20 Minute Panang Chicken Curry
A simple Panang chicken curry that you can throw together in under 20 minute! The perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
20-minute weeknight dinners are my love language!
And this Panang chicken curry hits all the high marks. Creamy, smooth, tangy yet sweet curry loaded with tender chicken, peppers, and Thai basil. Keep it simple and server it over a bowl of steaming rice and just add it to the weekly rotation because the crowds gonna go wild.
We’ve had nothing but rain here in our part of Houston lately, and come September, all I want is comfort food. Bring on the Texas-style chili, the Mexican chicken noodle soup, and now, my Panang chicken curry.
How to make Panang Chicken Curry:
Thai food is some of my favorite things to make because:
- those flavors are a party in my mouth
- involves coconut milk
- it’s comfort food!
Today’s Panang chicken curry is loosely based off of the one from our favorite Thai restaurant in Houston. They keep it pretty straightforward (just meat and curry) but I like to add red bell pepper and a sliced shallot into the mix because the flavors work so well with the sweet and spicy, peanut-flavored curry.
I’ve been making Panang curry for years but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how they got it to have this deep, rich and tangy flavor. I tried everything! Lemon juice, lime juice, lemongrass but time after time, I couldn’t make it like theirs. Until now. The number one ingredient that gives Panang curry it’s classic tang? Tamarind paste. It’s the stuff we use when we’re making pad Thai, so I thought, huh, why not add a smidge to our Panang curry as well? And it did the trick. It gives the curry a nice and dark, slow-simmered, tangy flavor one that lime juice wasn’t providing.
What you need to make panang chicken curry in 20 minutes:
- Panang curry paste
- fish sauce
- tamarind concentrate
- creamy peanut butter
- sliced veggies
- coconut milk
A note about Panang curry paste:
There are a variety of Panang curry pastes available on the market, the one I use it called Mae Ploy. Keep in mind that traditional Thai brands of curry paste will always stretch further than brands like Thai Kitchen which are readily available in mainstream grocery stores.
If you use a curry paste from an Asian supermarket, I suggest starting with 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste (2 if you can really handle spicy food.) Brands that are more readily available in most grocery stores seem to be less potent, so you’ll want to use 2-4 tablespoons of curry paste depending on your spice preference.
How to make Panang Chicken Curry at home:
You’ll notice we’re not using any oil in today’s Panang curry recipe. Grab your coconut milk, without shaking the can, skim a couple of tablespoons off the top and add that to your hot skillet or saute pan. This is the coconut cream; it’s loaded with oil so we’ll use it to cook our curry paste. Then add the curry paste and peanut butter and allow the flavors to wake up. Make sure it doesn’t burn though! Then we’ll add the chicken and mix it so that everything is coated well. Add the rest of the coconut milk along with the fish sauce, tamarind, sugar, veggies, and let it all just simmer until the chicken cooks through and the curry thickens, that’s it!
What do you serve with Panang Chicken Curry?
In the past, I’ve shared a Panang curry noodle bowl with you so you can certainly serve this over rice noodles or egg noodles. Steamed white or brown rice is my favorite though way to eat Panang curry though!
Hope you enjoy this quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe!
20 Minute Panang Chicken Curry
A simple Panang chicken curry that you can throw together in under 20 minute! The perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
- 1 ½ -2 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 2-4 tablespoons Panang curry paste
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken, thinly sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste concentrate (or more for more tang)
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced (or ½ red onion)
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 3 kefir lime leaves, optional
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- PASTE: Without shaking the can, skim off two tablespoons of the coconut cream and add it to a sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the Panang curry paste along with the peanut butter and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir to coat, cook for 1-2 minutes. If at any point the sauce begins to stick to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water to deglaze. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, starting with 1 1/2 cans (adjust with more later if desired.) Add the kefir lime leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, sliced onion, and red bell pepper.
- SIMMER: Allow the curry to come to a simmer, lower the heat and let simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the chicken cooks through. Taste and adjust with additional coconut milk, sugar, tamarind, or fish sauce as desired. Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm with rice or cooked rice noodles.
- leftover coconut milk can be poured into an airtight container and frozen for up to 6 months.
I am allergic to shrimp and noticed that the panang curry paste you recommended contains shrimp. Do you know if all of the brands of this type of curry paste contain shrimp? This recipe sounds great, but I need to avoid allergic reactions.
