Curious about Thai spices? We don’t blame you! These spices native to Thai cuisine are so intriguingly exotic every foodie is raring for a taste. Below, you’ll find a list of Thai spices you should stock in your kitchen. That way, you can get start eating the best and most flavorful curries and stews!
Exciting Thai Spices to Include in Your Pantry
1. Galangal (Kha) Root
Seemingly the poster child for Thai spices, the galangal root is known for its wonderful aroma, which is close to a perfume. This versatile ingredient is present in many Thai dishes, so don’t be surprised if this smell seems familiar.
2. Fingerroot (Krachai)
As the name implies, fingerroots look like a finger! These roots are long, slender, and yellowish. Although they taste almost medicinal, they are perfect for curries and fish dishes.
3. Bird’s Eye Chili (Phrik Khi Nu)
Small but powerful, bird’s eye chili is one of the spiciest chilies and is present in many types of Thai cooking. If you want an intense heat level from your food, bird’s eye chili is a great choice.
Fun fact: Its Thai name means “mouse-dropping chili.”
4. Chili Spur Pepper (Phrik Chi Fa)
If you want a more subtle heat, chili spur pepper is also a good choice! It’s somewhat bigger than bird’s eye chili and is usually added to curries and fried dishes. This chili also comes in yellow, red, and green.
5. Garden Mouse-Dropping Chili (Phrik Khi Nu Suan)
This type of chili is a variant of bird’s eye chili but even smaller and spicier! That means if you want to take things up a notch, then the garden mouse-dropping chili is perfect!
6. Fresh Peppercorns (Phrik Thai On)
These fresh Thai peppercorns are a wonderful addition to your authentic jungle curry! This green spice is also perfect for stir-fries.
7. Thai Wax Pepper (Phrik Yuak)
While Thai wax peppers are very large in size, they can be a fascinating addition to stir-fried or deep-fried dishes stuffed with pork.
8. Cilantro Root (Rak Phak Chi)
Cilantro roots are also on our list of Thai spices! These roots are awesome in curry pastes and work great in Thai soups like tom yum.
9. Long Pepper (Dipli)
Long peppers are famous in northern Thailand for their flavor and heat. Try this dried spice with larb and create a delicious Lao meat salad!
10. Zanthoxylum Limonella (Makhwaen)
The seeds of prickly ash are especially popular in northern Thailand. People there love the seeds’ spiciness and heat. If you want to explore northern Thailand cuisines, then add Z. limonella to your list.
11. Cassia Cinnamon (Opchoei)
Cassia cinnamon is often used in meat dishes, most notably massaman curry. Although originally from China, this dried spice also adds a mouthwatering flavor to Thai dishes. Its aromatic bark is pleasing to smell too!
12. Five-Spice Powder (Phong Phalo)
Five-spice powder is primarily used in Thai-Chinese dishes. The five great ingredients of this powder are star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, fennel, and cloves.
13. Dried Chilies (Phrik Haeng) as Flakes and a Condiment
You can use dried chilies in two ways: either as flakes or as a condiment to add more flavor to Thai chili pastes and dips, curry pastes, and deep-fried dishes.
14. Phrik Lap (A Mixture of Spices for Lanna Food)
With no specific English translation for this mixture, Phrik Lap is a combination of several spices mainly used for making Lanna food. Lanna food, also known as Northern Thai food, contains ingredients like long pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.
15. Phrik Pon (Crushed Dried Chilies)
Like Phrik Lap, Phrik Pon does not have an exact English name. This combination of Thai spices is a mixture of several dried chilies and is used as a seasoning in many Thai dishes. Phrik Pon is especially great for Thai noodle soups!
16. Fennel Seeds (Thian Khao Plueak)
Fennel seeds are packed with many nutrients, like protein, dietary fiber, and B vitamins. These seeds are also a popular spice in northern Thailand. If you love spicy food, these spices make clear that northern Thailand should be on your travel bucket list!
17. Coriander Seeds (Luk Phak Chi)
Also known as cilantro seeds, coriander seeds are perfect for Thai dishes that need that lemony-citrus flavor. Coriander seeds can also be spicy, nutty, and warm, which makes them great for different types of curry.
18. Cumin (Yee Rah)
This is one of the most common herbs used in Thai curries and is famous across international cuisines for its strong aroma. In addition to from making great curries, it also helps your body digest food faster.
19. Shallot (Hom Daeng)
Shallots are a type of onion well known in Thailand as the key ingredient for curries. While not technically a spice, they make a delicious addition to curry and chili pastes. This onion is also a remarkable natural remedy for the common cold.
20. Cardamom (Luk Krawan)
This type of spice comes from the seed pods of different plants. It’s famous for its strong flavor and aroma. Although cardamom originated from India, this spice can make delightful Thai curry pastes.
21. Nutmeg Nut (Luk Chanthet)
Nutmeg, when crushed, is perfect for making massaman curry paste.
Watch the video below from Pailin’s Kitchen to see the five-spice powder recipe in action:
Once you start cooking with these Thai spices, every meal will make you feel like you’re vacationing in sunny Thailand. Fearlessly explore these spices and experiment to discover how they can work best with your pantry and recipes!
Which Thai spices would you like to add to your pantry or kitchen? Let us know in the comments below!