Easy Panang Curry Paste

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Overhead shot of a bowl of homemade panang curry paste

Oh, curry! You never let us down. We’ve done green and red curry pastes, but considering panang curry is one of our favorite Thai curries, it was time we tried our hand at homemade panang curry paste!

Our inspired version is vegan, gluten-free, and naturally sweetened but makes a similarly rich, peanutty, savory-sweet curry that’s just as good as takeout. Let us show you how it’s done! 

Dried Thai chili peppers, lime, peanut butter, cumin seeds, oil, maple syrup, miso paste, lemongrass, garlic, coriander seeds, ginger, red onion, garlic, and salt

What is Panang Curry Paste?

Panang curry paste is the key flavor ingredient in the wonderful, savory-sweet Thai panang curry. Common ingredients used to make it include dried chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, makrut lime zest, cilantro root and seeds, garlic, shallot, shrimp paste, salt, and peanuts.

Our version is not traditional but rather an inspired vegan take made without shrimp paste and with ingredients easier to find in our region! Learn more about panang curry paste and find a more traditional recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen.

How to Make Panang Curry Paste

Our version begins with deseeding and rehydrating dried Thai red chili peppers. These mighty little peppers are SPICY and can make your skin feel fiery, so you’ll want to either wear gloves or wash your hands very thoroughly afterward and avoid touching your eyes and face for a while!

Soaking dried Thai chili peppers in hot water

Next, we toast and grind cumin and coriander seeds to bring out their flavor. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate their aroma because there’s nothing quite like it!

Using a mortar and pestle to grind cumin seeds and coriander seeds

Then it’s time to bring it all together in a blender. Zesty lime and fresh ginger take the place of makrut lime zest and galangal used in more traditional recipes. Miso paste is not traditional either, but we found it does a great job of replacing the umami typically provided by shrimp paste.

Peanut butter takes the place of peanuts to create a creamy base, maple syrup balances the heat, and we kept some of the classic essentials like garlic and lemongrass. All that’s left is salt, red onion, and oil or water to encourage blending.

Blender with Thai chili peppers, lime zest, and spices

We hope you LOVE this panang curry paste! It’s:

& SO versatile!

It’s ideal for making panang curry, soups, sauces, salad dressings, and more! Whatever dish you land on, we have a feeling it’ll be spicy and pair perfectly with a cooling Thai-inspired dish like our Vegan Thai Iced Tea, Rainbow Spring Rolls, or Vegan Papaya Salad.

More Flavor-Packed DIY Sauces

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo @minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Overhead shot of a bowl of creamy vegan panang curry paste

Easy Panang Curry Paste

Rich, peanutty, savory-sweet panang curry paste perfect for making takeout-style Thai curries at home. Vegan, gluten-free, and just 25 minutes required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Overhead shot of a bowl of homemade panang curry paste
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Sauce
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Thai-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 10 Days


  • 1/4 cup dried Thai chili peppers* (~25 small Thai chili peppers)
  • 1 ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 medium red onion, roughly chopped (1/2 medium onion yields ~1/2 cup or 80 g // or sub shallot)
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 Tbsp avocado or olive oil (if oil-free, sub water)
  • 1 Tbsp white, yellow, or chickpea miso paste (ensure gluten-free as needed // learn about miso here)
  • 2 Tbsp lemongrass, roughly chopped (1 stalk yields ~2 Tbsp)
  • 2 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped (2-inch piece yields ~2 ½ Tbsp or 20 g)
  • 4 tsp lime zest (2 large limes yield ~4 tsp)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp sea salt


