This satisfying Chicken Panang Curry recipe has a creamy coconut milk base and a delicately balanced flavor profile, and comes together in just 30 minutes!
I am a curry lover of all kinds. The crazy thing is, I really don’t handle super spicy food very well!
If I can handle this recipe, you definitely can.
When it comes to Thai cooking, a balanced flavor profile is key. A few years ago when I was in Thailand, I discovered the magic of Thai cuisine.
In fact, Thailand itself is magical, the landscape, the architecture, the people…
The photo above was taken at the resort where I stayed in Phuket, Thailand. You can read more about my travels to Thailand here.
Each Thai dish typically features a harmony between sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and umami flavors. It’s a delicate blend with no one thing completely overpowering the others. Thai curries are like an orchestra in your mouth, with everything blending together, yet remaining subtly distinguishable.
Even though this Chicken Panang Curry recipe is the quick version (we use jarred Thai red curry paste to make our lives easier!), it has that same delicious balance of flavors.
It features a creamy coconut milk base with spicy depth of flavor from red curry paste. Aromatics like garlic, ginger, and onion add complexity. Fish sauce adds salty umami flavor. Unsweetened creamy peanut butter adds nutty richness and subtle sweetness. A hint of coconut sugar enhances the sweetness. Fresh lime juice and kaffir lime leaves add tart citrusy flavor. It really is a symphony!
Chicken Panang Curry Recipe
Ingredients for Chicken Panang Curry
- Coconut oil
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Coarse kosher salt
- Yellow onion
- Red bell pepper
- Thai red curry paste (ingredients: spices (including red chili pepper), garlic, lemongrass, salt, shallot, coriander root, and kaffir lime peel)
- Unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- Unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts, salt)
- Fish sauce
- Coconut sugar
- Fresh lime juice
- Kaffir lime leaves
How to Make Easy Chicken Panang Curry
- Sear the chicken in a little coconut oil.
- Add onion and red bell pepper and sauté briefly.
- Now add the aromatics like garlic, ginger, and Thai red curry paste! Let them have a little time on the heat so their flavors can really develop.
- Stir in the creamy base flavors like the coconut milk and peanut butter, as well as the flavor enhancers, such as fish sauce and coconut sugar. Simmer a little so the flavors can blend.
- Remove from the heat and add the fresh lime juice and kaffir limes leaves.
- Serve garnished with fresh Thai basil!
How to Store This Dish
Store Chicken Panang Curry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Tips for Making Panang Curry
- Don’t skip the peanut butter! That’s one of the things that sets Panang Curry apart from other curries. It lends depth of flavor with a slight nuttiness and subtle sweetness.
- Let the chicken cook for about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side before stirring or flipping so that it browns a little.
- If you don’t can’t find kaffir lime leaves, you can substitute with 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime zest.
- Look for Thai basil at Asian grocery stores. It has a distinct licorice-like basil flavor and it adds a lot to this dish.
Panang Curry FAQs
What is the Difference Between Thai Red Curry and Panang Curry?
Thai Red Curry has more red chilies than Panang Curry, and so it has a deeper red color and more spicy heat. On the other hand, Panang Curry has peanut added, which lends a rich nuttiness and subtle sweetness.
What Does Panang Curry Taste Like?
Panang Curry has a creamy coconut milk-base and a balanced flavor profile with spicy red chilies, aromatics like garlic and ginger, bright citrusy freshness from kaffir lime, and a hint of peanut for nutty flavor and subtle sweetness.
Don’t be put off by the red chilies; this dish isn’t overly spicy!
Is Panang Curry Thai or Malaysian?
There is a bit of debate as to whether the origin of Panang Curry is Thailand or Malaysia. It’s said that it takes its name from Penang Island off the west coast of Malaysia, and is a combination of Malaysian, Myanmar, and Indian cuisine.
What is Thai Basil?
Thai basil is notably different than the basil you’d typically get at an Italian restaurant. That’s because Thai basil is quite different from Italian sweet basil. And it’s estimated that there are over 100 different types of basil!
Thai basil is from Southeast Asia and has a more anise (or licorice) aroma and flavor than its Italian counterpart. The main difference in appearance is that Thai basil has a purplish stem and Italian basil has a green stem.
Pro Tip: Look for Thai basil at Asian grocery stores. It’s usually quite reasonably priced!
Is Panang Curry Keto Friendly?
Absolutely! This Chicken Panang Curry recipe has just 6g net carbs per serving. Serve it with cauliflower rice to make it a full keto friendly meal.
Pro Tip: And note that in addition to being low carb and keto, this recipe is also gluten free and paleo! (Serve it with cauliflower rice to keep it paleo.)
What Should I Serve with Thai Curry?
Traditionally, Thai curries are served with jasmine rice. Jasmine rice is more aromatic than regular white rice, and to me it almost has a popcorn-like aroma. It’s fluffy with a slight stickiness when cooked.
If you want to keep the carbs down, you can serve Thai curry with cauliflower rice instead.
More Thai Recipes to Try
- Thai Noodles Recipe with Vegetables and Chicken (Soy Sauce Noodles)
- Coconut Thai Fish Curry
- Cashew Chicken Skillet
- Authentic Thai Green Curry with Chicken
Chicken Panang Curry Recipe
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped
- 5 large cloves garlic crushed
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 4 ounce jar Thai red curry paste
- 13.5 ounce can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 6 kaffir lime leaves tough center stem removed and leaves lightly crushed in your hands
- Red chili pepper thinly sliced
- Thai basil leaves
- Lime wedges
- Prepared jasmine rice optional
- Add the coconut oil to a medium-large pot over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the chicken and spread it out in an even layer. Add the salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes before stirring, and then stir the chicken and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Make a well in the center of the pot and add the onion and red bell pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the red curry paste and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, and coconut sugar. Stir well to fully dissolve the peanut butter.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Cover the pot and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and kaffir lime leaves.
- Serve with any garnishes you like, along with prepared jasmine rice if desired.
- Net Carbs: 6g per serving
- Nutritional Information: Information is for the curry, and doesn’t include the optional rice for serving.
- To Lower the Carbs Even More: Omit the coconut sugar and use keto sweetener instead. Serve this with cauliflower rice instead of jasmine rice.