Gaeng Panang Gai (Thai Panang Chicken Curry)

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Gaeng panang gai, or Thai panang chicken curry, is an irresistibly creamy dish that’s perfect for your busy weeknights. It’s a total crowd favorite, with its gently spiced, mild flavors that you can easily tweak to taste. Serve this saucy dream with fragrant jasmine rice, it’s perfect for planning ahead or whipping up on the fly.

Close-up of homemade gaeng panang gai, showcasing tender chicken and spicy, saucy curry.

After this, try making my authentic panang curry recipe with pork or easy Thai beef panang curry recipe for an equally delicious variation.

What is gaeng panang

Gaeng panang is a Thai curry known for its thick, creamy texture and mild spice level, blending kaffir lime leaves with coconut milk. This sweet-savory dish often prepared with chicken or beef is a staple in Thai cuisine.

Thai panang chicken curry

Ever find yourself longing for the rich flavors of Thai red curry or Thai green curry but hesitant about the heat? Hello gaeng panang gai (พะแนงไก่)! It’s perfect for when you’re in the mood for something comforting and different.

It offers that perfect balance of spicy, savory, and sweet. Just like Thai massaman chicken curry, but panang is a bit less complex and quicker to make. You can whip up a bowl of this coconut chicken curry in less than 30 minutes!

Authentic Thai panang chicken curry beside jasmine rice beside pea eggplants.

Traditionally, it’s served with almost no vegetables, except for some strips of kaffir lime leaves and red chili slices. But feel free to customize this recipe – add your favorite vegetables, tweak the spice levels, or swap the chicken for tofu for a vegetarian curry.

One of the best things about Thai food is how versatile it is. Each dish is easy to adapt to your taste, and that’s what Thai cuisine is all about. Finding that perfect balance of spicy, sweet, salty, and sour.

Close-up of homemade gaeng panang gai.

Panang, panaeng, or phanaeng is creamy, comforting, and easy to make for any home cook. It’s just one of my many Thai curry recipes, some of my personal favorites are this khao poon and chicken khao soi.

Why try this recipe

  • Great for meal prep: It reheats perfectly and freezes even better.
  • Better than takeout: Homemade food is always better and fresher. You can choose your ingredients and keep things healthy.
  • Quick and easy: This curry is ready in 30 minutes or less.
  • Customizable: Simply adjust the spice levels to suit your taste and make it a crowd-pleaser.
  • Versatile: Whether you like chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or other seafood, or something vegetarian, this recipe is easy to customize.
  • One-pan: Everything comes together in just one pan. Perfect for your lazy days.
Gaeng panang chicken with pea beans and red chili with jasmine rice served on a white plate.

Panang curry paste (prik gaeng panang)

Should you use homemade panang curry paste or store-bought? Honestly, there’s no right or wrong, but homemade does have several advantages over the premade stuff.

Thai woman seated on a bamboo table, working with a granite mortar and pestle.

A freshly made paste simply brings more depth and flavor. It’s also healthier and free from preservatives, so that’s a win-win! Homemade paste also means you know exactly what’s in your curry, so no hidden additives or preservatives.

Some common ingredients are shrimp paste, kaffir lime zest, lemongrass, cumin, coriander seeds, dry red spur chilies, and salt. You can find most of them at Asian supermarkets or markets.

Grinding and blending your own spices with a Thai mortar and pestle is traditional, and I love seeing how it all comes together. Sometimes, I like to make a big batch and freeze most of it for later use. If you have a food processor, you can use that to save time!

Authentic panang curry paste in a wooden spoon over a granite mortar.

Living in Thailand, I have the convenience to get freshly made curry pastes at Asian markets. Luckily, there’s this small food market near our place with a Southern Thai local, she makes some of the best curry pastes I’ve ever tasted!

But we’ve all got busy lives, and sometimes the convenience of store bought curry paste is a lifesaver. And hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Did you know that many Thai restaurants use store-bought curry pastes? With this gaeng panang chicken recipe, you can easily create a restaurant-quality dish at home.

Thai panang curry paste in a clay cup with sliced lemongrass, galangal, and shallots scattered around.

Store-bought pastes are a great time-saver for when you need to whip up a tasty curry in a short amount of time. My favorite brands are Mae Ploy and Maesri, so make sure to get one of those at your next visit to an Asian grocery store.

This Thai food blog has authentic recipes for Thai massaman curry paste, a spicy red curry paste, and Thai green curry paste.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for gaeng panang curry labeled: coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, palm sugar, chilies, pea eggplants, kaffir lime leaves, and chicken.
  • Panang curry paste – Panang curry paste is the base, blending aromatic herbs and spices with a rich, complex flavor. Using homemade paste adds to the authentic taste, but feel free to opt for store-bought versions like Mae Ploy and Maesri.
  • Chicken – The main protein, chicken, is tender and lean. You can opt for chicken thighs or breast, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. It can be substituted with other meats or tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Coconut milk – Full-fat coconut milk brings a creamy, velvety texture. It perfectly balances the spices with its natural sweetness. Make sure to use milk for this recipe, not coconut cream.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar adds a subtle caramel-like sweetness that counters the spice. It has a richer, more complex flavor compared to white sugar and brown sugar and is essential for that authentic flavor.
  • Fish sauce – A staple in Thai cuisine, fish sauce provides umami and a savory flavor to many dishes, including curries. Use a high quality brand like Megachef.
  • Salt – Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients. It also helps to balance out the sweet and spicy notes.
  • Chilies – Unlike other Thai curries, panang chicken focuses on flavor over intense heat, which is why I used Prik Chi Fa chilies. They’re mild to medium spicy.
  • Pea eggplants – I like to add pea eggplants to chicken panang curry. They add a nice crunch and perfectly absorb the flavors of the coconut curry sauce.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – Kaffir lime leaves are an important part of Thai cooking, adding a refreshing aroma and taste. They’re usually added towards the end of cooking to preserve their aroma.

