45 Asian Recipes That Will Elevate Your Spicy Food Game

From hot curries to mouth-tingling soups and sauces that leave you with bee-stung lips, Asian food can be super spicy. The heat can be subtle, warm up through layers of spices, or be knock-your-socks-off strong. Something about cooking cuisine from Asia brings many home cooks to their happy place in the kitchen. As woks sizzle and broths bubble, the aroma of Thai chilis, Indian garam masala, and Chinese Sichuan peppercorns permeate the air. Asian dishes can be flash-fried in a matter of minutes for a weekday wonder or left to marinade and simmer for a hot date or a cool dinner party. It's deeply enjoyable to balance the flavors of Japanese or Korean dishes to create just the right level of spiciness. If you love the flavors from this part of the world, you'll likely appreciate this collection of 45 recipes, which can all elevate your spicy food game. 

Simple Garam Masala

Garam masala is found in numerous Indian dishes. If you're serious about making homemade curries, why not make your own spice mix? This recipe combines cumin, cardamom, and coriander with cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. Customize the blend by adding nutmeg, fennel, mustard seed, or mace. Make sure to store it in an airtight jar and enjoy searching for recipes to use it in, like our easy butter chicken. Your homemade garam masala should last at least a year, but with so many potential dishes, you'll no doubt run out sooner.

Recipe: Simple Garam Masala

Easy Chicken Vindaloo

Most of the time spent making this spectacularly fiery Indian classic is while it marinates and cooks in your Crock Pot. That means that it's not overly complex to make. A good vindaloo recipe is a must for any spicy food lover. If you want to tone down the heat from one of the hottest curries, use fewer chilis — and don't add any cayenne pepper. You can also thicken the curry on the stove if needed. Serve it with a cooling spoonful of yogurt and some fresh coriander (cilantro) on top.

Recipe: Easy Chicken Vindaloo

Spicy Garlic Edamame

Edamame beans are so snackable. They're like the Asian equivalent of popcorn in that once you start eating them, you're likely to finish the whole bowl. Make these as an appetizer, snack, or as a side with a stir-fry. They're great as they are with only a little salt, but this version douses them in a sauce made with the core ingredients of so many incredible Asian dishes: garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Chili paste adds a punch of spicy heat, so have something to soothe your palate on the side.

Recipe: Spicy Garlic Edamame

Thai Curry Soup

Thai curry soups promise creamy spiciness — and they're often hotter than you might imagine. Coconut milk can hold back some heat, but it's usually not long before red curry paste and ginger tastes shine through. Toasted sesame oil, aniseed-tasting Thai basil, lime juice, and coriander create a warming Asian broth that's sweet, sour, and spicy. Add chicken or shrimp to give the soup a protein boost or soft cubes of tofu for a plant-based meal. Be careful not to overcook the noodles, and serve with red pepper flakes and chopped scallions. 

Recipe: Thai Curry Soup

Spicy Chinese Eggplant

This dish successfully celebrates one main ingredient, the eggplant. Although this recipe uses Chinese eggplant, which is thinner, there's no issue with using regular ones. Just be sure not to peel either variety, as you don't want to throw away the nutrition in the purple skin. While this vegetable doesn't impart a strong taste, the Asian flavors and spice elevate it so much it can be served as a main dish. Only use the serrano pepper seeds if you like it hot. Serve with a spritz of lime and chopped parsley. 

Recipe: Spicy Chinese Eggplant

Grace Young's Spicy Ginger Chicken With Peppers And Baby Bok Choy

"Stir-Fry Guru" and cookbook author Grace Young helped bring Chinese cuisine to United States homes. Chili garlic sauce and ginger add heat to the chicken, bell peppers, and bok choy in this recipe. Spice is subtly balanced with umami notes of sherry, plummy hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and sweetness from sugar and ketchup. Check if your wok is hot enough with a drop of water: At the right temperature, it will bounce and disappear almost immediately.

