This Thai-inspired Chiang Mai Chicken Curry Noodles (Thai Khao Soi Gai) tastes like heaven in a bowl. The chicken is so tender and slow simmered in a super creamy coconut milk broth. Beautifully spiced and full of flavor, I’ll show you my simple steps and with a few shortcuts so that you, too, can enjoy this Chiang Mai signature noodle dish totally hassle-free & easy! Stovetop or Slow Cooker instructions included!

Feature image shows a big white noodle soup bowl with curry chicken, noodles, lime, and cilantro in a creamy chiang mai noodle curry khao soi gai style broth.
Tender chicken simmered in a beautifully spiced coconut milk cream broth.

Umami Tips & Summary

  • Use bone-in chicken drumsticks or thighs for the best flavor.
  • Shortcuts: do see my recipe notes or the written blog post to save time.
  • You don’t need to have all the ingredients in order to make Chicken Khao Soi (Chiang Mai noodles). See my recipe notes and blog post for must-haves.
  • Cook the noodles separately so they don’t interfere with the coconut chicken broth.
  • Avoid letting the soup come to a boil so that the coconut milk cream won’t curdle. It won’t affect the taste but you might see white flaky bits in the broth.
  • For Thai soups and curry, always finish seasoning with fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to taste.
  • Set aside 45-50 minutes. The actual active cook time is fairly short – about 15 mins – because we simplified the recipe. The chicken does take about 30-35 minutes to simmer to tender.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles – Khao Soi

Khao Soi – Thai Chiang Mai curry noodles – is one of my favorite Thai noodle soups. I’ve had several versions of Kao soy in Chiang mai and Bangkok. It has similar characteristics to laksa with creamy coconut milk broth, earthy spices, and tender chicken.

The traditional Chiang mai noodles recipe is definitely a labor of love but today’s version is a short-cut with my tips and tricks to make the dish totally hassle-free and gluten-free.

Why I like this dish:

  • Flavorful broth – rich creamy coconut milk broth with heart-warming spices.
  • Tender chicken – slow simmered chicken in milk broth…so tender and flavorful!
  • Crispy topping – crispy shallots, bean sprouts…etc. with endless topping variety
  • Simple & Fast – my special shortcuts to make it easy and fast but still tastes amazing!

What is Khao Soi (Chiang mai noodles)

Khao soi (also known as Kao Soy, Kao Soi, Khao Soy, Kow Soi) is a Thai noodle soup, particularly famous in northern Thailand Chiang Mai region. It’s also known as Chiang Mai noodles. The dish comes with a rich and little spicy coconut milk curry broth, slowly simmered with dark meat chicken (often chicken drumsticks). Beef, pork, and shrimp are also popular protein choices.

Traditional Kao soy is served with Chinese style egg noodles and the noodles are used in two ways in the noodle soup – boiled and crispy fried as a topping. This Chiang Mai noodle dish is creamy, rich, and super flavorful that’s perfect for colder months.

Khao means rice, Soi means julienned, and Gai means Chicken.

Photo shows ingredients needed to make Chiang Mai Noodles Kao Soy

Ingredients to make Khao Soi Gai (simplified and dairy, gluten-free)

Out of all the ingredients, the must-haves are Thai red curry paste, ginger, shallot, dry spices (coriander, turmeric and cumin powder), chicken, stock or water, coconut sugar, fish sauce, noodles, and lime juice but here are a complete list of items –

There are 4 main components –

  • Creamy coconut curry soup base
    • Thai red curry paste (I use store bought), full fat coconut milk cream, coconut sugar, shallot, ginger, kaffir lime leaves (optional), dry spices (coriander, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala powder, and fish sauce
  • Chicken
    • Dark meat chicken drumsticks or thighs with bone-in.
  • Noodles
    • Rice noodles (for gluten-free) or spiralized vegetable noodles (for low carb) or Chinese egg noodles (the traditional way)
  • Toppings of choice
    • Lime, cilantro, bean sprouts, Fried shallots (I use store bought gluten-free), and pickled Chinese mustard greens

How to make Chiang Mai Curry Noodles – Chicken Khao Soi

  1. Creamy curry soup base
    1. Saute the red curry paste with ginger, shallot, and dry spices (coriander, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala) over medium-low heat for about 1 minute.
    2. Add parts of coconut cream and keep sauteing over medium-low heat until the oil and the paste are separated, about 3 minutes.
  2. Chicken
    1. Add the chicken drumsticks and stir the pot to coat the paste over the chicken.
  3. Simmer
    1. Add the stock or water, coconut sugar, and fish sauce. Bring it to a gentle boil then slow simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Noodles
    1. Cook the noodles in a separate pot, following the package instructions.
  5. Season
    1. Season to taste with fish sauce, coconut sugar, and lime juice.
  6. Toppings of choice & Serve
    1. Add the boiled noodles to the bowl, add the braised chicken and hot broth. Top with fried shallots, bean sprouts, pickled Chinese mustard greens, and with extra lime wedges on the side.

