20 Best Thai Recipes

The ubiquitous Thai restaurant is a staple in many communities around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to the unique harmony of flavors that each dish offers. But what sets Thai cuisine apart from others? For one, it’s known for its lighter and healthier ingredients, which are often combined with bold and aromatic flavorings.

This results in dishes that are not only delicious but also nutritious. The spicy kick that many Thai dishes offer is another major draw. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or just looking to spice up your culinary routine, there’s something for everyone in the world of Thai cuisine.

Pad Thai

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Pad Thai, a staple of Thai cuisine, has earned its reputation as a culinary delight, and with minimal effort, you can recreate this flavorful dish at home. The essential ingredients are readily available at most local grocery stores, consisting of rice noodles, peanut sauce, peanuts, soy sauce, lime juice, chili flakes, garlic, and the indispensable fish sauce that lends depth to many Thai dishes.

While Pad Thai is a familiar favorite for many, its unbridled flavor profile sets it apart from other popular dishes. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of savoring this delightful dish, be prepared for an unforgettable culinary experience.

There’s a reason why Pad Thai is a ubiquitous presence on street carts throughout Thailand – its mouthwatering appeal is undeniable, and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll understand why it’s a beloved staple in Thai cuisine.

Thai Green Curry

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Thai green curry, also known as gaeng khiao waan gai, has earned its place as one of the most beloved curries globally. Its distinctive coconut-based sauce delivers a harmonious blend of sweet and spicy notes, often served alongside fried rice. The rich, creamy flavor of coconut milk pairs remarkably well with lean chicken, making this dish a satisfying main course despite being presented in a soup-like form.

nThe foundation of this iconic Thai dish lies in its essential ingredients: green curry paste, soy sauce, coconut milk, lemongrass, shallots, spices, and shrimp paste. Despite its seemingly complex composition, Thai green curry is surprisingly simple to prepare, boasting an irresistible flavor that’s sure to delight even the most discerning palates.

nWhen served with generous portions of fried rice or sticky rice on the side, this crowd-pleaser truly shines, offering a filling and flavorful experience that’s hard to resist.

Thai Noodle Salad (With Peanut Sauce)

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The Thai noodle salad is another popular dish that’s perfect for vegans, featuring a medley of textures and flavors from crunchy peanuts to rice noodles, carrots, green or red peppers, and garlic. In Thailand, this salad is a staple, often served as a quick lunch option, with the average Thai enjoying it multiple times a week. While recipes may vary slightly, common additions include chili, cabbage, and crisp lettuce for added depth. For non-vegans seeking a protein boost, sliced chicken or fish pairs well with the dish, and the addition of a crunchy peanut sauce takes it to the next level.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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This dish, often referred to as Thai chicken lettuce cups, is designed to be savored on its own or paired with other courses. The name says it all – these bite-sized treats are bursting with flavor and leave a lingering, zesty aftertaste that will keep you coming back for more. At their core, the filling is a masterclass in balance, blending vegetables and protein with a depth of flavor courtesy of ginger, lime, and chili. When served as an appetizer, be mindful – it’s easy to get carried away with the addictive flavors and find yourself reaching for just one more. To avoid overindulgence, aim for one or two wraps as a starter, and scale up to three or four if you’re serving it as a main course. For added indulgence, consider pairing it with a side of sticky rice.

Thai Fried Rice

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This scrumptious chicken fried rice recipe is a crowd-pleaser, satisfying even the most ravenous appetites, and boasts rich flavors with an optional spicy kick to spice things up. Its straightforward preparation and mere 10-minute cooking time make it a formidable rival to the best Asian restaurants’ offerings. A perfect dish for repurposing leftover rice from previous meals, this recipe also pairs delightfully with one or two fried eggs served atop the fluffy grains. While Thais typically enjoy their chicken fried rice with sliced chicken cooked alongside the rice, it’s equally satisfying without protein, especially when paired with those crispy eggs.

