Chicken Panang Curry (30 Minutes!) + Video!

This Chicken Panang Curry tastes better than your favorite restaurant at a fraction of the price with easy to find ingredients and on your table in less than 30 Minutes!!

This Chicken Panang Curry Recipe is lusciously coconut creamy, bursting with layers of flavor, and all made in one pot!  You will never need to order Panang Curry again!

PANANG CURRY RECIPE VIDEO

Chicken Panang Curry with white rice.

Panang Curry Recipe

I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!  I have so much to be thankful for, especially as we celebrated my 18th lung transplant anniversary yesterday!   I have now lived longer with my new lungs as I did with my diseased ones thanks to continuous miracles.  I posted a little about it on Instagram HERE.  When my husband saw the photo, he said, “oh, that’s graphic!”   But I wanted to share just how miraculous of a journey it has been for which I am grateful every single day!  I truly believe we are only as happy as we are grateful, and to me, everyday is Thanksgiving.  Thank you so much for enjoying this journey with me and for your continuous support!

So while Chicken Panang Curry might seem random to share along with my lung transplant anniversary, the two actually belong together because I either order Chicken Panang Curry or Chicken Pad Thai at almost every double lung transplant anniversary from my my favorite Thai restaurant.   But NOW we can all make Chicken Panang Curry from the comfort of our own homes!

What is in Panang Curry?

Traditional Panang Curry is characterized by its thick creamy coconut milk base with splashes of lime, kaffir lime leaves, phanaeng curry paste, palm sugar, fish sauce and either shrimp or thin strips of chicken.

I have been making my own version of Chicken Panang Curry at home for years now, and you will be amazed at how much this tastes just like the restaurant version – if not better than most.  When I was perfecting my recipe, however, I found my local stores did not often carry the authentic recipe ingredients of palm sugar, Kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil leaves.  So after research and experimenting, I came up with my own “pantry friendly” version using easy substitutes.  Kaffir lime leaves can be substituted by lime juice, bay leaves and dried thyme and palm sugar can be substituted by brown sugar.

What is Panang Curry Paste?

The only ingredient you might have to order or purchase at a specialty store to make this Panang Curry recipe is Panang Curry Paste (I use this Panang Curry Paste Mae Ploy) because Panang Curry Paste puts the PANANG in Panang Curry!   The Paste is an explosion of flavors comprised of roasted peanuts, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, serrano chiles, and cumin – all gathered and ground for you! winning!   The main difference between Panang Curry paste and Red Curry paste is Panang paste contains ground peanuts.  It is also less spicy and slightly sweeter than red curry.  But one thing they do have in common is tons of flavor with minimal effort.

Chicken Panang Curry with white rice and chop sticks.

PANANG CURRY RECIPE INGREDIENTS

The ingredients for this Panang curry recipe might look a little lengthy, but most of the ingredients are just whisked together.  In addition to Panang curry paste, you will need: 

  • Chicken: you can use chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe. I tend to use chicken breasts because they are leaner and emerge wonderfully juicy in the coconut bath, but chicken thighs would also be scrumptious – totally your call. Whichever you choose, make sure not to chop the chicken too small so it’s juicier and harder to overcook.
  • Coconut milk: if you want to instantly elevate your Thai food, use Chaokoh coconut milk – my absolute favorite brand (Not a paid endorsement)!  I love it so much that when my grocery store stopped carrying it, I started purchasing it on Amazon.  Chaokoh is creamier than any other brand I’ve tried by FAR and therefore results in the most lusciously creamy, comforting sauces ever
  • Fish sauce: I promise fish sauce will not be detectable or make your mango chicken taste fishy!  Fish sauce is a primary ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking and adds a fabulous umami flavor. My husband thinks he hates fish sauce but LOVES all of my Thai recipes ;).
  • Lime juice: adds freshness and awakens the rest of the flavors. You may use fresh or bottled lime juice. I will freeze lime juice in cubes so I always have some on hand.
  • Brown sugar:  adds a hint of sweetness to balance the soy sauce and fish sauce.  You may need more or less depending on how sweet your mangos are.
  • Aromatics: ginger adds a warm, spicy, sharp peppery taste and garlic adds a pungent, herby, warm aromatic flair. Add more or less to taste.
  • Basil:  adds a layer of savory, peppery and slightly minty flavor.
  • Bell peppers:  red bell peppers for their sweet crunch. 
  • Asian chili sauce:  adds a little heat and rounds out the flavors.  I use sambal oelek but you can use your favorite.  You can customize the spice level by adding additional chili sauce to taste. If you aren’t sure how much to add, you can start with less then stir in more at the end if needed or add it to your individual servings.  If you think your mango chicken curry is something is missing – it is probably a kick of chili sauce.

