Panang Curry Vs Red Curry: What’s The Difference? 

Panang Curry

One of the most unique things about Thai cuisine is the curries.

There is a range of ingredients used to make different types of curries and give them exciting flavors. So, if you are planning to cook yourself a delicious Thai meal, or just want to learn more about the cuisine, this article is the right place for you.

So, what is the difference between Panang curry and red curry?

The key difference between them is the content. This gives them a distinct taste as well as texture. Moreover, they are served with different foods and have different appearances.

Read on to know more about each of these differences in detail.

What Is Panang Curry?

Panang curry is a thick curry with a salty and sweet flavor. It first originated in Laos and has now become a staple part of central Thai cuisine.

Panang curry has a touch of makrut lime that gives it a slight zinger. It consists of roasted peanuts as well which give it a slightly nutty flavor and add to its coarse texture.

There is almost no liquid added to Panang curry other than a dash of coconut milk. Sometimes, people serve it with strips of meat and rice.

What Is Red Curry?

Red curry, popularly known as only ‘Thai curry’, is a type of dish made using curry paste, coconut milk, seafood, meat, vegetables, fruit, and herbs.

The main ingredient in red curry is curry paste, which is made using chilis, lemon, onion, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste, etc. Red curry has a large proportion of herbs, so it acquires a signature aroma as well as a flavorful taste.

Red curry includes other additional ingredients. Therefore, there are a number of ways in which this curry can be served and prepared.

Panang Curry Vs Red Curry: Comparison Chart

Let’s take a quick look at some of the main differences between Panang curry and red curry. 

Category Panang curry Red curry
Taste Salty and sweet Spicy and savory
Ingredients Dried chili peppers, peanuts, makrut lime Shrimp paste, chili, herbs, coconut milk
Texture Thick Slightly creamy
Served With Rice, meat strips, coconut milk, fish sauce Rice, noodles, flatbread, minced pork
Appearance Dark orange to brown Red, slightly orange

Panang Curry Vs Red Curry: What’s the Difference?

Now, let’s understand the main differences between red curry and Panang curry in detail.

Red Curry


Panang curry has a creamy taste with hints of both sweetness and saltiness. It is prepared by adding roasted peanuts, which gives it a nutty taste. Additionally, Panang curry also consists of makrut lime to give it a citrusy touch.

On the other hand, red curry has a complex taste. It is made with spices and herbs that give it a savory taste. Red curry is also simmered in coconut milk, which gives it a slightly creamy and smooth taste.


Panang curry is prepared with dried chili peppers, lemongrass, salt, galangal, makrut lime zest, coriander root, peanuts, salt, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, shallot.

Other ingredients that are used to prepare Panang curry include dried chili peppers, coriander root, coriander seeds, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, salt, and shrimp paste.

Red curry, on the other hand, is prepared by mixing curry paste with herbs, coconut milk and water, seafood, meat, veggies, and fruit. This paste consists of chilis, onions, galangal, cilantro root, lemongrass, garlic, and shrimp paste.

Some ingredients that can be added to red curry include Thai basic, fingerroot, tamarind juice, coconut cream, fish sauce, etc.


Panang curry has a very thick texture. Since its preparation includes using roasted peanuts and a minimal amount of liquids, the texture becomes dense.

However, it is still diluted enough to be mixed well with any foods that are added to it.

Red curry has a creamier texture than Panang curry. However, the texture and ingredients may depend on what is served along with the curry.

Usually, red curry is creamy as it includes coconut milk.

Served With

Panang curry goes well with additional dishes like rice, meat cut into strips, makrut lime leaves, palm sugar, coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce.

Panang curry served with pork is a very popular dish from Thai cuisine.

On the other hand, you can consume red curry with rice, noodles, minced pork, flatbread, and sticky noodles. Also, red curry is “watered down” to prepare stew and broth that is served with vegetables, meat, and seafood.


If you know what to look for, you can tell the difference between Panang curry and red curry by just looking at them.

Panang curry is thick and has a dark orange to brown color whereas red curry has a red or bright orange color. Red curry is also visibly runnier than Panang curry.

Panang Curry Recipe

You can easily make delicious and traditional-style Panang curry with the following ingredients.


  • Panang curry paste
  • Coconut milk
  • Red chili
  • Thinly sliced meat or vegetables
  • Basil leaves
  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • Roasted ground peanuts
  • Palm sugar
  • Thai fish sauce


Fry coconut milk in a wok until the coconut oil begins to separate from it. Then, add Panang curry paste to the wok and let the mixture fry for a few minutes.

Once the coconut milk and curry paste have combined well together, add the sliced meat or vegetables into the mixture. After the meat is done, add more coconut oil to the mixture and let it heat for a few more minutes.

When the coconut milk has been combined with the curry, add some palm sugar to the mixture until it dissolves. Then, add fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves until they combine with the curry.

Lastly, add basil leaves to the curry and let the mixture heat for a few minutes, and voila! Your homemade Panang curry is ready. Serve it with the remaining basil leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and coconut milk.

Panang Curry Vs Massaman Curry

Massaman curry hides a very interesting history which you can notice in the making process. It has roots in Iran, India, the Malay Archipelago fused with traditional Thai cuisine.

It was originally made with potato, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, anise, cumin, nutmeg, mace, and bay leaves. However, ingredients that are more commonly used in native Thai cuisine began to be included when this curry was brought to Thailand.

Some of these ingredients include chili, shrimp paste, coriander, lemongrass, galangal, white pepper, shallots, and garlic. These ingredients from different roots combine to give Massaman curry a complex and mouth-filling flavor.

Due to its roots, people usually pair Massaman curry with meat dishes like mutton, duck, beef, goat, pork, etc. Although Massaman curry tends to be spicy, it is still milder in taste than many traditional Thai curries, including Panang curry.

So, if you are looking for a spicy curry to go with your meat dishes, Massaman curry is the right choice for you. And if you want a nutty, thick curry that goes well with rice and noodles, Panang curry is the way to go.

Related Questions

Is Panang curry spicier than red curry?

No, red curry is spicier than Panang curry.

Panang curry has a sweet and salty flavor whereas the red curry is one of the hottest Thai curries due to the red chilies and peppercorns, the primary ingredients used to make red curry.

Is Panang curry like yellow curry?

Panang curry is not similar to yellow curry.

Yellow curry has a mildly spicy flavor. The making process includes Indian spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric. On the other hand, Panang curry has a nutty flavor and texture, due to the roasted peanuts.

Which Thai curry is the spiciest?

The spiciest Thai curry is green curry with a strong aroma and pungent taste. The making process includes frying green chilis in split coconut cream. It pairs well with rice or noodles.

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