28 Traditional Thai Recipes

Once you gather the staples of a Thai pantry—like tamarind paste, shrimp paste, and fish sauce—and gain familiarity with Thai herbs and spices, these recipes are truly nonintimidating. Although some of them call for a long list of ingredients, the actual techniques included (stir-frying, baking, barbecuing) are not that advanced.

Many of the recipes here can easily be made vegan or vegetarian by using tofu instead of meat and soy sauce instead of fish sauce. Most of these recipes are also naturally gluten free (when using gluten-free soy sauce and tamari) and dairy free, and are great options for dinner parties or potlucks.

  • 01 of 28

    Tom Kha Soup

    Easy tom yum soup with coconut milk tom khaa

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Tom kha (also anglicized as tom khaa or tom ka) is a Thai spicy and sour soup that features coconut milk. A classic dish that's a staple on most Thai restaurant menus, it is similar to tom yum soup—the coconut milk is the main difference, which gives tom kha its milky white color. Galangal, khaa, is the signature ingredient of this dish and features heavily. Tom kha is often prepared with chicken, and the resulting version is called tom kha gai. This recipe, however, uses shrimp. Traditionally, this soup is made with whole, head-on shrimp, and the fattiness from the shrimp head lends fattiness and flavor to the broth. This recipe, however, calls for shelled shrimp for convenience; frozen can be used. Vegetarians and vegans can substitute tofu, vegetable stock, and vegetarian fish sauce (soy sauce also works well) for an equally delicious result. This is cold weather food at its best.

  • 02 of 28

    Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup

    Thai Pumpkin Coconut Soup
    pixabay.com

    Thai pumpkin coconut soup tastes like the one you may have tried at your favorite Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. In Thailand, pumpkin and coconut milk are commonly paired to make a variety of both savory and sweet dishes. This creamy, comforting soup features warming spices like fresh or dried red chile, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. With the heft of the yam and pumpkin, it could easily be a meal on its own. You can also serve it over rice or rice noodles.

  • 03 of 28

    Thai Green Curry With Beef and Eggplant

    Thai Green Curry With Beef and Eggplant

     Prawncrackers/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    This Thai green curry with beef recipe features tender, thinly sliced pieces of beef simmered together with eggplant and red pepper. This curry is sumptuous and wonderful on a chilly night. The homemade green curry paste is what makes this dish sing, and it's surprisingly easy to make from scratch. Any hard-to-find ingredients are easily substitutable, so it's well worth the effort.

  • 04 of 28

    Thai Basil Pork Stir-Fry

    Thai Basil Pork

     Sonmail/Getty Images

    This Thai basil pork stir-fry is the perfect one-dish meal. Traditionally, this dish is made with ground pork, but nearly any type of pork or chicken can be used, like pork loin cut into thin strips. This is a quintessential Thai dish that's a top 10 staple.

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  • 05 of 28

    Chicken Pad Thai

    Pad Thai with chicken in a bowl.
    The Spruce

    While pad thai is a Thai takeout classic, it might seem intimidating to make at home. Not true: This recipe for chicken pad thai isn't overwhelming in its ingredient list and has easy step-by-step instructions. Tamarind paste, which the dish calls for, is almost always available at Indian grocery stores and often at Southeast Asian groceries. Once you have the ingredients on hand, this dish is easy to throw together again and again.

  • 06 of 28

    Thai Fried Rice Noodles With Chicken or Tofu

    Thai Fried Rice Noodles
    The Spruce

    This recipe for Thai fried rice noodles is similar to pad thai, but it omits tamarind paste and crushed peanuts while including more vegetables. It's easily made both vegan and gluten free, and is satiating yet refreshing. It's a great weeknight dinner or potluck addition.

  • 07 of 28

    Thai Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Curry

    Thai Pumpkin Curry

     Loving it Vegan

    This Thai pumpkin and sweet potato curry is beautiful to serve and so delicious. Similar in flavor and ingredient profile to the Thai pumpkin coconut soup mentioned above, this curry features an optional extra helping of veggies with snow peas and is meant to be served with rice. Easily made both vegan and gluten free, this is a perfect meat-free meal. Chickpeas can be added as an additional protein source. (It was tested both with and without the chickpeas, and it is delicious both ways.)

  • 08 of 28

    Thai Green Mango Salad

    Thai green mango salad

    The Spruce

     

    This Thai green mango salad recipe is fresh, crisp, and bright. The unripe mango brings tartness, the peanuts add crunch, and brown sugar rounds it all out. Traditionally served as a side dish, it also makes a great lunch or light summer dinner when you add deep-fried tofu or chicken. This recipe is a wonderful complement to deep-fried fish or a rich, coconut milk-laden beef curry.

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  • 09 of 28

    Tender and Tangy Thai Ribs

    Thai Ribs

    Funwithfood/Getty Images

     

    This Thai baked ribs recipe creates very tender ribs that are tangy, sticky, and falling off the bone. They're easily made in your oven, so there's no messy parboiling involved. While they're baking, stir up the special Thai sauce, which makes these ribs taste simply divine. This is a great Sunday night supper when you have a leisurely afternoon to let the ribs bake to perfection.