INGREDIENT VARIATIONS

  • Soy sauce: you may substitute fish sauce with soy sauce if you don’t keep it stocked – but you will want to pick some up if you plan on doing more Thai cooking in the future. 
  • Powdered ginger and garlic:  if you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand and need to make this mango chicken NOW (I get you), you may substitute with powders.  The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.  

DO YOU HAVE TO USE FULL-FAT COCONUT MILK? 

I don’t insist on full fat coconut milk but I HIGHLY suggest it if you would like restaurant-style creamy, flavorful mango chicken curry. Light coconut milk simply isn’t as thick or flavorful so you’re missing out on both flavor and texture.  If you do use light coconut milk, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.

CAN I MAKE PANANG CURRY VEGETARIAN?

Absolutely!   You can replace the chicken with extra-firm tofu or replace the chicken with extra vegetables or chickpeas. To use tofu, place it in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes while you finish prepping the veggies, then proceed with stir frying it with the red curry paste.

IS THIS PANANG CURRY RECIPE GLUTEN FREE?

To make this gluten free panang curry, replace the soy sauce with tamari.  The remaining ingredients should be gluten free but double check the label of your fish sauce and red curry paste.

How to Make Chicken Panang Curry

You will be shocked at just how quick and easy this Chicken Panang Curry recipe comes together once you have your  paste.  Another bonus is once you have the curry paste, it stays good in the refrigerator for some time so you can make your very own Chicken Panang Curry straight from your pantry anytime you feel like it – which will be very often.

As in all curry pastes, the key to unlocking the flavor is to is to saute it oil along with garlic and ginger.  Next, we stir fry our chicken directly in the simmering Panang Curry Paste so it soaks up all the dynamic flavors before we add the coconut milk.

Next, my authentically blasphemous key to gorgeously, thick, silky coconut sauce is to whisk our quality coconut milk (I like Chakoah)  with a little cornstarch.  The end result is a rich, luscious coconut sauce that is soooo creamy.  As Panang Curry sauce should be.

We then spike our coconut milk with sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, a bay leaf, dried thyme and salt. The lime, bay leaf and thyme are a pantry friendly substitute for kaffir lime leaves that tastes beautifully authentic.  We simmer our coconut sauce for 5 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavor then add our bell peppers and basil and simmer 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp tender. That’s it for wonderfully coconut creamy, EASY Chicken Panang Curry! 

Chicken Panang Curry with white rice with basil.

Panang Curry Recipe Variations

Feel free to customize this Chicken Panang Curry recipe with whatever veggies suit your mood or use this Chicken Panang Curry to clean out your veggie drawer.  It will be the most deliciously epic mash of veggies ever.  You can also substitute the chicken for shrimp or tofu.  You can serve it with noodles, rice or zoodles.  You can add additional lime juice or sriracha.  The customization of this Panang Curry is endless!  And so will be your love. Here are some optitons:

  • Add shrimp. The chicken can swapped for shrimp to make shrimp Panang curry!   Instead of adding the shrimp with the curry paste, season the shrimp with the salt and pepper, then cook it separately with some oil just until opaque and cooked through.  Remove the shrimp to a plate and add to the sauce at the end of cooking.   Sauté the panang curry paste without the shrimp in some oil to bloom the spices then proceed with the recipe.
  • Other proteins.  You can also swap the chicken for cubed pork tenderloin, fish or tofu. When cooking fish, season it with salt and pepper and cook separately.
  • Alternate veggies.  You can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale.  Some tasty alternatives would be broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, bok choy, snow peas, etc.
  • Add nuts.  Cashews add a deeply satisfying, buttery crunch.  Take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts.  To elevate your cashews, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
  • Add coconut. Garnish with toasted sweetened coconut for extra coco-nutty yum.
  • Add sesame seeds.  Add a nutty sesame flavor.  Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
  • Add water chestnuts:  also add a tantalizing crunch.  Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
  • Use Birdseye chilies.  You are welcome to substitute the Asian chili paste for minced Birdseye chilies.  You will want to remove the seeds and finely chop.