Recipe: Grace Young's Spicy Ginger Chicken With Peppers And Baby Bok Choy

Satay-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

These chicken satay sticks with a spicy peanut dip could become your new favorite Asian-style snack. Chicken thigh meat is more succulent, but you can use breast meat if you prefer it. Boston lettuce is ideal for the wraps, but feel free to use a crunchier variety, such as iceberg, for extra texture. If you don't have any Sriracha, swap it for any hot sauce with a similar heat level. And, as an alternative to grilling outdoors, you can roast the chicken in the oven — but soak the skewers first.

Recipe: Satay-Style Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Easy Muhammara

There's a misconception that many Asian dishes are complex, time-consuming, and contain specialty or tough-to-find ingredients. If you've never made this spicy dip from Persia before, you'll wonder why you didn't make it sooner. The spice in muhammara comes from cumin, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. While there are quite a few ingredients in the recipe, all you have to do is blend them in a food processor. Aside from the heat, roasted red peppers straight from the jar pack extra flavor. This dip is particularly delicious when served with a warm pita.

Recipe: Easy Muhammara

Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam

Did you know Spam is featured in many Korean dishes? Even if you didn't, there's no denying from where this dish hails, with fermented kimchi mixed into fried rice. Use a napa cabbage variety of kimchi, but if it isn't very spicy, add extra gochugaru red pepper flakes. Taste as you go, and add more kimchi juice or spices to adjust its heat level. Serving with a sunny-side-up fried egg is a must, and green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and shredded nori are perfect for sprinkling on top.

Recipe: Kimchi Fried Rice With Spam

Easy Tandoori Chicken

Chances are, you don't have a tandoor oven at home. However, you can still make one of the most renowned, succulently spicy Asian chicken dishes. This is also a great dish to test your homemade garam masala. You don't have to use red food coloring, but doing so helps emulate the traditional rich color this dish is known to boast. Make sure your baking tray is fully covered with foil and cook the chicken over a wire rack placed over the tray to create a smoky tandoor flavor while it cooks.

Recipe: Easy Tandoori Chicken

15-Minute Thai Red Curry With Shrimp

The secret to cooking great Thai food is to get all your ingredients chopped and ready before you start cooking because, after you heat your oil, you won't have time to prep. This 15-minute curry dish warms with sweet, salty, and spicy notes, plus wonderfully fragrant, creamy coconut milk. The shrimp taste succulent and meaty when doused in the velvety sauce, while green beans add some crunch. Serve with rice, fresh coriander, and a spritz of fresh lime juice.

Recipe: 15-Minute Thai Red Curry With Shrimp

Zesty Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cake)

If you haven't discovered the delights of tteokbokki, you're in for a treat. The Korean equivalent of pasta, these sticky, stodgy rice cakes need to soak beforehand. When you get to cooking them, it's up to you whether you want them al dente or super-soft and chewy. Korean chili sauce and gochujang pair perfectly to add some much-needed spice. How much or little you add is up to you — and how hot you like your food. Serve with leeks and white and black sesame seeds on top.

Recipe: Zesty Tteokbokki (Spicy Rice Cake)

5-Spice Pork Stir Fry

If you're in the mood for take-out but don't want to order in, this recipe is right up your alley. It takes 10 minutes to prep and the same amount of time to cook with a hot wok, so it's potentially quicker than delivery. Pork gets seasoned in 5-spice powder, which comes pre-blended, but you can make your own with cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel, and Sichuan peppercorns. 5-spice adds warmth rather than heat, so this is a good dish if you love Asian flavors but don't want too much spice. 

Recipe: 5-Spice Pork Stir Fry

Easy Japanese Beef Curry

You may associate curries with Indian and Thai cuisine — but those aren't the only countries to feature it. This beef curry recipe is a comfort food popular in Japan. Be prepared for it to become a weekday favorite. You'll need Golden Curry cubes for this dish, which you might only find at Asian grocers. However, they're essential for making the sauce. Its flavor is akin to a British chip shop-style curry sauce and — along with a milder heat — delivers a sweet note from apples. Serve this curry with rice.

