Basil Coconut Curry

I happen to be a huge fan of curry. And I happen to be an even bigger fan of curry when combined with a coconut sauce. For evidence, look no further than here. So it came as no surprise to me or my family when I decided to try this coconut curry variation from a recent library checkout.

The finished meal did not disappoint in the least. The flavors were so subtle yet blended perfectly. Definitely not an overpowering dish, the tender curried chicken and coconut sauce was perfect over steamed rice and my kids couldn’t get enough. Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients; after marinating the chicken for a few hours, this comes together in a snap. This proved to be a very delicious and easy meal.

Basil Coconut Curry

What To ServeFresh fruit or green salad
Buttery Peas with Thyme
Simple Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

Note: There have been mixed reviews on this recipe, but I continue to love it each time I make it. Addressing the issue of those who have mentioned it might be missing something, I’ve played a bit with the recipe and have found that I have better success using a yellow curry powder (mine is the Hot Madras Curry Powder by McCormick) then I do using a red curry powder. It seems to be more flavorful using this type of curry. I’ve also increased the salt just a little. The flavors of the finished dish are simple and subtle but definitely combine to be very tasty with just a faint hint of heat.


  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (by seeding the jalapeno you lose most of the spice/heat but retain great flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cups hot cooked rice


  1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Place in medium bowl. Stir together curry, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and chili powder. Sprinkle over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. In a large nonstick frying pan, stir onion, basil, garlic and peppers in hot oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5-6 minutes until no longer pink.
  3. Combine coconut milk and cornstarch and whisk well to combine. Carefully add to skillet, whisking vigorously. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in ginger. Cook and stir for another minute. Serve over hot rice.

Recipe Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

186 Responses to Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

  1. Lori says:

    Made this tonight – DELISH! A keeper for sure! I didn’t have jalapenos nor red onion. I used a regular onion. Also, I didn’t have the time to let the chicken sit with the seasonings any longer than the prep time. Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Venessa says:

    My friend just showed me your website, and I LOVE it! I LOVE curry, so I’d like to try this tomorrow, but I have a quick question. How many ounces of chicken is 3 breast halves?? Isn’t each breast about 5 ounces, so do you really only use 7-8 ounces of chicken for this whole dish?

  3. Mel says:

    Venessa – I’m glad you found your way here! The amount of chicken I use in this recipe is about 1 1/2 pounds, give or take. Hope that helps!

  4. Alexis says:

    Loved this, whole family was very happy with the result! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Kat says:

    I am a college student and I recently moved in with my long term boyfriend. We have been playing around with different recipes. We have tried about 10 different chicken recipes with success, but for the most part…they tasted very similar. I was a little nervous to try this one as cooking with curry and coconut milk were new to me. But it was incredibly simple and fast to prepare and cook (which is good because I have homework to do!). My boyfriend took a few bites without saying something, then finally he said, “This my favorite dish so far. It’ delicious. I want seconds.”, all in between bites of course. We gobbled this right up! It was so good! I took about half of the jalapeño seeds out and it was just the right temperature for me, although my boyfriend was sad to see me throw them out. Anyways, great recipe! We loved it and will be making it again when our friends come to visit! Thanks!

  6. Sara says:

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic! I followed the recipe perfectly except I used a package of chicken thighs instead of the breasts because that’s what I had on hand. It was so flavourful, and my husband loved it! Thank you so much for this great recipe 🙂

  7. Kelley says:

    Best recipe ever!!!! Even my tiny grand babies eat this stuff up!

  8. Beth says:

    WOW! I just made this tonight for my small group and it was A-MAY-ZING! I’m going to add this to my ‘make often’ recipes! Thank you!! 🙂

  9. sarah says:

    this was delicious!! i used couscous instead of rice and added green beans on the side. i will definitely be making this again!

  10. Cat says:

    Just made this dish for dinner. I was worried about the heat, so I used 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper as a substitute for the jalapeño. Not too hot but left us feeling warm and happy inside. I also used dried ginger instead of fresh grated and added it to the season rub on the chicken. Very flavorful on basmati rice. I will definitely be incorporating this recipe into my rotation. Thanks Melanie–another winner.