I think most Panang curry pastes (at least the ones from Asian supermarkets) contain shrimp paste, unfortunately. You can swap the Panang curry paste and use Red curry paste instead (ones available in mainstream grocery stores usually don’t contain shrimp paste.) I would just add a 1/2 teaspoon of each ground cumin and coriander to give it that ‘Panang’ flavor. Hope that helps!
Made this tonight. Best curry yet …together with your Indian Butter Chicken. More thai curry recipes please!!
Primo recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.
Hi! I was wondering if you had the nutritional information for this dish! Made it this past week—it’s delicious! But I’m watching my macros so I would love to get that info if you have it!
Hi Alyson, I’m glad you enjoyed the curry! I don’t have the NI calculated, but you can pop the URL of this page into myfitnesspal.com and it’ll calculate the calories for you! Hope that helps!
So good! This tastes just like the Thai restaurant I like. Thanks!
So good. And with 7 of us I just double the recipe, thanks heaps!
Happy to hear you enjoyed it! 🙂
This was delicious! I’ve made different curries for years but had not invested in Panang curry paste or tamarind – best recipe ever. I thought “Oh, 2 T of curry is good!” and boy, it had a kick! I was out of lime leaves so I used a splash of lime juice. So glad I came across your website, can’t wait to peruse and find another new recipe for tomorrow.
The first time I made this recipe, it was ok, but something was missing… I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Once you add the kefir lime leaves, though, it’s perfect! I would change the “optional” behind that ingredient to “absolutely necessary”! They add so much flavor and complexity to the dish that I was missing without them!
Eating this as I write…it’s totally delicious and one of the best panang recipes I’ve come across. Only adaption I made was adding 2tsp of tamarind as it was a supermarket buy…so not quite as strong in flavour. This will be my regular go to now. Thanks for that ?
When I made Panang chicken curry the first time referring to your recipe, its taste was like one you find in a restaurant. This recipe is truly awesome!
I think I’ve commented before but this is such a delicious recipe and so easy to make but you definitely need all the ingredients. Tonight I didn’t have basil and I missed it…still scoffed the lot though ?
Wow!! I just finished eating I big bowl or rice and this recipe.
This is the best panang recipe I have made. My husband is a Panang lover so this is what I made him for Father’s Day.
I didn’t have panang curry paste, tamarind concentrate or kefir leaves.
So I used Red Thai curry paste, and lime zest of 1 lime for each kefir leave. I also left out the sugar…I just ordered everything from your links from amazon, so I can make it again because if modifying those 3 things it was delicious I can’t only imagine if I use everything u mentioned.
Thanks for sharing!!
Happy to hear you were able to make it work with what you had on hand as well, Rosana 🙂
This looks so delicious! I have a couple of questions: 1) can I use all natural peanut butter? 2) I’m allergic to fish – do you have an alternative to the fish sauce? Or can I just leave it out. I’m ok with shell fish.
Thanks so much!
Hi Katrina! Natural peanut butter should work just fine, that’s usually what I have on hand so I’m pretty sure at some point I’ve used it to test this recipe. For the fish sauce, you could use a 50:50 combo of low sodium soy sauce and rice vinegar or lime juice. It should give you a somewhat similar flavor!
This is a really good recipe. I have n e v e r commented on a recipe but I feel authentic Thai recipes are really hard to find.
On a whim, I made this last night. We have been to Thailand and enjoy the cuisine tremendously but there are 2 things that can wreck a Thai recipe: subpar curry paste & coconut milk. Seriously. Quality is paramount w/these 2 ingredients.
Having said that, this recipe is very adaptable. I did not have: Kefir leaves, the basil. For other reasons I did not use the fish sauce (instead 1/2 juiced lime) and omitted the sugar. Thankfully I did have a small packet of Tamarind from Thailand. Additionally, I opted to use 1 can of organic coconut cream milk from Trader Joes and 1 reg organic can of coconut milk. (A really good brand is Chaokoh coconut milk; likewise, after MUCH research Mae Anong Kang Panang curry paste is amazing.). I also did add a little chicken broth to deglaze at times.
Alllll that to say, THANK YOU.
AND I am excited to try this recipe again with the added Kefir and basil!
So glad to hear you enjoyed it, Victoria! Thank you for sharing all your research on coconut milk and curry paste brands! 🙂
I have made a few different Penang curry recipes and this one is my favorite. It is simple but so flavorful and delicious! I used bay leaves plus lime juice instead of the kefir leaves because I didn’t have them. I also used half of a white onion and sautéd it in coconut milk before adding paste. Was truly delicious! I will be making this again!
