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Panang Curry

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Recreate a Thai restaurant favorite at home! This easy Panang curry recipe combines tender chicken and vegetables in a fragrant coconut curry and peanut sauce.

panang curry over rice in bowl

One of my go-to dishes when we go out for Thai food, Panang curry is a delicious variation of Thai red curry known for its subtle sweetness, mild spiciness, and the satisfying addition of peanuts. While authentic versions use homemade curry paste and a few items that can be hard to find in American supermarkets, my recipe is made with store-bought curry paste and other ingredients easily found in the Asian section of your local store. Taste-wise, it’s practically indistinguishable from traditional versions, and it comes together in just about 40 minutes. Pair it with jasmine rice and dinner is done!

“So much flavour for so little effort. Your recipes never disappoint, but this one is a real winner.”

Karen

What you’ll need to make Panang Curry

key ingredients explained

  • Red Curry Paste: This flavorful paste combines lemongrass, galangal (a cousin of ginger found in Thailand), bright red chilis, and a medley of aromatic spices. Its heat level can vary significantly from one brand to another, so it’s always a good idea to taste-test and adjust accordingly. I use the Thai Kitchen brand.
  • Coconut Milk: A staple in many curry dishes, it’s essential to opt for full-fat coconut milk to achieve that rich texture and taste. However, be aware that canned coconut milk’s consistency can differ depending on the brand. Some might be too watery, while others might separate in sauces. I’ve consistently had great results with the Thai Kitchen brand.
  • Fish Sauce: A unique ingredient prominent in East Asian dishes, fish sauce is known for its robust salty and savory profile. It brings a depth of umami flavor to an array of recipes, from sauces and marinades to salad dressings. For the best flavor, look for brands imported from Thailand or Vietnam.

Step-by-step instructions

Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add the pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes

sauteeing bell peppers in large nonstick pan

Add the scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.

scallions added to pan

Mix in the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more; do not brown.

garlic added to pan with scallions and bell peppers

Add the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar.

Adding coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar to skillet

Whisk ingredients together.

whisking coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar together

Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to promote even cooking, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. (Do not let the sauce vigorously boil; the idea is to cook the chicken gently so that it’s tender.)

adding the chicken to the panang curry sauce

Mix in the lime juice, cilantro, and peanuts.

adding the lime juice, peanuts, and cilantro

Stir gently to combine all ingredients.

finished panang curry in pan

Taste and adjust seasoning with more lime, if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is Panang curry spicy?

A: Panang curry is known for its mild spiciness. However, the level of spiciness will vary depending on the brand of red curry paste you use; feel free to use more or less to adjust to your taste. I use the Thai Kitchen brand, which is mild.

Q: Why did my curry sauce separate?

A: Depending on the brand of coconut milk you use, it’s common for the sauce to separate in Panang curry during cooking. In fact, some Thai cooks prefer this separation as it can add depth to the dish. I use Thai Kitchen coconut milk, which does not tend to separate. However, if your sauce happens to separate, don’t worry about it—it will still be delicious.

Q: Can I make Panang curry ahead of time?

A: Yes, you can absolutely make this ahead of time. After you’ve prepared your Panang curry, simply let it cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to enjoy it, gently reheat the curry either on the stovetop or in the microwave until it’s heated through.

Q: Will fish sauce make food taste “fishy?”

A: Nope! While many people might assume fish sauce imparts a fishy flavor, in reality, when used correctly, it adds depth and umami flavor without making the dish taste overtly like fish.

