Asian Recipes/ Chicken Recipes/ Curry/ Dinner/ Recipes

Easy Thai Chicken Panang Curry

26/10/2023

A scintillating chicken panang curry recipe, guaranteed to set your taste buds on fire! Full of flavour from panang curry paste and creamy coconut milk, get this easy weeknight curry on the table in just 20 mins.

Large bowl of Thai chicken Panang curry with mukrut leaves.

Why We Love This

We love the incredible depth of flavour in this homemade chicken panang curry recipe! It’s so easy to make on a weeknight too – ready in around 20 mins.

Like all good homemade curries, it’s easy to adapt this recipe to make it just how you like it. Tone the spice level by using more or less curry paste, adding extra chillies to fire it up, or adding more coconut milk to make it creamy.

Chicken panang curry freezes really well, so why not make an extra big batch and freeze for easy lunches or dinners later on.

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Related: Thai Green Curry Paste / Curry Udon / Coconut Rice

Thinly sliced lime leaves and chilli are topped on a bowl of Panang curry.

What is Panang Curry? 

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

What makes it so unique is the combination of flavours from the panang curry paste ingredients (such as red chillies, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste and makrut lime) blended together with crushed peanuts.

The sauce in panang curry is traditionally thicker than other curries and is usually cooked with meat – such as chicken, beef or duck – no vegetables. (Although you can totally add them at home in if you want to!) 

Fun Fact: The curry paste already includes shallots, so no need to add extra onion to the dish.

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken – You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs, it’s up to you! Sub with beef, pork, duck, seafood or tofu. 
  • Panang Curry Paste – For the best flavour we highly recommend making your own homemade panang curry paste! You can use a mortar and pestle, or a food processor to keep it quick and easy. Store bought paste is totally fine though, best brands to use are Maesri, Mae Ploy and Aroy-D. You can find them in larger supermarket chains or Asian grocery stores.
  • Coconut Milk – Sub with coconut cream for an even thicker curry sauce. 
  • Makrut / Kaffir Lime Leaves – Fresh leaves are best for this recipe, however you can also find them dried, frozen or jarred at supermarkets or Asian grocery stores. Makrut is the Thai name for this ingredient (and out of respect, is the best name to use), but in Australia and elsewhere it’s often labelled as kaffir lime or Thai lime. If you can’t source it, just leave it out or add the zest of one regular lime. The flavour won’t be the same, but it will get you closer.
  • Fish Sauce –  This staple Asian ingredient has a strong smell in the bottle, but is perfect for adding savoury flavour to your cooking. You’ll find it at Asian grocery stores or larger supermarkets in the international foods section. If you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, substitute with soy sauce or 1 tsp salt, or leave it out.
  • Palm Sugar – Use this to add a caramelised hint of sweetness to the sauce. Sub with raw sugar or brown sugar if you need.
  • To Serve – Serve over freshly cooked jasmine rice, basmati, sticky rice or long grain rice. Optional garnish with shredded makrut lime leaves and thinly sliced chilli.
Ingredients laid out to make Thai Panang Curry.

How to make Chicken Panang Curry

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the panang curry paste and torn kaffir lime leaves. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until deliciously fragrant.
  2. Add the chicken pieces, making sure to coat them well in the paste, stir frying until mostly cooked through, around 5 minutes.
  1. Pour in the coconut milk and stir well. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken and reduce slightly for around 8-10 minutes.
  2. Switch off the heat and stir in the palm sugar and fish sauce. Once the sugar has dissolved, serve immediately with fluffy white rice and optional garnishes.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Turn Off the Heat – Make sure to turn off the heat before adding the palm sugar and fish sauce. 
  • Storage – Panang curry will last for 2-3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, otherwise you can freeze it for 2-3 months. Store rice separately from the curry to stop it soaking up all the liquid and turning gluggy.

FAQs

What’s the difference between panang curry and red curry?

These are two of the most popular Thai curries, and both have a rich red colour, but there are a couple of key differences:
1) The inclusion of crushed peanuts in the paste gives panang curry a richer, nuttier and earthier flavour than red curry paste. 
2) Where red curries often include stock as a liquid in the sauce, panang is usually only cooked with coconut milk, helping the sauce to stay much thicker than other curries.

What should I serve with it?

Rice is the perfect accompaniment to panang curry, as it soaks up all the flavours really well. You could serve it as part of a Thai feast with some yummy entrees like pandan chicken, crispy Thai spring rolls or miang kham salad bites!

Can I make it vegetarian?

Sure, you’ll need to make a few swaps but it’s totally doable. Use a vegan friendly curry paste brand (or make your own paste at home leaving out the dried shrimp and/or fish sauce). Swap the chicken for tofu, tempeh and/or all your favourite veggies (more ideas below).

Variations

  • Curry Paste – Sub with other red or green curry paste styles for different flavour profiles. If you do, add some peanut butter into the mix to keep the same earthy, nutty flavour panang curry is most known for.
  • Vegetables – While this dish doesn’t traditionally include vegetables, feel free to use up what’s in your fridge! It goes great with green or red bell peppers / capsicum, carrot, broccoli, green beans, peas, pumpkin or butternut squash. Regular eggplants or small Thai eggplants are a delicious option too if you can source them!
  • Extra Flavour – Add garlic to the sauce when cooking.
  • Garnish Ideas – Top the finished dish with a sprinkling of fried shallots and/or a sprig of Thai basil leaves.
  • Similar Flavours – If you love the flavour of Panang curry, you’ll love our Thai choo chee chicken curry and our Indonesian Gado Gado dishes!
Bowl of Chicken Thai Panang Curry with utensils and rice in the background.