Recipe: Easy Japanese Beef Curry

Spicy Pad Thai

Pad Thai is considered by many to be one of Thailand's top dishes. And rightly so: When it's cooked right, it's fantastic. With a bit of extra spice added, it's simply spectacular. Flat rice noodles and beansprouts with zesty, nutty, salty flavors are lip-smackingly tasty. Thai Sriracha Hot Sauce adds heat to this recipe, but you can use chili paste instead. Make sure to cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Then, top with chopped green onions and peanuts and serve with lime wedges, as the citrus enhances every other flavor. 

Recipe: Spicy Pad Thai

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

The spices, as well as how the ingredients combine, give Asian dishes such distinctive flavor profiles. Often, proteins can be interchanged — and this recipe is perfect for plant-based food lovers and carnivores alike. Maple syrup, soy sauce, and sesame oil make the glaze sticky, with rice vinegar and Sriracha adding a tangy spice. Serve with rice or turn it into a Buddha bowl by adding avocado, steamed bok choy, tofu, red cabbage, and shelled edamame. Imagine the colors of this vegetable-heavy combination alone!  

Recipe: Sticky Sesame Cauliflower

Goan Fish Curry

It's easy to forget how well spicy flavors marry with fish — and this Indian curry is no exception. The creaminess of coconut milk is lifted by red chili, ginger, curry powder, and turmeric. For a less fragrant flavor, use some yogurt instead. For a less spicy version, leave out the chili, but don't miss out on the spinach, as it adds a vibrancy to the dish. Fish-wise, pick a firm white variety such as basa, cod, or tilapia. Finish with a squirt of lime, coriander, and a spoonful of yogurt.

Recipe: Goan Fish Curry

Simple Chicken Tikka Masala

Perhaps one of India's most beloved curries, the heat of a good tikka masala contains depth without being overpowering. This recipe calls for heavy cream, but you can use coconut milk instead. It's important to note that you should cook off your spice mix of ground ginger, cinnamon, and garam masala before adding tomatoes. If you want to reduce the dish's overall spiciness, remove the seeds from the serrano peppers. Work out your timing so that when it's ready, you have fresh rice and doughy naan bread to serve alongside it.

Recipe: Simple Chicken Tikka Masala

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Curry

The nutty, sweet flavor of butternut squash, fragrant spices, and creamy coconut milk combine to create this delicately warm dish. The potatoes, peas, and spinach also bring vitality and earthiness. Even better is that it's an easy recipe to make in your Instant Pot. Adding a good squirt of fresh lime juice when your curry is cooked is one step not to miss, as it makes the other flavors taste brighter. The acidity balances all the notes of this dish perfectly. Serve with basmati rice as a main course. 

Recipe: Instant Pot Butternut Squash Curry  

Copycat Chinese Imperial Palace Hot Mustard

This Asian-style hot sauce, which is remarkably good with spring rolls, takes inspiration from England: Colman's dry mustard powder is one of three ingredients needed for this super-hot dipping sauce. Aside from boiling water, you only need salt, oil, and mustard. Use a neutral-tasting oil, such as avocado or vegetable oil, that won't compete with the simplicity of the heat: It brings out the power of the mustard. Traditional Asian appetizers like wontons, egg rolls, or breaded shrimp are often served with this homemade dip.

Recipe: Copycat Chinese Imperial Palace Hot Mustard

Simple Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Cashew Chicken

A coconut milk-based curry with chicken and cashews makes for the ultimate creamy combo. However, if you want a meat-free version, add more potatoes and some kale, which cuts its cooking time in half. If you're slow-cooking this dish with meat, don't add the vegetables at the same time, or they'll overcook. Along with curry paste, ginger brings additional warmth. Green chilis increase the curry's heat level, too, so it's up to you whether you only add one or opt for a second. 