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Panang Curry

Recreate a Thai restaurant favorite at home! This easy Panang curry recipe combines tender chicken and vegetables in a fragrant coconut curry and peanut sauce.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small bunch scallions, light and dark green parts, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (see note)
  • 2½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2½ tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1¼ pounds chicken breast or tenderloins, thinly sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice plus lime wedges for serving (you'll need 2 limes)
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • ⅓ cup dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add the pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more; do not brown.
  2. Add the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and sugar and whisk together. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally to promote even cooking, until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. (Do not let the sauce vigorously boil; the idea is to cook the chicken gently so that it's tender.) Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and peanuts. Taste and adjust seasoning with more lime, if necessary. Serve with jasmine rice.
  3. Note: The consistency of canned coconut varies by brand. Some might be a bit watery, while others might separate in sauces. I've consistently had great results with the Thai Kitchen brand.
  4. Make-Ahead Instructions: Panang curry may be made ahead of time, but take care not to overcook the chicken. After you've prepared the dish, let it cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. When you're ready to enjoy it, gently reheat the curry either on the stovetop or in the microwave until it's heated through.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 548
  • Fat: 37 g
  • Saturated fat: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 20 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 39 g
  • Sodium: 844 mg
  • Cholesterol: 104 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • Hi Jenn, thanks for yet another great recipe. Love how your recipes are so easy to follow and always turn out super tasty. Just wondering though, is it okay to use leek instead of scallions in this recipe? Thank you!

    • — Esther on November 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Esther, Generally leeks and scallions are not interchangeable, but I think you could get away with it if that’s all you’ve got on hand.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Great recipe that we made today for the family. Everyone loved it! I think we will add the recommended red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper next time. A little extra heat would make it more awesome!

    Thanks, Darren

    • — DARREN BATY on November 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made as written and used recommended products but found it missing something. Just okay. Added cayenne and red pepper flakes to leftovers and that helped a little. Won’t make again

    • — Viki on November 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is delicious, mild, and very easy to make. What can I add to kick up the heat?

    • — Corinne Osborne on November 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! To boost the heat, you can add some crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper along with the coconut milk, curry paste, etc.

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious! I love any kind of curry, and this one is super easy. I did add extra curry paste, but my brand wasn’t hot at all and I thought it needed a little boost.

    • — Bethany on November 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • 10 out of 10. I cut sugar to a scant tablespoon due to a household diabetic. Didn’t miss it. Served with cauliflower rice. Was a treat. First time I’ve made Thai food that tasted restaurant quality at home.

    • — Frances Sarnacki on November 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Notice you use cast iron skillets quite a bit and so I’m thinking of picking one up to try. What size did you use in this recipe? Is that a 12″? Thanks!

    • — Howard D. on November 7, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yes, that is a 12″ skillet. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 7, 2023
      • Reply
  • My picky eaters loved your panang curry! Thank you for so many wonderful recipes.

    • — kelly miller on November 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was fast and easy to prepare! We did not realize how spicy the curry paste would be, so I’d suggest halving the amount if you prefer less spicy. We will make it again!

    • — Blaire on November 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • WOW! Followed the recipe exactly using the brands you recommended and we loved it. I’m going to try it with tofu when my vegetarian son and daughter-in-law visit.

    • — Brooklin on November 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • Another winner from Jenn…will definitely make this again!
    We like spice so added half a finely diced jalapeno with the red pepper and it was perfect for our taste with a little heat where we might typically add Sriricha.
    Thanks Jenn for being reliably excellent!

    • — Muffy B. on November 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe is fantastic and fairly easy for a weeknight. I have made it 2x in one week. I didn’t have a bell pepper tonight so substituted a carrot and a little red onion. Worked just fine. Love everything on your site!

    • — Diane O on November 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi! Any suggestions on adding beef instead of chicken? Would you follow the recipe the same? Thank you!

    • — Rachel on October 31, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep the same:)

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • This, as all your recipes, is amazing! However none of us like cilantro, what can we substitute for it or should we just leave it out like we did?

    • — Susan G on October 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you liked it! I’d just go ahead and continue to omit the cilantro.

      • — Jenn on October 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • This was delicious! A perfect blend of spices and flavors. Thankful that my friend shared your website with me!

    • — alisha on October 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • Fabulous recipe. Red curry was too strong. I cut it down to 1T and still had to add heavy cream to tone it down. My curry was from the Asian food store and very authentic. Hence very strong compared to supermarket brand. Otherwise this recipe does not disappoint. In fact all of the recipes from Jennifer Segal are top notch. Thank you Jenn!

    • — Patti K. on October 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious and easy!

