This Coconut Curry Chicken is on your table in less than 30 minutes, made with pantry friendly ingredients all in one skillet! Readers call it “AMAZING,” “absolutely beyond delicious” and “the best chicken curry recipe ever!!!” Follow my tips and tricks for customizable veggies, heat and the creamiest coconut sauce!
This Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe is the perfect weeknight meal
30 MINUTE WONDER. The chicken and vegetables simmer in curried coconut milk for the most irresistible 30-minute meal of your life. It’s warm, creamy, comforting and tastes like it’s been simmering for hours but only takes minutes!
TAPESTRY OF FLAVOR. The layers of complex flavors create a tapestry of savory, salty, sweet and sour in every bite. It’s a balancing act that results in a savory depth of flavor like no other.
MAKE IT ON REPEAT. This chicken curry with coconut milk is huge on flavor, low on effort and belongs in your easy weeknight dinner back pocket!
- RESTAURANT delicious: layers of flavor in a creamy curried coconut sauce
- Less expensive: serve the whole family for the price of dining out!
- Pantry friendly: you can find curry powder and all the ingredients at any grocery store which means you can keep them stocked and make this coconut curry any time
- Minimal prep: just chop your chicken and veggies
- Customizable: use whatever veggies you have on hand
- One Skillet: means ONE SKILLET to clean!
- Easy: just sauté, dump and simmer away to rich, lusciously silky coconut curry
- Quick: on your table in less than 30 minutes from scratch!
- Meal-in-one: protein and veggies made in ones skillet
- Easy to Double: you can double or triple this coconut curry recipe for meal prep, make ahead or freezer meals
- Great leftovers: the curry chicken tastes even better the next day!
- Freezer friendly: this Coconut Curry Chicken freezes fabulously well for make ahead dinners
- Curry powder: look for “curry powder” in the spices section of your grocery store. This is the where most of the flavor comes from so it cannot be skipped! You may, however, replace it with red curry paste or yellow curry paste, but in that case, I would just use my Red Curry Recipe and my Yellow Curry recipe.
- Aromatics: onions, ginger and garlic elevate the curry flavor profile and are essential to all curries. If you are feeling extra lazy, you can substitute the fresh ingredients with powders. The typical rule of thumb is 3:1, so one part dried to three parts fresh.
- Coconut milk: coconut milk is essential for Chicken Coconut Curry! My favorite brand, hands down, is Chaokoh. I love it so much that when my grocery store stopped carrying it, I started purchasing it on Amazon! Chakoah is creamier than any other brand I’ve tried by FAR and therefore results in the most luscious coconut curry sauce.
- Do you have to use full-fat coconut milk? I don’t insist on full fat coconut milk but I HIGHLY suggest it if you would like restaurant-style creamy, flavorful Coconut Curry Chicken. If you must use light coconut milk, I suggest adding an additional ½ tablespoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.
- Chicken: I like to slice the chicken into ¼” thick by 2-inch long pieces. This ensures the chicken is thin enough for the curry powder to infuse it with flavor and thick enough that it doesn’t overcook. You may also chop into bite size pieces if you prefer.
- Vegetables: use your favorites! Just make sure you use vegetables that will cook in the allotted time or chop them smaller if necessary and add them when appropriate. For example, potatoes will not be done in the allotted cooking time and spinach should be stirred in at the very end.
- Fish sauce: this will not make your Coconut Chicken Curry taste fishy! Fish sauce is used in all Thai cooking for fabulous umami flavor.
- Soy sauce: use low sodium soy sauce so you can control the saltiness of the curry.
- Asian sweet chili sauce: this sauce can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store. It is simply magic and makes everything better! It’s sweet and spicy and packed with flavor from a combination of red chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce.
- Lime juice: you may use fresh or bottled lime juice.
- Asian hot chili sauce: you can use sriracha a or Asian hot chili paste to taste. It is easy to add more at the end of cooking, so feel free to be conservative then add more to taste.
- Step 1: Bloom curry: The key to unlocking the full flavor of curry powder is to bloom the curry. This is essentially toasting the curry in oil which helps the flavor emerge or “bloom” – and it makes a HUGE difference.
- Step 2: Sauté aromatics: We also sauté the curry powder with our chicken and onions which infuses them with curry goodness. Have you ever had chicken in a curry that is bland? Well, they have definitely skipped this step!
- Step 3: Sauté vegetables: Next, we add bell peppers, cauliflower, ginger and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. This develops the ginger and garlic flavor but more importantly allows the curry powder to permeate all of the ingredients with flAvor.
- Step 4: Add coconut milk. Next, stir in half of the coconut milk. Whisk the remaining half of coconut milk with a little cornstarch and add it to the skillet. While cornstarch definitely isn’t authentic in Coconut Chicken Curry, it is a fabulous trick I’ve discovered and use in all of my curry recipes to create a creamier coconut sauce.
- Step 5: Add remaining ingredients: Dump in all the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables reach desired crisp-tenderness. The time will depend on which vegetables you’ve chosen to use and how small they are chopped.
- Step 6: Garnish! Top with optional fresh basil, cilantro, lime juice and chili sauce and dig in!
- Prep sauce and veggies before you start cooking. This coconut curry chicken recipe comes together in MINUTES once you start cooking, so make sure all your veggies are chopped before oil ever touches your pan.
- Don’t overcook chicken. For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook! Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking in the sauce.
- Customize veggies. You can substitute the veggies for your favorites.
