Try this coconut curry chicken recipe with chicken thighs that are seared then braised in a flavorful curry sauce made with lots of spices, Thai curry paste and coconut milk. It's an easy, spicy weeknight dinner any night of the week. So what are you making for dinner tonight?
I could eat Coconut Curry Chicken basically any night of the week. As a chilihead, it's one of those recipes that delivers in the spice department. Lots of wonderful spices adds up to LOTS of wonderful flavor.
It's super easy to make, and everything is done in one pan or pot. It's so layered with flavor, you'll think it's comfort food when, really, it's pretty healthy. Perfect for my Low Carb friends, and fits into many diet types - Paleo, Gluten Free, Keto friendly.
Healthy food that tastes great? I'm in! Skip the grocery store and make this.
Curries are inherently spicy, but they're not always "hot". Sure, there are some curries that bring a lot of heat, like a good Vindaloo, but more often curries bring only a mild level of heat. Very often none.
I've used Thai red curry paste along with yellow curry powder for this recipe. As with any such curry powders and pastes, the heat and spiciness can vary from product to product. Feel free to adjust to your own preferences.
This particular coconut chicken curry has a little bit of heat, though you can easily adjust it up or down to your own personal preferences.
Let's talk about how to make coconut curry chicken, my friends.
Coconut Curry Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken. I use 4 bone-in chicken thighs (skins optional) - You can also use boneless chicken thighs. Notes on that below.
- Oil. 1 tablespoon olive oil - coconut oil is a good addition here.
- Vegetables. I use 1 medium onion, 2 jalapeno peppers and 3 garlic cloves. You can use milder peppers for a milder version of the recipe.
- Seasonings. Use 1 tablespoon red curry paste (I used Thai curry paste), 2 tablespoons curry powder (I used yellow curry powder), and 1 tablespoon garam masala.
- Coconut Milk. Use 14 ounce can coconut milk.
- Chicken Broth. 1 cup chicken broth (or water) to thin the sauce and allow for simmering.
- Lemongrass. 1 stalk lemongrass, or more to your personal tastes.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR SERVING: Fresh chopped parsley, spicy chili flakes, rice or rice noodles
How to Make Coconut Curry Chicken - the Recipe Method
First, heat a large pan or pot to medium high heat. Add the olive oil.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then sear them 5 minutes each side to crisp up the skins. Optionally, you can remove the skins for a lower calorie version and just lightly brown them.
Remove the chicken thighs and set aside for now.
Next, add the onion and peppers and cook them down for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring. The peppers, onions and garlic add a great flavor base.
Add the curry paste, curry powder and garam masala. Stir and cook another minute.
Add the coconut milk, chicken broth or water and lemongrass. Season with salt and pepper. Stir.
Add the chicken thighs back to the pan.
Reduce the heat and cover.
Cook for 20 minutes to 30 minutes in the curry sauce, flipping the chicken once half way through, or until the chicken thighs are cooked through. They will measure 165 degrees F internally.
Serve over rice or noodles, topped with fresh chopped parsley and spicy red pepper flakes. Discard the lemongrass stalk.
BOOM! DONE! Easy enough, right?
If the final curry sauce is too thin for you, work in a bit of corn starch to thicken it up. Just mix a tablespoon or so with a bit of water, swirl it in, then simmer until it thickens up.
Change Up the Chicken - When You're In a Hurry
I've decided to use bone-in chicken thighs with their skins on because I was in the mood for crispy chicken skin. Searing them in a hot pan with oil first will give you that crispiness.
If you'd like a lower calorie version of this recipe, use skinless chicken thighs. You can also use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe.
To do so, chop the chicken first into bite-sized pieces, then add them to the hot pan after you've cooked down the peppers and onions. Cook them for 5 minutes, then proceed with the recipe. You can also reduce your final simmering time to 10 minutes for an even FASTER evening meal.
A super quick and easy meal for sure. Winner-winner chicken dinner.
Recipe Notes and Variations
- Other Proteins. This is a great coconut curry chicken dish, but you can make it with other proteins. Try it with pork or beef. It's also great with chicken breast.
