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Thai Beef Panang Curry Recipe From Scratch

Top-down view of Thai beef panang curry, garnished with red chilies and kaffir lime leaf strips, in a coconut shell. Alongside it are rice vermicelli noodles and a wooden spoon.

Thai beef panang curry recipe - so creamy, so comforting, and can't stop eating good. This easy weeknight dinner will make you forget all about takeout. Serve it with jasmine rice or rice vermicelli noodles. So easy, so good!

Top-down view of Thai beef panang curry, garnished with red chilies and kaffir lime leaf strips, in a coconut shell. Alongside it are rice vermicelli noodles and a wooden spoon.

Craving more? Make sure to try my authentic panang curry recipe and Thai beef stew later!

What is panang curry

Panang curry is a creamy and mildly spicy Thai dish with a base of coconut milk. Its taste is slightly sweet and salty, with a unique nutty flavor and a thick sauce that sets it apart from other Thai curries.

Panang beef curry in a coconut shell with a wooden spoon, lifting a spoonful of the dish.

What is in panang curry? A base of creamy coconut milk jazzed up with curry paste and a protein like beef or chicken with herbs and spices, typically kaffir lime leaves.

What sets it apart from others - A creamy texture, a smaller amount of sauce, a slightly nutty flavor, and the lack of vegetables. That's right, this one is for all you meat lovers out there. In the traditional version, you'll find a garnish of red peppers and strips of kaffir lime leaves, but that's about it.

And trust me, with a sauce so good, you won't even miss the veggies. You'll want to pour the creamy sauce over everything!

Close-up of coconut milk beef curry with kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and peas.

If you can't get enough of curries - you've got to check out my spicier authentic Thai red curry recipe and veggie-loaded Thai green curry pork!

5 Reasons to try this recipe

  • Thai restaurant quality: Who needs takeout when you can make a restaurant-quality meal right in your kitchen? And it's cheaper, too!
  • Meal prep-friendly: This Thai beef panang curry from scratch is your next meal prep solution. Simply whip up a large batch, store it in the fridge, and enjoy even better flavors the next day.
  • Vegetable options: Not feeling the meat? No worries. For a veggie-rich or vegetarian panang curry, you can put in tofu and/or several vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, peas, Thai eggplant, or even carrots or broccoli. Not traditional, but still delicious!
  • Customizable: Beef, pork, chicken, or shrimp, just toss it into the creamy sauce. For more or less heat, simply add or reduce fresh chilies.
  • Easy cooking: This recipe is pretty straightforward to make. You can even skip the mortar and pestle and use a food processor for that curry paste.
Thai panang curry paste in a clay cup with sliced lemongrass, galangal, and shallots scattered around.
My homemade panang curry paste, easy to whip up and healthier than store-bought.

Ingredients

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

Bird's eye view of beef panang curry ingredients; beef, pea eggplants, palm sugar, curry paste, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, and coconut milk.
  • Panang curry paste - You've got two options: homemade or store-bought. My homemade version calls for dried chilies, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, kaffir lime zest, salt, shrimp paste, cumin, coriander seeds, and optionally peanuts, so you might need an extra trip to the grocery store. You can buy panang curry paste at Asian grocery stores, Asian markets, or online at Amazon. I recommend using the Maesri or Mae Ploy brand.
  • Beef - Opt for a tender cut, check out my cooking tips below the instructions for more info.
  • Coconut milk - Use full-fat coconut milk for a rich, creamy coconut curry sauce.
  • Palm sugar - Adds an authentic, sweet caramel-like flavor.
  • Fish sauce - A splash of fish sauce transforms the curry sauce into an umami rich flavor-bomb.
  • Kaffir lime leaves - Also known as makrut lime leaves, they add a fresh flavor and a citrusy aroma. They are a signature ingredient for Thai beef panang curry, so definitely don't skimp on them. If you can't find them fresh, you can get them dried on Amazon.
  • Chilies - Fresh Thai chilies work best for spicy flavors. For mild flavors, use a mild type of chili like jalapeños, or you could even go for thin slices of bell pepper. Alternatively, you can remove the seeds.
  • Pea eggplants (optional) - These are totally optional. My hubby and I like the crunch and flavor. Thai eggplants can be used as a substitute.