Thai Shrimp Cakes

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In many Thai restaurants, shrimp cakes are a crowd-pleaser, and their affordability and accessibility make them an attractive option for those seeking a flavorful and satisfying meal. The secret to their rich flavor lies in the harmonious blend of sweet Thai chili sauce, pungent chili-garlic sauce, and fresh cilantro. The breading plays a crucial role not only in binding the ingredients together but also in creating a delightful, caramelized crust that adds textural variety to each bite. While traditionalists often pair shrimp cakes with a spicy chili sauce, some regional variations offer a creamy peanut sauce as a tangy accompaniment, surprisingly complementing the dish’s bold flavors.

Green Papaya Salad

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In Thailand, the green papaya salad is a staple dish that’s deeply ingrained in the country’s culinary culture. Known as som tam, this spicy and aromatic salad is a favorite among locals, particularly those from the northeastern region of Isarn, where it’s considered an indispensable part of daily life. The dish has a distinct character that sets it apart from other Thai salads, such as the noodle-based variety mentioned earlier. When prepared in the traditional Thai manner, som tam packs a punch with its bold flavors and intense heat. To maintain authenticity, some recipes will include fermented fish sauce and whole baby crabs, which are essential to capturing the true essence of this beloved dish. In some cases, som tam is served alongside rice noodles as a complementary side.

Tom Yum Soup

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Tom Yum Soup is a quintessential Thai dish that’s not only incredibly popular but also remarkably easy to prepare. Its unique blend of zesty flavors, featuring lemongrass, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, and lime leaves, sets it apart from other Southeast Asian soups. The most well-known variation is Tom Yum Gung, which features succulent shrimp as its main ingredient. If you’re seeking an authentic taste of Thailand, look no further than Tom Yum – its bold aroma and flavor are quintessentially Thai. If you haven’t tried it yet, make it a point to do so, as it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Tom Kha Gai

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Thailand’s beloved Tom Kha Gai, often likened to American homestyle chicken soup, is a comforting and quintessential dish that transcends seasons thanks to its harmonious blend of flavors. This light yet satisfying soup is a staple throughout Thailand’s coastal resort areas, where it’s savored by locals and tourists alike.

Tom Kha Gai boasts a rich, creamy texture, balanced by a savory saltiness and a tangy kick that leaves no room for doubt – it’s a flavor explosion. Despite its comforting nature, the dish is surprisingly filling, making it an ideal choice for a warm day or a cozy evening.

Chicken Satay

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Chicken satay may not be an authentic Thai dish in its origin, but it has become a staple in Thailand’s street food scene and restaurant menus worldwide. This popular Indonesian dish has captured the hearts of children and adults alike, making it a great option to consider when dining out with kids. To prepare chicken satay, thinly sliced pieces of chicken are marinated in a rich peanut sauce before being grilled to perfection at high heat. Served on skewers, this flavorful treat is often enjoyed with fresh jasmine rice and a variety of dipping sauces.

Thai Turkey Burgers

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The aroma of freshly prepared Thai Turkey Burgers wafts through the air, enticing taste buds with an intricate blend of flavors. The patties, infused with ginger, shallots, lime juice, lemongrass, and Thai holy basil, are a masterclass in harmonious seasoning. A refreshing Asian Slaw and crisp cucumber slices provide a delightful contrast to the savory patty, while the spicy sriracha mayo glaze on the bun adds an invigorating kick. This recipe is remarkably easy to prepare, with a mere five-minute prep time and rapid cooking time. Its appeal extends far beyond the kitchen, making it an excellent option for families and kids alike.

Mango Sticky Rice

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For years, the harmonious blend of coconut milk, fragrant sticky rice, and succulent sweet mango has delighted American Thai restaurants. If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, chances are you’ve already savored this treat.

The best part? Sticky mango rice is surprisingly easy to prepare at home. The foundation, of course, is the heavy, glutenous sweet rice – also known as ‘glutinous’ or ‘sticky’ rice in many stores – which yields a tender, sticky texture when cooked.

This dessert’s main ingredients are a generous serving of ripe mango, creamy coconut milk, and a touch of sweetness. It’s an absolute crowd-pleaser every time it’s served. Feel free to get creative with the amount of coconut milk you use – the more, the merrier!

Lesser Known Thai Food (Outside of Thailand)

While exploring the realm of Thai cuisine, it’s easy to overlook some lesser-known recipes that remain close to the hearts of locals. These dishes may not typically feature on restaurant menus, but with a little effort, they can be easily recreated at home. In fact, these hidden gems are often just as delightful and flavorful as their more popular counterparts.