TIPS AND TRICKS PANANG CURRY 

  • Prep sauce and veggies before you start cooking. This chicken panang curry comes together in MINUTES once you start cooking, so make sure your bell peppers and aromatics are chopped before oil ever touches your pan.  
  • Don’t overcook chicken.  For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook!  Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking in the sauce.
  • Customize veggies.  You can substitute the veggies for your favorites.
  • Ginger pro tip.  I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips.  To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour.  Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months.   You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry.
  • Adjust to taste. Tasting the final Panang curry and adjusting to taste is crucial because all palates are different.  Sweeten it up with additional brown sugar, add tang with additional lime  juice, spice it up with additional Asian chili paste, add salt/more umami with additional fish sauce or salt and/or amp up the garlic and/or gingerfor a stronger punch of flavor.

HOW TO STORE PANANG CURRY RECIPE

This Panang curry makes exceptional leftovers and reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners.

  • How to store:  Panang curry should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.
  • Microwave: transfer a portion to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. 
  • Stove: for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often. You can microwave the rice as you’re warming the chicken on the stove.

PREP AHEAD PANANG CURRY

This chicken  Panang curry comes together in less than 30 minutes, but if you want dinner to come together in minutes (if you’re hosting for example) then you can prep everything ahead of time. Here’s how:

  • Chop chicken:  chop the chicken and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Chop veggies and aromatics:  chop the bell peppers, garlic and ginger 24 hours in advance and store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.

HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN PANANG CURRY

I do not recommend freezing the chicken Panang curry with the bell peppers because they become an unpleasant mushy texture.  If you are making it for the sole purpose of freezing, otherwise, you may want to pick out the bell peppers of the portion you wish to freeze.

  • Let the Panang curry cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn and seal.
  • Label and freeze for up to three months.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator before warming according to above reheating directions.

WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH PANANG CURRY?

  • Rice: chicken Panang curry is fabulous served with rice to mellow and absorb the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. I prefer jasmine rice but any rice will work.  Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side.  Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your white rice until the water runs clear to achieve the fluffiest rice. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.  
  • Low carb options: cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options.   You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
  • Appetizers:  turn this Panang chicken curry into a feast with Thai Chicken Satay or Peanut Pineapple Thai Chicken SatayThai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, or Thai Chicken Pizza. It is also delish with other Asian inspired, non-Thai appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Homemade Egg RollsPineapple Cream Cheese Wontons,  or potstickers.
  • Bread:  Naan or roti bread to soak up the delectable sauce.  
  • Salad:  A simple green salad or Asian Pineapple Salad.

Eating Chicken Panang Curry with white rice and chop sticks.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Pantry Friendly quick and easy 30 Minute Chicken Panang Curry tastes better than your favorite restaurant at a fraction of the price with easy to find ingredients!

Pantry Friendly 30 Minute Chicken Panang Curry

This Chicken Panang Curry tastes better than your favorite restaurant at a fraction of the price with easy to find ingredients and on your table in less than 30 Minutes!  This Chicken Panang Curry Recipe is lusciously coconut creamy, bursting with layers of flavor, all made in one pot!  You will never need to order Panang Curry again!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut/olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons Panang curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand)*
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts thinly sliced into 1/8” slices against the grain**
  • 3 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 14 oz. cans quality coconut milk (Chaokoh is my favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves roughly chopped

Garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat oil over medium high heat in large nonstick skillet. Add curry paste and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add sliced chicken and cook just until chicken is no longer pink. Add ginger and garlic and saute 30 seconds.
  • Add 1 ½ cans coconut milk. Whisk cornstarch into remaining ½ can coconut milk then add to skillet. Stir in sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, bay leaf, thyme and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes then add red bell peppers and basil and simmer 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp tender. Discard bay leaf.
  • Garnish with additional optional fresh basil, lime juice and chili sauce to taste. Serve with rice.

