This popular vegan panang curry recipe is easy to make in under 30 minutes with simple pantry ingredients and a hit with everyone who makes it!

Close up of a bowl of vegetable tofu curry over rice.

What is Panang Curry?

Panang curry, also spelled phanaeng or panaeng, is a thick Thai curry with a sweet, salty and nutty peanut flavour. Panang curry paste is traditionally made from chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, garlic, shallot, shrimp paste, salt and peanuts.

This recipe is my version of Thai panang curry. I use light coconut milk, curry powder, tomato paste and peanut butter instead of traditional ingredients.


Recipe Features

  • quick and easy – you’ll need less than 30 minutes and just a handful of basic ingredients
  • dietary needs – vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free
  • 5-star reviewed – cook this recipe with confidence!

Ingredient Considerations

Labelled ingredients for a vegetable panang curry in bowls on a counter top.
  • coconut milk – you can use light or full-fat coconut milk, I tend to lean towards light coconut milk because I find full-fat to be a bit too heavy…plus this recipe already had added fats from the peanut butter
  • tomato paste – any canned tomato paste works
  • broth – use homemade or store-bought, carton broth or bouillon cubes work
  • peanut butter – be sure to use a good quality, natural peanut butter with just 1-2 ingredients (peanuts or peanuts and salt)

Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.


Step by Step Instructions

Before You Start: If you plan to serve over rice, which is recommended), start preparing that now so it can cook while you make the curry.

Step 1. Cook the onion, garlic and carrot in a skillet over medium heat until they start to soften. This should take 6-7 minutes. After that, add the zucchini and bell pepper.

Diced onions, garlic and carrot cooking in a skillet on a stovetop.
Diced zucchini and thinly sliced bell pepper in a skillet with carrot, onion and garlic.

Step 4. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, turmeric and salt, stir well and cook for a couple more minutes then add the broth and coconut milk and simmer until the carrots are tender and the curry is thick and creamy.

Pouring vegetable broth into a vegetable stir fry cooking in a skillet.
Pouring coconut milk into a vegetable stir fry cooking on a stovetop.

Step 5. Add the maple syrup, cilantro, peanut butter and tofu, mix it all up and cook for a few minutes until the tofu is heated through. That’s it!

Tofu and peanut butter being added to a vegetable curry in a skillet.
Thick and creamy vegetable curry with tofu in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Serve the finished curry over a bowl of your favourite rice.

A bowl of tofu vegetable curry over rice with cilantro beside it.

Notes and Tips

  • Storage: Let cool then serve in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. It will thicken when it cools and can be thinned with additional broth or coconut milk if desired when reheating.
  • Veggies: Carrot can be omitted or subbed with sweet potato or squash. Broccoli works well in addition to or in place or peppers and zucchini.
  • Peanut Butter: Can be substituted with almond butter if needed but I really prefer peanut butter in this recipe.
A bowl of tofu vegetable curry over rice with cilantro beside it.

Related Recipes

Recipe Video

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Tofu Panang Curry | Vegan | Running on Real Food

Vegan Panang Curry Tofu

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan

This creamy vegan curry is easy to make in about 20 minutes. All you’ll need to make it is basic pantry ingredients plus some tofu and vegetables. It’s thick, creamy, full of flavour and amazing served over a bed of basmati rice ready to soak up all the goodness.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 white onion, diced (2 cups, approx. 300g)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (approx. 300 g)
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced (approx. 1 heaping cup)
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (60 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (substitute coconut sugar or other natural sweetener of choice)
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (100 g)
  • 1 350 g packaged firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • cooked white or brown rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Add the diced onion, garlic and carrot to a skillet and cook over medium heat in coconut oil, water or vegetable broth until they’re starting to soften, 5-10 minutes. Add a splash more broth if it starts to stick.
  2. Add the zucchini and red pepper and stir to combine, adding a bit more broth as needed.
  3. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, turmeric and salt and cook for a few more minutes, stirring to combine.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and coconut milk and simmer lightly until the carrots are tender and it’s thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally as it cooks.
  5. Stir in the maple syrup, peanut butter, cilantro and cubed tofu and cook for a few more minutes until the peanut butter is combined and the tofu is heated through.
  6. Serve over basmati, brown rice or quinoa.

Keywords: vegan panang curry, vegetarian panang curry

Update Note: Originally published on May 3, 2018. Updated with new photos and text on September 4, 2020.