Khmer cuisines. 

Panang curry flavours are like a combination of red curry and peanut satay blended together. The panang curry paste includes a few classic Thai ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste and makrut / kaffir lime, which along with the crushed peanuts, give it a unique flavour compared to other curries. 

Real authentic homemade curry pastes are so much better because:

  • You control what you put in – real ingredients, fresh herbs and spices make all the difference. Pre-made pastes will always be inferior, requiring stabilisers and sometimes preservatives to made them last on the shelves.
  • You control the spice – love the heat? Up the chillies! Be sure to throw in a few extra colourful birds eye chillies for that kick you’ve been waiting for. But if you don’t want to risk a burnt tongue, play it cool and tone it down. So simple!
  • You can make up a big batch and store for later use. Then get ready as you turn it into classic Thai Chicken Panang Curry!

Our Top 3 Store Bought Panang Curry Pastes

If you can’t source the ingredients or substitutions for this recipe, you can always source store bought. Here’s our top 3 favourite brands we recommend:

Mae Ploy Panang Curry Paste

For big curry lovers, Mae Ploy’s Panang Curry Paste has enough for 4 batches! (Or more if you like a little less spice.)

Maesri Thai Panang Curry

The perfect one portion tin, these store well in the pantry so they’re ready when you need them most. Maesri is a great brand to have on hand.

Aroy-D Panang Curry Paste

Aroy-D Panang Curry Paste come in both these handy small 50g serves, or you can buy a big tub like the Mae Ploy if you can get your hands on it.

What You’ll Need

  • ChilliesYou want a combination of dried long chillies and small dried chillies for your paste. Fresh chillies also works depending on the availability in your area.
  • Thai Mukrut / Kaffir Lime Fresh leaves are best for this recipe. You can also find them dried, frozen or in a jar at Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lime. They may be labelled as kaffir lime, makrut or Thai lime leaves. The best name to use is makrut.
  • SpicesWhat a gorgeous mix of spices used in this dish. This is the heart of the recipe, alongside the peanuts and chilli. Most spices will be available at the supermarket nowadays, or head to your Asian grocery store.
  • Crushed Peanuts – Go for unsalted crushes peanuts – these will sometimes be in the baking section in the supermarket, or at an Asian grocer. You can also buy whole peanuts and crush them yourself. Sub with cashews for a creamier, lighter nutty result.
  • Shrimp Paste – The umami addition to your curry paste. This will be a little smelly like fish sauce, but we guarantee it will bring the right flavour tones to the dish. Sub with fish sauce, or if you’re vegan use salt instead.
  • Galangal – This is a very hard root spice. Try to find the lightest colour, or youngest as it’s much easier to cut and less fibrous. Find them fresh at your local Asian grocer and use a large cleaver or very sharp knife to help cut it finely. Sub with ginger in a pinch, although this is a different flavour.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic instead of minced, this will bring a load of flavour to the final curry paste.
  • Lemongrass – You can find whole and chopped lemongrass at most Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lemon per lemongrass stick, note this will give you a different flavour.
  • Coriander Roots – You’ll usually find fresh coriander root in the bunches at your local Asian grocer or market. If you can’t find them, sub with the stems and a few leaves. Make sure to give them a good wash before chopping!
  • Shallots – Shallots are now available at most supermarkets. Sub with regular red onion in a pinch.
Ingredients laid out to make Panang curry paste.

How to make Thai Panang Curry Paste:

  1. Slice the top off large and small chillies and remove the seeds. If using fresh chilli: chop finely. If using dried chilli: Slice into small rings and soak in water for 40 mins to soften. Drain and squeeze out all the liquid (use gloves to avoid getting spicy chilli on yourself). Chop finely and set aside.
  2. In a medium frying pan, gently toast all spices over a low to medium heat for a 1-2 minutes, starting with the biggest and gradually adding in the others, through to the smallest. Order should be cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, whole black pepper seeds and finally cumin seeds.
  3. Place all the toasted spices in a stone mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder. Remove from mortar and pestle and set aside. Note: You can speed things up and use a spice grinder here, but a mortar will give you the best result.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients in the mortar and pestle – in sequence so that the most fibrous ingredients are added first – lemongrassgalangal (or ginger), kaffir lime rindkaffir lime leaves, soaked large dried chillies (or fresh), soaked small dried chillies (or fresh), crushed peanutscoriander root, shallotsgarlic and finally shrimp paste. This will help you to achieve a smooth consistency. Note: You can speed things up and use a food processor here, but a mortar will give you the best result. If using a processor, you may need to add a little vegetable oil to help everything mix.
  1. Use a spoon to scrape the ingredients from the side of the mortar and pestle down to the centre as you go.
  2. Tip: If you have a small pestle, break up the mix into portions to make it easier when grinding the paste together.
  3. Finally add the spice powder and continue to pound until you obtain a smooth paste.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Storage – Place paste in ice cube trays, seal up in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The next day, pop out the cubes and place in an airtight container. Homemade curry paste will last up to 6 months in the freezer (or up to about two weeks in the fridge).
  • Toast Your Spices before Grinding –  This helps release all the fragrant potential of the spices. Start with the biggest, like star anise and cinnamon, then work your way through to the smallest.
  • Chop Finely – Chopping all your fresh herbs and chillies as finely as possible before popping them in the mortar and pestle will make things SO much easier. That way you’ll end up with a creamy smooth-textured paste at the end with half the work.
  • Sit With Your Mortar & Pestle – Place your mortar on the floor and sit cross legged beside it. Yep! This will give you maximum power and assistance from gravity. Grab your pestle and hold it with your thumb pressed on the top. Then bang away, letting the pestle fall with a flick of your wrist. You actually need less effort here than you think – just let gravity do all the work for you! Meanwhile use a spoon to scoop the ingredients back down into the centre well of the mortar. 

FAQs

Is panang curry paste gluten free?

Yes. When made from scratch with fresh ingredients, panang curry paste is gluten free.

Is panang curry paste vegan?

This authentic panang curry recipe is not vegan as it includes shrimp paste. However, if you substitute shrimp paste with 1 tsp of salt you can make a vegan version. 

Are fresh or dried chillies best for curry paste?

Dried chillies is best and will give you a richer colour and more earthy flavour. If you can’t source dried, it’s fine to substitute with fresh chillies.

Mortar & Pestle vs Food Processor

While traditionally Panang Curry Paste is made in a mortar and pestle, you can use a spice grinder and food processor to save on time. The end result won’t be exactly the same, but will be very close!

Panang curry paste in a black mortar and pestle.

Spice up the kitchen and make these curries next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Top view of Panang curry paste in a mortar and pestle.

Authentic Thai Panang Curry Paste

Learn how to make this authentic Panang Curry Paste recipe from scratch! Full of fragrant herbs and warm toasted spices, this Thai curry paste is way better than store bought.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 42 minutes
Course: Base
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 1 jar
Calories: 703kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Equipment