  • 10 of 28

    Thai Miang Kum

    Miang Kum Thai


    Natsicha/Getty Images 

    This northern Thai appetizer is known as miang kum, sometimes anglicized as meng khum. It combines ingredients like shaved coconut, peanuts, dried shrimp, and lime. It's a deeply refreshing snack in warm weather, blending sweet, sour, and salty flavors. Traditionally, it is served on cha phlu leaves, but lettuce leaves work as well.

  • 11 of 28

    Thai Crab Cakes

    Thai Crab Cakes


    Dclark3996/GettyImages

    These Thai crab cakes are great to serve at a party or simply as an everyday treat. Fish sauce and lime help infuse Thai-inspired flavors in this beachside classic. Thanks to a bit of optional mayonnaise in the batter, these crab cakes are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, while being crisp on the outside.

  • 12 of 28

    Thai Grilled Chicken Satay

    Chicken Satay
    The Spruce

    There's satay and then there's homemade Thai satay. If you've never had the real stuff, then you're going to be blown away by the succulent taste of this Thai chicken satay recipe with peanut dipping sauce. Chicken thighs are marinated in a special Thai paste, then skewered and grilled on the barbecue (or broiled indoors in your oven). They're then served with thick, creamy peanut sauce for the ultimate taste sensation. Add coconut rice and a Thai salad on the side, and you've got a well-balanced meal that's perfect for a summertime barbecue or backyard bash. If you're looking for a version that's lower in fat, this recipe uses boneless chicken breasts instead of thighs.

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  • 13 of 28

    Thai Fresh Spring Rolls

    Spring rolls
    Geri Lavrov / Getty Images

    This recipe for Thai fresh spring rolls is a lighter version of deep-fried spring rolls. They're perfect to bring to work for lunch because it's less likely you'll feel sluggish after eating them. Make up a "bouquet" today as an appetizer, snack, or main course. When served with a Thai salad or chicken satay, these rolls make a complete meal.

  • 14 of 28

    Stir-Fried Bok Choy in a Thai Garlic Sauce

    Stir Fry Bok Choy

     Kai Wong/Getty Images

    This Thai-inspired bok choy recipe features fish sauce for umami, and sweet chili sauce to cut the slight bitterness of the greens. It's terrific to serve as a side to any rice or noodle dish. Alternatively, add tofu chicken, pork, or seafood for a delicious mixed stir-fry dish. Easy and quick to make, this recipe is more than the sum of its parts.

  • 15 of 28

    Thai Mussels Simmered in a Basil-Coconut Sauce

    Mussels in coconut sauce

     Fudio/Getty Images

    This Thai ​mussels recipe features fresh mussels simmered in an aromatic sauce of coconut milk with galangal, coriander, basil, and white wine. Although they can seem intimidating, mussels are quick and easy to prepare. This recipe can serve as an appetizer for an elevated meal, or the main dish when served with a crusty baguette.

  • 16 of 28

    Thai Green Chicken Curry With Bell Peppers

    Thai green curry recipe

    The Spruce

    This green chicken curry recipe is popular in central Thailand, as well as on American Thai restaurant menus everywhere. Learn how to make this takeout staple from scratch, without using prepackaged curry paste. Although the ingredient list might seem intimidating at first, none of the ingredients are that hard to source—shrimp paste is probably the hardest. It can easily be found at Southeast Asian groceries, however, and if you don't have it, you can substitute fish sauce from most mainstream supermarkets. This recipe does call for a food processor or blender.

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  • 17 of 28

    Thai Pumpkin Curry With Citrus

    Vegan gluten free Thai pumpkin curry recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    This Thai pumpkin curry recipe is just as satisfying as its meat-laden counterparts and has the benefit of being dairy free, vegan, and gluten free. Yellow bell peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and pumpkin make this a bright and sunny dish, perfect for those bleary winter days. Warming spices like cumin and coriander add to the coziness. A sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and nasturtium flowers makes this an elegant affair, perfect for date night or a dinner party.

  • 18 of 28

    Thai Seafood Curry

    Thai Seafood Curry

    Guzzle Nosh / Flickr

    This bright and tart Thai seafood curry recipe is wonderfully flexible, accommodating really whatever seafood you happen to have on hand. It's great with fatty salmon, as well as shrimp, mussels, or scallops. It also features eggplant, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes for a flavorful dish that doesn't feel too protein heavy. This recipe calls for a blender or food processor for the curry sauce. Despite its complexity of flavors and ingredients, it comes together in just about 30 minutes.

  • 19 of 28

    Thai Shrimp Curry

    Thai Red Curry and Coconut Soup With Shrimp
    TheCrimsonMonkey/E+/Getty Images

    This Thai shrimp curry recipe features a rich broth of creamy coconut milk, aromatic dry-roasted coconut, galangal, and lemongrass. There's also one secret ingredient: ketchup. Although it might not seem like a traditional Thai condiment, it's not uncommon to find street vendors using it. Here, it adds a touch of tang and sweetness that can't be found in tomato paste. This recipe calls for a food processor or blender to make the curry sauce; finish it off with fresh vegetables and pineapple for a tropical flavor palate.

