Essential Thai Pantry Staples for Home Cooks

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Thai pantry staples like fish sauce and oyster sauce are the foundation of authentic Thai cuisine. Stock up your kitchen with the essential ingredients for cooking Thai food at home, and simply follow my recipes to create the most delicious traditional dishes!

Complete guide to essential Thai pantry staples for the home cook, featuring popular Thai sauces, herbs, and spices.

In Thai cuisine, every herb, spice, and sauce tells a story. Most people think that cooking Thai is hard, but I believe that anyone can bring the authentic taste of Thailand into their home. It’s all about understanding the balance of flavors – the sweet, sour, salty, and spicy.

In this complete guide, we’ll explore the basic ingredients such as sauces, seasonings, herbs, and spices, and find out how they are used in Thai cuisine.

We’ll talk about the essential Thai ingredients, the less essentials, and I’ll share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

As always, this guide is written with home cooks in mind, making Thai cooking easy and enjoyable for all.

After reading this guide, head over to my collection of mortar and pestle recipes and healthy Thai food recipes to start making some authentic Thai food!

Essential Thai pantry staples

These are the must-have ingredients for cooking Thai food at home. You can easily find most of them at local Asian grocery stores or in the international aisles of larger supermarkets.

Fish sauce

Thai name: น้ำปลา (nam pla)

Bottle of megachef premium fish sauce being picked from a shelf.

Fish sauce is a staple condiment in Thai cuisine, known for its rich umaminess. It’s a pungent, savory liquid made from fermented fish and salt, used to season and enhance a variety of Southeast Asian dishes like stir-fries, curries, and salads.

Flavors and uses:

Fish sauce is salty, savory, and full of umami. It brings a unique depth to Thai classics like pad Thai and som tum Thai (green papaya salad) that you just can’t get from anything else.

If you’re using fish sauce for the first time, you might find it has a bit of a pungent aroma. Once you get used to it, there’s no going back – you’ll find yourself wanting to add it to everything and anything!

One of my favorite ways to enjoy it is in prik nam pla, a Thai chili condiment with a base of fish sauce.

My favorite brands:

  • Megachef (my grandmother’s preferred brand, she says it’s not as salty as most brands)
  • Squid Brand
  • Red Boat
  • Tiparos


The best brands of fish sauce typically contain only fish – usually anchovy, shrimp, or mackerel – and salt. Look for simplicity, no weird stuff please! Check the label for a high protein content and minimal additives.

Oyster sauce

Thai name: น้ำมันหอย (nam man hoi)

Hand holding a bottle of Maekrua brand Thai oyster sauce in front of store shelves.

Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown condiment, made from oyster extracts, sugar, and salt. It’s commonly used in Asian dishes like stir-fries and marinades for its complex savory and slightly sweet flavor profile.

Flavors and uses:

Oyster sauce is a basic ingredient in many Thai stir-fries like pad mee (stir-fried noodles) and pad kra pao (Thai basil stir-fry). It’s also used as a flavor base for dipping sauces and gravies.

A little drizzle goes a long way for adding a delightful finish to your soups, steamed vegetables, and more. It brings umami to everything it touches.

My hubby and I have this weekly debate about the taste of oyster sauce. I always argue that it’s predominantly salty with maybe a tiny hint of sweetness – I’d say it’s about 5% sweet. But he’s convinced it’s got more of a 40% sweet edge to it. I mean, really? More than 5% sweet?

Regardless, we love drizzling it over a bunch of stuff!

My favorite brands:

  • Maekrua (my go-to)
  • Lee Kum Kee
  • Panda Brand


The better oyster sauces use real oyster extracts (an oyster cooking liquid). Look for brands where oysters are listed at the top of the ingredient list with few additives, as this usually means a richer flavor. Usually, the expensive brands will contain more oyster extract, thus will be higher in quality.

Light soy sauce

Thai name: ซีอิ๊วขาว (see ew kao / si iw kao)

Picking up a bottle of light soy sauce with a yellow label from a Thai grocery aisle.

Thai light soy sauce, often called thin or white soy sauce, is the go-to seasoning for many Thai dishes. It has a unique salty flavor, distinct from Japanese and Chinese soy sauces, with a thin consistency that adds depth without altering the color of the food.

Flavors and uses:

I use Thai light soy sauce to add that salty soy touch to my stir-fries, for braising, or marinades. It has a unique savory and salty punch, perfect for balancing out the flavors, which is what Thai cooking is all about. It’s ideal for seasoning chicken or seafood.

