Thai Panang Curry

4.67 from 3 votes

This recipe for panang curry is a comforting dish that is sweet, spicy, and loaded with the flavors of Southeast Asia. Spicy red chiles are balanced with rich coconut milk, creamy peanut butter, and sweet brown sugar to create an irresistible curry sauce. Serve chicken panang over rice for an easy weeknight dinner!

overhead: panang curry in a bowl

This Thai panang curry features succulent chicken and tender-crisp vegetables in a savory, sweet, and spicy curry sauce. It has all the flavor of any traditional curry, but with a richer, milder delivery, thanks to the peanuts. It is perfect for anyone just getting started with curries or Thai cuisine. 

To save time and make sure I can always whip up chicken panang when it calls, I’ve adapted this recipe for the Instant Pot. No worries if you don’t have one, though. I included both stovetop and Instant Pot panang curry recipes in this post for your convenience.

Video Below

Watch how I make this from start to finish in the recipe card video below!

I love to make my own curry pastes like Panang Curry Paste – My homemade recipe makes 2 whole cups of curry paste and can easily be frozen. At the store, my favorite brands are Maesri and Mae Ploy. I also have three others, Red Curry Paste, Green Curry Paste and Yellow Curry paste that all deliver different flavors and degrees of heat. I hope you try them, too!

side view: chicken panang in a black bowl with vegetables visible

For more curry recipes, check out my Thai Red Curry Chicken, Thai Baked Halibut (uses my Green Curry paste), Thai Yellow Shrimp Curry, Mango Chicken, Thai Shrimp, and Lamb Vindaloo Curry.

map of malaysia, thailand, and surrounding countries

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Boneless Chicken – Feel free to use boneless breasts or thighs, whichever you prefer. 
  • Ghee – Look for ghee in the international aisle or with the other oils. If needed, you can combine equal parts butter and oil as a substitute. 
  • Panang Curry Paste – My homemade recipe makes 2 whole cups of curry paste and can easily be frozen. At the store, my favorite brands are Maesri and Mae Ploy.
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves – If you don’t have access to this ingredient, substitute ¾ teaspoon of lime zest in place of the 5 leaves. 
  • Thai Basil Leaves – Add an aromatic, anise-like flavor. Look for them in the fresh herbs section at the grocery store or at your local Asian market.
overhead: white plate with thick red paste for panang
Panang Curry Paste

Tip From Kevin

Fresh or Store Bought?

While it is easier to pick up a tin of curry paste from the market, making your own is by far not only tastier and fresh, but I say fun. You see everything that goes in it and you can also freeze some for later. I have a recipe for my Panang Curry Paste in the recipe card below for the adventurous!

How to Make Panang Curry

Stovetop

  1. Prepare Ingredients. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix 3 tablespoons of water with 3 teaspoons of water and set aside. Place a large wok, deep skillet, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the oil. 
  2. Heat the Sauce. In the hot oil, saute the peanut butter and panang curry paste together for one minute. Stir in the coconut milk and lime leaves (or zest), then bring to a boil.
  3. Cook the Chicken. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the wok, followed by the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chicken for about 12-15 minutes. You want the sauce to be slightly thickened and the chicken to no longer be pink. 
  4. Add Vegetables & Seasonings. Mix in the bell peppers and green beans and let them cook to crisp-tender, or for about 5 minutes. Now stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cumin, and basil leaves and simmer for another 5 minutes. 
  5. Serve. Add any salt, pepper, or other seasonings as desired. Serve panang spooned over steamed rice with fresh lime wedges.

Instant Pot

  1. Prepare the Instant Pot. Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting and add the ghee or oil. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside. 
  2. Start the Sauce. Stir the curry paste into the heated IP and cook for 2 minutes. Follow that by stirring in 1 can of coconut milk and cooking for another 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the Chicken. Press cancel on your Instant Pot. Stir in the chicken and lime leaves, then close the lid. Be sure it is sealed and select the Pressure Cooker, High Pressure setting. Cook for 5 minutes. 
  4. Add Other Seasonings. Use the Quick Release method and carefully remove the lid. Add the peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cumin, and the other can of coconut milk, stirring to combine. For a thicker sauce, stir in the cornstarch slurry. 
  5. Add Vegetables. Return to the Saute setting and mix in the green beans and bell peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes, to crisp-tender, then stir in the basil leaves. 
  6. Serve. Season your Instant Pot panang curry as desired. Serve over rice with lime wedges.
overhead: bowl of Instant Pot panang curry

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between chicken panang and red curry?


Panang curry shares a lot of the same base ingredients as red curries with a couple of key differences. 

In general, red curries are spicier and more aromatic with more red chiles included in the curry paste. Panang, on the other hand, is much milder, sweeter, and richer due to fewer chiles and the addition of crushed peanuts. 

Both are sauces in which you can cook a variety of proteins, determining whether it is a chicken dish or not.

Where did panang originate?


Panang curry is a traditional Thai dish that has now gained international fame. It is hard to pin down exactly what region of Thailand that panang originated, but we do know that the earliest written record goes all the way back to 1890.

Does Instant Pot chicken panang freeze well?


Definitely! Whether you opted for the stovetop or used your Instant Pot, follow these same easy guidelines for storage. 

For small amounts of leftovers, store your chicken panang in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If desired, you can refrigerate any cooked rice for 3-5 days, but I do not recommend freezing it. 

To freeze your panang, be sure it is fully cooled, transfer to freezer-safe containers, and store for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stove.

extreme closeup: panang curry in a bowl

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Thai Panang Curry

4.67 from 3 votes
This Thai panang curry is rich, sweet, and mildly spicy, made with chicken, veggies, coconut milk, peanut butter, and a homemade curry paste.
Servings: 6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

Stovetop Method

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  1. Feel free to use breast meat or thighs.
  2. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 463kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 947mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2897IU | Vitamin C: 79mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 5mg

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.

Course: main dishes
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): panang curry chicken instant pot version

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so good and I made it in a wok using your curry paste instead of my go to store bought Maesri. Really impressed Kevin!

  2. Your pictures look so inviting but I can see so many dried chilies in that photo of the patang paste. And the fresh ones as well, I couldn’t even eat a quarter of one of those dried Chiles. Sadly, adding sugar does NOT make it easier to eat I fear. I do love curries, but I can barely eat the spiciest ones here in Japan which are really toned down from the real thing, tasty though they are. I wish I could eat spicier foods, I know I’m missing so much….

  3. 4 stars
    Kevin, I find your recipes consistantly interesting. I spent some 18 years either working in, or travelling to countries in every continent so it is fun to make recipes that remind me of those times. Cheers and Happy New Year, Brian from Sussex in England

    1. Fantastic! Love reading this and I am happy you are following along Brian! Cheers and Happy New Year, Brian from Portland, Oregon. 🙂