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

Bowl of Chicken Panang Curry topped with chilli and mukrut leaves.

Easy Thai Chicken Panang Curry

A scintillating chicken panang curry recipe, guaranteed to set your taste buds on fire! Full of flavour from panang curry paste and creamy coconut milk, get this easy weeknight curry on the table in just 20 mins.
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 4 Serves
Calories: 1053kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Equipment

Ingredients

Optional:

Instructions

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the panang curry paste and torn kaffir lime leaves. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
    100 g Panang curry paste, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 8 Thai makrut / kaffir lime leaves
  • Throw in the chicken pieces, making sure to coat them well. Fry until mostly cooked through, around 5 minutes.
    500 g chicken
  • Pour in the coconut milk and stir well. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken and reduce slightly for another 8-10 minutes.
    400 g coconut milk
  • Switch off the heat and stir through the palm sugar and fish sauce. Once the sugar has dissolved, serve immediately with optional fluffy white rice and garnishes.
    1 ½ tbsp fish sauce, 1 ½ tbsp palm sugar, 4 cups jasmine rice, 2 Thai makrut / kaffir lime leaves, 1 long red chilli

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Chicken – Use thighs or breast. Sub with beef, pork, duck, seafood or tofu. 
  • Panang Curry Paste – For best flavour make your own homemade panang curry paste! For store bought, best brands are Maesri, Mae Ploy and Aroy-D. Sub with regular red or green curry paste for different flavour profiles. If you do, you can also add some peanut butter to the mix for an earthier, nutty flavour. 
  • Coconut Milk – Sub with coconut cream for a thicker curry sauce. 
  • Makrut / Kaffir Lime Leaves – 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.
  • Fish Sauce –  You’ll find it at Asian grocers or in well-stocked supermarkets in the international foods section, or online. If you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, substitute with soy sauce or leave it out.
  • Palm Sugar – Sub with raw sugar or brown sugar if you need.
  • Turn Off the Heat – Make sure to turn off the heat before adding the palm sugar and fish sauce. 
  • Storage – Panang curry will last for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container, otherwise you can freeze it for 2-3 months. Store rice separately from the curry for best results.
  • Vegetables – While this dish doesn’t traditionally include vegetables – feel free to use up what’s in your fridge! It goes great with capsicum / bell peppers, carrot and broccoli. You can even add pumpkin or butternut squash. Small Thai eggplants are a delicious option too if you can source them!
  • Garnish Ideas – Top the finished dish with a sprinkling of fried shallots and/or a sprig of Thai basil leaves.
  • Similar Flavours – If you love the flavour of Panang curry, you’ll love our Thai choo chee chicken curry and our Indonesian Gado Gado dishes!

    Nutrition

    Nutrition Facts
    Easy Thai Chicken Panang Curry
    Amount per Serving
    Calories
    1053
    % Daily Value*
    Fat
     
    33
    g
    51
    %
    Saturated Fat
     
    23
    g
    144
    %
    Trans Fat
     
    1
    g
    Polyunsaturated Fat
     
    3
    g
    Monounsaturated Fat
     
    6
    g
    Cholesterol
     
    45
    mg
    15
    %
    Sodium
     
    605
    mg
    26
    %
    Potassium
     
    602
    mg
    17
    %
    Carbohydrates
     
    158
    g
    53
    %
    Fiber
     
    4
    g
    17
    %
    Sugar
     
    6
    g
    7
    %
    Protein
     
    27
    g
    54
    %
    Vitamin A
     
    4129
    IU
    83
    %
    Vitamin C
     
    20
    mg
    24
    %
    Calcium
     
    116
    mg
    12
    %
    Iron
     
    6
    mg
    33
    %
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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    Easy Thai Chicken Panang Curry

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    4 Comments

  • Reply
    c
    12/01/2024 at 4:01 am

    5 stars
    i’ve been looking for a good panang curry recipe for a while and finally found it ! i used the maesri brand curry paste and it tasted heavenly, thank you 😀

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      15/01/2024 at 9:41 am

      Amazing to hear :D. Maesri is awesome for a canned paste. So glad you enjoyed.

  • Reply
    Chelsea
    10/06/2023 at 9:27 am

    4 stars
    This is fantastic! SUPER spicy though. At least it was using the panang curry paste I purchased.
    I needed to add extra coconut milk, fish sauce and raw sugar to tone down the heat.
    I added red bell pepper and blue oyster mushrooms in addition to the chicken.
    Will make again. Highly recommend.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      11/06/2023 at 1:19 pm

      That’s great Chelsea! Different pastes will definitely vary greatly in spice, so it will be a little bit of trial and error when changing up brands or going from homemade to store-bought. You can always try doing half or two thirds of the paste to start and adding a little more later for more flavour. Otherwise, what you did by adding more coconut milk etc was the perfect way to reach that balance. Enjoy!

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