This khao soi gai recipe makes the delicious Chiang Mai curry noodle chicken soup that is as beloved by foreign visitors as much as locals in the Northern Thailand city. Slurped at market stalls, simple eateries and fancy restaurants, khao soi gai quickly becomes addictive.

Khao soi gai is the most popular noodle soup in Chiang Mai, the old capital of the Lanna kingdom in Northern Thailand that’s as famous for its fantastic Northern Thai-style Lanna food as much as its gilded pagodas, gorgeous handicrafts and glorious mountains nearby.

Khao soi gai is a one-bowl meal of egg noodles, a rich, oily coconut cream-infused stock, and a leg or thigh of bone-in chicken (‘gai’ is Thai for chicken) topped with more crunchy noodles.

The spicy curry noodle chicken soup is a lunchtime favourite across Chiang Mai. It’s one of those dishes that culinary travellers are eager to try – and then can’t stop eating.

Khao Soi Gai Recipe – How to Make Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Chicken Soup. Copyright © 2021 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Khao Soi Gai Recipe – Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Chicken Soup

Lara reckons that unlike the rest of Thailand (and Southeast Asia for that matter) where, when locals meet, they ask each other “have you eaten rice today?” (to mean “have you eaten yet?”), in Chiang Mai the locals ask “have you eaten khao soi gai yet?”

Khao soi is thought to have arrived in Northern Thailand with Chinese Muslim traders who travelled from Southern China to what we now know as Myanmar, stopping in the Lanna kingdom on the way. However, Kao soi gai also shares some DNA with Myanmar’s ohn no khao swe, a Burmese chicken coconut noodle soup, so could have arrived in Lanna along the old established trading route between Moulmein and Chiang Mai.

The route was well-travelled during the roughly 200-year Burmese rule (1558-1775). During the period, coconuts, which weren’t grown in Chiang Mai, were shipped from the Southern port of Moulmein to the Lanna kingdom. Whichever way it came, it explains why quite often in Chiang Mai it is Muslim families who have stalls selling the dish – and typically it’s the only dish they sell.

When an order comes in at one of these stalls, the vendor places the pre-blanched noodles in a bowl, adds a chunky piece of chicken and pours the broth over the noodles from a huge vat. If it’s a popular stall, you need to get in early to land a bowl as the stall will shut as soon as the day’s batch of soup runs out.

One of the sure signs of a good khao soi gai is a slick of bright red oil on top of the stock. This oily layer is made from the splitting of the coconut cream and stock – which only really happens with fresh coconut cream. What this does is help coat the noodles with oil and stock with each mouthful.

Just like laksa, there is a beef version of khao soi as well, but it’s nowhere near as popular as chicken.

If you are making this khao soi gai recipe for guests who don’t like bone-in chicken, the best bet is to use chicken thighs. Debone and trim the thighs, but keep the bones for the stock. If you wanted to use chicken breast, cook the chicken separately taking care not to overcook it.

A quick note on the deep-fried noodles. These will splatter when introduced to the oil and can overcook very easily. Take them out a few seconds before reaching the desired colour, as once they start to dry out they can quickly burn.

Khao Soi Gai Recipe – Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Chicken Soup

Khao Soi Gai recipe - Chiang Mai Curry Noodle and Chicken Soup. Copyright © 2018 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Khao Soi Gai Recipe – Chiang Mai Curry Noodle and Chicken Soup

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Servings: 1
Calories: 305.6kcal
Author: Terence Carter, adapted from David Thompson



  • 3 dried long red chilies deseeded, soaked and drained
  • 4 medium-sized red shallots unpeeled
  • 3 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 1 tbsp fresh turmeric peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • 2 fresh coriander roots scraped and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed roasted and ground
  • 1 pinch salt


  • 4 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 chicken leg per serving quartered (around 100 grams)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 2 cups stock
  • 75 g fresh egg noodles per bowl


  • 1 tbsp green onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • 2 tbsp red shallots sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp pickled mustard greens
  • 6 slices lime wedges
  • 2 tbsp chilli sauce roasted


  • Pre-heat oven to 200°C.


  • To make the paste, roast the chillies, shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger until softened. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, peel the shallots and garlic. Then pound the roasted ingredients together using a mortar and pestle until smooth.


  • To make the soup, simmer the coconut cream until it is thick and beginning to separate. Then add the paste and fry until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken, reduce the heat and simmer for several minutes.
  • Add the palm sugar, the two soy sauces and finally the stock. Stir well and then keep simmering until the chicken is cooked, about 20 minutes.
  • While soup is simmering, fry one-quarter of the egg noodles in hot oil, drain.
  • Check the seasoning, the soup should taste salty and slightly sweet from the coconut cream.
  • Blanch three-quarters of the egg noodles in boiling water, drain.
  • Put blanched noodles in a bowl, pour over the soup and add garnishes.
  • Serve with sliced red shallots, wedges of lime and pickled mustard greens.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 305.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.8g | Protein: 20.2g | Fat: 17.1g | Saturated Fat: 8.6g | Cholesterol: 69.3mg | Sodium: 1345.2mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 12.7g


Thai Food by David Thompson

Thai Street Food: Authentic Recipes, Vibrant Traditions by David Thompson

Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker

Night + Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends by Kris Yenbamroong and Garrett Snyder

The Grammar of Spice by Caz Hildebrand

The Spice Companion by Lior Lev Sercarz

Are you a khao soi lover and a fan of Thai food and Northern Thailand’s Lanna cuisine specifically? Do let us know if you make this khao soi gai recipe in the comments below. We’d love to hear how it turns out.

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