Chicken panang is a mild Asian curry recipe with sweet nuttiness from peanut-infused panang curry paste. This Instant Pot curry recipe comes together in just 45 minutes!
Curries come in so many different varieties, you could literally enjoy a different one every day for a month. Truth is, there would still be others for you to try the next day!
Flavors and ingredients vary a lot by region. The majority of curry recipes are made with a base of coconut milk and include red or green chiles, or a combination of them.
Are all curries spicy?
For the most part, the spiciness of a curry is based on the type and amount of chiles used in the recipe. Of course, the other ingredients in the dish affect the spice level too, so not all curries are spicy.
Generally speaking, there are three types of curry; green, red, and panang.
- Green- If you're in "the spicier, the better" club, a green curry will fit the bill perfectly. They are the spiciest of all curries.
- Red- For a little less heat, choose a red curry. Because chili peppers sweeten as they ripen, red chiles are less spicy than green chiles.
- Panang- If you enjoy sweet and spicy flavors, panang curries will win your heart.
What is panang curry made of?
Panang is a Malaysian curry (named for its city of origin) that typically includes either chicken or beef, but it can be made vegetarian as well.
With its red color, panang is often mistaken for a Thai red curry, but in fact, they are very different.
Panang curries are milder and sweeter than traditional red curries, and they have a nutty flavor from peanuts ground into the panang curry paste.
Cuisine: Asian / Malaysian, Thai
Malaysia is located in southeast Asia, roughly a thousand miles south of Thailand. The two countries share a border, and their cuisines are very similar.
On your travels through Thailand, be sure to taste some of the local cuisine, including Thai lemongrass chicken and sweet and spicy shrimp pizza.
When you reach Malaysia, make a stop in the coastal city of George Town for a delicious bowl of nasi goreng, a roti john sandwich, or some comforting chicken curry!
Common names/spellings: Panang, phanaeng, phanang, penang, gaeng panang
Preparations: Stove top, Instant Pot (pressure cooker), slow cooker
Recipe Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Description: Coconut-based, mellow curry with or without meat. Features peanut-infused curry paste for a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
This Instant Pot curry starts with Panang curry paste. I like to make my own, but by all means use store bought if you'd like. I recommend either the Maesri or Mae Ploy brand.
If you prefer to make your own curry paste, you'll find the ingredients and instructions for my panang curry paste recipe in the notes section of the recipe card, at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- Prep the chicken.
You can make this recipe using either boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. Either way, cut them into bite size pieces that are similar in size.
- Simmer the coconut milk and curry paste.
Just a quick 5 minute simmer allows the flavors of the ingredients to infuse.
- Add chicken and kaffir leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
When the timer on the Instant Pot goes off, perform a Quick Release of the pressure. Then, remove the lid from the pressure cooker and turn the setting to Saute.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer.
This is where you'll add the peanut butter, fish sauce, and spices.
The only ingredient to leave out is the Thai basil. Wait to add them into the finished chicken panang just before serving your Instant Pot curry.
Serving Suggestions for Chicken Panang
Chicken panang curry is fantastic served over white rice or with a side of spicy aloo masala.
For a bit of extra crunch, add some chopped peanuts over the top. Another tasty side dish would be this Vermicelli Noodle Salad from my friend Nagi.
I like to garnish each bowl with a wedge of lime and slices of fresh chiles. Be sure to serve some rustic bread on the side. You'll want to use it to soak up all of that delicious panang sauce! If you need a starter, try serving up my Thai Mango Salad first!
Panang Curry (Chicken Panang)
- 2 lbs boneless chicken (See Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoon Panang curry paste (See Note 2)
- 28 oz coconut milk (2 14-ounce cans)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 3 tablespoon lime juice 1 lime
- 3 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or palm sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 bell peppers green, red and yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 cups green beans trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 10 Thai Basil leaves
- 2 limes quartered
- 1 red chile sliced thin
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts chopped (optional)
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and set aside.
- Select the Saute setting and heat up the ghee or oil. Stir in the Panang curry paste, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 1 can of the coconut milk and continue cooking 5 minutes.
- Press Cancel and transfer chicken and kaffir leaves to pot. Stir to mix and close the lid. Choose Pressure Cook on High Pressure and cook for 5 minutes.
- Do a Quick Release of pressure and when safe remove lid. Stir in half of the other can of coconut milk (save remaining half for other use), peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and cumin.
- Select Saute and add bell peppers and green beans. Stir to mix everything and cook until vegetables are still crisp but tender, 5 minutes. Stir in the Thai basil leaves.
- Serve with steamed rice. Spoon sauce over and top with chopped peanuts (optional), cut limes and red chiles.
- Feel free to use breast meat or thighs.
- My Panang Curry Paste recipe is below, if you like to make your own. Otherwise, I recommend using either of these two brands: Maesri or Mae Ploy.
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 3 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 10 dried chiles de árbol (See Note 1)
- 2 dried guajillo chiles (See Note 1)
- 8 fresh kaffir lime leaves (See Note 2)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 fresh lemongrass stalks (See Note 3)
- 3 fresh red Thai chiles (See Note 4)
- 2 fresh serrano chiles, chopped
- 2 large shallot, quartered
- 1 fresh 2-inch piece galangal, peeled and quartered
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon water (or more if needed)
- ⅓ cup roasted peanuts
- Dry saute the cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, coriander, peppercorns and cumin in a skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Transfer to a spice grinder with salt and grind to a powder.
- Drain soaked chiles (if using, See Note 1) and transfer to food processor along with lime leaves, garlic, lemongrass, red Thai (if using, See Note 4) and serrano chiles, shallot and galangal. Process until a thick paste forms. Scrape down the sides and add the fish sauce, water, peanuts and toasted spice powder. Process until a smooth paste forms.
- This makes about 2 cups total. I use 3-4 tablespoons per recipe (soup or curry). You can freeze remaining for later use in ice cube trays and keep in freezer ziploc bags.
- If using the dried arbol and guajillo chiles OMIT the 3 Red Thai chiles. For dried chiles, remove stems, discard seeds and soak for 10 minutes in hot water.
- Kaffir lime also is marketed as makrut in Asian markets. A substitute could be three 2-inch strips of lime zest (use a vegetable peeler).
- Cut bottom 4" only, discard tough outer layers.
- If using 3 fresh Red Thai Chiles chiles OMIT the dried arbol and guajillo chiles. There are over 79 varieties of "Thai Peppers", with Birds Eye probable being the best known and hottest. You could also use Prik jinda (very hot), prik yuak (mild, sweet), prik chee fah (milder) and prik leuang (mild), are best known in Asian markets. Choose each to define heat level you're comfortable with. The dried Kashmir peppers found in Indian markets can be substituted for and soaked along with the guajillo if you can't find any fresh. Thai peppers typically range from 50,000 to 100,000 Scoville Heat Units compared to a jalapeno, which typically ranges from 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units.
- This makes 2 cups total. I use 4 tablespoons per recipe. Servings are 8 (32 tablespoons total)
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.