Recipe: Simple Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Cashew Chicken

Easy Chickpea Curry

If you think every curry needs to be made with tons of fresh ingredients, you haven't tried this recipe yet. Everything you need comes from either the cupboard or freezer. And because it's quick to make, it can elevate your spicy food game without much planning. This recipe uses mild curry powder, but since some like it hotter, feel free to raise the heat with a spicier curry. Reduce the starchiness by shelling the chickpeas, but if you're pressed for time, you can skip it — and the dish becomes even less fussy. 

Recipe: Easy Chickpea Curry

Authentic Pan Fried Rice Vermicelli

Super-thin stir-fried vermicelli lends well to soaking up Asian flavors and is delicate and yummy. Made from rice flour, it's not as heavy as other Asian noodles. Plus, it is incredibly tasty as long as it's eaten as soon as it's cooked. There's always room to experiment with ingredients in stir-fry recipes, but, to follow this one, you'll need shrimp and bell peppers. The heat comes from hot curry powder, hot green chili pepper, and rounds out with ginger. 

Recipe: Authentic Pan Fried Rice Vermicelli

Thai Basil Pork

One of the most-eaten dishes in Thailand, no matter the time of day, this dish offers a palate-pleasing sweet heat. Thai basil, which tastes different from the Italian variety, adds an aniseed-like flavor that enhances its overall spiciness. Thinly-sliced red chilis are sautéed to release heat, then balanced with coconut sugar. One of the best ways to serve this spicy meat dish is with some rice to ensure its flavor isn't too intense. If you're very hungry, serve this dish in the traditional style: topped with a fried egg. 

Recipe: Thai Basil Pork

Spicy Beef And Noodles Soup

Something is nourishing, relaxing, and enjoyable about slurping noodles from a hot and spicy soup. All the flavors stick to the noodles while you fish them out with chopsticks — and you can also lap up spoonfuls of the broth. In this recipe, garlic, ginger, and 5-spice powder pair well with strips of beef. Cilantro adds herbaceous freshness, and star anise helps bring every flavor together for an aromatic, comforting meal. Green onions, red chili, and Chinese chili paste also give this hearty dish some real power. 

Recipe: Spicy Beef And Noodles Soup

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a Chinese classic and a must-learn recipe for Asian food lovers. Crushed red pepper flakes and Sriracha, a Thai hot sauce, add layers of heat to balance the sweetness of hoisin sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. Soy sauce adds saltiness and a touch of balsamic vinegar adds acidity. The aromatics of garlic, ginger, and green onions are an irresistible combo, peanuts add some crunch, and the chicken tastes even more succulent in this richly flavorful sauce. Serve with rice and toasted sesame seeds.

Recipe: Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Spicy Mayo For Sushi

It's a culinary tradition to serve sushi with wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger. For a change, add some creaminess and less intense heat. Just imagine how perfect this spicy mayo would taste atop a homemade California roll. Plain mayo isn't quite right with sushi, but adding Thai Sriracha and freshly squeezed lime juice transforms it into a divine dip. Use a whisk to combine all three ingredients. As well as on sushi, this dip is great with fries and makes a great sandwich spread.

Recipe: Spicy Mayo For Sushi

Spicy Noodles

Don't you love a tasty upgrade for packet noodles? If you can't get enough of ramen noodles and adore spicy Asian food, this is the dish for you. Forget the seasoning sachet your noodles come with: Make the coating that defines this dish from chili garlic sauce and chili oil. To elevate it further, flavorful chicken thighs and lots of fresh, vibrantly colored veggies round out this dish. Use baby bok choy if available, or regular if not, and add whatever mushrooms you prefer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro to serve. 

Recipe: Spicy Noodles

Easy Baked Samosa

Eat this Indian street food whenever: They're light yet filling. Who doesn't like spiced potatoes and peas wrapped in phyllo pastry? These samosas are delicious baked in the oven, but some recipes deep-fry them. Before assembling, defrost the phyllo sheets to ensure they're foldable without breaking, and don't hesitate to add a custom seasoning to the top of each or make the fillings with your own spices. Cumin, garam masala, and chili powder can add flavorful heat. As well as a snack, you can serve them with curry to be the main course. 