Video

Notes

Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
*2 tablespoons is medium-spicy – about a 4 spice level on the Thai 1-10 restaurant scale if using Mae Ploy brand.  I have found Mae Ploy to be a little spicier than other brands so it is possible that 2 tablespoons other brands might just be medium heat.   You can always use less Panang curry paste and add additional Sriracha/Asian hot chili sauce to taste at the end of cooking.  That being said, I found when I used 1 tablespoon Mae Ploy Panang Curry paste it was lacking flavor for my taste. **Chicken is much easier to slice if partially frozen. It will thaw quickly once sliced. ***You can slice your chicken and red bell peppers in advance for even quicker meal meal prep.

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34 Comments

  1. Marie says

    Congratulations on your lung transplant anniversary! You are such a source of strength and inspiration! And the Panang Curry looks delicious!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Marie, you are so sweet! I so appreciate your kind words! All the best to you and yours!

  2. Dee says

    I always order Panang Curry so I am SO Excited to try this! Thank you!!

    • Jen says

      I am excited FOR you Dee! I think you will absolutely love it! Enjoy!

  3. Jamison B says

    I have been looking around at other recipes until finding this one and very keen to try it! Can i ask how you would cook it normally if you have access to all the hard to get ingredients (eg kaffir lime leaves and palm sugar)? I have access to pretty much any Asian ingredient and want to make it the best possible!
    Thanks – Jamison

    • Jen says

      Hi Jamison, sorry for the delay as I had surgery this week but thanks for your comment. I would substitute the brown sugar with 2-3 tablespoons palm sugar as it is stronger than brown sugar. I would substitute the bay leaf, dried thyme and lime juice with 7 kaffir lime leaves, 3 torn into pieces, and 4 finely shredded (discard the stems) and then add lime juice to taste if needed. Hope this helps!

  4. Becky says

    Have you ever tried freezing the curry after you prepare it? The Internet is giving me mixed reviews on freezing coconut milk.
    Thanks!
    Becky

    • Jen says

      Hi Becky, unfortunately coconut milk tends not to freeze well – the milk proteins and fat separated from the liquid, much like what happens when you freeze buttermilk. Sorry!

  5. Claire says

    Can this be done in a slow cooker? If so what changes would I need to make?

    • Jen says

      Hi Claire! I have never tried this in the slow cooker but is should work great – it just might not get as creamy. I would add all of the ingredients except the bell peppers. You can even add the chicken whole and chop when cooked. Add the bell peppers the last 30/45 minutes and cook on high until crisp tender. Enjoy!

  6. Teri says

    I have made this twice now, and let me tell you. It is DELICIOUS. It is SO creamy and decadent. I have also made this recipe once using all the ingredients as listed but I had to sub regular red curry paste, as the ONLY Asian food market in this area keeps unreliable hours and was closed. It was still very good! This recipe is so quick and easy but it tastes like I spent hours on it. It is definitely a favorite.

    • Jen says

      Hi Teri, I’m thrilled you love this recipe so much because it is one of my absolute favorites ever! you have great taste 🙂 I’ll have to give it a try with red curry paste some time, you’ve totally peaked my interest!

  7. Rachel says

    My sister turned me on to your site and this is the first recipe I made. I have been to Thailand multiple times (even taking a cooking class one time!) and this is still one of the best Panang curries I’ve ever had! I bought the large container of paste, so I look forward to making this every week until my family is sick of it 🙂 Next I’ll have to try your pad Thai. I’ll have to check if you have a pad see ew recipe, that’s my other favorite! Thanks.

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Rachel! I absolutely love your comment and am super flattered this is one of the best Panang Curries you’ve ever had! I hope you love the Pad Thai equally as much! I don’t have a recipe for Pad See Ew yet, but it’s coming!