Ingredients

Spices

Other Ingredients

Instructions

  • Slice the top off large and small chillies and remove the seeds. If using fresh chilli: chop finely. If using dried chilli: Slice into small rings and soak in water for 40 mins to soften. Drain and squeeze out all the liquid (use gloves to avoid getting spicy chilli on yourself). Chop finely and set aside.
    10 large dried red chillis, 10 dried red thai chillis
  • In a medium frying pan, gently toast all spices over a low to medium heat for a 1-2 minutes, starting with the biggest and gradually adding in the others, through to the smallest. Order should be cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, whole black pepper seeds and finally cumin seeds.
    1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 10 cardamom, 10 whole cloves, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Place all the toasted spices in a stone mortar and pestle, grind into a fine powder. Remove from mortar and pestle and set aside. Note: You can speed things up and use a spice grinder here, but a mortar will give you the best result.
  • Add the remaining ingredients in the mortar and pestle – in sequence so that the most fibrous ingredients are added first – lemongrassgalangal (or ginger), kaffir lime rindkaffir lime leaves, soaked large dried chillies (or fresh), soaked small dried chillies (or fresh), crushed peanutscoriander root, shallotsgarlic and finally shrimp paste. This will help you to achieve a smooth consistency. Note: You can speed things up and use a food processor here, but a mortar will give you the best result. If using a processor, you may need to add a little vegetable oil to help everything mix.
    2 tbsp coriander seeds, 3 stems lemongrass, 2.5 cm galangal, 2 tsp Thai makrut / kaffir lime fruit rind, 6 Thai makrut / kaffir lime leaves, 10 large dried red chillis, 10 dried red thai chillis, 4 coriander root, 5 tbsp crushed peanuts, 5 shallots, 10 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
  • Use a spoon to scrape the ingredients from the side of the mortar and pestle down to the centre as you go. Tip: If you have a small pestle, break up the mix into portions to make it easier when grinding the paste together.
  • Finally add the spice powder and continue to pound until you obtain a smooth paste.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • ChilliesFresh chillies also works.
  • Thai Mukrut / Kaffir Lime Fresh leaves are best for this recipe. You can also find them dried, frozen or in a jar at Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lime. They may be labelled as kaffir lime, makrut or Thai lime leaves. The best name to use is makrut.
  • SpicesMost spices will be available at the supermarket nowadays, or head to your Asian grocery store.
  • Crushed Peanuts – Go for unsalted crushes peanuts – these will sometimes be in the baking section in the supermarket, or at an Asian grocer. You can also buy whole peanuts and crush them yourself. Sub with cashews for a creamier, lighter nutty result.
  • Shrimp Paste – Sub with fish sauce, or if you’re vegan use salt instead.
  • Galangal – This is a very hard root spice. Try to find the lightest colour, or youngest as it’s much easier to cut and less fibrous. Find them fresh at your local Asian grocer and use a large cleaver or very sharp knife to help cut it finely. Sub with ginger in a pinch, although this is a different flavour.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic instead of minced.
  • Lemongrass – You can find whole and chopped lemongrass at most Asian and local supermarkets. Sub with the zest of one lemon per lemongrass stick, note this will give you a different flavour.
  • Coriander Roots – You’ll usually find fresh coriander root in the bunches at your local Asian grocer or market. If you can’t find them, sub with the stems and a few leaves. Make sure to give them a good wash before chopping!
  • Storage – Place paste in ice cube trays, seal up in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The next day, pop out the cubes and place in an airtight container. Homemade curry paste will last up to 6 months in the freezer (or up to about two weeks in the fridge).
  • Chop Finely – Chopping all your fresh herbs and chillies as finely as possible before popping them in the mortar and pestle will make things SO much easier. That way you’ll end up with a creamy smooth-textured paste at the end with half the work.
  • Sit With Your Mortar & Pestle – Place your mortar on the floor and sit cross legged beside it. Yep! This will give you maximum power and assistance from gravity. Grab your pestle and hold it with your thumb pressed on the top. Then bang away, letting the pestle fall with a flick of your wrist. You actually need less effort here than you think – just let gravity do all the work for you! Meanwhile use a spoon to scoop the ingredients back down into the centre well of the mortar. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Authentic Thai Panang Curry Paste
Serving Size
 
10 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
703
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
34
g
52
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
10
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
15
g
Cholesterol
 
171
mg
57
%
Sodium
 
605
mg
26
%
Potassium
 
1936
mg
55
%
Carbohydrates
 
86
g
29
%
Fiber
 
30
g
125
%
Sugar
 
15
g
17
%
Protein
 
38
g
76
%
Vitamin A
 
2886
IU
58
%
Vitamin C
 
32
mg
39
%
Calcium
 
614
mg
61
%
Iron
 
21
mg
117
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Authentic Thai Panang Curry Paste

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Naomi
    25/07/2021 at 1:11 am

    The amount of coriander root listed is unclear – 4 what? Can you clarify?

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      26/07/2021 at 5:01 pm

      Hey Naomi! It’s 4 coriander roots – each little bunch of coriander is connected to a single root, so you want to use 4 of them. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kai Etringer
    17/05/2020 at 9:52 am

    Hi! I just made this and I’m gonna use it in a few days as a replacement for the penang paste in this one https://rasamalaysia.com/thai-panang-curry-with-beef/

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      18/05/2020 at 10:03 am

      Hi Kai, I’d recommend starting with 2-3 tablespoons of our paste, then depending on your spice tolerance, you can add more and adjust from there as needed. Hope this helps, and have fun cooking! Let us know how it turns out.

