21 delicious Thai dishes you should try in Thailand

Ah, Thai food.

It’s full of flavor, spices, and I l-o-v-e it!

From the world-famous pad thai to the delicious curries, I’m sure you’ll find at least one dish you’ll love.

🍜 In a hurry? These are my top 3 Thai dishes:

  1. Fried rice with chicken and cashews
  2. Pad Thai
  3. Red curry

If you’re heading to Thailand and want to know which dishes to try, this is the guide for you. I’ll run through the best traditional Thai food that you’ve got to try.

Let’s dig in!

First, what is Thai food?

Thai food can be broken down into tom (think soups), yam (spicy salads), tam (like the famous papaya salad), and kaeng (curries).

You’ll find lots of rice and noodles, fresh herbs, and meats from chicken to seafood.

Read next: What to expect from a Thai cooking class

Thai street food

Street food is huge, so make sure to try this.

You’ll find everything from grilled meats to fresh, spicy salads and soups. You can even find grilled scorpio and snake.

💡 My tip: Always go for the busy stalls – that’s a way to recognize the best food.

1. Pad Thai

Pad Thai is one of those Thai dishes you just have to try.

It’s Thailand’s go-to street food, with soft rice noodles stir-fried up with bean sprouts and eggs, and you can add shrimp or chicken if you’re feeling it.

The flavors are spot on – a mix of sweet, sour, and salty, all finished with a crunch of peanuts on top.

So good!

Thai cooking class

2. Som Tum

Som Tum is a simple, tasty green papaya salad that’s got a nice kick to it.

The dressing is a combo of sour lime juice, fish sauce, and just a bit of sweetness.

Mixed with tomatoes, green beans, and peanuts, it’s crunchy and fresh.

Thai food - Som Tum

3. Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay is one of those snacks that never disappoints.

It’s just marinated chicken on a stick, grilled until it’s perfectly done, and served with a smooth peanut sauce that’s got a hint of sweetness.

Plus, it usually comes with a little cucumber salad to balance things out. Simple, satisfying, and definitely worth a try.

Chicken Satay

4. Moo Ping

Moo Ping is all about that tasty marinated pork.

It’s soaked in coconut milk and garlic, then grilled until it’s got a perfect caramelized edge.

Pair it with a side of sticky rice, and you’ve got yourself a street food favorite that’s both satisfying and delicious.

Thai food - Moo Ping

5. Khao Pad

Khao Pad is Thai fried rice, and it’s the dish I’ve had the most times in Thailand (and at home).

It’s a simple mix of jasmine rice, veggies, egg, and usually chicken, all tossed together in a wok.

A splash of soy sauce and a hint of garlic give it that classic flavor, and a sprinkle of cilantro can add a fresh twist.

6. Pad Krapow

Pad Krapow is for those who love a bit of heat.

It’s a stir-fry where chicken or pork is mixed with Thai basil and a pinch of chili.

Served on a bed of steamed rice, often with a crispy fried egg on top, the Thai basil really makes the dish with its unique, aromatic kick.

Thai food - Pad Krapow

7. Tod Mun Pla

Tod Mun Pla is a treat for fish cake fans.

These little patties mix fish with red curry paste and fine beans, all fried up until they’re golden.

They come with a sweet and tangy cucumber relish that complements the spicy, sweet, and savory flavors of the fish cakes perfectly.

Thai food - Tod Mun Pla

8. Gai Yang

Gai Yang is like the Thai answer to barbecue chicken.

The chicken gets a nice soak in a marinade with cilantro roots, garlic, and pepper, and then it’s grilled until it’s just the right amount of crispy on the outside but still super tender inside.

Grab some sticky rice and a bit of spicy tamarind sauce on the side, and you’ve got a dish that’s simple but packed with flavor.

Thai food - Gai Yang

9. Pla Pao

Pla Pao is a Thai dish consisting of a whole fish, often tilapia or another freshwater variety, that’s stuffed with lemongrass and other herbs, coated in a thick layer of salt, and then grilled over an open flame.

The result is a moist, flavorful fish with a slightly smoky taste.

Thai food - Pla Paov

10. Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew is a popular Thai stir-fried noodle dish made with broad, flat rice noodles, soy sauce, garlic, eggs, a protein such as chicken, beef, or tofu, and a green vegetable like Chinese broccoli or cabbage.

It’s known for its savory, slightly sweet flavor and is a staple in Thai cuisine.

Thai food - Pad See Ew

Classic Thai curries

Thai curries are where you’ll find a whole spectrum of tastes, from the gently sweet to the super spicy.

Each one is a combo of herbs, spices, and all sorts of good stuff that make it stand out.