My simplified methods and shortcuts

Shortcut #1 – Store bought red curry paste

I use store bought red curry paste for my Khao soi. Thai Kitchen red curry paste is less spicy and salty than Mae Ploy brand, in my opinion.

My Modification #2 – Khao soi noodles.

Traditional Chinese style egg noodles are used in Chiang Mai noodles. To keep it gluten-free, I use rice noodles.

My shortcut modification #3 – Crispy egg noodle topping

I use a store-bought crispy fried shallots that’s gluten-free to replace the fried egg noodle topping to save time and keep it gluten-free.

Toppings of your choice

In Thailand, Kao Soy is served with a set of various toppings and chili condiments so that everyone can customize it to their own tastes.

Must-haves: In my opinion, the must-haves are lime wedges, fish sauce, and coconut sugar.

A common list of toppings –

  • Chinese pickled mustard greens – this pickled vegetable tastes sour, salty, and crunchy. You can find it in Chinese or Thai grocery stores.
  • Diced shallots – to add a spicy and sharp pungent flavor.
  • Lime wedges – add a sour note to keep the rich broth light and bright.
  • Cilantro – adds color and fresh herb flavor.
  • Fish sauce – add salty savory flavor.
  • Bean sprouts – little crunch and texture.
  • Sugar – coconut brown sugar is used here. You need sugar to balance the salty-sour-little spicy flavor. Sugar here helps to bring out a closer to authentic flavor.
Photo shows a big soup pot with cooked curry chicken, bean sprouts and ganish in Chicken Khao Soi coconut milk broth.

Common Questions About Making Chiang Mai Chicken Noodles

Substitute ingredients

  • You can substitute lime and lemon zest for kaffir lime leaves.
  • Substitute gluten-free rice noodles for egg wonton noodles
  • Use store bought fried shallots to replace fried egg noodle topping.
  • The same dish also works for beef or pork.

What are some must-have ingredients to make Kao Soi Gai?

Out of all the ingredients to make Chiang Mai noodles, the must-haves are Thai red curry paste, ginger, shallot, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, chicken, stock or water, coconut sugar, fish sauce, noodles, and lime juice.

Can I use boneless chicken?

I don’t recommend it. You can use a combination of bone-in and skin-on chicken drumsticks or thighs along with boneless chicken. You need bones to create a flavorful broth.

Storage and Reheat

Store the noodles separately from the curry soup in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. Reheat over a stovetop. The broth will gelatinize so add more water to thin the broth if it becomes too thick.

How do I make it not spicy?

The spiciness comes from the curry paste. Thai Kitchen red curry paste tastes less spicy and salty than Mae Ploy brand. Personally, I like using Thai Kitchen for this recipe as I prefer my Khao Soi recipe tastes more creamy and less pungent and spicy.

General Questions About Khao Soi Gai

What does khao soi chiang mai noodles taste like

Thai Chiang Mai coconut noodles taste creamy rich, savory, sweet, a little spicy, and zesty and sour. It has everything you love about Thai food – super aromatic, flavorful, vibrant, and full of character.

What does khao soi gai mean

Khao means rice, Soi means julienned, and Gai means Chicken.

How to eat khao soi gai

Add the boiled noodles to a serving bowl with chicken and a few spoonfuls of hot coconut curry broth. Garnish with fried shallots, pickled chinese mustard greens, sliced shallots, bean sprouts, and with lime wedges on the side.

What type of noodles are used in Chiang mai noodles?

Traditionally Chinese wonton egg noodles in yellow color are used in Thai khao soi gai. The crispy fried nest of noodles on top of the noodle bowl is also made from the wonton egg noodles. To keep it gluten-free, use rice noodles.

