Coconut Chicken
This Coconut Chicken recipe is a QUICK one-skillet dinner that’s huge on flavor, low on effort and made with pantry friendly ingredients. Thinly sliced chicken breasts are lightly dredged in seasoned flour, seared until golden, then served in intoxicating, lusciously creamy, wonderfully fragrant, coconut sauce spiked with honey, lime juice, garlic, ginger and Asian sweet chili sauce. You will be obsessed. You can enjoy this coconut milk chicken plain or add in any desired veggies you have on hand. Serve coconut chicken over rice, cauliflower rice, zoodles, etc. with contrasting mangos or pineapple and you have one of the most tantalizing one pot wonders of all time.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Coconut Chicken
Ingredients
CHICKEN
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1/4cup flour
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1/2tsp EACH ground ginger, garlic powder, ground coriander, turmeric powder, pepper
TO COOK
  • 2tablespoons butter
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 green onions, choppedwhite and green parts separated
  • 2teaspoons freshly grated gingeror 3/4 tsp ground
  • 4 garlic cloves, mincedor 1 tsp ground
COCONUT SAUCE
  • 1 13.5 oz. can quality coconut milkI use Chaokoh
  • 2teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4cup Asian sweet chili saucelike Mae Ploy
  • 1/4cup honey
  • 1/4cup lime juice
  • 1tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1tablespoon Asian chili saucemore or less to taste
  • 1teaspoon dried basil
Instructions
  1. Whisk the coconut sauce ingredients together, set aside.
  2. Slice the chicken breasts in the half through the equator to create 4 fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness. Pat dry.
  3. Whisk the flour and all chicken seasoning together in a shallow dish. Dredge each breast in the mixture, shake off any excess, then transfer to a dry surface.
  4. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook for 4-5 (depending on thickness) until golden and cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate, don’t wipe out skillet.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Add white parts of green onions and cook one minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low and stir in the sauce, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bring to a simmer until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and warm through. Garnish with cilantro and/or basil and green onions. Serve over rice.
Recipe Notes

TIPS and tricks 

This coconut milk chicken recipe is pretty straightforward but here is a summary of helpful tips:

  • Pound chicken.  We pound the chicken even for two main reasons:  1) It tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly all over – without the thinner bottom becoming overcooked while we wait for the thicker top to cook through. 
  • Use a cast-iron skillet:  Use a large 12-inch cast iron skillet to evenly brown the chicken. The brown bits left behind infuse the sauce with a depth of rich, complex flavor that cannot be achieved any other way.
  • Use butter and olive oil. I almost always use a combination of butter and oil whether it’s for making a roux or for pan frying chicken.  The butter adds the undeniably scrumptious buttery flavor and the oil prevents the butter from burning.   You may use all oil but you cannot use all butter or the butter will burn.  I recommend using both for best results. 
  • Wait for pan to get hot. Note, that hot doesn’t mean high heat, but it means it’s reached full temperature (medium-high in this case).  Add your chicken only once the pan is hot – you should hear the chicken sizzle the second it touches the pan. If you add chicken to a luke-warm pan it will not sear – and we want that seared golden crust.  Searing the chicken results in the Maillard reaction, also known as the flavor reaction, in which amino acids and reducing sugars produce browning and complex flavor.
  • Don’t touch chicken.   Resist the urge to move the chicken as it cooks or to flip it more than once.  The chicken needs to stay in the same place for a continuous amount of time to brown. When the chicken is browned, it will naturally release from the pan.
  • Don’t overcook chicken. Chicken, especially chicken breasts, are juiciest when not overcooked. The best and most efficient way to check for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the chicken; chicken breasts are done when they register 165 degrees.
  • Use quality coconut milk. Chaokoh coconut milk will instantly elevate this coconut chicken and all of your Thai recipes (NOT a paid endorsement, just my FAVORITE)!  Chaokoh is creamier than any other brand I’ve tried by FAR and therefore results in the most lusciously creamy, comforting sauces ever
  • Use full fat coconut milk or add more cornstarch. Light coconut milk 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 an additional 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch to help thicken it up.
  • Add powders to sauce:  If you are using garlic and/or ginger powder instead of fresh, add them directly to the sauce.
  • Garnish!  Pick your favorite garnishes such as fresh basil, cilantro and green onions.  They add a vibrant freshness to the creamy coconut chicken.

PREP AHEAD

While this coconut milk chicken doesn’t require much prep, you can still prep everything in advance so your dinner can come together in minutes.

  • Prep chicken.  Create chicken cutlets by slicing chicken breasts in half and pounding to an even thickens.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Dredge chicken.  You can go one step further and dredge the chicken in flour and spices. Transfer the chicken to a parchment lined plate in a single layer and tightly cover with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
  • Sauce: whisk the sauce ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in advance.  Make sure to whisk the sauce again before using.
  • Chop aromatics. Mince the garlic, grate the ginger and chop the green onions.  Store in separate plastic bags in the refrigerator.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

  • Storage: coconut chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for three to five days. 
  • Microwave: chop up chicken so it reheats more evenly then transfer a small portion to a microwave safe dish.  Heat for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. 
  • Stove: chop up chicken then transfer to a skillet. Heat over medium heat stirring often.  You can microwave the rice as you’re warming the chicken on the stove.

how to FREEZE 

  • Let the coconut chicken cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air.
  • Label and freeze for 2 to 3 months. 
  • Defrost in the refrigerator before using.