Coconut Curry Chicken

My Indian husband asks for 3 servings of this Coconut Curry Chicken, a delicious blend of tender chicken, creamy coconut milk, and simple Indian spices. It’s the quickest, easy chicken curry recipe – perfect for weekdays.

Coconut Curry Chicken in bowl with spoon

The combination of aromatic spices with the creamy texture of coconut milk and the tender chicken makes this dish a standout.

  • Rich and Creamy: The coconut milk creates a sauce that’s irresistibly creamy and rich.
  • Perfectly Spiced: A blend of curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne pepper offers the right amount of warmth and depth.
  • Quick and Simple: This recipe is not a traditional Indian curry that takes lots of time and a long list of ingredients. You can make this one on a busy Tuesday night before your kid’s soccer practice.
Coconut Curry Chicken Ingredients

Here’s What You Need for this Coconut Curry Chicken Recipe

Get ready to whip up a flavorful Coconut Curry Chicken that’s sure to be a hit. You’ll need some aromatic ingredients, have options for variations, and require basic kitchen tools.

Coconut Curry Chicken Ingredients

Every ingredient plays a part in creating this delicious curry:

  • Oil: For sautéing the vegetables and spices, providing a base for the flavors.
  • Chopped Onion: Adds sweetness and depth to the curry.
  • Bell Pepper: Adds body to the sauce and richness to the flavor.
  • Jalapeno: Adds a spicy kick to the dish.
  • Kosher Salt: Enhances all the other flavors in the curry.
  • Minced Garlic: Gives a pungent, earthy undertone.
  • Yellow Curry Powder: The main spice blend that defines the dish’s flavor profile.
  • Turmeric Powder: Adds color and a warm, bitter flavor.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Introduces heat and intensifies the curry.
  • Full-Fat Coconut Milk: Provides a creamy, rich base for the sauce.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: The protein that absorbs the curry flavors. Swap in boneless, skinless chicken thigh if you prefer. Bone-in chicken works, too, but takes longer to cook.
  • Plain Yogurt: Adds a tangy creaminess to the sauce.

Sprinkle with some chopped cilantro (coriander) to serve, if you like. Some toasted cashews would also be nice.

Serving Coconut Curry Chicken

Variations and Substitutions

Customize the curry to your liking:

  • Green Onions: Not a fan of bell peppers? Honestly, they truly dissolve into the sauce and you won’t know they’re there, but feel free to swap ½ cup finely chopped green onions. Trust me, it adds a similar pop of vibrant flavor and just works!
  • Cream: Use heavy cream or coconut cream instead of yogurt for a richer sauce.
  • Vegetarian Option: Replace chicken with chickpeas or tofu for a vegetarian variant.
  • Heat Level: Adjust the amount of jalapeno or cayenne pepper to control the spice.
  • Add Ginger: You can add a tablespoon of fresh, finely-grated ginger along with the garlic if you like.

Grab these Tools

To make this curry, you’ll need:

  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven: Essential for cooking the curry.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For chopping vegetables and chicken.
  • Measuring Spoons: To accurately measure spices and salt.
  • Spatula or Wooden Spoon: To stir the ingredients.
  • Regular or Immersion Blender (optional): If you prefer a smooth sauce.

How to Make Coconut Curry Chicken: An Easy Guide

Delve into the world of flavors with this Coconut Curry Chicken recipe, combining rich spices, creamy coconut milk, and tender chicken. It’s an easy-to-follow guide for a dish that’s bursting with taste.

adding oil in frypan coconut curry chicken

Preparing the Vegetables

  • Start with Sautéing: In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeno with a teaspoon of salt. Cook until they’re soft, which should take about 15 minutes.
adding vegetable and onion in pan.

Pre-Salting the Chicken

Pre-salting the chicken before adding it to a sauce or curry is a boss technique for several reasons. It ensures the chicken is flavorful through and through, and also helps moisture retention. Here’s why it works:

  1. Seasoning from Within: When you season chicken with salt beforehand, the salt begins to penetrate the surface of the meat. Over time, it works its way deeper into the chicken. This results in the chicken being evenly seasoned from within, rather than just on the surface. The process enhances the overall flavor profile of the chicken, making it taste more seasoned and flavorful in every bite.
  2. Moisture Retention: Salt can also help the chicken retain moisture during cooking. Through a process known as osmosis, salt causes the muscle proteins in the chicken to loosen up. This change allows the muscles to retain more water, which is then locked in during cooking, resulting in juicier meat.
  3. Texture Improvement: The interaction between salt and the proteins in chicken not only helps with moisture retention but can also impact the texture of the cooked chicken. The meat often becomes tenderer, as the salt helps to break down some of the protein structures.
  4. Enhanced Flavor Absorption: Pre-salting can also make the chicken more receptive to other flavors, such as spices in the curry. The salt’s interaction with the chicken’s proteins can help these flavors penetrate the surface more effectively.
seasoning chicken with salt.

Making the Coconut Chicken Curry Base

  • Spice It Up: Add the minced garlic, curry powder, and turmeric to the softened vegetables. Cook for about 3 more minutes. The mixture should turn a shade darker and become fragrant.
  • Adding Coconut Milk: Pour in the coconut milk and add some more salt. Bring it to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. For a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to puree it at this stage.
adding yogurt in coconut curry chicken.

