If you love to explore multi cuisines from different parts of the world, you must have heard people speaking about panang and red curry in detail. But are the same cuisines with different names, or are they totally different?

Both panang and red curry are entirely different cuisines. They taste and look different and have an entirely different ingredient list. Thus, if you are new to these cuisines, or thought they are just the same, give this article a read!

Both panang and red curry belong to Thai cuisines. But Panang has a milder flavor profile. Panang uses peanuts as one of its main ingredients, and it has a predominantly nutty flavor and creamy texture. On the other hand, red curry is more on the spicier side! All thanks to its key ingredient; red chilies.

Just from a short explanation, it is evident that both panang and red curry are different from each other, but are there any similarities between them? Or how are they totally different from each other? If you have all these questions, scroll down and keep reading.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Difference Table

Basis Of Difference Panang Red Curry
Origin/ Native Thailand Thailand
Taste Mild flavor with a slightly sweet taste and nutty flavor Predominantly spicy
Key Ingredient  Peanut Red chilies
Cuisine Thai Thai
Appearance Light red color Bright red color
Usage Used as a side dish Used as a side dish
Meat used Chicken, beef, pork Chicken, beef, pork, fishes
Texture Thick and creamy Saucy consistency

What Is Panang?


Panang is one of the most famous dishes in Thai cuisine. It originates in Penang Island, located on the west coast of Malaysia. However, that is just one narrative; some people claim that panang is a native of Thailand.

Panang is a mildly flavored Thai curry. It uses peanuts as one of its main ingredients. It has a creamy consistency with a sweet undertone. It looks similar to that red curry. However, Panang is entirely a different cuisine on its own.

Panang also uses a dash of makrut lime, which brings a zesty twist to the nutty-flavored dish. Panang, is nothing but a dish with so many vibrant flavors. Panang doesn’t use any liquid other than coconut milk. Thus, it often has a thick consistency.

Penang is a signature Thai dish, and for this reason, it is widely available in most restaurants that serve Thai cuisine. It mainly uses five key ingredients and is quite easy to make. Hence there are many versions of this curry.

Every chef would have their way of making the panang. They might add an ingredient or two to twist it. However, just like lasagna, the key ingredient and the way of making it remain the same.

What Is Red Curry?

Red Curry

If you love Thai cuisine, you must have come across many curries named after their color, like green curry. Red curry, we could say, is named after its color red. It is undoubtedly one of the most famous Thai cuisines.

Just as its name suggests, red curry has a bright red color. This color comes from its key ingredient, which is red chilies. There are many varieties of Thai red curry. The ingredient list may vary. However, the key ingredient, red chili, remains the same.

Red curry, we could say, has become synonymous with Thai curry. Besides the red chili, it uses red curry paste, seafood, meat, and vegetables. You could choose the ingredients according to your liking.

When it comes to flavor, red curry has a spicy taste to it. Red curry paste is called kreung gaeng phet daeng in the Thai language and is often cooked with coconut milk to mellow the heat. If you do not enjoy spiciness in your food, then Thai red curry is not for you.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Similarities Between The Two


Many people who are new to Thai cuisine often get confused between panang and red curry. If you are new to these dishes, let’s look at their similarities before looking into their differences.

Both Dishes Comes Under Curry 

Panang and red curry are curry dishes and come under Thai cuisine. If you are not someone who is not keen on Thai cuisine, you may get confused between the two.

Both Are Served As Side Dishes

Panang and red curries are often served as a side dish, along with some rice dishes. 

Both Have A Red Color To Them

Both panang and red curry have a light red color to them. This is one of the main reasons why many people get confused between the two. However, if you put them side by side and observe, one can easily differentiate between them. 

Red curry has a bright red color, while panang has a light red color.

Culinary Usage

Both Panang and red curry are such dishes that have popularity all across the world. Since both of them belong to the “curry” category, the way we use these dishes remains the same. Both panang and red curry are often used as a side dish to plain rice, bread, or jasmine rice.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | What Are The Major Differences?

Red Curry

Now that we have seen the similarities let’s look at the major differences between these two curries. Due to its light red color, panang is often categorized under the red curry section. However, in this section, we are going to know in what ways panang is different from red curry.

1. Ingredients 

Even though panang and red curry come from Thai cuisine, the ingredients used to make these curries differ. Panang uses peanuts and coconut cream as its main ingredients and compacts the heat.

On the other hand, red curry uses red chilies as one of its main ingredients. Even though red curry uses many other ingredients, red chili plays a major role. Some people also use red chili powder to bring 

2. Flavor

Even though it might be a little hard to differentiate between panang and red curry at first sight, once you taste it, you can easily differentiate between them. Panang and red curry have an entirely different taste to them. 

Panang, as we said, uses peanuts as one of its main ingredients. Thus Panang has a nutty flavor with a slight sweetness and mild spiciness. It also carries an umami flavor from the meat we add to the curry. It also uses coconut milk or coconut cream, which brings a slight sweetness to this curry.