Pad Kra Pao

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In Thailand, Pad Kra Pao is more than just a popular street food – it’s an integral part of the country’s culinary culture. The dish, which typically consists of spicy minced pork stir-fried with holy basil leaves and served with plain cooked rice and a fried egg, has become a staple in many Thai restaurants. Despite its widespread popularity within Thailand, Pad Kra Pao remains relatively unknown outside the kingdom, making it a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

The simplicity of the ingredients is what sets this dish apart from others. With just soy sauce, garlic, fresh basil, chili, and maybe a hint of oyster sauce, the combination may seem straightforward, but the end result is anything but ordinary. The protein can vary, with pork (Pad Kra Pao Moo) or chicken (Pad Kra Pao Gai) being the most common options.

What truly sets Pad Kra Pao apart is its unique flavor profile, which is both bold and aromatic. When served with a fried egg on top and plain or sticky rice on the side, the dish takes on an entirely new level of complexity. It’s a testament to the power of simplicity in cooking – sometimes the most straightforward ingredients can lead to the most extraordinary results.

Larb Moo

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From the Isarn region in northeast Thailand, larb moo has gained popularity across the kingdom due to its simplicity and quick cooking time. The name ‘moo’ translates to pork in Thai, but feel free to substitute it with chicken (larb gai) without compromising on flavor. While often referred to as a salad, larb moo is more accurately described as a hearty, saucy dish that can be enjoyed by making small rice balls and dipping them into the sauce, accompanied by a spoonful of the main course.

Pad See Ew

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In Thailand, Pad See Ew is a staple food that’s often viewed as quick and easy to prepare, much like Pad Gra Pao. When you have the ingredients ready to go, this flavorful dish can be cooked up in no time. It’s little wonder then that it’s a beloved street food in Thailand and a top choice in Thai restaurants around the world. For those who love fresh rice noodles, using leftovers for a later drunken noodles recipe is also an excellent idea – both dishes keep well when refrigerated. Enjoy with a refreshing green papaya salad for a satisfying meal.

Quirky Thai Recipes

As we venture beyond the ordinary realm of culinary delights, we’re excited to share some truly unique recipe experiences that will pique your interest and tantalize your taste buds. While they may raise a few eyebrows, rest assured that each dish is not only distinct but also remarkably flavorful.

Thai Cockle Salad

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The combination of som tum salad and this side dish is a match made in heaven, offering a unique and authentic Thai culinary experience that’s not easily replicated outside of Thailand. While cockles might be readily available at most grocery stores, the true essence of this dish lies in its pickling process, which requires a traditional Thai fish base. This adds an extra layer of complexity to the recipe, but it’s well worth the effort if you’re willing to go the extra mile. For those interested in making this recipe, look for Thai specialty stores that typically carry jars of the necessary ingredients.

Chicken Feet Salad

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While it may come as a surprise to those familiar with Thai cuisine outside of Thailand, this unique dish is an absolute favorite among locals. Despite its unconventional nature, the flavor profile and textures at play make for a truly delightful experience. The key to enjoying these feet lies in their boneless composition, allowing for effortless digestion. As the feet absorb the rich sauce comprising tomatoes, onions, coriander, garlic, and of course, fish sauce – a staple in Thai cooking – they become an integral part of the dish’s overall appeal. Serve this flavorful delight on its own or with a side of sticky rice, which pairs surprisingly well to create a harmonious balance.

Thai Tea

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For an added layer of indulgence, consider pairing your Thai meal with a refreshing glass of Thai tea – a staple beverage throughout the country that’s sure to quench your thirst and cool you down. With its rich, smooth flavor and invigorating aroma, this sweet treat is a match made in heaven for the bold flavors of Thai cuisine.

Final Words

Pad Thai is the iconic dish that encapsulates the essence of Thai cuisine. It’s no surprise that if you’ve only had a glimpse into the world of Thai food, it was likely through a delicious plate of pad Thai. This recipe showcases a masterfully crafted balance of flavors that will leave you craving for more.

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