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Chicken Khao Soi Recipe (Thai Curry Noodle Soup)

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Chicken khao soi recipe with homemade Thai red curry paste and a rich coconut milk curry broth. Today we’re heading into the mountainy hills of Northern Thailand, where spicy Thai curry noodle soup is a local comfort food.

Chicken khao soi served in a black bowl, garnished with fried egg noodles, shallots, pickled mustard greens, and red chili flakes.

Don’t miss out on my other Northern Thai cuisine recipes! With nam prik ong, a pork and tomato dip – and the vegan nam prik noom, a delicious roasted chili dip.

What is khao soi

Khao soi is a staple Northern Thai dish with a fragrant coconut curry soup, tender egg noodles, and often chicken. It’s garnished with crispy noodles, pickled mustard greens, lime, and shallots.

Chicken khao soi recipe

It’s not often that you’ll come across khao soi prepared with pork, as the Muslim influence in Northern Thailand has made chicken or beef the preferred choice.

Just like the creamy Thai massaman chicken curry, khao soi is a blend of different culinary traditions, flavors, and ingredients. It’s a signature dish in Chiang Mai, but also far beyond. Khao soi has been influenced by Muslim traders coming from China, who travelled down the trade routes through Laos, Burma, and to Northern Thailand.

Thai woman presenting bowl of Thai chicken khao soi.

Chicken khao soi has many variations across different regions. You’ll find endless combinations in the neighboring countries, Laos and Burma (Myanmar). But also in the street food markets of Northern Thailand you’ll find hundreds of variations, different from province to province.

And that’s what makes this dish so interesting, with each order you’ll get to experience something different. The recipes are adapted as they are passed down through generations, taking on local flavor and ingredients preferences.

However, the heart of this Thai noodle dish remains the same – a vibrant curry paste infused coconut broth, with tender chicken or beef, egg noodles, and several garnishes with fried egg noodles.

Khao soi chicken in a black dish with chili flakes, lime wedges, and bean sprouts.

Hey, if you like spicy Thai curries, feel free to check out one of my authentic red curry recipes next: Authentic Thai red curry recipe with shrimp, gaeng daeng with chicken, Thai red curry fish, and Thai roasted duck curry.

Thai curry noodle soup

This Thai curry noodle soup recipe is the kind of Thai food that’s easy to make but hard to master.

The base of this Northern Thai soup recipe features everyday traditional Thai ingredients you might already have in your kitchen pantry. Fragrant red curry paste, yellow curry powder, tender chicken, creamy coconut milk, sweet palm sugar, and salty fish sauce.

The tricky part is balancing the key flavors of Thai cuisine: the sweet, the sour, the spicy, and the salty.

Hands presenting Northern Thai curry noodle soup.

The curry paste can’t be too spicy, and not too mild either. It’s got to have the right amount of heat, and one flavor can’t overpower the other.

Then, there are the noodles, not one but two different noodles are used! One gets boiled and the other one gets deep-fried until golden brown and crisp. The noodles should be cooked al dente with a slight chew.

The chicken has to be tender and infused with the rich broth flavor.

The garnishing of this rich coconut milk soup is one of the most important parts. A balance of pickled mustard green, shallots, lime, and crushed dried chilies fried to perfection.

No need to get worried now. Remember, it’s easy-to-make, hard to master. I’m here to guide you through the mastering while you do the making. Let’s make an irresistible bowl of egg noodles in curry broth!

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for chicken khao soi labeled: lime, fried chilies, shallots, pickled mustard greens, palm sugar, fish sauce, yellow curry powder, egg noodles, chicken drumsticks, red curry paste, and coconut milk.

Red curry sauce

  • Thai red curry paste – This egg noodles recipe has been made and tested with my homemade curry paste. The paste is made of a blend of traditional ingredients such as salt, shrimp paste, lemongrass, turmeric, kaffir lime skin, shallots, garlic, galangal, and dried chilies. For store-bought, I recommend using Mae-ploy or Maesri brands.
  • Yellow curry powder – A spice blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, and other spices.
  • Chicken – Chicken drumsticks are incredibly popular in Thailand, but you can use chicken thighs as well, they both stay juicy and tender when cooked in a broth. Drumsticks have skin, meat, and bone, so they will add a rich flavor to the curry broth. Chicken breast could become a bit dry, and doesn’t have as much flavor.
  • Coconut milk – The key is to use full-fat coconut milk. We’re looking for a rich, creamy soup base, full of flavor. Each spoonful has to be tasty and authentically delicious.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar, widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, adds a hint of caramel-like sweetness to the soup. For this recipe, it’s not recommended to substitute with white sugar, brown sugar or other types of sugar.
  • Fish sauce – Fish sauce, a key ingredient in Thai cooking, brings an umami and salty flavor. Made from fermented fish and salt, it’s a great addition to this dish. Don’t add too little, but not too much either. Remember, Thai cooking is about balancing different flavors. I recommend following the exact quantities in the recipe card and tasting as you cook.
  • Egg noodles – The noodles can be split into two sections: one boiled and one crispy fried. These type of noodles can be bought at Asian grocery stores.
  • Oil – For deep-frying, use an oil with high smoke point and neutral flavor like vegetable oil.

garnishing

  • Pickled mustard greens – This is an essential garnish. Pickled mustard greens are tangy and slightly crunchy, adding a refreshing flavor that pairs well with the other flavors. Alternatively, you can use pickled mustard stems.
  • Lime – Serve with a lime wedge. Fresh lime juice adds freshness to the broth. An extra tangy note makes it more interesting.
  • Shallots – Freshly sliced shallots are added as garnishing for their crunch and mild, sweet flavor.
  • Thai chili flakes (optional) – Chili flakes add a spicy kick, start with a small amount if your spice-level isn’t high. You can always add more later.

