Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken (Paleo, Whole30)

This creamy Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken is a fast and easy weeknight dinner.

Juicy chicken thighs are cooked with coconut milk, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric and more. Serve with rice or veggie rice and you’re all set.

Plus it’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 compatible!

creamy coconut chicken thighs in a spicy sauce with cauliflower rice in a white bowl

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, I’ll automatically receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken

This Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken features chicken thighs simmered in a creamy, coconutty and warmly spiced sauce.

And when I saw “warmly spiced,” I mean it has the gentle heat of ginger and turmeric.

It does also include red pepper flakes, but you can use less or omit them altogether. But even if you keep them in, this is not a spicy spiced coconut chicken.

It’s also not an authentic Indian recipe. I just took various parts of some of my favorite Indian chicken stews and combined them into a cozy, irresistible weeknight dinner.

And like so much Indian cuisine, it’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 – useful for those of us following that lifestyle.

 

Why I’m not calling this a “curry”

You might notice I’m not calling this recipe Coconut Chicken Curry or Curry Coconut Chicken or anything like that.

Why? Because I’ve learned “curry” isn’t really an Indian thing. It’s a mistake the Brits made when referring to Indian dishes, and that mistake spread throughout the West.

So if I’m going to base this recipe on Indian dishes, I’m going to avoid using the word Indians themselves don’t really use.

Unfortunately, I learned this after I already named my Curried Sweet Potato Soup.

 

What you need for Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken

raw ingredients on a wooden cutting board to make a healthy chicken curry

Ingredients:

  • 2-2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 (13-15 oz.) full-fat, unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves garlic (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 2-3″ fresh ginger (I’m often out of fresh ginger so I usually make this with 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice (not pictured above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt + 1 teaspoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat like avocado oil or coconut oil
  • fresh parsley or cilantro and toasted sliced almonds, for garnish, optional
  • rice, cauliflower rice, sweet potato rice or parsnip rice, for serving

Equipment:

 

How to make Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken

Peel, halve and slice the onion into thin half-moons.

Heat the oil in your pan over medium high heat. Add the onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until soft and golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, peel and mince your fresh garlic and ginger, if using.

Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until just starting to turn golden, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the rest of the salt plus the turmeric, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and cloves (plus the garlic powder and ginger powder, if you’re using those instead of fresh). Sauté for 30 seconds – this is called “blooming” the spices and brings out their flavor.

Add the chicken broth and use your spatula to scrape up all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the coconut milk and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.

While you wait for the sauce to simmer, cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks.

Add the chicken, cover with a lid and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the lime juice and discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve with rice, cauliflower rice, sweet potato rice or parsnip rice.

Garnish with the fresh cilantro or parsley and toasted sliced almonds, if using.

coconut chicken thighs in white bowls with cauliflower rice

Substitutions and variations

  • As I said above, you can use either fresh garlic or garlic powder
  • You can use either fresh ginger or garlic ginger
  • You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Simmer them for only 5-10 minutes.
  • Want it spicier? Adjust the seasonings per your liking. Add more ginger, turmeric and/or red pepper flakes.

 

Storing the Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken

The coconut milk chicken thighs will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

You can also freeze them in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Either way, reheat over low heat in a saucepan.

 

Other recipes you might like:

Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken in a white bowl with cauliflower rice and all the separate ingredients on a wooden cutting board
creamy coconut chicken thighs in a spicy sauce with cauliflower rice in a white bowl
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken (Paleo, Whole30)

Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken features juicy chicken in a creamy, warmly spiced sauce. It's a quick, easy and healthful recipe that's perfect for a weeknight dinner. Plus it's naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 compatible!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: coconut chicken, coconut chicken curry, coconut milk chicken
Servings: 4 people
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat such as avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1-2" fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more or less, depending on your preference)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 (13-15 oz.) can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves
  • 2-2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped for garnish, optional
  • 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds, for garnish, optional
  • rice or veggie rice, for serving

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large, deep saute pan with a lid over medium-high heat.
  • Peel, halve and slice the onion into thin half-moons. Add the onions to the pan with ½ teaspoon salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden, about 5-8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and mince the fresh garlic and fresh ginger, if using. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 2-3 minutes. (If using garlic powder and/or ginger powder, add it with the other spices.)
  • Add 1 teaspoon salt plus the turmeric, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and cloves (plus the garlic and/or ginger powder, if using). Saute, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken broth and use your spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the coconut milk and bay leaves and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • While waiting for the sauce to simmer, cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks. Add the chicken, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Turn off the heat, uncover, discard the bay leaves and stir in the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Serve with rice or veggie rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley and toasted sliced almonds, if using.

Notes

Substitutions and variations
  • You can use either fresh garlic or garlic powder.
  • You can use either fresh ginger or garlic ginger.
  • You can use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Simmer them for only 5-10 minutes.
  • Want it spicier? Adjust the seasonings per your liking. Add more ginger, turmeric and/or red pepper flakes.
Storing the Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken
The coconut milk chicken thighs will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
You can also freeze them in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Either way, reheat over low heat in a saucepan.

FOR MORE RECIPES, INSPIRATION AND GENERALLY GOOD STUFF, JOIN ME ON:

INSTAGRAM,

FACEBOOK,

TIKTOK

AND PINTEREST!




14 thoughts on “Spiced Coconut Milk Chicken (Paleo, Whole30)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.