If you’re after that authentic Thai taste, you should source Thai soy sauces. You could use any soy sauce and still create something delicious, but for that genuine Thai flavor, nothing beats the real deal from Thailand.

My favorite brand:

  • Healthy boy brand

Healthy boy is the most popular brand in Thailand and readily available at Asian markets or grocery stores.

Thai black soy sauce (Thai dark soy sauce)

Thai name: ซีอิ๊วดำ (see ew dam)

Hand holding a bottle of Thai black soy sauce with a colorful label in a grocery store aisle.

Thai black soy sauce, or dark soy sauce, has a thick consistency and dark color. It’s a Thai kitchen essential for bringing a dark, rich color and a mild sweetness to dishes.

Flavors and uses:

I’m a big fan of the subtle salty-sweet and rich flavor that dark soy sauce brings to stir-fries, marinades, and my noodle soups.

But, it’s not just about the salty and sweet notes; it also imparts a gorgeous dark, caramel-like hue to dishes. It’s a staple in pad see ew for giving those fresh sen yai rice noodles their signature glossy look.

Dark soy sauce isn’t about adding saltiness like light soy, it’s more about bringing in a rich, molasses-like depth and that beautifully dark color.

Pay attention when adding dark soy sauce, adding too much of it will make your dish overly sweet and dark, thus ruining the flavor balance.

My favorite brand:

  • Healthy boy brand

Thai seasoning sauce

Thai name: ซอสปรุงรส (sot prong roht)

A bottle of Golden Mountain seasoning sauce being held up, with a background of Thai sauces and seasonings.

In Thai cuisine, seasoning sauces like golden mountain sauce are often used for their enhancing flavors. These sauces are similar to soy sauce but have just that little bit of extra and their own unique taste. They’re often used to add a savory flavor and a hint of umami to stir-fries.

  • Golden mountain sauce: A staple in many Thai kitchens. Works really well in lots of dishes, adding a richer flavor than just soy sauce.
  • Maggi seasoning sauce: Maggi sauce is another favorite, great for adding extra flavor to your dishes.

Both golden mountain and Maggi are readily available at Asian grocery stores.

Shrimp paste

Thai name: กะปิ (gapi / kapi)

Hand holding a jar of shrimp paste in a grocery store aisle.

Shrimp paste is a pungent, purple-brown condiment, made from fermented ground shrimp or krill, salt, and sometimes sugar. It has an intense, pungent aroma that can be quite strong for some, but that’s part of its charm.

Flavors and uses:

Shrimp paste is a flavor-packed essential Thai pantry staple for authentic Thai curries and sauces like nam prik kapi. It lends a unique umami and deep, savory flavor. It’s commonly used in small quantities to enrich dishes, but in my family, we could literally put a big amount of it in or on top of everything.

It’s salty, pungent, umami-rich, funky, and savory. In Thailand, we learn to love and appreciate it from a young age.

If you suddenly smell something really strong and pungent while strolling through a Thai street food market or sitting at a street food stall, it’s likely shrimp paste! This aroma is a big part of Thai cooking, especially in Isan – Northeastern Thailand, where we cook our dishes with a generous amount of fish sauce and shrimp paste.

My favorite brand:

  • Kung Thai

This is the brand we use in my family. While there are many other brands available, I haven’t experimented much with others.

Tamarind paste

Thai name: น้ำมะขามเปียก (nam makaam piak)

Tamarind paste is made from just the pulp of dried tamarind fruit and water. It has a rich, clean sour and slightly sweet taste without bitterness. Many beloved Thai classics, like pad Thai, wouldn’t be complete without tamarind’s unique flavor.

Flavors and uses:

It’s a thick, creamy paste and is used in Thai cooking for adding an acidic flavor in cooked dishes. It can be used in dipping sauces, curries, stir-fries, and more.

You might see it labelled as ‘tamarind water’ or ‘tamarind juice’, but it’s all the same thing. If you cook Thai food often, it’s a good idea to have tamarind pulp in your kitchen pantry for making the paste fresh. It tastes way better than the store-bought alternatives and doesn’t have any preservatives.

To make tamarind paste yourself, simply soak the dried tamarind pulp in warm water for about 30 minutes, then allow it to cool and use your hands to squeeze the pulp. Strain and press it through a sieve to get a smooth paste free of any seeds or fibers.

For detailed instructions, head over to my tamarind sauce recipe.

