Thai Panang Curry with Chicken

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Warm and comforting Thai Panang Curry with Chicken is a rich and nutty curry sauce that uses creamy natural peanut butter, panang curry paste, and coconut milk. This mild panang curry is prepared in just 30 minutes in the Instant Pot, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. Better yet, this recipe is made with chicken but can also be made with vegetables, pork, or beef.

Thai panang curry served with jasmine rice in a white bowl

Chicken Panang Curry is probably something you’ve ordered for takeout from a Thai restaurant, but never thought to try at home. Let me tell you, it’s so easy to make, especially in your one-pot electric pressure cooker.

This panang curry sauce gets its unique and nutty flavor from natural peanut butter as well as lime juice and a little bit of fish sauce. It’s similar to some of my other Easy Thai Recipes like Pad Thai, Thai Massaman Curry Chicken, and Thai Basil Fried Rice.

Panang curry with chicken garnished with Thai basil leaves

What is Panang Curry?

Thai panang curry is a very rich, and creamy curry when compared to other curries since it has more coconut milk or cream in the sauce. Originating in Laos, Thailand, the name panang comes from an ancient Khmer word “cross” for sitting cross-legged. 

It was said that long ago in Laos, they would cross chicken’s legs on the grill and baste them with a curry paste with peanuts and coconut cream. This panang curry recipe is now made in a pot usually rather than the grill. 

Panang curry is made from panang curry paste which has ingredients like dried chilies, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, makrut (kaffir) lime zest, and many times shrimp paste. Panang curry sauce is different from other red curries thanks to its use of unsweetened natural peanut butter, kaffir lime leaves, and coconut milk or cream.

ingredients to make Thai Panang Chicken Curry

Ingredients in Panang Curry Recipe

  • Panang curry paste: I like the Maesri Brand Panang Curry Paste. It’s the base of this rich, warm curry sauce and has ingredients like dried red chilies, lemongrass, shallot, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and kaffir lime zest 
  • Unsweetened full-fat coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is essential to any panang curry recipe to make that creamy sauce. You can also use coconut cream if that is what you have on hand.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs: I’m using chicken in this panang curry, but you could just use vegetables and tofu to make it vegetarian panang curry or use other proteins like beef and pork.
  • Unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter: This ingredient makes panang curry unique when compared to other curry recipes. 
  • Fish sauce: Optional to use, but it gives the panang curry a salty, slightly fishy, umami that is so delicious.
  • Brown sugar: Adds a hint of sweetness to the peanut butter and intense spices of the panang curry paste.
  • Soy sauce: Adds the saltiness to the curry sauce that highlights all of the many ingredients in the sauce. 
  • Lime juice: Is the acidic ingredient that brightens the flavors to make every flavor in the curry paste more vibrant in taste. 
  • Vegetables: Onion, red and yellow bell pepper are the base vegetables to go with the chicken. The peppers add a nice natural sweetness to the sauce.
  • Kaffir lime leaves: These are optional, but if you can find them I highly recommend using them. They infuse the sauce with a warm, bright lime flavor that makes panang curry special. If you can’t find it, the Maesri red curry paste has kaffir lime zest in it. 
  • Thai basil leaves: a unique ingredient, Thai basil is different from regular basil in that it is spicier with a hint of licorice flavor.

How to Make Thai Panang Curry with Chicken

  • Heat the Instant Pot on Saute and add the oil. Add the panang curry paste and cook for one minute to allow the flavors to toast and become aromatic. 
  • Stir in half of the coconut milk into the panang curry paste until smooth and combined. Press Cancel on the Instant Pot.
  • Add the chicken, season with salt, and stir to combine. Close the Instant Pot lid and be sure to seal the pressure valve. Pressure cook on High for 4 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 10 minutes then carefully manually release the lid.
photos one through four showing how to make instant pot panang chicken curry
  • Remove the lid and add the peanut butter, fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice. Stir in the remaining coconut milk until everything is nicely combined.
  • Add the onions and peppers and cook on Saute mode for about 5 minutes or until the panang curry sauce comes to a gentle boil. Be sure not to overcook the veggies, they should be crisp-tender. 
  • Garnish with Thai basil.
photos five through eight showing adding veggies to instant pot panang chicken curry

