Coconut Curry Chicken is creamy and mild, but still delivers on big flavor. Bite-sized pieces of chicken are simmered in a mild, fragrant sauce of toasted spices and coconut milk, then served over rice. It’s the perfect kid friendly dinner for picky eaters!
The biggest joke the universe has played on me thus far is that my children are…let’s just say it, my kids are super picky eaters. As a food blogger and adventurous eater who is married to another adventurous eater this puts us squarely in dinner quandary territory many nights of the week.
I’d like to say that no son of mine is gonna become a “beige food person” but the universe will surely clap back harder. So instead I’ve settled into a strategy of slowly and subtly diversifying their palates. Emphasis on the slow bit!
Curries have a lot of flavor for little mouths, but mama ain’t got time to make separate dinners, so I’ve been carefully curating milder yet super flavorful, kid-friendly dishes with a global twist for several years. Curry dishes are extremely easy to tweak because they don’t necessarily need to be spicy to be flavorful – see ground beef Keema Curry and Curried Cauliflower Soup for proof!
So if you’ve been hemming and hawing over trying to make curry at home (much less try to get your kids to eat it), then this healthy chicken curry is a perfect entre to this entree:
- It’s super EASY – cook your chicken, make the sauce, finish together in the pot, and serve. Boom. Done.
- It’s super, duper PICKY EATER-FRIENDLY – definitely on the mild side of the curry spectrum, it’s got a lovely savory sweetness which makes it perfect for first-time “tryers.”
- It’s super FLEXIBLE – not only is it nutritious, but it’s highly-adaptable for multiple dietary lifestyles. (See the notes below.)
Chicken Curry Spices
Let’s be clear – “curry,” as a dish, is not “Indian food.” Cooking it employs flavors and techniques native to the region, but curry is peak British cultural appropriation. And this particular curry is not even all that “traditionally” British. Consider it, like many of our most beloved dishes, an Americanized imitation of an imitation. Bottom line, it’s delicious and that’s what really matters.
- Curry powder: Do pick a curry powder that suits your level of heat, and do make sure it’s fresh. Commercial blends are often labeled “sweet” or “hot”. If you’re not a curry or spice aficionado, go with Madras curry powder – it’s an all-around “basic” curry option that’s widely available, and is what we regularly use.
- Cumin: Ground cumin has an earthy and nutty taste with the perfect kick of spice (not heat).
- Turmeric: Turmeric has a bitter and earthy flavor and lends beautiful color to the finished dish.
- Fresh garlic and ginger: Use fresh ginger and garlic for the freshest flavors. Mince both as finely as you can to release the most aroma. Garlic can be minced with your favorite chef’s knife. I prefer to grate ginger finely with a microplane, or using the smallest holes on a box grater.
How to Make Coconut Curry Chicken
All of the flavor with none of the fear! Coconut Curry Chicken is creamy and mild – never spicy (unless you want it to be). Plus, this savory combination of chicken and veggies with aromatic spices may seem complex, but that’s just the flavor profile! This easy recipe results in a meal to please even your pickiest diners and is totally adjustable for those with dietary restrictions and those who like it hot.
For a condensed post, click to view this kid friendly chicken curry as a web story.
Before You Start, Our Best Tip!
Toast those spices! A really great curry recipe comes down to the quality of the spices and the aromatics. Most home cooks (us included!) rely on store-bought spices which are totally fine. This recipe amps up the flavor by “blooming” the spices in coconut oil first.
- Saute diced chicken thighs in coconut oil until no longer pink. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Toast the curry spice mixture in coconut oil for 2-3 minutes to bloom the spices and release more flavor.
- Add the onions and cook until soft, then add the fresh garlic and ginger.
- Work tomato paste into the onion mixture and cook 1-2 minutes to cook off the “canned” flavor.
- Deglaze the pan with chicken broth and scrape up all the browned flavor bits from the bottom.
- Whisk together coconut milk and cornstarch and add to the pan. Cook the coconut curry sauce for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Add the cooked chicken and frozen peas to the sauce. Toss and simmer 4-5 minutes.
- Season with lime juice and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately (suggestions below).
- The recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken thighs (they’re fattier so lend more flavor), but chicken breasts work too.
- Make sure your spices are fresh! To check for freshness, rub a bit of spice between your fingers. The smell should be very strong. If the aroma is dull, seek out fresher spices.
- Substitute ¼ tsp ground ginger if fresh isn’t available (though fresh is strongly recommended!).
- Use pure coconut milk – the canned stuff, not the carton stuff. Check the ingredient list and make sure there are not additional sweeteners or additivies.
Make It Your Way
Spicy (Heat): add ½ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper along with the other spices. You can also include a chopped red chili with the onions.
Whole30 or Paleo: use arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch to thicken; skip the peas; serve over cauliflower rice.
What to Serve with Chicken Curry
Definitely go for something neutral so there’s no in-mouth combat! Rice and cauliflower are both flavor sponges and will soak up the sauce (and it’s beautiful flavor) like champs.
- Steamed White Rice – any will do, but I love a fragrant aromatic like Jasmine or traditional Basmati.
- Cauliflower Rice or Roasted Cauliflower
- Pair any of these choices with Whole Wheat Pita Bread for dipping!
More Bold ‘n Saucy Chicken Recipes
- Healthy Chicken Teriyaki Bowls
- Chicken Étouffée
- Instant Pot Chicken Curry
- Healthy Honey Garlic Chicken
- Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga
- Kickin’ Cajun Chicken
Did you make this coconut chicken curry? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 3 tbsp coconut oil, divided
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into 1” pieces
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 3 tbsp curry powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced to ½”
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 c chicken broth
- 1 c coconut milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, or arrowroot powder
- 1 c frozen peas
- Lime juice, to taste
- Cilantro, to taste
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, then season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Scrape the chicken and released juices into a bowl and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 tbsp coconut oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir continuously with a rubber spatula to toast the spices until they are very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the onions, then toss to coat in the spices. Saute until the onion softens. If you notice the pan getting too dry, add a tablespoon of chicken broth to prevent the onions from scalding.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and work into onions; cook until the tomato paste deepens in color, 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom.
- Combine the coconut milk and cornstarch, and whisk until smooth; pour the coconut milk mixture into the pan. Stir until the sauce is smooth, then bring to a simmer. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Return the chicken to the pan along with the frozen peas; toss in the sauce. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the peas are defrosted, 4-5 minutes.
- Season with lime juice and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately over steamed white rice or cauliflower rice.
Must Try! 🙂
If this is as good as your other curries, it’s going on the menu for the week! 🤤
Thanks for the awesome recipe. Best regards.