Quick & Easy Coconut Curry Chicken

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This Coconut Curry Chicken uses just six ingredients that you likely already have at home to make a delicious curry dish that packs a ton of flavor.

coconut curry chicken

You can make great coconut chicken curry at home very quickly and it tastes as good as take out. The best part is it’s done in just 25 minutes.

If you’re wondering, this is considered an Indian curry and is slightly different than a Thai coconut curry, mostly because of the type of curry used. Indian curry typically uses dried spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala. Other things like fish sauce and brown sugar that are used in Thai curry are not found in this dish.

Ingredients in Curry Chicken

If you’re wanting to use up some of the ingredients you probably already have lurking in your pantry, this dish is perfect.

The ingredients you’ll need to make this dish are:

  • Chicken – You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast. I like to use thighs because they don’t get dry during cooking and they have more flavor. Cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  • Onion – I use a small white or yellow onion, chopped. Onion adds a slightly sweet and savory flavor.
  • Tomato paste – This thickened, reduced form of tomato is very useful for deepening the flavor of your sauce. It also helps thicken it a bit.
  • Curry Powder – This turmeric-based spice blend gives aromatic depth to the recipe.
  • Coconut Milk – I use canned coconut milk. Don’t use lite coconut milk. Full fat coconut milk adds a crucial creaminess, with a touch of the calming coconut taste that suits this curry so well.
  • Garlic – Be sure to use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
  • Red bell pepper (optional) – if you want to add some more veggies to the dish.

Those are all likely ingredients you have in your fridge or pantry. In a pinch, you can leave out the onion and garlic. If you don’t have fresh chicken, you can substitute it with potato chunks. I particularly like the addition of sweet potato chunks.

For the coconut milk, you need the kind that comes in a can. You can’t substitute coconut milk in a carton that’s meant for drinking. The fat ratio in these two different types of coconut milk is quite different. I even prefer the full fat version to light coconut milk.

Coconut Chicken Curry

How to Make Coconut Chicken Curry

Step 1: Cook the curry

Saute the onion in olive oil until lightly browned. Whisk in the coconut milk, tomato puree, curry powder, and garlic. Add the chicken and stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 2: Cook the rice

In another pot, heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Add the rice and stir. Cover with a lid and cook on a low simmer for approximately 18 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Serve the curry over rice.

Other Cooking Methods

This curry is best cooked on the stove top, but you can cook it in the slow cooker, if you want.

It’s not ideal for the Instant Pot because the coconut milk will curdle in the high heat. If you do cook this in the Instant Pot, you need to leave out the coconut milk and instead add 3/4 cup water to the pot before cooking. After cooking, you can add in the coconut milk and set the pot to Saute mode to cook down and reduce the sauce.

It only takes around 25 minutes to cook this on the stove top. With the need to pressurize and depressurize, the Instant Pot actually takes longer.

Serve it up!

Don’t forget to make some rice to go along with this dish. We always serve over rice. It’s needed to soak up the sauce. If you don’t have rice, you can use any type of noodle or pasta, as well as cauliflower rice.

Helpful Tips

  • You can use ghee (which is more authentic to the recipe) instead of olive oil.
  • Be sure to use coconut milk in a can (full-fat version).
  • You can add any veggies you like to the dish about halfway through the cooking process. Don’t add them too soon or they’ll get soggy. We like to add bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, or zucchini.
  • Use Indian curry powder (or yellow curry powder), which usually consists of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and black pepper. Some blends also incorporate garlic and cinnamon. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What does curry powder taste like?

Curry powder is a yellowish orange spice that has a unique combination of savory and sweet. Cumin, turmeric and bay leaf add a deep earthiness along with the bright sweetness of cinnamon and clove.

Is curry powder very spicy?

Most curry powders are not actually spicy. Their ingredients are mild and fragrant. Some can be spicy. Look for spice blends that list ginger and black pepper for a more mild blend. Chili peppers will signal a spicier curry powder.

Can I use curry powder and curry paste interchangeably?

Curry powder and curry paste are not directly interchangeable, as they have distinct properties and uses in cooking. Curry powder is a dry spice mix typically made from a blend of spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chili. Its flavor is usually more subtle and it’s used as a seasoning.

Curry paste is made from a combination of fresh and dry ingredients including spices, herbs, chilies, garlic, and sometimes shrimp paste or lemongrass. It has a more intense, complex flavor and a moist consistency.

What is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream?

Coconut milk and cream are mostly interchangeable in recipes. For a richer and creamier texture try coconut cream. For the coconut milk, you need the kind that comes in a can. You can’t substitute coconut milk in a carton that’s meant for drinking. The fat ratio in these two different types of coconut milk is quite different. Full-fat is best for coconut curry.

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Coconut Chicken Curry

Coconut Chicken Curry

This coconut chicken curry comes together so fast, you won't believe how good it is.
4.69 from 109 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 409kcal
Author: Laura Lynch

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast or thigh meat cut in bite-sized chunks
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 14.5 ounces coconut milk canned, full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  • Saute the onion in olive oil until lightly browned.
  • Whisk in the coconut milk, tomato paste, curry powder, and garlic.
  • Add the chicken and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • In another pot, heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Add the rice and stir. Cover with a lid and cook on a low simmer for approximately 18 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
  • Serve the curry over rice.

Notes

Add additional veggies, if desired, like potato, sweet potato chunks, sliced bell pepper, water chestnuts, or spinach.

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 207mg | Potassium: 655mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 178IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg

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coconut chicken curry

8 thoughts on “Quick & Easy Coconut Curry Chicken

  1. E Calderon says:

    5 stars
    Coconut curry chicken has become a staple for our family, especially on cold winter days. My daughter who is a very picky eater loves it!

  2. Polly Hardy says:

    5 stars
    I don’t like acid tomato so I added about a half teaspoon of sugar to balance it and wow, absolutely delicious!

  3. Mason H says:

    4 stars
    I made a few substitutions (oops, only had a few things on hand). I used diced tomatoes instead of puree, dried onions instead of fresh, and carton coconut milk. I also added ginger. It was delish still.

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