Photo shows two white individual serving bowls with chicken, noodles, and cilantro garnish in Chiang Mai style chicken khao soi soup

More Thai Curry Recipes

Instant Pot Pumpkin Chicken Curry tastes sweet sweet and hearty, Easy Thai Green Curry Chicken is another one of my favorites, Grilled green curry chicken in coconut milk full of flavor and keto friendly, Whole30 cup noodles have 3 different flavors and one of them includes curry, and my Thai coconut curry meatball soup.

Pairing suggestions

Pair the rich and creamy Chiang Mai Noodles with my Chinese broccoli in vegetarian oyster sauce, Asian cucumber salad (Din Tai Fung style), Chinese smashed cucumber salad, sauteed snow pea leaves in garlic sauce, or Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce!

Feature image shows a big white noodle soup bowl with curry chicken, noodles, lime, and cilantro in a creamy coconut red curry milk broth
5 from 3 votes

Chiang Mai Noodles (Thai Chicken Khao Soi)

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Servings: 6 serving
Author: ChihYu
Chiang Mai Noodles (Thai Chicken Khao Soi) with tender chicken, simmered in coconut milk cream broth. This Thai-inspired curry noodles taste creamy, rich, savory, zesty, and little spicy. Use my tips to make the best Kao Soi at home easy and taste amazing!
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Ingredients 

Toppings of choice:

Instructions 

  • Preheat a Dutch oven or 4-quart (or larger) heavy soup pot over medium-low heat until it feels warm. Add the curry paste, oil, shallot, ginger, and dry spice seasonings – coriander, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala powder. Saute over medium-low heat for 1 minute.
  • Add ½ cup coconut cream and keep sauteing over medium-low heat until you can see the oil starts surfacing to the top and is separated from the paste, about 3 minutes or longer. Stir often with a wooden spoon so that the paste won’t get burnt.
  • Add the chicken and gently stir to coat the curry paste over the drumsticks. Add the remaining coconut cream, water, fish sauce, sugar, and lime leaves, if using. Give it a stir then cover the pot and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Then, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cook the noodles in a separate pot, following the package instructions.
  • Once the chicken has fallen off the bone tender, taste and start seasoning the broth further with fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to taste. The flavor should be savory, sweet, a little spicy, and zesty sour flavor.
  • To serve, you can shred the chicken or serve a whole drumstick as people do in Thailand. Add the boiled noodles to individual serving bowls with chicken and a few spoonfuls of hot broth. Garnish with fried shallots, pickled chinese mustard greens, sliced shallots, and bean sprouts, if using. Serve with extra lime wedges on the side. Serve hot.

Video

Notes

What are some must-have ingredients to make Kao Soi?
Out of all the ingredients to make Chiang Mai noodles, the must-haves are Thai red curry paste, ginger, shallot, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, chicken, stock or water, coconut sugar, fish sauce, noodles, and lime juice.
Can I use boneless chicken?
I don’t recommend it. You can use a combination of bone-in and skin-on chicken drumsticks or thighs along with boneless chicken. You need bones to create a flavorful broth.
Slow Cooker
Set it on high for 4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. 
Storage and Reheat
Store the noodles separately from the curry soup in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. Reheat over a stovetop. The broth will gelatinize so more water to thin the broth if it becomes too thick.
Substitute ingredients
  • You can substitute lime and lemon zest for kaffir lime leaves. Use about 1 whole lime zest and half of one whole lemon zest.
  • The same dish also works for beef or pork. The cook time might be longer to cook the meat tender.
  1. Avoid letting the soup come to a boil so that the coconut milk cream won’t curdle. It won’t affect the taste but you might see white flaky bits in the broth.
  2. For Thai soups and curry, always finish seasoning with fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice to taste.
  3. Cook the noodles separately so they don’t interfere with the coconut chicken broth.
  4. If use fresh kaffir lime leaves, squeeze the leaves in your palm to release the fragrance before adding them to the broth. 
  5. For a thinner broth, add more water or stock.
  6. The nutritional label is estimated with 35g of rice noodles per serving without the toppings (except lime juice). If without the rice noodles,  it has 13g of carbs, 2g of fiber, 11g of net carb. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 587kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 24g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 240mg, Potassium: 524mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1229IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: Chiang mai curry, Chiang mai curry noodles, Chiang mai noodles, Chicken kaho soi, kaho soi thai, Kao soi, kao soy, khao soi, Khao soi chiang mai, Khao soi gai, khao soi recipe, Khao soy, Kow soi, Thai khao soi
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Photo shows chihyu smith

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