Recipe: Easy Baked Samosa

Spicy Shrimp Bowl

The thought of pan-fried shrimp in honey, soy sauce, and Sriracha could make any Asian food lover's mouth water. If you don't have any Sriracha for this recipe, you could make your own Sriracha. Adding more sauce ratchets up the heat, and if you want to feel an extra sting, add a red chili into the pan, too. Quick and easy to make, serve with fluffy rice for a classic main course, or create a lighter bite or appetizer with some salad or garlic flatbread. 

Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Bowl

Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This classic spit-cooked Middle Eastern meat is adapted so it can cook it at home on the stovetop or in the oven. If you've got a griddle pan, that's even better because you can create attractive char-grilled lines. Flatten the chicken with a mallet between plastic wrap and make sure to marinade the chicken for at least 30 minutes so all the spices can be infused. Add more or less cayenne to control the heat but stay with the other spices, since these create that unmistakable shawarma flavor. 

Recipe: Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Chicken Curry

A flavorful curry sauce turns this simple dish into a winner-winner chicken dinner for anyone who tries it. There's also no issue turning this meat dish vegetarian if you swap tofu or cauliflower for chicken. By using curry powder and garam masala, which blend myriad spices, you can achieve many flavors with a couple of shakes. If you like a greater depth of flavor, use extra seasoning over the meat — or veggies — you choose. Also, don't forget to shake or stir your coconut milk if it is separated before use. 

Recipe: Chicken Curry

Panang Curry

The Southern Thai classic, panang curry, is creamy, sweet, and peanutty with a soft heat. It's perfect for those who like a milder dish, but you can spice it up with hot sauce on the side and lime wedges for a citrusy lift. If you can't find Panang curry paste, Thai red curry paste is okay to swap. If you'd prefer, you can use basil instead of Thai basil and either unsweetened peanut butter or ground peanuts. The only other specialty Asian ingredients you need are fish sauce and dried kaffir lime leaves.

Recipe: Panang Curry

Slow Cooker Massaman Curry

When you crave the slow-simmered warmth of a curry but don't want a big kick, Thai massaman curry is the ultimate Asian food antidote. This dish is rich, full-bodied, and tastes like a stew cooked with ample spices. The fact that this is a slow cooker recipe makes it even more appealing, as it's simply a case of adding all the ingredients into one pot and letting your gadget work its magic. Beef, broth, and coconut cream combine to create a velvety, fragrant curry perfect for a hearty weeknight meal.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Massaman Curry

Sweet Chili Sauce

To help elevate your spicy Asian food game, you should learn how to make a homemade sweet chili sauce. You only need five ingredients for this straightforward recipe, plus a little salt. Don't worry about spending time chopping chilies because this recipe uses red pepper flakes. Here's a time-saving tip: Press on the flat side of your knife to squash garlic cloves so the peel comes off easily before you mince them. Use the sauce as a condiment with noodles or for dipping appetizers from every part of the Asian culinary map.

Recipe: Sweet Chili Sauce

Spicy Hunan Chicken

Chili paste, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice vinegar create all the right umami flavors for this superb Chinese dish. Broccoli florets and red bell pepper are appetizingly colorful, and chicken gets a crispy coating from dredging the pieces in cornflour before frying. A recipe with a little kick that isn't from India or Thailand makes a welcome change, too, especially if these are your go-to cuisines. For its spicy flavor, a chili paste such as sambal oelek works wonders in this dish by adding in the real taste of fresh chilis.

Recipe: Spicy Hunan Chicken

Spicy Thai Fried Rice

Thai chilis, also called bird's eye chilis, are small, but don't be fooled by their size: They're mighty powerful. If you love lots of heat in rice-based dishes, this quick-cooking stir-fried dish never fails to deliver. As with many Asian dishes, the ingredients combine to create a perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. Use less chili if there's too much of a kick. Cooking individual portions allows you to vary the dish's spiciness to suit different tastes. Serve with soup, spring rolls, or air-fried tofu.

