Red Curry vs Panang Curry: Key Differences

Red Curry vs Panang Curry: Key Differences
12 min reading time

Curry is a dish made with a sauce seasoned with spices mainly included in south Asian cuisine. Its fundamental ingredient is the curry powder and in Southern India where the original recipe emerged, leaves from the curry tree may be contained.

Curries are the most famous Indian and Thai cooking meal that is loved by many people around these countries. Curries have the most different and delicious taste which makes them one of the most loved cuisines by Indians as well as Thai people.

Curry is categorized into three different colors: Red, yellow and green curry. All three of them have different spices with different unique tastes. Moreover, there are varieties of curry including massaman curry, pasang curry, and sour curry.

In talking about the distinction between red curry and Panang curry, the word, it’s easily understandable that red curry is based on full spiciness as it uses more red chilies and Panang curry is less spicy than traditional red curries as it includes fewer red chilly. Red curries are the hottest variety and Panang curry is the sweetest one.

What is red curry?

If you are a fan of spicy food, then Red Curry or Thai Red Curry is the perfect choice for you. This curry gets its fiery nature from red chili peppers and red curry paste.

Red Curry is typically made with coconut milk, meat or vegetables, and a range of aromatic spices. The combination of garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and other herbs adds layers of flavors to the dish.

The rich and creamy texture of Red Curry gives it a perfect balance of heat and flavor. The bold and spicy taste of Red Curry makes it a favorite among curry lovers, and it is one of the most popular Thai curries worldwide.

If you prefer a milder taste, you can adjust the amount of red chili peppers and curry paste in the recipe. The versatility of Red Curry makes it suitable for various dishes, including chicken, shrimp, tofu, or mixed vegetables.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try making your own Red Curry paste from scratch. With a few simple ingredients, such as red chili peppers, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger, you can create your own unique blend.

Red Curry vs Panang Curry

What is Panang curry?

Panang Curry, also known as Phanaeng Curry, is another well-loved Thai curry that originated from Malaysia. It is milder than Red Curry but still packs a flavorful punch. The distinct feature of Panang Curry is its creamy and thick consistency, achieved by reducing the coconut milk. It is traditionally made with meat or seafood, kaffir lime leaves, peanuts, and Panang curry paste.

The Panang Curry paste, a key ingredient in this dish, is made by grinding together fresh chili peppers, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, and other herbs and spices. This paste has a distinct nutty and salty flavor, thanks to the addition of peanuts and fish sauce.

Similar to Red Curry, Panang Curry can be customized to suit individual tastes and preferences. Some variations include adding vegetables like bell peppers or eggplants, or using different proteins like tofu or chicken.

But what makes Panang Curry truly stand out is its creamy consistency and balanced flavors. The peanut and coconut milk create a rich and sweet base, which is then complemented by the aromatic spices and herbs. The result is a flavorful and comforting curry that is both satisfying and delicious.

Next time you’re craving a creamy and hearty curry, look no further than Panang Curry – the ultimate comfort food.

Red Curry vs Panang Curry

Red Curry Vs Panang Curry: Key Differences

Let’s know about this delicious curry more to know the real difference between the red curry and the Panang curry.

1. Consistency

Surprisingly their consistency will make the difference. The parang curry is a  sweet curry that tends to be thicker because recipes involve coconut cream rather than milk and thicker curry pastes.

A thinner consistency is often characterized as ‘watery’ by some, possibly because recipes often call for tomato juice or coconut milk, which is lighter than coconut cream. This is what is considered hot curry.

2. Flavors

There will be a noticeable difference between these two types of curry. The original parang curry contains almonds as a staple and essential ingredient which gives curry a sweetest, warm, nutty, and different unique earthy flavor.

Red Curry, on the other hand, does not include almonds or similar kinds of nutty ingredients that can give it a sweet flavor but the red curry has a rare taste of bold spicy taste, including red chilies or chili flakes which makes it quite spicy.

3. Colour

As both red curry and Panang curry have the same red color, there is slightly a difference in the shade of both curries. Panang curry has a lighter shade of reddish color and sometimes it changes into pink. The shade in the curry depends on the tomato paste in this type.

Red curry hence is the hottest and reddish colored curry consisting of more red chilies and flakes, tomatoes, and its paste having a shade that makes it stand out.

4. Spiciness

Red chilies are the hottest and spiciest curry including the bold spicy sauces and ingredients.

Panang curry, Though not as spicy as traditional red or green curries. The heat stems from the red chilies that are in the red curry paste. Sometimes, cooks will add more red chilies to dishes like Gaeng Panang Gai (Panang chicken curry) itself to make them spicier.

5. Cooking Techniques and Variations

The cooking techniques used for Red Curry and Panang Curry play an essential role in their flavor and texture. Red Curry is commonly stir-fried for a shorter duration, while Panang Curry is simmered for a longer time. This extended cooking process helps to thicken the creamy consistency of the Panang Curry.

Both curries have various regional variations that have been created over time. Red Curry can be brewed with a range of ingredients, including chicken, beef, pork, or vegetables, to suit various preferences. Some variations of Red Curry include Jungle Curry, Green Curry, and Massaman Curry.

Similarly, Panang Curry is also available in different variations, with the inclusion of ingredients like tofu, seafood, or vegetables. The use of Panang Curry in noodle dishes or as a dipping sauce for appetizers is another popular variation.

In addition to these variations, individual chefs have their own unique takes on these curries. Some might add extra spices, or experiment with different ingredients to create their signature dishes. The variations and techniques used in these curries ensure that there is always something new and exciting to explore in Thai cuisine.

6. Serving styles

It’s a simple basic idea of serving different cuisine and curries in different styles of serving. Each curry is served daily due to its varying consistency, spicy flavor. The heat level for red curry is too hot to handle, the bold spicy taste and flavors which are different. On the other hand, Panang curry has a mild heat level compared to hot curry.

7. Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

Thai curries offer more than just a delicious dining experience – they also contain several health benefits. The spices and herbs used in Red Curry and Panang Curry are rich in antioxidants, which can help protect against inflammation and cell damage.

Additionally, the coconut milk used in both curries contains healthy fats, which can help improve heart health and lower bad cholesterol levels. The meat or vegetables used in the curries also provide essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals.

When it comes to comparing the nutritional value, Red Curry and Panang Curry are quite similar. A cup of Red Curry has around 200 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. A cup of Panang Curry has around 230 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein.

However, it’s important to note that the spiciness of these curries may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with sensitive stomachs or dietary restrictions. It’s always best to check with your doctor or a nutritionist before incorporating these dishes regularly into your diet.

What’s the Similarity Between Red Curry and Panang Curry?

Well, first of all, you will find similarities in the ingredients of these two curries. When you will find the recipes for these two curries, there is a variety of ingredients like hot peppers, garlic, curry powder, chili powder, lemongrass, cumin, shallot, coriander, and turmeric. Coconut milk is another common ingredient in these recipes.

All the mentioned ingredients are used in both Red curry and Panang curry. But, it totally depends on the chef when he will use which ingredients. So, the order for the ingredients may not be the same. But, these are the things that you should use in the recipes.

Which Should You Buy/Prepare?

Both Red curry and Panang curry are distinctive in their taste and specifications. So, I think, there are a very few factors that can suggest you pick one between two. It actually depends on your preferences. What do you like? Do you like Panang curry with the inclusion of turmeric? Or the Red curry with a hot and spicy taste?

Both of these curries are healthy and tasty. The recipes are available. You can get the recipes and cook the foods on your own. The ingredients are available at the local market.

But, if you don’t want to face the hassle and want the food itself, go to any restaurant that serves international foods.

Red Curry vs Panang Curry: Which Is Better?

If you are concerned about the health issue, I can assure you that both the curries are healthy. As I said many times above, these carriers are full of nutrition. So, health-wise, there is nothing to worry about. But, if you are talking about taste, that could be a discussion.

Panang curry is better than Red curry in terms of taste. It comes with mild heat and a creamy texture. If you are not a spicy person, Panang curry is the best thing you are going to find. But, if you like spices, Red curry is there for you.

You can also get the food prepared in your house. Ingredients are available in the local market and recipes are also easy to follow. So, you can cook Panang curry very easily at your home. Try it out!

Popular Red Curry Dishes

If you’re a fan of Thai curries, then Red Curry must be on your list of must-try dishes. This spicy and flavorful curry is a popular choice in Thai cuisine, and for good reason. Made with a combination of red chili peppers, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and other aromatic spices, Red Curry is a delicious and aromatic treat.

Here are some of the most popular Red Curry dishes:

Red Curry with ChickenA classic dish made with tender chicken, sliced bamboo shoots, and eggplant, simmered in a flavorful Red Curry sauce.
Red Curry with ShrimpA seafood twist on the classic Red Curry, this dish features succulent shrimp cooked with bell peppers, onions, and Thai basil.
Red Curry with TofuA popular vegetarian option, this dish features crispy tofu cubes, mixed vegetables, and Red Curry sauce.

Red Curry is versatile and can be adapted to suit different tastes and preferences. Whether you prefer meat, seafood, or vegetarian options, Red Curry is sure to delight your taste buds.

Popular Panang Curry Dishes

Panang Curry is a popular Thai dish that combines creamy coconut milk and flavorful spices. This versatile curry can be made with various meat or seafood options, as well as vegetarian or vegan alternatives. Below are some of the most popular Panang Curry dishes to try:

Panang Curry with BeefPanang Curry with Salmon
Panang Nua is a classic Thai dish made with juicy beef, tender bell peppers, and crunchy peanuts in a rich and creamy Panang Curry sauce. The dish is typically served with steamed jasmine rice and garnished with fresh basil leaves.Salmon Panang is a delightful fusion of Thai and western flavors. The dish features succulent salmon fillets, tropical vegetables, and spicy Panang Curry sauce. It’s a perfect choice for those who prefer a milder curry.

Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy the delicious flavors of Panang Curry:

  • Panang Tofu is a protein-packed vegetarian option that substitutes beef with crispy tofu cubes. The tofu absorbs the flavors of the curry sauce and adds a satisfying crunch to the dish.
  • Panang Vegetable Curry is a colorful and nutritious vegan option that is loaded with various veggies like carrots, green beans, and bell peppers. The creamy and spicy curry sauce complements the veggies perfectly.

Whether you prefer meat, seafood, or veggies, Panang Curry offers something for everyone. Its creamy texture, nutty flavors, and spicy kick make it a mouthwatering Thai classic.


Taking concern of all the flavors, the heat levels, the textures, and even what each type of pair sits adequately within a meal, it’s difficult to say which one is the best option.

The varieties differ so much, and everyone’s tastes or compassion can vary extensively; something delightful to someone more acclimated to spicy food might be too severe for another. Someone who favors savory over sweet might not enjoy Panang curry as much.

The best advice to follow when looking into various kinds of foods and which one might be better is to go out and try some for yourself! In terms of caring about health care, both red curry as well as Panang curry is good and healthy and has not had a great effect on them.

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  • Jamal F

    Red curry is my go-to, but now I’m curious about Panang. Which one’s spicier?

  • Lucy

    ChefD, I’m having a Thai curry showdown at home. Who’s the winner: Red or Panang?

  • Oscar

    Can I mix red and Panang curry together, or is that a culinary crime?

  • Zoe

    Your article made me laugh, ChefD! Now I can order curry without feeling clueless!

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