A Comforting Coconut Chicken Curry That Comes Together in No Time

published Feb 5, 2022
Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe

It only takes 30 minutes to make this mouth-watering coconut chicken curry.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes to 12 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Coconut chicken curry over white rice, with sliced green hot peppers, cilantro, and a lime wedge, in a pink bowl
Credit: Laura Rege

Coconut chicken curry can mean many different things to different people. The flavors and preparations vary greatly, depending on region, as do the number of ingredients. Some curry spice mixes and pastes are simple, while others are more complicated and take a good amount of time to put together.

Here we went for a recipe that is fast and flavorful, using a widely accessible curry product in the United States: yellow curry powder. We pair it with some aromatics commonly found in coconut curries — like ginger and garlic — plus some jalapeño for spice. It’s definitely not the only route, nor is it a “traditional” recipe, but it’s quick, tasty, and endlessly adaptable.

This same recipe can be adapted using a Thai curry paste or another curry spice mix. When adapting the recipe, start with small amounts and taste as you go. You can always top it off with a bit more at the end.

How to Serve Coconut Chicken Curry

Serve this curry on its own or over a bowl of rice or rice noodles. Top it with fresh leafy green herbs, crunchy nuts, toasted coconut flakes, sliced chilis, and hot sauce or chili oil.

Credit: Laura Rege

What Cut of Chicken Should I Use for Coconut Chicken Curry?

Any cut of chicken works in coconut chicken curry. Our preference is is boneless, skinless chicken thighs sliced into bite-sized pieces. The dark meat stays nice and tender as it simmers in the coconut milk and cooks fast. You can, however, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Just note that white meat cooks faster than dark meat and has more of a tendency to dry out when overcooked.

Coconut Chicken Curry Recipe

It only takes 30 minutes to make this mouth-watering coconut chicken curry.

Prep time 10 minutes to 12 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 small)

  • 1 tablespoon

    curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    sweet paprika

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 large cloves


  • 1 (2-inch) piece


  • 1

    medium jalapeño pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    refined coconut oil

  • 1 (about 14-ounce) can

    unsweetened coconut milk, preferably full-fat

  • 2

    medium limes

  • 1/2 small bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 1/4 cup

    dry roasted or cocktail peanuts

  • 1 teaspoon

    fish sauce

  • Cooked rice, for serving


  1. Cut 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs into rough 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a medium bowl, add 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and toss to combine. Let marinate while you prepare the other ingredients or refrigerate, tightly wrapped, for 1 hour or up to overnight.

  2. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Mince 4 garlic cloves (about 2 tablespoons). Peel and mince 1 (2-inch) piece ginger (about 2 tablespoons). Thinly slice half of 1 medium jalapeño, then stem, deseed, and finely chop the rest (about 1 tablespoon).

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and the finely chopped jalapeño, and cook stirring, until light golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, until the spices are gently toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 (about 14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, juice 1 medium lime until you have 1 tablespoon juice; cut the remaining lime into wedges. Pick the leaves from the 1/2 small bunch fresh cilantro and coarsely chop. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup dry roasted or cocktail peanuts.

  5. Add the lime juice and 1 teaspoon fish sauce to the curry and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Serve over rice topped with the cilantro, thinly sliced jalapeño, and peanuts, with the lime wedges for squeezing.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Another neutral cooking oil, such as vegetable oil, can be substituted for the coconut oil. You can substitute 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs. Reduce the simmering time to 10 to 12 minutes.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Quick Coconut Chicken Curry