Beef Panang Curry Recipe

Thailand is known for its vibrant, fresh, and delicious cuisine, with colorful curry pastes packed full of fragrant and flavorful ingredients that are just as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the stomach. Panang curry is slightly sweeter and thicker than other popular Thai curries such as red or green curry, with a delicious richness and creaminess that comes from the coconut milk and the peanuts. The addition of peanuts is what makes Panang curry different, and gives it a deliciously mellow and nutty flavor. And, while this curry does contain some chili, is well-balanced and not overly spicy — perfect for those who don't enjoy their food too hot.

This recipe, created by recipe developer Jennine Rye, teaches you step-by-step how to make Panang curry paste at home. While making curry paste from scratch can be quite a time and energy-consuming endeavor (especially when made by hand) but the results are worth the effort. The curry paste you use forms the base of your final dish, so you want to pack as much flavor in as possible and there just isn't a substitute for freshly ground ingredients. This recipe can easily be adapted by swapping out the beef for a different protein, or by replacing it with vegetables.

Gather the ingredients for this beef Panang curry recipe

To make this recipe, first you will want to gather the ingredients. To make the Panang curry paste, you will need a shallot, garlic cloves, lemongrass, star anise, cumin seeds, makrut lime leaves, cardamom, chili paste, galangal paste, shrimp paste, coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper, limes, and peanuts. To make the curry you will additionally want cooking oil, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, beef strips, and red chilis.

Some of the ingredients like shrimp paste may be a little tough to find but they are worth the extra effort and you shouldn't skip the ingredient when making curry paste.

Make the Panang curry paste

To make the Panang curry paste, you will want a mortar and pestle and a food processor. To begin, add finely chopped shallots, garlic, and lemongrass to the mortar, along with several spices; the star anise, cumin seeds, cardamom, and makrut lime leaves. Pound the ingredients together until they reach a paste-like texture. The freshly ground spices are more flavorful for your final dish.

Stir in the chili paste, the galangal paste, the shrimp paste, the coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and some lime juice to the curry paste. And then, to give the Panang curry paste its signature nutty flavor, blend two tablespoons of peanuts with the rest of the mixture. Your Panang curry paste is now ready to use.

Make the Panang curry

Now that the hard part is over, it's time to make the Panang curry. Start by frying a few tablespoons of the Panang curry paste in cooking oil, to cook the raw ingredients in the paste and to bring out the delicious flavors of the spices.

Add coconut milk to the pan along with Makrut lime leaves. Leave everything to simmer for a few minutes before adding the fish sauce and the sugar. Then, all you need to do is add some lime juice, before adding the beef strips to the pan and cooking them until they've just lost their pink coloring.

Serve the beef Panang curry

You are now ready to serve your beef Panang curry. Don't forget to top it with more peanuts and some sliced red chili, as well as some fresh herbs and an extra squeeze of lime if you choose. Leftovers should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container and consumed within two to three days. 

The best accompaniments to this Panang curry dish are simple rice or noodles; the curry itself has so much flavor that you don't need anything more complex as a side dish, just something to soak up the delicious sauce.

Beef Panang Curry Recipe
4.9 from 14 ratings
For this beef Panang curry recipe, you will make your own curry paste from scratch and use it to cook a thick and sweet Thai dish with peanuts.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Beef panang curry
Total time: 45 minutes
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks lemongrass, chopped
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 dry Makrut lime leaves, divided
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon chilli paste
  • 1 teaspoon galangal paste
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Juice of 1 ½ limes, divided
  • 8 tablespoons roasted peanuts, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 lb beef strips
  • Juice ½ lime
  • 2 red chilies, thinly sliced
Optional Ingredients
  • Thai basil leaves or fresh coriander, to serve
  • Lime slices, to serve
  1. Finely chop the shallot, the garlic cloves, and the lemongrass and add them to a mortar and pestle along with the star anise, the cumin seeds, 4 makrut lime leaves, and the cardamom. Pound them together until paste-like.
  2. Then, stir in the chili paste, the galangal paste, the shrimp paste, the ground coriander, ground cinnamon, salt, pepper, and the juice of 1 lime. Add 2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts to a food processor and chop them up finely, before combining with the rest of the ingredients to form the Panang curry paste. If you would like to make the paste smoother, add it to the food processor along with the peanuts, and blend.
  3. To begin the curry, add the cooking oil to the pan. Add 4 tablespoons of the Panang curry paste to the pan and fry it on a low to medium heat for 5 minutes, until it is fragrant and darkened in color.
  4. Add the can of coconut milk and the 4 remaining Makrut lime leaves. Cook everything together for a few minutes, then add the fish sauce and the sugar. Allow everything to stew for 5 minutes and reduce slightly. Add the juice from ½ a lime.
  5. Add the beef strips to the pan and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes until they have just lost their pink coloring.
  6. Serve the Panang curry sprinkled with sliced red chillies and the remaining roasted peanuts. Serve on rice noodles if desired, with a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime.
Calories per Serving 1,183
Total Fat 89.6 g
Saturated Fat 48.1 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 146.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 45.3 g
Dietary Fiber 8.7 g
Total Sugars 12.9 g
Sodium 1,760.3 mg
Protein 67.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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