Chicken Panang Curry Recipe Tips

  • Kaffir lime leaves are sometimes a difficult ingredient to find in the grocery store. If you have a local Asian market, try sourcing them there. They are definitely worth using in the recipe if you can find them, they add a spicy, citrus lime flavor to the sauce. 
  • If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, not a problem, there is some kaffir lime zest in the panang curry paste already so the flavor will still be in the sauce. 
  • Coconut cream vs. coconut milk. You can use either in this recipe, I’ve made it easier by calling for a whole can of full-fat coconut milk.
  • To make this a vegetarian panang curry, simply use all peppers and onions in the base recipe rather than chicken. I like to add green beans, tofu, or spinach too.

How to Serve Chicken Panang Curry

This authentic chicken panang curry recipe has a luscious and creamy sauce that is perfect over jasmine rice. I have the easiest jasmine rice recipe that is also made directly in the Instant Pot. 

This jasmine rice recipe cooks the rice in half of the time, is hands-free, and gives you perfectly cooked rice every single time. 

panang curry chicken served in a white bowl garnished with basil leaves with rice on the side

Storing

Store the panang curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat over medium heat in a skillet on the stove for a few minutes or heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes until warmed through.

More Thai Recipes

FAQs

What is panang curry?

A luxuriously rich red curry sauce, that is nuttier and creamier than most other curries. It uses creamy peanut butter and coconut milk or cream.

Is panang curry spicy?

Panang curry is mild in spice level when compared to other curries. It’s known to be the sweetest of the curries with the flavors of peanuts and coconut cream.

What is the difference between red curry and panang curry?

Panang curry differs from red curry in that it is cooked with peanuts (or unsweetened natural creamy peanut butter) and coconut milk or cream to give it a sweeter and richer flavor than red curry.

What is the difference between Indian curry paste and panang curry paste?

Indian and Thai curries both use spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon. Where Thai curries differ from Indian curries, is that they use a lot of lemongrass, chilies, shrimp paste, and coriander as well.

Recipe

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Thai panang curry served with jasmine rice

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Thai Panang Curry with Chicken

A creamy and comforting panang curry with chicken that cooks in just 30 minutes using the Instant Pot. This sweeter and mild curry sauce uses peanut butter and coconut milk.

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time9 minutes

Total Time30 minutes

Course: Dessert, Entree, Main Course

Cuisine: Thai

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 517kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat the Instant Pot on Saute and add the oil. Add the panang curry paste and cook for one minute to allow the flavors to toast and become aromatic.

  • Stir half of the coconut milk into the panang curry paste until smooth and combine. Press Cancel on the Instant Pot.

  • Add the chicken, season with salt and stir to combine. Close the Instant Pot lid and be sure to seal the pressure valve. Pressure cook on High for 4 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for 10 minutes then carefully manually release the lid.

  • Remove the lid and add the peanut butter, fish sauce (if using), brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and kaffir lime leaves (if using). Stir in the remaining coconut milk until everything is nicely combined.

  • Add the onions and peppers and cook on Saute mode for about 5 minutes or until the panang curry sauce comes to a gentle boil. Be sure not to overcook the veggies, they should be crisp-tender.

  • Serve the panang curry with jasmine rice and garnish with Thai basil leaves.

Stovetop Method

  • Follow the same instructions as above adding all of the coconut milk. After adding chicken and salt, cook covered on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Then add the peanut butter, fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and kaffir lime. Add onions, peppers and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Notes

  • For a milder curry start use only 2 tablespoons of curry paste. 
  • Kaffir lime leaves can be difficult to find, which is why they are optional in the recipe. If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, don’t worry, the Maesri Panang curry paste has kaffir lime zest in it. 

Nutrition

Calories: 517kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 1728mg | Potassium: 1075mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 359IU | Vitamin C: 67mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 3mg

Author: Archana

Hey there! I am a techie turned recipe developer, cooking instructor, and food blogger. I love food and enjoy developing easy and healthy recipes for busy lifestyles. I live in New Jersey with my husband and two sons.

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