- Ginger pro tip. I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry.
- Adjust to taste. As previously discussed, tasting the final coconut curry and adjusting to taste is important to make it YOUR best coconut curry!
- Customize spice level. If you feel like the lentil curry is missing something, it is probably heat! The recipe is pretty mild without any chili sauce, even with the curry powder.
- Powdered ginger and garlic: if you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand and need to make this coconut curry NOW (I get you), you may substitute with powders. Use ¾ teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Soy sauce: you may substitute fish sauce with soy sauce if you don’t keep it stocked – but you will want to pick some up if you plan on doing more Thai cooking in the future.
- Shrimp: this coconut curry chicken can also be turned into coconut curry shrimp! Instead of adding the shrimp with the curry paste, season the shrimp with the salt and pepper, then cook it separately with some oil just until opaque and cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a plate and add to the sauce at the end of cooking. Sauté the red curry paste without the shrimp in some oil to bloom the spices then proceed with the recipe.
- Other proteins: you can also swap the chicken for cubed pork tenderloin, fish or tofu. When cooking fish, season it with salt and pepper and cook separately.
- Alternate veggies: you can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. Some tasty alternatives would be broccoli, sweet peas, asparagus, bok choy, snow peas, etc.
- Add nuts: cashews add a deeply satisfying, buttery crunch. Take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts. To elevate your cashews, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
- Add coconut: garnish with toasted sweetened coconut for extra coco-nutty yum.
- Add sesame seeds: add a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Add water chestnuts: also add a tantalizing crunch. Water chestnuts are easy to find in a can so you can keep them stocked and ready to go.
- Use Birdseye chilies: you are welcome to substitute the Asian chili paste for minced Birdseye chilies. You will want to remove the seeds and finely chop.
How to Customize Coconut Curry?
In addition to swapping the vegetables for your favorites or what you have on hand, this Coconut Curry Chicken can be customized in many different ways to make it YOUR favorite coconut curry. It can be made spicy, not spicy, sweet or more savory, more or less tangy, with or without buttery cashews etc.
- Want sweeter curry? Add more brown sugar
- Want saltier curry? Add more fish sauce or soy sauce
- Want tangier curry? Add more lime juice
- Want spicier curry? Add more chili sauce
- Want thinner curry? Add chicken broth
- Want thicker curry? Add a cornstarch slurry
- Want more crunch? Add cashews, peanuts or chickpeas
- Rice: to mellow and absorb the flavorful sauce and offers a neutral textural component. I prefer jasmine rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands’ off, easy side. Just make sure to thoroughly rinse your white rice until the water runs clear to achieve the fluffiest rice. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb options: cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Appetizers: turn this coconut chicken curry into a feast with Thai Chicken Satay or Peanut Pineapple Thai Chicken Satay, Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, or Thai Chicken Pizza. It is also delish with other Asian inspired, non-Thai appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Homemade Egg Rolls, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, or potstickers.
- Bread: naan or roti bread to soak up the delectable sauce.
- Salad: a simple green salad or Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Fruit: pineapple, kiwis, mangos, grapes – pick your favs!
Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe FAQS
For this Coconut Curry Chicken, we are going to use yellow curry powder. This is the curry powder you find in the spices section of your grocery store. It will probably just be labeled “curry powder” instead of yellow curry powder.
The amazing thing about curry powder and curry pastes, is they are a combination of many ingredients that result in delightfully complex flavors – but all the work has been done for you!
Curry powder typically contains:
Ground coriander seeds
ground cumin seeds
ground fennel seeds
ground mustard seeds
Although I use the same template as my red curry, this Coconut Curry Chicken boasts a very different profile.
Red curry boasts a bold, spicy flavor with a depth from red chiles, crushed garlic, lemongrass, shallots, ginger.
This Coconut Curry Chicken with yellow curry, on the other hand, boasts more of an Indian flavor, in my opinion. It is a tad sweeter and tangier than red or green curry due to the high amount of turmeric. It is less spicy, so you may want to add more chili sauce than you traditionally do.
We are going to combine the curry powder with coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and ginger to create a velvety Coconut Curry Chicken that is salty from the fish sauce, grounded by the savory soy sauce, tangy from the lime juice, mildly sweet from the curry powder and coconut milk, with a gentle heat from the chili sauce. In short, this Coconut Curry is mildly sweet, tangy, salty, savory and lick-the-plate delicious!
Yes, this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe is gluten free!
I love making this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe with chicken, green beans and cauliflower because cauliflower and curry belong together in my opinion. I love them together so much, I’ve used curried cauliflower in both my Roasted Cauliflower recipe and my Cauliflower soup recipe.
That being said, you can customize this Thai Coconut Chicken Curry recipe with a number of different vegetables:
Tools Used in This Recipe
Chicken Coconut Curry
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound chicken breasts sliced into 1/4” slices then 2” pieces
- 1/2 large onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped into 1” pieces
- 5 oz. (1 cup) green beans chopped into 1” pieces
- 2 cups cauliflower chopped into bite size pieces
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (I like Chaokoh)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce may sub soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons Asian/Thai Sweet Chili Sauce like Mae Ploy
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1-3 teaspoons Asian hot chili paste/sauce or more to taste
- crushed peanuts
- Add half of the coconut milk (eyeball it). Mix remaining coconut milk with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and add to skillet along with all remaining ingredients (expect Garnishes).
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the vegetables reach desired crisp-tenderness.
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