For store-bought, you can use any Thai tamarind paste you can find at an Asian grocery store. Some brands might have a stronger taste than others. Make sure to get a Thai tamarind paste and not the Indian variants, which are more sour and sticky.

Palm sugar

Thai name: น้ำตาลปี๊บ (nam taan peep)

Palm sugar, made from the sap of sugar palm trees, is an essential sweetener in Thai cooking. It has a subtle caramel-like flavor, which is less sweet and more complex than regular cane sugar.

Flavors and uses:

Palm sugar has a distinct caramel-like flavor, adding richness and depth to lots of dishes like curries, marinades, and desserts. It’s a basic ingredient for Thai cooking, used to balance the heat in spicy dishes, but often white granulated sugar can be used as well.

Palm sugar comes in solid blocks or granules. I use the pure pastes or solid blocks, but you’ll need to chop or grate it to weigh it out before adding it to your dishes.

Thai chili paste

Thai name: น้ำพริกเผา (nam prik pao)

Hand selecting Maepranom brand Thai chili paste from a supermarket shelf.

Nam prik pao or Thai chili paste is a versatile blend of chilies, garlic, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and more. It’s a staple in my kitchen for spicing up everything from noodles to stir-fries.

Flavors and uses:

Thai chili paste is a balance of spicy, umami, and a hint of sweet flavors. It’s a flavor enhancer that you can simply add to anything you want. Feel free to use it one these recipes that call for chili paste:

Make your own:

You can easily make your own Thai chili paste with a mortar and pestle or food processor. Homemade paste is free from the preservatives often found in store-bought versions. For store-bought, I recommend the Mae Pranom brand, this is the one we used in our former Thai restaurant.

Coconut milk

Thai name: กะทิ (gati)

Box of Aroy-D coconut milk being picked from a supermarket shelf.

Traditionally, we do not use dairy milk in Thai cuisine – instead, we use coconut milk. This is our staple for adding a creamy texture and subtle sweetness. It’s extracted from the flesh of ripe coconuts and a must-have for curries, soups, or desserts.

Flavors and uses:

Coconut milk forms the creamy base in many Thai curries, bringing a creaminess and mildly sweet ‘sauce’. It perfectly balances spicy, savory, and sweet flavors. Thai desserts wouldn’t be complete without full-fat coconut milk, make sure to try your coconut milk in some of my authentic Thai dessert recipes:


When shopping for coconut milk, pick cans with minimal preservatives or added sweeteners. You’ll know you’ve got a good can if there’s a thick cream that separates from the liquid after sitting. My grandmother always insists on making coconut milk fresh, but I prefer the convenience of store-bought.

My favorite brand:

  • Aroy-D is a great brand widely used in Thailand.

Curry pastes

Thai name: พริกแกง (prik gaeng)

Hand holding a packet of red curry paste over a supermarket shelf.

Curry pastes are the key ingredient in our creamy coconut curries, water-based curries, and curry stir-fries. You can make them yourself at home using a Thai mortar and pestle, or simply use store-bought.

In Thailand, homemade curry pastes are readily available at Thai food markets. Yet still many Thai people opt for store-bought alternatives like Mae Ploy or Maesri brands.

Making the curry paste yourself is easy by pounding common ingredients like galangal, lemongrass, and chilies in a mortar and pestle or blending until smooth.


It’s totally OK to use store-bought pastes. If you have the time and want to give that authentic touch to your curries or stir-fries, try one of my homemade curry paste recipes:


Thai name: มะนาว (manao)

Fresh lime fruits presented in a bamboo basket on a banana leaf.

Lime is a zesty, essential ingredient in Thai cooking. Its bright, tangy juice and zest adds a refreshing acidity to many dishes like spicy salads and soups like tom yum gai.

It’s perfect for adding a tangy note to salad dressings, dipping sauces, and even marinades. It complements the heat and adds a refreshing note to spicy dishes.


Always use fresh lime juice. When selecting limes, look for ones that feel heavy for their size, as they’ll have more juice.


Thai name: น้ำมัน (nam man)

We typically use oils that have a high smoke point and a neutral taste, so they don’t overpower the flavors of the herbs and spices.

Neutral oils with high smoke point:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil


Make sure the oil in your wok is hot before adding your ingredients, this brings out the best of their flavors.

Other ingredients for Thai cooking

We’ve covered the essentials, but here are a few other ingredients worth having in your collection of Thai pantry staples. These aren’t necessary for most dishes, but they can really make a difference when you’re trying something special.