Cooking instructions

Fry the curry paste

Heat up a third of the coconut milk in a pan or pot over medium heat. When you see the milk thickening and the oil starting to separate, stir in the penang curry paste.

Add remaining coconut milk and beef

Pour in the rest of the coconut milk when the paste is thoroughly mixed. When the coconut curry sauce comes back to a gentle boil, toss in the beef and cook until cooked through to taste.

Add remaining ingredients

Add in the fish sauce, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, and slices of chili. If you're using pea eggplants, add those too. Simmer until either the pea eggplants are soft enough or the palm sugar has fully melted in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Tips for the best Thai panang beef curry

  • Slice the beef against the grain. Always cut your beef against the grain. This results in soft and tender beef, rather than chewy chunks of meat.
  • Cut the beef into thin slices. Cut the beef into thin slices for a quicker cook time and a tender chew.
  • Opt for a tender cut of beef. Opt for a tender, marbled cut. Chuck roast, ribeye, tenderloin, sirloin, or new york strip.

Kitchen tools

  • Cutting board and chef's knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Mortar and pestle: If you're making the curry paste from scratch.
  • Wok or a pot

Serving suggestions

You can serve this creamy beef curry with a side of jasmine rice or rice vermicelli noodles. For a healthier choice, opt for brown rice.

Panang beef with vegetables served in a hollowed out coconut shell.

Garnishing options

  • Makrut lime leaves: Garnish with thin strips of kaffir lime leaves.
  • Sliced peppers: In our former Thai restaurant, we used to garnish with either sliced red bell peppers, or sliced red chilies, seeds removed.
  • Coconut milk: Before serving, drizzle a small amount of coconut milk over the curry for color contrast.

How to store Thai curry

This Thai beef panang curry will last good for up to 4 days in the fridge, and the flavors get even better. Before storing, allow it to cool down to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container to store it in the refrigerator.

Freezing instructions: You can freeze Thai curries for later use. Simply transfer to a freezer safe container or bag and store in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Reheating instructions: Reheat on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Tip: You can absolutely make this in advance for those super busy weeknights when a flavorful dinner feels impossible.

Did you know?

  • Thai Panang curry has its roots in the central part of Thailand and has been a classic as far back as 1890.

Frequently asked questions

Is panang curry spicy?

Panang curry is traditionally not a very spicy curry, rather mild. It has a balance of spicy, sweet, and salty. If you like spicy, you can add more chilies.

What meat goes with Panang curry?

Beef is a classic choice, but this dish pairs with any protein of your choice like chicken, pork, shrimp, or other seafood. If you're vegetarian, tofu is a great substitute.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this Panang curry recipe is gluten-free. Do double-check your fish sauce and curry paste labels to ensure they don't contain any gluten fillers.

Authentic Thai curry recipes

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Ratings 5 from 4 votes
Cooking Method
Cuisine
Courses
Time
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 10 min Total Time: 20 mins
Servings 3
Calories 704
Description

This delicious Thai beef panang curry recipe is made from scratch with homemade panang curry paste.

Ingredients
  • 17 fluid ounces coconut milk (full fat)
  • 3 tablespoons panang curry paste
  • 16 ounces beef
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2.5 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (thin strips)
  • 4 chilies (Thai chilies, to taste, sliced)
  • 5.30 ounces pea eggplant (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat up a third of the coconut milk in a pan or pot over medium heat. When you see the milk thickening and the oil starting to separate, stir in the panang curry paste.

  2. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk when the paste is thoroughly mixed.

  3. When the coconut curry sauce comes back to a gentle boil, toss in the beef and cook until cooked through to taste.

  4. Add in the fish sauce, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves, and slices of chili. If you’re using pea eggplants, add those too.

  5. Simmer until either the pea eggplants are soft enough or the palm sugar has fully melted in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 704kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 51.7g80%
Saturated Fat 40.6g204%
Total Carbohydrate 33.5g12%
Dietary Fiber 3.7g15%
Sugars 22.2g
Protein 32.2g65%

* 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.
  • Use my homemade panang curry paste or store-bought like Maesri or Mae Ploy.
  • Adjust chilies to taste.
  • To store: Panang curry will last good for up to 4 days in the fridge, and the flavors get even better. Before storing, allow it to cool down to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container to store it in the refrigerator.
Keywords: beef panang curry, Thai beef panang curry recipe, panang beef curry

Thank you so much for trying my recipe!