So happy to her you enjoyed it, Autumn!
This 20 minute Panang curry chicken recipe is the best of all Thai chicken recipes I’ve ever tried. The consistency of the curry & taste is just perfect. Thank you for sharing this recipe and would love to receive more of your recipes in the future.
I’m so glad to hear that, Shalini! Appreciate you taking the time to come back and leave a comment!
BINGO! THIS IS IT! As good as any i have ever eaten in any Thai restaurant. LOVE IT! And it saves me a lot of money.
So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Richard! Definitely does save money! 🙂
Our office staff usually orders Thai at least twice a week . The Panang is always the choice for lunch. Well after tasting the restaurant’s version (which everyone loves) I decided to make it and bring it to work. Well, this recipe was a HUGE hit. They thought it came from the restaurant. Ha! Thanks I won’t be going out to eat Panang any time soon.
I’m so glad to hear that, Cee! Appreciate you circling back to leave a review!
Made this yesterday. It was excellent. We spent the last six winters in Thailand. We always eat at local places or in night markets. There are two of us. We found it even better heated up the second time. Plus we added more more red pepper and onion the second time.
Made Penang Curry with red curry paste as per your instructions. We used 3 tablespoons of curry paste to make the Penang paste. Then added another 2 tablespoons while cooking. We substituted a bay leaf and lime zest since we did not have any kafir lime leaves in the house. I used Aroy-D paste.
Hi Ian! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the Panang curry. Thanks for sharing your subs for the kefir lime leaves!
Great flavor. Very easy to whip together. I order this dish in restaurants quite often and flavor and consistency was comparable. Only 1 slight disappointment with the Thai Kitchen curry paste – I used 6 tablespoons and still no heat. Must need a different brand for medium heat.
Hi Kim! So glad to hear you enjoyed it. The Thai Kitchen paste is quite mild. I often suggest it as it’s the easiest one to locate in most supermarkets. I suggest trying this brand it’s more potent and won’t require as much paste to bring on additional heat. We end up using 2 tablespoons of this stuff and find it brings on a nice punch of heat 🙂
I found Mae Ploy Panang Curry Paste — I see you recommended to Kim Joyce that she used Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste! What is the difference between the 2 and do you prefer the Panang over the Red?
Absolutely delicious and very easy to make! I put 3 Tbsp. of this Mae Ploy Curry Paste and it was spicy enough for us. It is very flavorful and tastes like authentic Thai food. I’ll be cooking it again. Thank you Marzia!
Made it for the fourth time. It is perfect. Each time is faster. We do 4 tbsp of curry paste to get a little heat!
One question….how many fresh Thai basil leaves make a 1/4 cup (average)?
Made it four times with red curry (as per your penang curry recipe). Found Mai Ploy Penang Curry paste at our local Asian and followed your recipe as before. It was excellent. Used 4 tablespoons of curry paste. Slightly hot for us so we simply added the remaining half can of coconut milk. We also scored with K lime leaves. Found a package in the freezer section. Used a few, froze the rest for future use.
Unbelievably fast and so delicious!!
I’ve made panang using an instant pot a handful of times but this recipe is the only time I’ve thought it could be from our local restaurant. Truly was 20 minutes too. We use a half tin of Maesri brand panang paste (no shrimp paste in it) with the full two cans of coconut milk. A bit of heat but not overwhelming at all. The other half tin freezes great until next time.
I’m wanting to make freezer lunch portions of this. Do you think it will freeze well?
Just as easy as it sounds and it comes out delicious every time! I don’t know that it’s traditional but I like to add a lot of zucchini
what chicken do you use? I would try chicken breast but I am afraid it would be tough — would boneless skinless chicken thighs work?
also, the local restaurant here puts fresh tomato wedges in this dish — what do you think of that?
I used chicken breast sliced pretty thin against yhe grain. It didnt fully cook in the paste in step 1 but finished cooking once all the sauce was simmering. Not dry or tough at all. Chicken thighs would probably be great too.
Turned out so good, I could eat the sauce by itself.
My fam likes softer veggies so I sauteed mine first, set aside, then followed directions.
I didn’t have a couple ingredients on hand, so I’m sure the next time I try it, it will be even better.
I’ve made this over twenty times! So delicious and easy! Using a high quality coconut milk is key
I make this recipe all the time. I’m very much an amateur cook, so that should attest to how relatively easy this to make. My wife and I have had this countless times, and have shared it with plenty of friends and family. It’s always a hit!