Tom Kha Gai- Thai Coconut Chicken Soup + Video |

Tom kha gai, or Thai Coconut Chicken Soup, is a delicious traditional Thai soup that is full of fresh herbs, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic, making it a delicious, healthy meal.

This video shows how to make an easy and delicious Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) that anyone can make! Bonus, you will also get a video of my failed attempt to make this soup, so you know how easy it is to make AND how much easier it is when you already have coconut milk in the fridge!

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) is a traditional Thai soup made with chicken bone broth, a host of fresh herbs, and a lot of yummy produce (coriander, ginger, lemongrass, mushroom, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers). Traditionally, this soup is made with chicken, but I think I’ve found a way to make it vegetarian.

Tom Kha Gai (Thai: Tom Kha Gai) is a Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken that is spicy, aromatic, and creamy.

Overhead view of soup on a white bowl.

The tastes are quite similar to Tom Yum, but Tom Kha adds the addition of coconut milk. This soup comes together fast; the only difficulty may be obtaining the necessary components.

To prepare Tom Kha, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Galangal Root, Lemongrass, Makrut Lime Leaves, Mushrooms, Chicken, Fish Sauce, Coconut Milk, Limes, Thai Chili or Chili Oil, Green Onions, and Cilantro are some of the ingredients used in this recipe. 

Lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, and thai chili pepper in a large pot.

Galangal Root translates to ‘kha’ in Thai, which is the name of this soup. Galangal is an important component of Tom Kha. Because galangal may be difficult to come by, I’ve seen recipes that use ginger instead. 

I purchase my galangal fresh from an Asian store, but it’s also available dried online. If you can’t get either, use ginger instead, but be aware that the taste will be different. The galangal is diced and used to flavor the soup; it is not intended for consumption.

We’re going to need 1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into four sections. To get the oil out of the lemongrass, gently pound it with the backside of a knife. You’ll immediately detect the citrus scent. 

I’ve been able to get lemongrass in my local grocery shop, but it’ll almost certainly be available at an Asian Market. Lemongrass, like galangal, is used to flavor the soup and is not intended to be consumed. 

Up close view of tom kha in a white bowl with a gold spoon in the soup.

Makrut Lime Leaves- Another component that may be difficult to come by. The oil and its fragrance are utilized to flavor the soup and provide a citrus kick. Lime leaves, like lemongrass, are crushed with the back of a knife. They’re also not intended to be eaten, so they may be taken out before serving.

If fresh lime leaves are unavailable, dried lime leaves may be used instead. If you don’t have either, fresh lime zest may be used to imitate the taste of the leaves.

Mushrooms- I used an enoki white mushroom from my Asian Market, but you could also use sliced monterey or baby bella mushrooms. 

The ‘Gai’ component of the dish is chicken. In this dish, I’m using sliced chicken breast. Other vegetarian choices include chicken thighs, leftover turkey, fish, or veggies.

Gold Spoon holding up some chicken and mushrooms over the bowl of soup.

Fish sauce adds a salty and umami taste to the soup. Fish sauce is widely available and can be purchased in most supermarkets. Use salt instead of oil for a vegan alternative. 

Tom Kha is distinguished from Tom Yum by the use of coconut milk. Use canned coconut milk, preferably the full-fat kind. Before putting the can in the soup, give it a thorough shake.

Lime Juice- I prefer to add the lime juice just before serving, either in each individual dish or directly into the soup if serving the whole soup. I leave off the lime juice if I’m going to have leftovers since it may cause the coconut milk to curdle. 

Tom kha gai in a white bowl garnished with cilantro.

Thai Chili or Chili Oil- Tom Kha is traditionally served light in color but hot because to the addition of entire Thai Bird’s Eye chilis. Since my children enjoy this soup, I included one in my recipe for a little touch of heat.

In most restaurants in the United States, however, Tom Kha with chili oil is available. It adds a vivid orange color to the soup, making it more appealing. Before serving, I like to drizzle chile oil into each bowl. 

Green Onions and Cilantro- To add a burst of color and freshness to your Tom Kha Gai, garnish each dish with chopped green onions and cilantro.

Tom Kha Gai: How to Serve and Store it

The best way to enjoy Tom Kha Gai is to eat it straight soon. If you don’t want to have leftovers, leave off the lime juice, green onion, and cilantro. These may be added when the soup is reheated. I suggest keeping leftovers in the refrigerator for no more than two days. If you prepared the soup with fish, I only suggest keeping leftovers for one day. 

Galangal, lime leaves, and lemongrass, as previously stated, are not edible. They’re just in the soup to provide flavor. You may take them out before serving them in bowls.

Tom Kha is a Thai main dish eaten with a side of Jasmine rice. This is my preferred method of consumption! Most Thai restaurants in the United States offer it as an appetizer or as a side dish to a main course.

This soup also comes in a non-coconut version: Yum, Tom.



Tom Kha Gai- Thai Soup with Coconut Milk-

Tom Kha Gai

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Tom Kha Gai is a Thai Coconut Soup with Chicken that is spicy, aromatic, and creamy.

Time to Prepare: 10 minutes

Time to cook: 20 minutes

30 minutes total


  • In a large soup pot, combine the water, lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, and chilies (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat for approximately 5 minutes to let the aromatics season the water.

  • Add the chicken to the water that is still boiling and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Reduce the heat to low and add the mushrooms, fish sauce, and coconut milk after the chicken is done. Stir gently, taste, and add more fish sauce if necessary. You won’t have the sour component yet, so keep that in mind.

  • Squeeze half a lime into each dish to serve. If desired, drizzle with chile oil before ladling Tom Kha into each dish. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, if desired. Serve with a serving of Jasmine Rice or as is.

If there’s one thing we love, it’s Thai food. Tom Kha Gai is a soup that can be made with chicken, pork, or beef. It can be made with coconut milk or coconut cream. It is one of our family’s favorite dishes and we love to make it at home. One of our favorite versions is with chicken. We recommend this recipe because it will take you through all the steps to make the best Tom Kha Gai that you can.. Read more about tom kha goong and let us know what you think.

Una is a food website blogger motivated by her love of cooking and her passion for exploring the connection between food and culture. With an enthusiasm for creating recipes that are simple, seasonal, and international, she has been able to connect with people around the world through her website. Una's recipes are inspired by her travels across Mexico, Portugal, India, Thailand, Australia and China. In each of these countries she has experienced local dishes while learning about the culture as well as gaining insight into how food can be used as a bridge between different cultures. Her recipes are often creative combinations of traditional ingredients from various different cuisines blended together to create something new.