11. Green curry

Green curry is named for its color, thanks to those green chilies, and it’s made with coconut milk, Thai basil, and usually chicken or fish balls.

When it’s done right, it’s a mix of sweet, salty, and spicy, and it’s usually served with rice to help tame the heat a bit.

Thai food - Green Curry

12. Red Curry

Red Curry turns up the heat with red chilies for a spicier kick.

It’s creamy with coconut milk and you’ll often find shrimp or chicken in there.

The lime leaves and Thai basil add an extra layer of aroma that’s just so good.

Thai cooking class

13. Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry is like a warm hug from Thai and Indian culinary traditions.

It’s a bit milder than other curries but still so rich, with coconut milk, tamarind, peanuts, and potatoes, and it’s great with beef or chicken.

It’s a curry that’s made for scooping up with some rice.

Thai food - Massaman Curryv

14. Panang Curry

Panang Curry stands out in the Thai curry lineup with its thicker consistency and flavor profile that’s a blend of sweet and salty with a touch of nuttiness, thanks to peanuts or peanut butter.

It’s milder than a red curry because it uses fewer chilies, and while it traditionally features beef, you’re not limited—other proteins can step into the spotlight, too.

Thai food - Panang Curry

15. Khao Soi

Khao Soi is a Northern Thai specialty.

It’s a rich, creamy curry soup that doubles up on the noodle action with soft egg noodles and a crown of crispy noodles on top.

The flavor comes from a combination of curry powder and coconut milk, and it’s usually served with chicken or beef, plus some tangy pickled mustard greens, shallots, and a squeeze of lime to brighten everything up.

Thai food - Khao Soi

Thai salads and soups

Thai cuisine has a variety of fresh salads and aromatic soups that balance spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors.

These dishes often include ingredients like lemongrass, lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh herbs to create complex flavor profiles.

16. Tom Yum Goong

If you love seafood, Tom Yum Goong is your go-to soup. It’s a hot and sour Thai soup usually cooked with shrimp.

Key ingredients are lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chilies, all contributing to its distinct fragrance and taste.

Thai food - Tom Yum Goong

17. Laab

Laab, also known as larb, is a spicy Northeastern salad. It can be made with chicken, pork, or beef.

A blend of fish sauce, lime juice, toasted ground rice, and fresh herbs give Laab its signature kick. It’s best served with sticky rice or fresh vegetables to mellow out the spices for your palate.

Thai food - Laab

18. Nam Tok

Nam Tok is a hearty salad, typically made with grilled beef or pork, which is sliced and mixed with ground roasted rice, fish sauce, lime juice, and herbs.

It translates to ‘waterfall’ in Thai, which is a nod to the juices that flow from the meat as it cooks.

Once grilled, the meat is sliced and tossed with ground roasted rice, fish sauce, lime juice, and herbs, creating a mix of savory flavors with a fresh, herby lift.

Thai food - Nam Tok

19. Yum Woon Sen

Yum Woon Sen is a Thai salad that combines glass noodles with ingredients like shrimp and tomatoes and sometimes includes minced pork for extra protein.

The dish is given a crunchy element with the addition of peanuts and is dressed in a tangy mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili peppers.

Thai food - Yum Woon Sen

20. Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai is a Thai soup made with coconut milk, which gives it a creamy consistency.

It is generally milder than Tom Yum Goong.

The soup is flavored with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, which provide a citrusy aroma.

Chicken is commonly used in this dish, contributing to its satisfying nature, while galangal and lime juice are added to create a more complex taste.

Thai food - Tom Kha Gai


21. Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice, also known as Khao Niao Mamuang, is a classic Thai dessert.

It’s made with sticky rice soaked in coconut milk, served with ripe slices of mango, and often topped with a coconut cream sauce and a sprinkling of crispy mung beans or sesame seeds.

It’s a fantastic alternative to ice cream because it’s sweet and fresh at the same time. A definite must-try!

Thai cooking class

FAQ – Thai food

What is the most popular Thai food?

The most popular Thai food is Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish that’s a classic choice in both Thailand and abroad.

What is the best Thai food for beginners?

For beginners, something like Pad Thai or spring rolls can be a good start, as they are widely appreciated and less likely to be overly spicy.

What is Thai food vs Chinese food?

Thai food and Chinese food have distinct differences; Thai cuisine is known for its balance of five flavors: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Chinese food often emphasizes umami and is generally less spicy, with a greater focus on soy sauce and stir-frying techniques.

What is the national food of Thailand?

The national food of Thailand is often considered to be Pad Thai, although it’s a topic of debate and many dishes could have this title.

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Don't miss out on the best dishes in Thailand! My Thai food guide combines great photography, meal ideas, and travel tips. #FoodInThailand #ThaiCuisine #VisitThailand

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