  8. David says

    My search is finally over!!! This recipe is amazing and has people asking me to have Thai night at my house. This tastes even better than my local Thai restaurants and we used to order Panang curry at least twice a week. I do make some minor adjustments. I use 2 cans Coconut Cream and one coconut milk. Add an extra TBS of Cornstarch. I used 6 ounces of palm sugar with 1 TBS of Coconut Sugar. 15 lime leaves (which I remove after simmering about 10 minutes). I put lots of vegetables (Broccoli, Zucchini, Carrots, Shallots, Peppers…today I’m trying Cauliflower and next time I’m trying Japanese Eggplant). This is sooooo good!!!! Thanks Jen for changing my life!!!!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for your awesome comment Dave! I am thrilled it is such a favorite and better than your local Thai restaurant! The additional coconut cream sounds divine and I love how you have played with so many veggies – yum!!!

  9. MC says

    I had never had this dish before but the pictures looked so good, I had to try it! I had a hard time finding the paste and ending up getting it off Amazon. I thought it was delicious and so did my husband! The kids thought it was a little spicy though, but that’s typical. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi MC! I LOVE that you wanted to try this recipe even though you haven’t had it in a restaurant before but more importantly I’m thrilled it was a hit! Thank you!

  10. Michelle says

    I have a recipe for Panang Beef Curry that I love, so I almost didn’t try this, but I’m so glad I did. This was SO good. It was so different from the beef curry; almost like two completely different recipes. I didn’t know about the cornstarch but added it anyway; I think it helps since there are so many bell peppers. All of the bell peppers didn’t fit in my huge skillet but I should have added them anyway, because they did end up cooking down a bit and it would have been fine (I used 2 red, 1 orange). I sliced the bell peppers in the morning and this came together quickly at dinnertime. Thanks for sharing this. Looking forward to trying your other Thai recipes.

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Michelle, I’m so happy you loved this Panang Curry so much! I LOVE Thai food so I hope you enjoy exploring my recipes!

  11. Amanda says

    Amazing! I have been trying for ages to make a curry that wasn’t just meh. This was the kind that makes me just want to chug the sauce. Delicious. I used thai green curry paste, not panang, but I will try that next time as it is my favorite. I ran out of brown sugar so I subbed white sugar with molasses and it worked great. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Jen says

      WAHOO! Thanks so much Amanda! I love hearing you love this curry as much as us! I have lots of curry recipes with great flavors, so I hope you can get your curry fix!

  12. Kiri says

    This is AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. My husband is singing me praises over it & he is a big time foodie. If you’re on the fence about making this recipe, do it! You won’t regret it.

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your outstanding recommendation Kiri! I’m thrilled it was such a hit!

  13. Gary says

    I made it with red curry paste, shrimp, scallops, and 2 kaffir lime leaves. I kept the lime juice and basil. It was legitimately delicious! Great recipe.

    • Jen says

      mmmmm! I love the sound of shrimp and scallops! So happy you loved it Gary!

  14. Brian says

    This recipe is wonderful and very easy to make. Your story is amazing and inspirational. Thank you so much! The only change I made (the second time I made it) is I used one red bell, and added chopped snap peas, carrot, and bamboo shoots. Delightful!!! I am excited to delve deeper into your recipe book and can’t wait to try more dishes.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Brian for taking the time to read my story! I’m so happy you love this Panang Curry and it sounds fabulous with all those veggies! I hope you love exploring my other recipes just as much!

  15. VS says

    I couldn’t find Panang curry at my local grocery. Can I use red or green curry with this recipe?

  16. Olga says

    Panang is our fave curry and this looks soooo yummy! You’re site is my go to so I’m excited to try it! Do you think ok to use boneless skinless thighs instead of breasts? Any ideas on how to do this as a beef panang as well?

  17. Olga says

    Thank you for yet another fantastic recipe! I pretty much wanted to drink the sauce. This got rave reviews (and there are a few total foodies in our crew:) I used thighs (just prefer how juicy and forgiving they are) and added some broccoli in a bit before the peppers. I had kafir lime leaves in the freezer so I subbed about 10 of those those for the lime, thyme and bay leaf (but really want to try your more pantry friendly substitution next time). I can’t wait to try your red curry and basil chicken recipes soon!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Olga and thank YOU for taking the time to comment! I’m so pleased this panang curry was a hit even with your foodie friends and your substitutions sound tasty! I hope you love my other Thai recipes just as much!

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