    • — Meredith on October 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • Best red curry I’ve ever made!! Thank you for this recipe!

    • — Jennifer Alagna on October 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner last night. So much flavour for so little effort. Your recipes never disappoint, but this one is a real winner.

    • — Karen Dyxk on October 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    This looks great.
    I am going to look for some good Thai Curry paste in my area today.
    I don’t care for coconut milk and I read somewhere that one can substitute Greek yogurt for the coconut milk. What do you think? If not, what is a good substitute for the coconut milk?
    Thanks!
    Dan

    • — Dan on October 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Dan, you can replace the coconut milk with heavy cream. Keep in my end, that the coconut milk adds a distinct flavor to the dish so while this will still be good, it will definitely taste different. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • Simply fabulous! Jenn nails it every single time with her recipes. Loved by family and neighbors. Truly great rendition of this classic.

    • — Malcolm Armstrong on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Easy and delicious. Made exactly as written.

    • — Erica on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • What can I substitute for fish sauce, as my son-in-law won’t eat it? Will it significantly impact the flavor if I leave it out? This looks delicious, by the way and I love fish sauce in a family of fish sauce haters.

    • — Wendy on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, you can replace the fish sauce with soy sauce. The dish will still be good, but won’t have that authentic Thai taste. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! I’m wondering if this can be frozen in small portions? I’m thinking about making this as a gift. Thanks🙂

    • — Asha on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Asha, technically, based on what’s in the recipe, I think it could be frozen, but I don’t think it’s the best candidate for freezing. I’d suggest you take a look at my freezer-friendly section for lots of other options.

      • — Jenn on October 27, 2023
      • Reply
      • I have had no problems freezing individual portions of your Thai curry chicken recipe; it holds up well, the sauce doesn’t break down at all. I am looking forward to trying this one! Thanks for the great recipes you create.

        • — Mary N. on November 1, 2023
        • Reply
        • That’s good to know — thanks for weighing in (and I’d love it if you reported back to LMK how it freezes)!

          • — Jenn on November 1, 2023
          • Reply
          • It froze (and then unfroze!) beautifully. Just like the chicken curry.

            • — Mary N. on November 8, 2023
          • Really good to know and I’m guessing other readers will really appreciate it — thanks for taking the time to report back! 🙂

            • — Jenn on November 8, 2023
  • Hi Jen,
    We love your green curry with shrimp so we plan on trying this one.
    Should the peanuts be unsalted?
    Thanks

    • — Grace Ferguson on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Grace, You can use either salted or unsalted; I use salted.

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I use the light canned coconut milk or will it be too thin?

    • — Marianne on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Marianne, I don’t recommend it—sorry!

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! If we wanted to be veg forward, what would you substitute for the chicken?
    Thanks!
    Claire

    • — Claire on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Claire, You could add lots more veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans would all be great options.

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I use tofu instead of chicken?

    • — Cathleen I Christian on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep definitely!

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2023
      • Reply
      • Whoops, sorry! I didn’t see this – but we’re not huge tofu fans (so far)..

        • — Claire on October 26, 2023
        • Reply
  • I love Asian, Eastern food, but soooo much has Peanut, Garbanzo beans, ie, Humus, in it that for me and many like me it would be Death… Allergies abound.. Legume allergies prevent us from enjoying eating out. Home cooking allows us to not be killed by what we ingest, but is just sad that , unless, like humus ,which comprised by legumes, peanuts prevent us from partaking in really great food out in the restaurant world. I’ve not found many places that are willing to alter their recipes to allow us to eat there safely… Just sayin’ Would love to be able to partake.

    • — Markey on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Thankfully, Jenn has shared some great Asian dishes with us that you can adjust for your allergies! Now you can partake in these yummy foods at home, safely.

      • — Kelly Miller on November 5, 2023
      • Reply
  • This looks amazing – I did not see the note you refer to in the recipe – 1 (14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (see note)

    Love all your recipes and cannot wait to try this one.

    • — Robbie on October 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Thanks for catching that, Robbie! The recipe has been updated.

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2023
      • Reply

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