How to make Chiang Mai noodles

Score your chicken drumsticks twice.

Step 1. Prepare the chicken: Wash the drumsticks. Score each drumstick twice. This helps them cook evenly and lets the rich flavors soak in.

Reduced coconut milk in a wok.

Step 2. Coconut milk reduction: In a wok or pot, simmer 10floz (300ml) of coconut milk over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it thickens and the oil begins to separate.

Fried red curry paste in a wok with spatula.

Step 3. Curry base: Stir in the red curry paste and yellow curry powder until the mixture is smooth and well-blended with the reduced coconut milk.

Chicken simmering in red coconut curry sauce.

Step 4. Coating the chicken: Add the drumsticks to the curry base. Make sure each piece is evenly coated. Then, pour in the remaining coconut milk.

Chiang Mai noodle soup simmering in a wok.

Step 5. Seasoning the curry: Mix in fish sauce and palm sugar. Let the chicken broth simmer gently on low heat for 20–30 minutes. The chicken should be completely cooked through. If the sauce feels too thick, feel free to add a splash of water (about 3.4floz/100ml).

Egg noodles cooking steps, frying and boiling.

Step 6. Noodles: Heat a generous amount of oil in a separate pan. Fry a small handful of egg noodles until they’re crispy – this should take about 30 seconds. For the remaining noodles, boil them until al dente, then drain well.

Step 7. Serve: Place a portion of the boiled noodles in a bowl. Ladle the aromatic chicken curry over them. Top with crispy noodles and add seasonings to taste.

Kitchen tools

  • Mortar and pestle or food processor for making the curry paste from scratch
  • Large pot or Dutch oven for simmering the curry
  • Deep pan or deep fryer for frying the egg noodles
  • Colander for draining the boiled noodles
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Ladle for serving

How to serve khao soi noodles

Serve your khao soi noodle soup in a deep bowl. Place the boiled egg noodles at the bottom, ladle the hot curry over them, and top with crispy noodles. Provide lime wedges, chopped shallots, pickled mustard greens, and a small dish of red pepper flakes on the side. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro or freshly chopped green onions.

A side of spicy sum tum Thai (green papaya salad) is perfect with khao soi.

How to store curry noodles with chicken

Allow your Chiang Mai noodles to cool to room temperature. Store the curry and noodles separately in airtight containers. The crispy noodles should be kept in a dry, airtight container at room temperature. The curry and boiled noodles can be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing instructions: The curry can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Reheating instructions: Reheat on the stove top over medium heat until warm. Prepare a fresh batch of crispy noodles if desired.

Chicken noodle soup facts

  • When you order this chicken noodle soup in Thailand, it’s different every time. There are many regional varieties, and even families have different recipes. Also, the curry paste used influences the taste outcome of the dish, so make sure to use my recipe for Thai red curry paste.
  • ‘Khao soi’ roughly translates to ‘cut rice’ in Thai. Not that there’s any rice included, this dish is made with egg noodles. However, the old method of making noodles was by cutting them from a sheet of rice dough.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this in advance?

Khao soi is usually served fresh. If you want, you can make the soup in advance and store it in the fridge for later. When you’re ready to serve, cook and fry the noodles and add them to the soup. If you’re making the curry paste from scratch, you can make it in advance as well.

Can I make this recipe with other protein?

Yes! You can use any protein you want. Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, seafood, you name it. You can even make a vegetarian version by adding a combination of vegetables of your choice.

Where are the vegetables?

The traditional version of chicken khao soi doesn’t have any vegetables in it. It’s delicious without veggies, but if you want, you can add your choice of greens.

Is khao soi gluten-free?

No. Khao soi is made with egg noodles, and egg noodles are not gluten-free. Egg noodles are made from wheat flour. An example of gluten-free noodles is rice noodles.

Related Thai curry recipes you’ll love

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Chicken Khao Soi Recipe (Thai Curry Noodle Soup)

Chicken khao soi served in a black bowl, garnished with fried egg noodles, shallots, pickled mustard greens, and red chili flakes.
This recipe makes a delicious noodle soup for 4, with chicken as the main source of protein.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

MAIN

  • 24 fluid ounces coconut milk divided into 10 & 14 floz
  • 1.8 ounce red curry paste
  • 1.5 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 30 ounces egg noodles

FOR GARNISHING

  • pickled mustard greens add to taste
  • shallots sliced, add to taste
  • lime sliced, add to taste
  • dried chili flakes add to taste

Instructions

  • Wash the drumsticks. Score each drumstick twice. This helps them cook evenly and lets the rich flavors soak in.
  • In a wok or pot, simmer 10floz (300ml) of coconut milk over medium heat for about 5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it thickens and the oil begins to separate.
  • Stir in the red curry paste and yellow curry powder until the mixture is smooth and well-blended with the reduced coconut milk.
  • Add the drumsticks to the curry base. Make sure each piece is evenly coated. Then, pour in the remaining coconut milk.
  • Mix in fish sauce and palm sugar. Let the curry simmer gently on low heat for 20–30 minutes. The chicken should be completely cooked through. If the sauce feels too thick, feel free to add a splash of water (about 3.4floz/100ml).
  • Heat a generous amount of oil in a separate pan. Fry a small handful of egg noodles until they’re crispy – this should take about 30 seconds. For the remaining noodles, boil them until al dente, then drain well.
  • Place a portion of the boiled noodles in a bowl. Ladle the aromatic chicken curry over them. Top with crispy noodles and add seasonings to taste.

Video

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Red curry paste: Use my Thai red curry paste recipe or Mae Ploy / Maesri for store-bought.
  • If possible, store leftover broth, chicken, noodles, and garnishes separate in airtight containers.

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