Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Milk Chicken Soup)

Tom Kha Gai in bowl garnished with kaffir lime leaves, red chilies, coriander, and a drizzle of chili oil.

5 from 1 review

A spicy and tangy coconut milk chicken soup infused with galangal and other fragrant Thai herbs. Tom Kha Gai is an easy to make traditional Thai soup and is a weeknight dream meal when served with a bed of warm steamed rice.


  • 10 Garlic cloves – crushed
  • 516 fresh Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred), to taste – roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 medium Tomato – cut into wedges
  • 2.5-inch piece of Ginger – peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2.5-inch piece of Galangal – peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 Lemongrass stalks – bottom woody part and upper tough parts of the stalk chopped off and outer skin removed and discarded, then thinly sliced at an angle
  • 810 Makrut Lime Leaves – destemmed and broken into four pieces each
  • 56 leafy sprigs Coriander (Cilantro) – roughly chopped
  • 150 grams / 5.3 ounces Mushrooms (any kind – see notes*) – rinsed and pat-dried
  • 454 grams / 1 pound Chicken Thighs (or breasts), boneless, skinless – cleaned and pat-dried, excess fat trimmed, and thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 TBLS freshly squeezed Lime Juice (approximately the juice of 4 small Thai limes)
  • 1 TBLS Canola Oil (or any neutral flavored cooking oil)
  • 1 TBLS Chili Oil (optional – pure chili oil without flakes/seeds)
  • 24 Bird’s Eye Thai Dried Red Chilies (optional), to taste
  • 25 grams / 0.8 ounces (1/2 disc) Coconut Sugar, to taste (substitute with palm sugar, or 2 TSP granulated white or light brown sugar if unavailable)
  • 2 TBLS Fish Sauce, to taste
  • 1.5 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 12 TSP ground Thai Chili Powder (optional), to taste
  • 800ml / 27 ounces (2 large cans) Coconut Milk (full-fat preferred)
  • 200ml / 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Water
  • To Serve (optional): Reserved coriander, drizzle of chili oil, steamed rice, lime wedges for squeezing



  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Crush the garlic with the flat side of your knife and roughly chop the fresh red chilies. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and pound into a coarse paste. Prepare the red onion, tomato, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, coriander, makrut lime leaves, and mushrooms as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Clean and pat-dry the chicken thighs and trim off any excess fat. Thinly slice into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Squeeze the limes in a lemon/citrus squeezer and reserve the juice in a small bowl or bottle.

For the Tom Kha Gai:

  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, and chilies: Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of chili oil (if using) in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the smashed garlic chili paste and continue sautéing for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Build the soup: Pour in half (400ml / 13.5 ounces) of the coconut milk, and add the galangal, ginger, makrut lime leaves, and lemongrass. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms: Add the remaining coconut milk (400ml / 13.5 ounces), mushrooms, tomato wedges, and (200ml / 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) water.
  4. Simmer: Give everything a good stir, then cover the pot and let simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Cook the chicken: Uncover and reduce the heat to medium. Add the chicken pieces and stir to combine. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken has just cooked through.
  6. Stir in dried chilies and seasonings: Switch off the heat and stir in the Thai dried chilies, coconut sugar, fish sauce, kosher salt, Thai chili powder, and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings by adding more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar if needed.
  7. Stir through coriander: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of the chopped coriander (reserve some for garnish).
  8. To Serve: Ladle the soup evenly into bowls and garnish with the remainder coriander and a drizzle of chili oil (if using). Enjoy on its own, or serve with warm steamed rice and lime wedges for squeezing if desired.



  1. Mushrooms. I used Taiwanese Hsui Tseng mushrooms which are similar to oyster mushrooms. But you can use any type of mushrooms you love and have easy access to. Some great mushroom options are shimeji/enoki, king oyster or oyster mushrooms, cremini, straw, white champignons, and brown button. Slice or chop larger mushroom pieces (button, king oyster, shitakes, etc.) into smaller pieces.
  2. Thai herbs/aromatics. Galangal, lemongrass, and makrut (kaffir) lime leaves can be found in a Thai grocery store or Asian supermarket.
  3. Mortar and pestle. If you don’t own one, mince the garlic and lightly bruise the chilies with the back of your knife instead.
  4. Storage and leftovers: Store leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat over medium-high heat in a pot on the stovetop for a few minutes until hot throughout.
  5. To freeze: Once completely cool, transfer to freezer friendly containers and freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a pot on the stovetop for a few minutes over medium-high heat until hot throughout.
  6. Straining the broth: While you can simmer the soup with the onion, aromatics, and herbs first, then strain it and discard the solids before adding the chicken and mushrooms, I prefer not to because leaving them in allows the soup to build more flavor. Your call here, but I don’t recommend this because you can easily pick them out while eating or leave them at the bottom of the bowl.
  7. See ‘Variations’ section in post if you’d like to customize this Tom Kha Gai for specific diets or make it with a different protein.


Keywords: tom kha gai, coconut milk chicken soup, thai coconut milk soup