Dried mini shrimp

Thai name: กุ้งแห้ง (goong hang)

Close-up of a hand clutching a clear bag of dried shrimp, a staple ingredient in Thai cooking.

Dried shrimp are made by sun-drying small shrimp until they’re dehydrated and packed with flavor. I prefer using mini shrimp because they blend well into dishes. You can find them at Asian grocery stores. They’re a great way to add some seafood flavor to your dishes, like papaya salad, without needing fresh seafood.

Fermented fish sauce

Thai name: ปลาร้า (pla ra)

Hand presenting a small bottle of traditional Thai fermented fish sauce.

Fermented fish sauce is a staple in Northeastern Thailand, Isan. It’s made from fermented fish and has a strong, distinct flavor. Pla ra is definitely an acquired taste, but it’s key for authentic flavors in some authentic Thai recipes. Try it in my som tam pla ra recipe.

Fermented soybean paste

Thai name: เต้าเจี้ยว (tao jiew)

Selecting a bottle of fermented soybean paste from a shelf filled with various Thai sauces.

Fermented soybean paste is a savory, salty ingredient with a one-of-a-kind taste. Made from fermented soybeans, it brings a rich, deep flavor that really makes a difference in your cooking. It’s not an everyday item, but when you do use it, it’s a game changer. I recommend the Healthy Boy brand.

Thai flavor seasoning powder

Thai name: ผงปรุงรส (pong pung roht)

Rosdee, a well-known brand in Thailand, offers a range of flavor seasonings in powder form. They’re a blend of salt, sugar, soy sauce powder, and spices, used to enhance the taste of our dishes. They’re popular in stir-fries, soups, and marinades. Available in cube or powder form, pork, beef, or chicken flavor.

Essential Thai ingredients: herbs and spices

Thai cuisine is all about herbs and spices. They add those special flavors that make our fiery stir-fries like pad prik king and rich curries like Thai green curry taste amazing. Ingredients like Thai chilies, Thai basil, and lemongrass are key to making our favorite Thai meals taste so good.

Galangal root

Thai name: ข่า (kha)

Fresh galangal root held in hand with lush greenery in the background.

Galangal is a root that’s similar to ginger but with its own unique flavor. It’s a bit spicier, refreshing, and sharper, and a must-have in Thai cooking. We use it in so many dishes, like tom yum kung, where it adds that signature kick.

Flavors and uses:

Galangal brings a bold, almost citrusy flavor to dishes. It’s not just about heat – it’s got a depth that really makes food come alive. I love slicing it thin for stir-fries or crushing it for curry pastes. You’ll often find it in Thai curry pastes because it adds such a punch.

Galangal is used to add a bold, citrus-like flavor to dishes. Galangal is often crushed into our curry pastes, and sometimes it’s cut into thin strips and added to stir-fries.


Try to find fresh galangal at Asian markets or Asian grocery stores. You can easily slice it and freeze it for later. If you can’t find it, galangal powder can be used but it won’t have that same fresh citrusy flavor.


Thai name: ตะไคร้ (takrai)

Hand-gathered lemongrass stalks showcasing the fibrous texture,

Lemongrass is one of the most essential Thai pantry staples, giving our dishes a fragrant, fresh, and citrusy aroma and kick. I love using it whole in soups or chopping it up for a citrusy note in marinades and salads.

Flavors and uses:

Lemongrass has a lemony flavor and scent with a hint of ginger. You can use it whole, chopped, or pounded into a paste. Fresh lemongrass is preferred for its bright flavors. Try using it in these authentic Thai chicken wings or whip up this easy stir-fried Thai lemongrass chicken recipe.


Fresh lemongrass is best, but you can also find it dried or powdered. If using fresh, remove the tough outer layers and use the softer part of the stalk. It freezes well, so you can always keep some in your freezer.

Kaffir lime leaves

Thai name: ใบมะกรูด (bai makrut)

Vibrant kaffir lime leaves between fingers, with its tree behind it.

Kaffir lime leaves, or makrut lime leaves, are an essential in Thai cooking, known for their aroma and unique flavor. They have an intense citrus scent that brightens up a variety of dishes.

Flavors and uses: I love using them in everything from curries like Thai jungle curry to stir-fries like gai pad nor mai (Thai bamboo stir-fry). When you throw a few leaves into a dish, they’ll add a fresh, lemony zing. Feel free to experiment with them and create your own unique citrus-flavored dishes.