Recipe: Spicy Thai Fried Rice

Chicken Biryani

If you're put off by the number of different spices in this dish, nobody will call you out for using a pre-mixed biryani paste. Make sure not to add all your marinated chicken to the pan at once so it doesn't curdle. Also, feel free to add a few veggies if you prefer. Use saffron if you can because, even though it can be expensive, you don't need a lot. Fry onions for a crunchy, traditional topping. Or, if that sounds a bit greasy, toss in the pre-fried ones that come in a tub. 

Recipe: Chicken Biryani

At-Home Saag Paneer

Some of the best Indian dishes showcase a couple of main ingredients and layer them with levels of heat and flavor. Combining cheese, half-and-half, spinach, and spices creates a beautiful balance of taste and texture. Paneer is a soft, squishy cheese, and the dish rounds out with the nutritious superfood spinach. However, the flavor of garam masala, made with different spices (cumin seeds, ground turmeric, and ginger paste), makes it sing. Serve as a side dish for curry or as a bigger bite with crispy papadums.

Recipe: At-Home Saag Paneer

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

If you've ever eaten good butter chicken, you'll likely have found the buttery, heavy cream sauce and warm spices a divine combination. This Indian dish only hints at being spicy, yet it's still tasty, making it a fantastic recipe for serving a group where some like less heat than others. Even better is how easy it is to make a big batch in your slow cooker, and you don't need any hard-to-source ingredients, either. Ground ginger, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder add flavor along with curry powder. 

Recipe: Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

15-Minute Thai Green Curry

If a simple-to-make, subtle Thai curry is your kind of at-home comfort dish, then this recipe is a must-try. Once you know how to make it, you'll want to recreate it all the time. Because it's so quick, it's an ideal choice for weekday meals. Buy chargrilled veggies and cooked chicken to make this a super-speedy cook, and to keep the meat from falling apart, don't over-stir. Try making it with beef, shrimp, or tofu for some culinary variation on a theme. You can even use vegetables such as green beans. 

Recipe: 15-Minute Thai Green Curry

Best Navratan Korma

This plant-based curry is a jewel in the crown of Indian cuisine and comes served with a fruity golden raisin and diced pineapple topping. One fresh green chili creates a kick, and garam masala, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and turmeric inspire iconic Indian curry flavors. Add different vegetables if you like for this recipe: This makes it a perfect dish for days when you've got a selection of veggies to use in the fridge. Few things are more enjoyable than sopping up this creamy coconut milk-based sauce with pillowy-soft naan.

Recipe: Best Navratan Korma

Pumpkin Curry Sauce

If there's one ingredient you probably haven't considered adding to a curry, it's pumpkin puree. However, this vegetable's inherent sweetness complements heat from spices, so pairing the two makes this recipe shine. Heat comes via Thai red curry paste and balances with soft, rich coconut milk. Need ideas on how to enjoy this curry sauce? It's delicious alone, served with rice, or topped with meat or sautéed veggies. If you love mixing Asian and European flavors, serve with German-style sausages to enjoy a classic currywurst dish. 

Recipe: Pumpkin Curry Sauce

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

What's satisfying about this coconut milk soup is how every ingredient stands out and can be tasted individually. The effect is a deliciously distinctive, delicate broth that's perfect when served with rice and other Thai dishes. The flavors connect seamlessly with lemongrass and ginger, which tie into the chicken and mushrooms. Instead of frying chopped chilis, halve them and add to the broth to infuse it for just a few minutes. This creates a gentler heat which, against the creaminess, delivers enough of a kick.

Recipe: Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)

Vegetarian Hot And Sour Soup

If you feel under the weather, hot and sour broth is a must-have. This recipe is a vegetarian version of the classic, featuring an umami-boosted mushroom broth. Chili garlic heats the other Asian ingredients, and adding beaten egg creates silky ribbons: Make sure to add them slowly. To thicken the consistency, keep stirring your Chinese roux as you pour it in so it doesn't turn into floury bits. This recipe uses soft tofu, but you can use a firmer one if you'd prefer.  

Recipe: Vegetarian Hot And Sour Soup