- Extra Vegetables. You can always round out the dish by tossing in extra vegetables, like broccoli, sliced bell peppers, asparagus, potatoes. Pretty much whatever you're in the mood for. Just let them simmer in the wonderful curry sauce.
Pretty much the best curry recipe out there. At least I think so!
How to Serve Coconut Curry Chicken
Serve your coconut curry chicken on its own for the healthiest and lowest calorie option. I like to serve mine either over white rice, brown rice, or over cauliflower rice, which I've really been enjoying lately.
Cauliflower rice is an easy-to-make, healthy, low calorie way to enjoy many meals. I love the stuff!
Vegetarian or Vegan Coconut Curry Options
If you'd prefer to go vegetarian, make chickpeas the star instead of chicken. I love a good Chickpea Curry.
Potatoes are good, as well as sweet potatoes. I love a good sweet potato curry.
If you're feeding a hungry crowd, feel free to include any of these ingredients in addition to the chicken.
I sometimes include a few splashes of soy sauce to my curry recipes for a bit of saltiness and umami. Give it a try and see how you like it. Fresh ginger is a nice addition. I also enjoy squeezing a bit of fresh lime juice over the top for a nice citrus pop.
Also, if you're seeking a touch of sweetness to the recipe, try a bit of brown sugar.
That's it, my friends! I hope you enjoy my recipe! I absolutely loved this recipe.
Some common questions I've discovered that might help you make this recipe the best one for you.
Is Coconut Milk the Same as Coconut Cream?
No, they are not the same, though you can use either of them for this recipe. Coconut milk is more like regular cow's milk in consistency, and is called for in this recipe. Coconut cream is much thicker and higher in calories.
If you'd like to use coconut cream, I suggest adding some water or chicken stock to thin it out.
Should I Use Coconut Oil or Olive Oil?
Either olive oil or coconut oil will work for this recipe. The coconut oil will give the final dish more of that "coconut" flavor. If you're concerned about health issues, it is known that olive oil has more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the "good fats"), than virgin coconut oil, as well as less saturated fat.
However, virgin coconut oil studies show that it contains healthy antioxidants and can reduce bad cholesterol.
Can Curry Be Made Without Coconut Milk?
Absolutely. There are many curry recipes that do not include coconut milk. Try out my Chicken Vindaloo recipe, which uses no coconut milk at all.
If calories are the real concern, use a low-calorie light coconut milk instead of full-fat coconut milk. Or skip it and use chicken broth instead, like the vindaloo recipe.
Try Some of My Other Popular Curry Dishes
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Spicy Beef Vindaloo
- Khao Soi – Northern Thai Coconut Curry Soup
- Thai Shrimp Curry
- Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken
- Chicken Korma
- Butter Chicken
- Red Curry
- Phaal Curry (the Hottest Curry in the World)
- Thai Panang Curry
- Pad Thai Recipe
- Jamaican Curry Chicken
- See all of my Curry Recipes
If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! -- Mike H.
Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs skins optional
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons curry powder I used yellow curry powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 14 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 cup chicken broth or water
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR SERVING: Fresh chopped parsley, spicy chili flakes, rice or rice noodles (if desired)
- Heat a large pan or pot to medium high heat. Add the olive oil.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then sear them 5 minutes each side to crisp up the skins. Optionally, you can remove the skins for a lower calorie version. Remove the chicken thighs and set aside for now.
- Add the onion and peppers and cook them down for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
- Add the curry paste, curry powder and garam masala. Stir and cook another minute.
- Add the coconut milk, chicken broth or water and lemongrass. Season with salt and pepper. Stir.
- Add the chicken thighs back to the pan. Reduce the heat and cover.
- Cook for 30 minutes, flipping the chicken once half way through, or until the chicken thighs are cooked through. They will measure 165 degrees F internally.
- Serve over rice or noodles (if desired, or just serve into bowls), topped with fresh chopped parsley and spicy red pepper flakes. Discard the lemongrass stalk.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 9/23/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 3/15/19.