You can either simply remove the stem or finely chop them and add them to your favorite dishes. The kaffir lime zest is used in curry pastes like Thai panang curry paste and Thai green curry paste.


You should be able to find these at Asian supermarkets. If you can find fresh makrut lime leaves, you can easily freeze them for later use. Alternatively, you can look for frozen or dried.

Thai holy basil

Thai name: กะเพรา (kaprao)

Fresh Thai holy basil leaves with distinct purple stems cradled in hand.

Thai holy basil is the main ingredient in Thai dishes like the famous street food pad kra pao. Holy basil leaves are small and can sometimes have a purple tinge, especially the stems. They easily wilt when heated, which is why they’re added at the end of cooking.

Flavors and uses:

Thai holy basil is known for its peppery, slightly spicy notes that are simply irreplaceable. While many recipes suggest substituting holy basil with sweet basil, the truth is, they’re just not the same.

In Thailand, you’d never find a holy basil stir-fry made with sweet basil. Sure, you can use sweet basil if holy basil is out of reach, but be prepared for a different flavor profile. This is an important distinction often missed in online recipes that simply tell you it’s ok to use sweet basil as a substitute for holy basil.


Finding holy basil in the U.S. or Europe can be tricky. When I lived in Belgium, I found success by asking Thai folks at Asian grocery stores for tips on where to find it. If you do come across holy basil, grab a bunch! It freezes well, so you’ll always have some on hand for your next dishes.

Recipes with holy basil:

Thai basil

Thai name: โหระพา (horapa)

Hand holding a bush of Thai sweet basil.

Thai basil has more of an anise-like, sweet flavor, that sets it apart from holy basil. Thai Basil leaves are a vibrant green with a slightly pointed shape, larger and broader than holy basil leaves.

Flavors and uses:

Horapa is a key ingredient in pad horapa. It’s a favorite in many dishes like Thai green curry for its delightful aroma and fresh taste that’s hard to beat.

Thai basil has a sweet, licorice-like flavor. It’s often compared to Italian sweet basil, but Thai basil holds its flavor better under high cooking temperature.


These days, Thai basil is readily available at larger supermarkets. You could use Italian sweet basil as a substitute, but the flavor will be different.

Coriander (cilantro)

Thai name: ผักชี (pak chi)

Freshly picked bunch of green coriander on a rustic bamboo basket.

Coriander is a versatile herb that’s a staple in Thai cooking. Its unique citrusy and slightly peppery taste adds freshness to lots of dishes. I often use it for garnishing over a finished dish.

Flavors and uses:

Coriander is known for its mildly sweet and lemony flavor that pairs well with other spices.

The leaves add bright, lemony flavors to salads and are used as a garnish for soups and stir-fries. The roots, with an intenser flavor, are typically pounded into pastes or marinades for an authentic Thai flavor.


To keep your coriander fresh for longer, store it in a jar or glass filled with water in your fridge.


Thai name: พริก (prik)

Bright red Thai chilies on woven bamboo basket, on a banana leaf backdrop.

Thai food is known for its spicy flavors, and chilies are at the heart of our cuisine. In Thailand, we use all kinds of chili peppers from small, fiery bird’s eye chilies to slightly milder Jinda chilies.

Flavors and uses:

Chilies are used in lots of Thai dishes, from tangy salads like som tum Thai (papaya salad) to curries and stir-fries. Thai chilies range from moderately spicy to extremely hot, but they’re not just for adding heat, they add a depth of flavor that’s crucial for the flavor balance. Thai chilies are great for pounding into chili pastes or just spicing up your dish without needing too much of them.

Prik chee fa are larger chilies with a mild taste. They’re perfect for adding color without too much spice. You can use them in this pad prik sod recipe.


Always wear gloves when chopping your chilies. If you’re new to spicy food, it’s best to start with a small amount or simply use a milder type of chili. I always buy a bunch of fresh chilies at once and store them in the freezer.

Dried chilies

Thai name: พริกแห้ง (prik heng)

Dried red chilies presented on a traditional bamboo basket, set against a green banana leaf.

Dried chilies are a key ingredient in Thai cooking, adding a different kind of heat with a smoky note. We use both small and large dried chilies in different ways.

