Coconut Curry Chicken

coconut curry CHICKEN on your table in less than 30 minutes with pantry friendly ingredients!

This Coconut Curry Chicken tastes better than your favorite restaurant!  Its lusciously creamy, loaded with flavor and super simple to make all in one skillet. This Chicken Curry with coconut milk is made with pantry friendly yellow curry powder and customizable veggies, so you can make this easy one pot wonder any night of the week.  Simple, delicious and a dinner the whole family loves – are YOU in love?!

up close top view of creamy coconut curry chicken in a stainless steal skillet

Coconut Curry

If you’ve been following me for long at all, you know I LOVE Thai food.  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.

Thai food makes a weekly appearance at our dinner table between Red Curry Chicken, Chicken Pad ThaiPanang CurryYellow Curry, Thai Chicken Noodle Soup,Tom Kha Gai and now this Coconut Curry Chicken!

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!

I’ve used the same rave-review formula of my red curry and yellow curry to make this Coconut Curry Chicken but with easy-to-find yellow curry powder.

This chicken curry with coconut milk is huge on flavor, low on effort and belongs in your easy weeknight dinner back pocket!

Reasons to Love this Coconut curry CHICKEN recipe

In summary, you will love this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe because:

  • 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

What is curry powder made of?

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 turmeric
  • Ground coriander seeds
  • ground cumin seeds
  • ground galangal
  • ground fennel seeds
  • ground mustard seeds
  • ground peppercorns
  • ground cloves
  • chili powder
top view of easy coconut curry chicken in a stainless still skillet and in a bowl with rice

What does coconut curry taste like?

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!   

coconut Curry chicken Ingredients

The recipe ingredient for this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe might look lengthy but I promise the recipe is super simple – you are basically sautéing your chicken, veggies then dumping in the rest of the ingredients.

  • 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 sauceyou 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.
up close of top view of coconut curry chicken and vegetables in a bowl with rice

What Chicken is Best for Coconut Curry Chicken?

You can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this Thai Coconut Curry Chicken recipe.  I tend to use chicken breasts because they are leaner and emerge wonderfully juicy in this preparation, but you are welcome to use chicken thighs as well. 

You can even use leftover rotisserie chicken and add it to the skillet along with the garlic and ginger.  This would not be my first choice however, because the flavor is only on the outside of the chicken instead of the curry permeating the chicken as it cooks.

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. Light coconut milk simply isn’t as thick or flavorful so you’re missing out on both flavor and texture.  If you do use light coconut milk, I suggest adding 1 teaspoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.

Is this coconut CURRY GLUTEN FREE?

Yes, this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe is gluten free!

Can I Make this Vegetarian Coconut Curry?

Absolutely!   You can replace the chicken extra-firm tofu or replace the chicken with extra vegetables. Place the tofu in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes while you finish prepping the ingredients.

What other vegetables go with coconut curry?

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:

  • zucchini
  • bell peppers
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • edamame
  • bok choy
  • peas
  • snow peas
  • broccoli

MORE RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • 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 MAKE THAI COCONUT CURRY with Coconut milk

  • 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.
up close of a spoon stirring creamy coconut curry chicken with vegetables
  • 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!

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

TIPS for cooking coconut curry CHICKEN RECIPE

  • 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.  
up close top view of creamy coconut curry chicken in a stainless steal skillet

make ahead Coconut Curry

Absolutely! This Coconut Curry Chicken tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to build and meld.  This makes this curry fabulous for meal prep or on the go lunches.

Meal Prep coconut curryy

For meal prep lunches, simply divide the coconut curry between airtight containers along with rice, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

How to Reheat Coconut Curry Chicken?

Microwave individual portions of Coconut Curry Chicken for one minute, stir then continue to microwave at 30 second intervals until heated through.  For larger portions, gently warm in a skillet until heated through. 

If you are reheating with rice, I highly recommend basmati rice. It does not clump or dry out like most other rice varieties.

How Long is Coconut Curry Chicken Good for?

Coconut Curry Chicken should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.

Can I prep Coconut Curry in advance?

Absolutely!  You can chop your chicken, aromatics and vegetables all in advance and store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.  You can even whisk all of the curry sauce ingredients together and refrigerate in an airtight container.

Can I freeze Coconut Curry Chicken?

Yes!  Coconut Curry Chicken freezes well because the base of the sauce is coconut milk instead of dairy.  The only issues you might have with freezing your curry is the texture of the vegetables.  Some vegetables freeze better than others, so just keep that in mind if you are making this coconut curry specifically to freeze.

To freeze: let the coconut curry chicken cool to room temperature then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

What Should I Serve with Chicken Curry?

This chicken curry with coconut milk should be served with a side of rice to mellow out and absorb the rich, robust sauce.  It is delicious with:

  • 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 SatayThai Chicken Lettuce Wraps, or Thai Chicken Pizza. It is also delish with other Asian inspired, non-Thai appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Homemade Egg RollsPineapple 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!

Looking for more Thai Recipes?

up close of a spoonful of creamy coconut curry chicken with vegetables

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up close top view of creamy coconut curry chicken in a stainless steal skillet

Coconut Curry Chicken

Coconut Curry Chicken on your table in less than 30 minutes that tastes better than your favorite restaurant! Its lusciously creamy, loaded with flavor and super simple to make all in one skillet. This Chicken Curry with coconut milk is made with pantry friendly yellow curry powder and customizable veggies, so you can make this easy one pot wonder any night of the week. Simple, delicious and a dinner the whole family loves – are you in LOVE?!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Garnish

  • cilantro
  • crushed peanuts

Instructions

  • Heat oil over medium high heat in large skillet. Add chicken, onions and curry powder and cook just until chicken is no longer pink. Add bell peppers, cauliflower, green beans, ginger and garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
  • 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.
  • Garnish with additional optional fresh basil, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice and chili sauce to taste. Serve with rice.

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45 Comments

  1. MC says

    I’m so glad I tried this recipe – we all loved it! It’s very easy too. Usually I’m cooking something in the slow cooker or instant pot so it was actually a nice change just to cook something easy on the stove! ha ha!

    I used snow peas instead of green beans and added red pepper but no other vegetables and it turned out great. It was just enough spicy and sweet without being too strong for those in my family who don’t like really spicy foods.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much MC, I’m so happy your whole family loved it!

  2. Caryn says

    This was amazing! Such great flavor! I added a cup of chicken broth for more sauce. Made it with the red peppers and cilantro and potatoes. Thanks so much!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Caryn, I’m so pleased you loved it!

  3. Charity says

    Wow. This is a keeper. I am looking forward to trying different vegetables in the future.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so my Charity, I’m so glad you loved it! I hope find many new favorites here!

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