The traditional Asian ingredients in my Panang Curry showcase both sweet and spicy, to create a milder curry dish. This Thai curry uses coconut milk, peanuts and brown sugar to balance out the slight heat from the chiles found in the curry paste. I consider this a “starter” curry, it’s not that hot. Serve over rice for an easy, weeknight dinner!
Curries are an incredibly versatile and flavorful dish that can vary in heat and appearance. Green curry uses a paste that is generally very spicy, while the paste for red curry tends to be on the milder side.
Panang curry also uses red curry paste, but has a sweet element and ground peanuts which sets it apart from the rest.
My chicken panang keeps my heat-loving friends happy, but also appeals to those with a sweet-tooth! Modifying the traditional curry prep to work with an Instant Pot saves me tons of time but maintains all the incredible Asian flavors, keeping this panang curry recipe in the regular rotation at my house!
What is panang curry made of?
Panang is a Thai 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. Think of Panang Curry like a combination between a red curry with peanut satay flavors.
Panang curries are milder and sweeter than traditional red curries, and they have a nutty flavor from peanuts ground into the panang curry paste.
If you’d like to try other Thai flavors, be sure to taste my Coconut Milk Chicken and Gai Yang Chicken or my Sweet and Spicy Shrimp Pizza.
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.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Boneless Chicken – Chicken breast meat is not necessary for this recipe. You can use chicken thighs for an equally delicious result.
- Panang Curry Paste – I highly recommend making my homemade version. The recipe makes 2 cups of curry paste, and you can easily freeze extra for later use. If you prefer to buy your curry paste, I recommend looking for Maesri or Mae Ploy.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves – If your market does not have kaffir lime leaves, lime zest can be used instead. Use ¾ teaspoon lime zest to replace the 5 kaffir lime leaves called for in this recipe. The lime flavor in your panang curry will be less fragrant and intense, but it’s better than leaving the lime flavors out of the dish entirely!
- Ghee – Mixing butter and vegetable oil together creates a good substitute for ghee. The nutty flavor and moisture levels in the mixture are similar, so no adjustments will need to be made in your dry ingredients. The one tablespoon of ghee in this panang curry recipe can be substituted with ½ tablespoon of butter mixed with ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil.
HOW TO MAKE PANANG CURRY (CHICKEN PANANG)
1. Prep The chicken. Take your chicken breasts or thighs and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
2. Saute Curry Paste. Set the Instant Pot to saute and drizzle your ghee to coat the bottom of your pot. Once hot, stir in the curry paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 can of coconut milk, stirring to mix in with the curry paste and cook for 5 more minutes.
3. Add Chicken & Lime Leaves. Cancel the saute setting, then stir the chicken and lime leaves in with the curry paste and coconut milk.
4. Cook. Close the lid and set your Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, open the valve for a Quick Release.
5. Add Remaining Ingredients. Open the lid and stir in the remaining coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and cumin. Set the IP to Saute, then stir in bell peppers and green beans. Cook for 5 minutes, or until crisp but tender. Stir in basil leaves.
6. Garnish & Serve. Spoon chicken panang over rice and top with chopped peanuts, quartered limes, and sliced red chiles.
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. However, other ingredients in each dish can play off of or mellow out the spiciness, so not all curries are spicy.
Generally speaking, there are four types of curry:
- Green – If you’re in the “spicier is better” club, this will certainly fit the bill — these are the spiciest of all curries!
- Yellow – I consider this medium and is full of bold, savory, and even spicy flavors.
- Red – For a little less heat, choose a red curry paste. Chili peppers sweeten as they ripen, so red chilis are less spicy than green.
- Panang – The perfect combination of spicy and sweet.
Is There a Difference Between Thai Basil and Sweet Basil?
There is a definite difference in taste between Thai basil and sweet basil. Thai basil has a spicy flavor that is often compared to anise, while sweet basil is sweet and mildly peppery in flavor. In order to maintain the distinct curry flavor, you should not substitute Thai basil with sweet basil in this panang curry recipe.
What Makes Panang Curry Different?
While Panang Curry is technically a red curry, it is considered a milder curry and isn’t as spicy as other red curries. This is due to fewer red chilies in the recipe. Peanuts and peanut butter are also specific to this dish, even though nuts aren’t uncommon in Asian cuisine.
How Long Does Curry Last After Cooking?
Leftover curry can stay refrigerated for up to 5 days. After that, the flavors will fade and become dull. To reheat, simply add the chicken panang to a saucepan and heat on your stovetop over medium heat for a few minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of water to your pan if needed.
Thai Panang Curry
- 2 lbs boneless chicken (See Note 1)
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
- 4 tbsp Panang curry paste (See Note 2)
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 28 oz coconut milk (2 14-ounce cans)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves or 1 tsp lime zest
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1/2 tsp 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
- 1/2 cup Thai Basil leaves
- 2 limes quartered
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. Mix 3 tablespoons water with 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in large wok, Dutch oven or deep skillet. Add panang curry paste and peanut butter and saute for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves or lime zest and bring to a boil.
- Stir through cornstarch mixture. Add chicken, turn heat to simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes or just until chicken is no longer pink and sauce has thickened.
- Add bell peppers and green beans. Stir to mix everything and cook until vegetables are still crisp but tender, 5 minutes. Stir through lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cumin and basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Spoon sauce over top. serve with steamed rice and cut limes.
Instant Pot Method
- 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 the other can of coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and cumin.
- If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 3 tablespoons water with 2 teaspoons cornstarch and stir through as well.
- 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.
- Spoon sauce over top. Serve with steamed rice and cut limes.
- Feel free to use breast meat or thighs.
- If you’d like to make your own, try my Panang Curry Paste. Otherwise, I recommend purchasing either of these two brands: Maesri or Mae Ploy.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.