  • Small dried chilies: We use tiny dried bird’s eye chilies, which are of course super spicy, as dried chilies tend to be spicier than fresh ones. They’re perfect for making spicy chili pastes or Thai chili flakes (prik bon), which you can drizzle over soups or stir-fries. In the West, you can easily find dried chilies at larger Supermarkets. The type of chili you use doesn’t make that much of a difference, just add more or less to taste.
  • Large dried chilies: Large prik chee fa and dried anaheim chilies are often used to add spice without making your dish too fiery. They’re milder and add a nice color to Thai food and curry pastes without overpowering the other flavors.


Again, wear gloves when handling chilies. Dried chilies tend be spicier than fresh chilies, so keep that in mind. Also, each chili is different, so start with a little and then add more if you want it spicier.


Rice is our everyday staple. Two types stand out: jasmine rice and sticky rice.

Jasmine rice

Thai name: ข้าวเจ้า (khao chow)

Long-grained jasmine rice is the perfect side for stir-fries or rich curries. The rice is ideal for soaking up delicious sauces. Different brands of jasmine rice can be found at any Asian grocery store.

Glutinous rice (sticky rice)

Thai name: ข้าวเหนียว (khao niao)

Close-up of freshly steamed Thai sticky rice in a traditional woven bamboo basket.

Glutinous rice, also known as Thai sticky rice, is most popular in Northeastern Thailand (Isan) and Northern Thailand. It’s known for its chewy texture and is often paired with dipping sauces, grilled meats, spicy salads, grilled fish, and fresh vegetables. It’s eaten by hand and beloved for its ability to absorb flavors.

In many Thai desserts, like this Thai mango sticky rice recipe, it provides a unique texture and taste.


Thai name: เส้น (sen)

Noodles are a beloved ingredient and everyday staple in Thai cooking, used in lots of dishes. Here are some of the most common types of noodles you’ll find in Thai food.

Instant noodles

Thai name: บะหมี่กึ่งสำเร็จรูป (bami kung sam ret roep)

Widely used in quick, casual dishes, instant noodles are a staple for a fast and tasty meal. Thai people love instant noodles and many families have several brands of instant noodles at home ready for a quick meal. My personal favorite is Samyang spicy hot noodles, which unfortunately is also one of the most expensive.

Wide fresh rice noodles

Thai name: เส้นใหญ่ (sen yai)

Close-up of homemade Thai sen yai noodles prepped for stir-frying.

These fresh wide rice noodles are a staple in classic dishes like pad see ew and lad na. If you’re lucky, you can find them in the refrigerated section of Asian grocery stores, or you can make them yourself with my sen yai noodles recipe.

Rice vermicelli

Thai name: เส้นหมี่ (sen mie)

Pack of rice vermicelli noodles set against a banana leaf.

These are thin rice noodles, often used in soups and salads. They’re light and absorb flavors well.

Glass noodles

Thai name: วุ้นเส้น (woon sen)

Thai glass noodles, or bean vermicelli, in a bamboo basket on a banana leaf.

Made from mung bean starch, these are clear and have a slippery, chewy texture. They’re popular in dishes like yum woon sen.

Rice noodles

Thai name: เส้นเล็ก (sen lek)

Thin rice noodles neatly arranged in a bamboo basket.

These come in various widths, from thin to broad. They’re the key ingredient in pad Thai and often used in soups and stir-fries.

Egg noodles

Thai name: เส้นบะหมี่ (sen bami)

These are similar to Chinese egg noodles and are commonly used in noodle soups.

Vegetables in Thai food

  • Chinese broccoli (gai lan)
  • Bamboo shoots (nor mai)
  • Yard long beans
  • Thai eggplants
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Shallots
  • Pandan
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Garlic


Here’s a quick roundup for easy reference.

The essential ingredients for Thai food are:

  • Fish sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Light soy sauce
  • Thai black soy sauce (Thai dark soy sauce)
  • Thai seasoning sauce (golden mountain sauce)
  • Shrimp paste
  • Tamarind paste
  • Palm sugar
  • Thai chili paste
  • Curry pastes
  • Coconut milk
  • Lime
  • Oil

The most common herbs and spices are:

  • Galangal
  • Lemongrass
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Thai holy basil
  • Thai basil
  • Coriander (cilantro)
  • Chilies
  • Dried chilies


This is the go-to list of essential Thai pantry staples for home cooks. Now that you have all these essential in your kitchen, you’re all set to whip up some tasty dishes. If you’re wondering where to start, head over to my collection of 70 easy Thai recipes for beginners. It’s full of simple yet delicious recipes that are perfect for your Thai cooking journey.

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