Cooking the Chicken

  • Simmer the Chicken: Add the chicken to the sauce. Let it simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked through. This method allows the sauce to thicken and intensify in flavor.

This Coconut Curry Chicken is a delightful dish that brings a taste of the exotic to your table. It’s perfect for when you want something different yet easy to make.

Adding final touches to coconut curry chicken recipe.

Make Ahead and Storage

Maximize your time and maintain the freshness of your Coconut Curry Chicken with these make-ahead and storage tips.

  • Prep Vegetables Ahead: Chop the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeno a day in advance and store them in the refrigerator.
  • Marinate Chicken: Season the chicken with salt and let it marinate overnight in the fridge for enhanced flavor.
  • Refrigerate Leftovers: Store the cooked curry in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze for Later: Story the curry in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
  • Reheat Gently: Warm up the curry over low heat on the stove, adding a little water or coconut milk if it’s too thick.

How to Serve This Coconut Curry Chicken Recipe

Coconut Curry Chicken is a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of delicious ways.

Creative Serving Ideas

Enjoy this flavorful curry with:

  • Steamed Rice: Serve over a bed of fluffy steamed basmati rice to soak up the rich coconut curry sauce. Cauliflower rice makes a lighter option.
  • Naan Bread, Roti or Paratha: Perfect for scooping up the curry and enjoying the full flavor.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Sprinkle on top for a burst of fresh flavor and color.
Layered paratha on a cutting board.

Side Dishes for Coconut Curry Chicken

Complement this curry with:

This Coconut Curry Chicken is not only a feast for the taste buds but also presents beautifully, making it perfect for both everyday meals and special occasions.

Coconut Curry Chicken served in Bowl

3 Common Mistakes When Making Coconut Curry Chicken

Here are the most frequent mix-ups to avoid when making Coconut Curry Chicken:

  1. Underseasoning: Not adding enough salt can result in a flat curry. Season the chicken separately for a flavorful dish.
  2. Overcooking the Chicken: Cooking the chicken for too long can make it tough. Simmer just until it’s cooked through.
  3. Adding too much liquid: The chicken releases moisture as it cooks, so although the sauce may appear too thick at one point, the chicken juices will make the final consistency creamy and perfect. Adding more water will dilute the flavor and make the final sauce lackluster.

FAQs About Coconut Curry Chicken

If you’ve got questions about making Coconut Curry Chicken, you’re in the right place for answers.

  1. Can I use light coconut milk?
    Yes, but it will result in a less creamy curry.
  2. How can I make the curry spicier?
    Increase the amount of jalapeno or cayenne pepper to your preference.
  3. Is it okay to use frozen chicken?
    Yes, but thaw it completely before cooking for the best results.
  4. Can I add vegetables to this curry?
    Absolutely! Vegetables like carrots, peas, or potatoes make great additions.
  5. How do I store leftovers?
    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  6. Is this a gluten-free recipe?
    Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten free, however check your yellow curry powder just to make sure.

If you loved this recipe then you will definitely love the recipes below:

Coconut Curry Chicken in bowl with spoon

Coconut Curry Chicken

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Indian, Thai
Keyword Coconut Curry Chicken, Indian Curry, Thai Curry


  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt divided use
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 ¾ lb boneless skinless chicken
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or cream or more coconut milk


  • Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, green and red peppers, chillies, and 1 tsp salt. Cook until very soft, about 15 minutes.
  • While that cooks, sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1 ½ tsp salt and let stand.
  • Add garlic, curry powder, turmeric and cayenne to softened onion mixture; cook 3 minutes more or until mixture turns a shade darker and smells fragrant. Add coconut milk along with 3/4 tsp more salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. At this point you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender (or carefully in a regular blender), or just leave it chunky.
  • Add chicken to sauce and simmer, uncovered, until cooked through. Stir in yogurt and serve.



Pre-salting the chicken ensures it is properly seasoned and never bland, even with the quick cooking time of this curry. 
It’s important to simmer the chicken uncovered because, even though the sauce looks thick, it will release a lot of moisture. If you simmer the curry covered, it will make a more watery sauce with less concentrated flavor.
If you don’t like bell peppers, replace with ½ cup finely chopped green onions. Trust me, it adds a similar pop of vibrant flavor and just works! Don’t swap in tomato.


Calories: 528kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 29gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 1076mgPotassium: 886mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 757IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Coconut Curry Chicken, Indian Curry, Thai Curry

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

5 2 votes
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6 days ago

5 stars
This curry was so flavorful and comforting!

6 days ago

5 stars
I made this coconut curry chicken last night and it was a hit with the whole family! We’ll definitely be making it again soon.

6 days ago

5 stars
I served this curry over brown rice for a healthy meal. Very good.

6 days ago

5 stars
This recipe seems perfect for a weeknight meal. Do you think it would work well in a slow cooker?

2 months ago

5 stars
This coconut chicken curry was SO GOOD. I have made it twice in the past week lol.

2 months ago

Hi. This is currently simmering on my stove and the aroma is amazing. You don’t indicate when to add the cayenne. I assumed with the other spices, which is what I did.

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