Red curry, on the other hand, is extremely spicy. The main ingredient, chili, is responsible for bringing spiciness to the curry. Red curry carries much spiciness but not so much heat. 

If you are someone who loves mildly flavored dishes, then go for the panang. But if you love some spiciness and flavor burst in your food, Thai red curry is something you should never miss.

3. Texture

Panang and Thai red curry have considerable texture differences. Red curry only uses a few ingredients other than chili. Thus, red curry has a runny saucy consistency with a predominant spicy taste.

On the other hand, Panang has a creamy thick consistency to them. This comes from the peanut butter, and the thick creamy coconut cream used to make the curry. 

4. Level Of Spiciness

Regardless of both dishes being a part of Thai cuisine, panang and red curry have a huge flavor difference. Red curry, as you can imagine, has a heightened amount of spiciness to it. On the other hand, Panang has a mild flavor with just a bearable amount of spiciness.

Top Dishes To Try With Panang And Red Curry

Now that we have talked so much about panang and red curry, you might feel like trying either. Whether to choose panang or red curry is upon you, but if you are wondering what to eat along with it, here are some of our suggestions.

1. Rice


Panang and red curry are extremely flavorful. Thus the best way to enjoy all its flavor is to have it with some rice. Rice has a very neutral flavor to it. Thus, when eaten with red curry or panang, it will allow you to enjoy these curries in their full flavor.

That is one of the many reasons why most people have rice, along with most Thai curries. If you want a little more flavor in your dish, you can try coconut rice or lime and coriander rice with some panang or red curry.

2. Salads


If you don’t enjoy salad, you must try it with some panang or red curry. Both these curries are flavorful and bring a new taste to your otherwise boring salad bowl.

3. Flat Bread

Flat Bread

Eating a bowl of curry-soaked rice is a good feeling of its own. However, if you are not a great lover of rice, go for flatbread. Use any bread of your choice. Just make sure that the bread isn’t too sweet.

4. Pickled Cucumber Salad With Red Chilies

Pickled cucumber Salad With Red Chillies

Both Panang and red curries hold little heat to them. If you want to tame a little heat, then have some pickled cucumber salad along with them.

It is not just tasty but is extremely easy to make. Just slice some cucumbers and soak them in vinegar for 2 hours. Serve them along with some red chili flakes.

5. Fried Crunchy Peanuts 

Roasted Peanut

Peanuts are good on their own. But when they are fried, their flavor is just enhanced. Thus if you need to have a quick snack with either panang or red curry, choose some fried crunchy peanuts. They bring a nutty twist to your red curry and Penang and make it more flavorful.

Can Panang And Red Curry Be Used Together?

Panang and red curry are two different dishes and have considerable flavor differences. Hence, if you love both flavors equally, there is no problem with having both together, along with a cup of plain rice or some jasmine-flavored rice.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Which Is Healthier?


Both of these dishes are good on their own. However, comparing the two, we could say that red curry is healthier than panang. Even though red curry has a higher spicy taste, it uses fewer ingredients.

Thus its count is considerably low when compared to that of the panang. On the other hand, Panang uses peanut butter, coconut milk, and some kind of meat as one of its main ingredients. Thus its calorie count will be higher than the red curry.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Which Is Tastier?


When compared between the two, panang has a much more pleasant flavor profile. Panang has a vibrant flavor profile. It has a nutty flavor with a slightly sweet undertone. It is thick and creamy and pairs well with rice and bread.

Red curry is predominantly spicy. Hence, red curry might be too much for people who cannot tolerate the spiciness. Thus we could safely say that when it comes to taste, panang has the upper hand over a red curry.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Which Is More Versatile?

Red Curry

Red curry is a broad term used to refer to curries that use chili as their primary ingredient. There are different varieties of red curries across the world. On the other hand, the taste and consistency of panang remain the same in most places.

Thus when compared between the two dishes, red curry is more versatile than panang.

Panang Vs. Red Curry | Which Is Better?

Panang Curry

Choosing one among these cannot be hard; panang and red curry are extremely flavorful dishes and have fans worldwide. Even then, considering its flavor, consistency, and spice level, we could say that Panang is much better than red curry.

Panang has a much more appealing flavor profile when compared to that red curry. However, if you are a spice lover, you shouldn’t miss trying red curry.


Now that we have reached the end of this article, I hope I have resolved your doubt regarding whether to choose panang or red curry when given an option. Both panang and red curry are great dishes to add to your menu.

Penang has a much more subtle flavor profile than red curry. Thus, when you can choose between the two, go for panang over the red curry. That being said, we cannot miss the spiciness rendered by red curry.

Thus, I’m concluding this article. Hope to see you with a much more interesting one next time!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is red curry the same as panang?

No. Panang and red curry are tow different dishes.

What is hotter red or Panang curry?

Red curry contains more heat when compared to that panang curry. Panang is more on the sweeter side.

Is panang Thai or Indian?

Panang curry is a Thai cuisine.

Is Panang curry hotter than green?

No. Panang curry has a much milder flavor than the green curry.