  • 20 of 28

    Thai Lemongrass Chicken With Sweet Lime Sauce

    Lime And Ginger Roasted Chicken Thighs

     Mental Art + Design / Stocksy

    When you're looking for a change from mashed potatoes and rosemary roast chicken, switch it up with this Thai roasted lemongrass chicken recipe. Featuring a drizzled sauce of galangal, garlic, red chiles, and fish sauce, it's an incredibly flavorful dish that's perfect served with jasmine rice and a 10-minute cucumber side salad.

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  • 21 of 28

    Thai Barbecued Chicken With Dipping Sauce

    Classic Thai BBQ Grilled Chicken Recipe (with Tangy Dipping Sauce)

     Yaowalak Thongpoonkaew/Getty Images

    Thanks to two types of soy sauce, fish sauce, and sherry, this Thai barbecued chicken recipe is bursting with flavor. Marinated first in a garlicky sweet-and-sour sauce, the chicken is then barbecued—or baked, if you prefer—to perfection. Add a tangy Thai sauce as either a dip or a glaze (recipe included), and this dish will be the life of your dinner or lunch party.

  • 22 of 28

    Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

    Thai Vegetarian Pineapple Fried Rice

    The Spruce 

    This pineapple fried rice recipe is very forgiving and flexible, and can be made vegetarian or with shrimp. It's a one-pot meal that's perfect for a weeknight dinner or a dinner party. If serving to guests, serve in a pineapple boat, as you'll sometimes see in Thailand. A signature dish of Thailand, this recipe is sure to impress.

  • 23 of 28

    Thai Lemon Shrimp

    Thai Lemon-Lime Shrimp

    Stock Food Creative/Getty Images

    This Thai stir-fried lemon shrimp recipe features a rich coconut milk broth brightened with lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and lime zest. It gets umami from shrimp paste and a hint of sweetness from the honey. It's easily customizable depending on your preference of salt, acid, and heat. Serve with jasmine rice or rice noodles for an impressive one-dish meal.

  • 24 of 28

    Thai Mango Sticky Sweet Rice Dessert

    Mango Sticky Rice
    The Spruce

    Mango sticky sweet rice dessert is a Thai classic. Firmer than a pudding, the consistency of the rice gives a nice bite that complements the smooth sweetness of the ripe mango. Not too sweet, this is a summertime dessert that will actually leave you feeling lighter and refreshed after a heavy meal. If you like tropical flavors, give this one a try.

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  • 25 of 28

    Thai Tropical Thai Fruit Salad

    Tropical Fruit Salad (Served here in a Pineapple)
    Tropical Fruit Salad (Served here in a Pineapple). Taken by D.Schmidt for About.com (Copyright)

    This Thai fruit ​salad is lightly dressed in a glaze of coconut milk, lime, and sugar, which adds just a touch of creaminess, brightness, and sweetness to the fruit. At the same time, the dressing doesn't overwhelm the fresh flavors of the ripe fruit, making it a refreshing dessert for warm weather. This salad can easily be made with whatever fruits you have on hand. If you want to feature star fruit or dragon fruit, that will add extra visual punch. Take it to your next potluck or dinner party and serve it in a pineapple boat.

  • 26 of 28

    Thai Pandan Sticky Rice Layer Cake

    Thai Pandan Sticky Rice Layer Cake

    David Anne Stenshoel Gomez / Flickr

    This pandan sticky rice layer cake is a traditional Thai dessert that is also gluten free and dairy free (although it does feature eggs, so it's not vegan). Because pandan leaves can be difficult to source outside of Southeast Asia, this dessert uses pandan paste, which is usually available at Southeast Asian grocery stores. Serve this dessert on its own or with a sprinkling of fresh fruit.

  • 27 of 28

    Thai Easy Mango Sorbet

    Mango ice cream with fresh mango slices with leaves mint on a glass plate

    Anantaradhika/Getty Images

    The best part of this ​mango sorbet recipe is that you don't need an ice cream maker. All you need is a food processor or blender, and 20 minutes. Make the night before a backyard party, as the actual sorbet takes 6 to 8 hours to set. Elevate this refreshing dessert with a splash of coconut liqueur drizzled on top.

  • 28 of 28

    Thai Tapioca Pudding With Coconut and Mango

    Tapioca Pudding

     Allecko/Getty Images

    This tapioca mango pudding is perfect for those times when you feel like you couldn't possibly take a bite of dessert after a heavy meal. Serve warm or, during summer months, cold straight from the fridge. Unlike flour-based desserts or those which feature heavy cream, this dessert is light despite the starch. It's also gluten free and vegan, making it a great option for potlucks, perfect for pleasing those with a variety of dietary restrictions. Serve in shot glasses or parfait cups for an elevated presentation.