      • Reply
        kai etringer
        18/05/2020 at 12:16 pm

        thank you so much!

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          18/05/2020 at 4:37 pm

          You’re very welcome! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nikki
    17/10/2019 at 4:37 pm

    I love the recipe. Can I know which mortar pestle you are using? I have been looking for a large-sized one for a long time.

  • Reply
    Alison
    02/08/2019 at 7:33 pm

    5 stars
    Yum! I love curry! I made the vegan version of this and it turned out great!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:06 pm

      That’s awesome Alison, thanks for trying it!

  • Reply
    Tatiana
    02/08/2019 at 4:38 pm

    5 stars
    This recipe is SPECTACULAR!! It’s healthy, easy, and captures the flavors of Thai food in a way I haven’t encountered in most recipes. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:06 pm

      Aww thanks Tatiana, means a lot. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed!

  • Reply
    Dannii
    02/08/2019 at 3:57 pm

    5 stars
    You can’t beat homemamde curry paste. It just saves so much money too!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:07 pm

      I knoooow, it’s so fun too!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    02/08/2019 at 3:10 pm

    5 stars
    Looks and sounds so delicious and authentic – can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:07 pm

      So much flavour!

  • Reply
    Kelly Anthony
    02/08/2019 at 12:46 pm

    5 stars
    I love your idea of curry therapy and making a big batch to freeze for later. Such a great idea and everybody needs to a little curry therapy once in a while.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/08/2019 at 5:07 pm

      Totally agree haha, it’s a great way to use up some energy after a frustrating day and put it to delicious use!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    20/05/2019 at 4:57 am

    Hello, for the 10 large dried red chillis soaked as per below, what is a large chilli? Is it like 10 large chilli de Arbol cause that seems like a lot. Do you have a measurement in grams?
    For the 10 dried red birds eye chillis medium spice level soaked as per below I can only find dried powder and it’s extremely hot. Can you find these at a Thai market and it says medium heat? Do you know what brand you use for both chillis? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      20/05/2019 at 7:42 pm

      Hey Kelly – the chilli used can be completely up to the cook! We get ours from the Asian grocer for both the large chillis and dried bird’s eye. The label on our large chilli literally just says “dried large chilli”. The size is about 10cm long or more. The large chilli pack’s more flavour than heat, but you can put in less if you don’t want it too hot. Same with the bird’s eye chilli – put in as many or as little as you like. It’s up to the individual. You can replace dried and soaked bird’s eye chilli with – the rule of thumb is 1 bird’s eye chilli = 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Lee
    06/01/2017 at 4:35 am

    Hi, thanks for the recipe but where is the shrimp paste and nuts used in making the paste? There listed in the ingredients needed but they are not mentioned in the recipe

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/01/2017 at 9:00 am

      Hey Lee, thanks for getting in touch! When assembling all the ingredients in the mortar and pestle add them in the same order as per the ingredients list. I’ve updated the recipe to make this a little clearer. Best of luck and enjoy your freshly made curry paste! 🙂

  • Reply
    Linz
    04/05/2016 at 9:55 am

    What exactly is coriander root? Where can you find it and can you substitute coriander powder? Also, where did you find kaffir lime leaves and the rind, were they dried? I’ve never seen them in grocery stores here in the states?

    Thanks for posting, can’t wait to try it! 🙂

    Btw, some of the tips are the same things my South Indian mom would do when making masala for a curry!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      04/05/2016 at 10:28 am

      That’s awesome Linz! Great to hear your mum has the same tips – they’re great aren’t they! Thanks for getting in touch.

      We’ve had a browse around the web and you can use coriander powder, or you can even get cheap coriander root powder on Amazon here – Coriander Root Powder and the Kaffir Lime Leaves here – Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves . For the actual fruit, we only JUST found them where we live in a little Asian grocer – so we suggest trying one of those first, and if you can’t find them, regular lime rind will substitute fine.

      Let us know how you go sourcing the ingredients and if you need any other help. 🙂

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