Cooking instructions

Coconut milk reducing in a wok.

1. Reduce half of the coconut milk in your wok or pot over medium heat until it’s thick and oil begins to separate.

Coconut milk combined with panang curry paste in a wok.

2. Add panang curry paste and stir well until the coconut milk is fully infused with the spices.

Coconut milk with pea eggplants and chicken in a wok.

3. Add the remaining coconut milk, chicken, and pea eggplants along with sauces and seasonings – palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Let the curry simmer for 3–5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

Gaeng panang chicken simmering in a wok with sliced red chili and green peas, ready to serve.

4. Lastly, turn off the heat and add kaffir lime leaves strips and sliced chilies. Serve immediately with rice.

Kitchen tools

Here is everything you’ll need to make this recipe for panang curry:

  • Mortar and pestle for grinding curry paste from scratch
  • Large skillet or wok for cooking
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups

Thai curry Recipe tips and tricks

  • Reducing the coconut milk allows it to release its natural oils, intensifying the flavor and aroma of the curry.
  • Balance the flavors at the end by taste testing and adjusting with a little seasoning if needed. Aim for a balance of salty, sweet, and lightly spicy.

How to customize gaeng panang gai

  • Vegetarian: Use a vegetarian fish sauce alternative and more vegetables or tofu instead of meat.
  • Vegetables: Add bell peppers, bamboo shoots, green beans, or peas for texture and nutrition.
  • Spice level: Simply adjust the amount of chilies used in the curry or curry paste to increase or decrease the heat.
  • Sweetness: Avoid making the curry overly sweet. Adjust the amount of palm sugar to your taste.
  • Protein: Swap chicken with beef, pork, tofu, squid, duck, or shrimp. Simply adjust the cooking time accordingly.

How to serve gang panang

Serve your curry hot. Pair it with a side of jasmine rice or a flatbread like Thai roti dessert for an authentic meal. Feel free to garnish with your favorite herbs like Thai basil or cilantro.

How to store and reheat

Store your leftover panang chicken curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Gently warm the curry over low heat in a pot.

Frequently asked questions

What does panang curry taste like?

Panang curry is known its rich, creamy texture and savory-sweet flavor profile. It’s typically milder compared to other Thai curries, with fewer chilies and a thick consistency and rather nutty taste.

What is in panang curry paste?

Panang curry paste typically includes dried red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, coriander seeds, cumin, and sometimes peanuts.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

The ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free, but some store-bought pastes or fish sauces might contain gluten.

What makes panang curry different?

Panang curry is generally milder and a bit sweeter than most Thai curries like green or red curry. It has a thick consistency and the curry paste often includes peanuts, which is not common for Thai curries.

Where can I find kaffir lime leaves?

You can find kaffir lime leaves fresh or frozen at Asian grocery stores.

Can I make this in an instant pot?

Yes! Curries are great for instant pot preparation.

More Thai recipes you’ll love

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Prep Time 10 min Cook Time 15 min Total Time 25 mins
Servings: 2

Description

This gaeng panang gai is easy to make for any home cook. Serve with jasmine rice for a complete meal.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Reduce half of the coconut milk in your wok or pot over medium heat until it’s thick and oil begins to separate.

  2. Add panang curry paste and stir well until the coconut milk is fully infused with the spices.

  3. Add the remaining coconut milk, chicken, and pea eggplants along with sauces and seasonings – palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Let the curry simmer for 3–5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

  4. Lastly, turn off the heat and add kaffir lime leaves strips and sliced chilies. Serve immediately with rice.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 2


Amount Per Serving
Calories 833kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 65.79g102%
Saturated Fat 55g275%
Total Carbohydrate 33.33g12%
Dietary Fiber 9.9g40%
Sugars 18.92g
Protein 38.41g77%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Chili: Slice thinly, you can choose to keep or remove seeds. Unlike other Thai curries, panang chicken focuses on flavor over intense heat, which is why I used Prik Chi Fa chilies. They're mild to medium spicy.
  • Chicken: Slice thinly. You can opt for chicken thighs or breast, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. It can be substituted with other meats or tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Panang curry paste: Using homemade panang curry paste adds to the authentic taste, but feel free to opt for store-bought versions like Mae Ploy and Maesri.
Keywords: gaeng panang, gaeng panang gai, thai panang chicken curry
About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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  1. Vicki

    I love how detailed these recipes are. They are very flavorful and everyone I have tried has been a hit.

    • Praew

      Thanks a lot, Vicki! I’m glad you like my recipes and the details.

  1. Vicki

    I love how detailed these recipes are. They are very flavorful and everyone I have tried has been a hit.

    • Praew

      Thanks a lot, Vicki! I’m glad you like my recipes and the details.