  • You may want to wear gloves if you have sensitive skin, and/or wash your hands thoroughly after deseeding. See more in Notes below.
    First, deseed the Thai chili peppers by trimming the stem ends and carefully cutting a lengthwise slit in each pepper, opening it, and using your fingers to scrape out the seeds. Place your deseeded peppers in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside.
  • Add whole coriander and cumin seeds to a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and slightly deeper in color, shaking / stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn!
  • Once seeds are toasted, add to a mortar and pestle and crush a bit. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, slightly cool the seeds, add them to a sandwich bag, and crush with a rolling pin or a heavy pan. Set aside.
  • Drain the soaked chilis and add them to a small blender (or small food processor) along with the toasted spices and remaining ingredients (onion, peanut butter, maple syrup, oil / water, miso paste, lemongrass, ginger, lime zest, garlic, and salt).
  • Blend / mix until a paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed. The lemongrass can be difficult to grind at first, but give it time! Add more water or oil as needed to encourage blending.
  • Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime zest for brightness, salt for overall flavor, chilies for heat, maple syrup for sweetness, oil (or water) for creaminess / to thin, garlic for zing, or peanut butter for richness.
  • Store curry paste in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. For longer storage, transfer paste to an ice cube tray, freeze, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month.
  • This curry paste is ideal for curries, soups, sauces, salad dressings, and more!


*If you’d prefer a milder curry, we suggest dried guajillo chiles.
*If your hands burn after deseeding the peppers, we’ve found the best remedy is to rub some oil (olive or avocado work well) on your hands, then wash thoroughly with soap (dish soap works best). This works because the spiciness comes from the oil of the peppers, and rubbing neutral oil on your hands helps to attract and remove it. Be safe out there!
*Recipe as written makes ~1 ½ cups curry paste.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with the lesser amount of avocado oil.

Nutrition (1 of 12 servings)

Serving: 1 (two tablespoon) serving Calories: 83 Carbohydrates: 8.6 g Protein: 2.2 g Fat: 4.8 g Saturated Fat: 0.7 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9 g Monounsaturated Fat: 2.7 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 427 mg Potassium: 102 mg Fiber: 1 g Sugar: 4.8 g Vitamin A: 659 IU Vitamin C: 1.4 mg Calcium: 20 mg Iron: 0.4 mg

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  1. Lynn Sargent says

    I found this to be a delicious paste. I cut the Thai red chilli peppers in half cause I was afraid it would be too hot. I used ones I grew and dried myself.

  2. Ian says

    Would I be able to use fresh Thai chilis? I happen to have a plant full of them at the moment, any thoughts on adjustments that would be needed?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ian, we haven’t been able to get our hands on fresh Thai chilis so haven’t tested that ourselves, but we do think it would work well. Let us know if you try it!

    • S says

      Assuming herb conversion (1tbsp/3tsp fresh = 1tsp dried) is the same for chillis… 1/4 cup dried chillis (aka 4tbsp/ 12tsp) = 36tsp fresh (aka 12tbsp, 3/4 cup) . You should still deseed chillis – the seeds intensify the spiciness in food overnight (personal experience with soup!). Hope that helps :)

  3. Suzanne says

    Holy wow this is good! I made a bunch of substitutions and still, so good!
    I subbed sunflower butter for PB
    Lemon juice for lemon grass
    Lime juice for zest
    Chili flakes for dried Thai chilis
    Regular white miso for chickpea miso ($10 price difference here!)

    So. Flipping. Good.

      • Suzanne says

        Shannon I don’t completely remember, and I’m a ‘throw a bit of this in’ type of cook so I’m sure my ratios are always slightly off, but to the best of my recollection,
        Sun butter- Yes
        Lemon Juice – to taste
        Lime Juice- same
        Chili flakes – a bit less
        Miso – yes

  4. Madison says

    How much does the spicy-ness mellow out when made into a panang coconut curry? I made the recipe as written and tasted the paste and it is super spicy!! I do like spicy, but not “Thai hot” spicy.

  5. Stacy says

    Given that lemongrass can be harder to find and we happen to have a pound of dried lemongrass – I’m wondering if substituting dried for fresh would work? And the proportion/conversion?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Stacy, we find dried lemongrass doesn’t blend up very well. But possibly if you rehydrated it in water first? Not sure!

  6. Pat says

    Couldn’t get to the recipe for all the ads. I understand advertisement is the way Minimalist Baker makes money, but this is by far the worst it’s ever been on this site.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

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      • Anonymous says

        But then you miss out on vital information/helpful tips in the blog (normally this is the case!)