  11. Ruth Peterson says:

    I will be trying this recipe, because I’m a big fan of coconut and curry, too. However, I wanted to say something about the jalapenos being too hot. Last year, I had way too many tomatoes in the garden, so I wanted to can some salsa. I went to a local market to get ingredients and was a bit curious about the jalapenos. I wanted to know how to tell if they were fresh and ripe, since I’d never grown them. I asked a Mexican couple that was shopping there about how to tell if they were ripe, and the gentleman took one of the jalapenos, broke it open and smelled it. He said something to his wife, and she interpreted – “those jalapenos are not very hot”. Obviously, my questions did not translate well, but the answer indicates that there are different heat levels in the different batches of jalapenos. This makes sense because every plant produces a different taste depending on variety, amount of rain & sun, etc. Also, when I lived in Texas, the “mild” jalapenos I bought at the grocery were way hotter than the mild ones I buy up here in Washington, so there must be a huge difference in heat depending on where you purchase. Sorry for the long story, but it may explain why some people can make this dish and it is way too hot to eat when others find it mild (besides the obvious difference in taste. Anytime I even use ground pepper, I have one kid that cannot eat it because it’s too hot. I always make nachos with jalapenos on a quarter of them. That guarantees that I get at least some of them before the 4 teenagers get to them!)

  12. Joy says:

    Just tried this tonight using yellow curry powder. Followed the recipe exactly except added a 1/2 tsp of garam masala, a dash of red cayenne pepper, and fresh basil. I added roasted acorn squash (cubed) at the end to add extra veggies. I got rave reviews from everyone and the hubs said it should be a part of our regular rotation. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  13. Casie says:

    Very yummy! Doubled it but still only added one jalapeno and it had plenty of kick with just one in a doubled recipe. Would not add more if your family doesn’t like things too spicy. Very easy and good flavor. Will make again.

  14. Martika Clark says:

    So, I’ve found when making this dish to use curry paste and 2 TBS soy sauce. It REALLY pumps up the flavor! For me, that was what was missing.

  15. WendyX says:

    I always add at least 1 TBS of Asian fish sauce. I gives my curry dishes that background flavor. Maybe that would help round out some of the flavors.

  16. rachel says:


    Love the recipe, I plan on making it tonight! Quick question.. If I were to use fresh basil instead of dried, how much would you recommend?


    • Mel says:

      Rachel – probably about 1/4 cup fresh basil – dependent on taste. Use more or less depending on how strong you want the basil flavor.

  17. […] BASIL COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN (slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) […]

  18. Irene says:

    Just made this tonight and it was wonderful! So much flavour! I found you through Pinterest and I’m so glad I did, this is going on the regular rotation!

  19. Georgia says:

    Could I marinate the chicken in the morning and leave it in the fridge until dinnertime? And how many does this recipe serve? Thanks!

  20. Micaela says:

    I have to agree with other readers that there is something missing; maybe cumin or coriander? Or lime juice? Also, I don’t think you should put Basil in the title if you are only using a tablespoon of dried basil. I personally added fresh basil and it still needed something more.

    And it’s HOT! But we like it that way.

  21. Michelle says:

    Hey im an Indian.. and believe me we have multiple curry powders for different dishes. Can you please specify the type of curry powder you used?

    • Mel says:

      Michelle – I stock several varieties in my cupboard and use them interchangeably. I have Penzey’s Sweet Curry Powder, Spice Islands Hot Madras Curry Powder and a generic red curry powder. I’ve used all of them in this recipe (at different times).

  22. Michelle says:

    thanks for the reply!! now i know what to do!

  23. Heather says:

    Very, very, good! I used a yellow onion instead of red, because that is what I had, and instead of the jalapeno, I added about a 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Delish!

  24. Amy T says:

    I made this and practically licked the bowl! I put the chicken in the fridge for 72 hours instead of 2 because my husband had an emergency appendectomy but it still tastes fabulous! I love Japanese (brown) curry, now I love this too!

  25. Christine says:

    For the most part I thought this was really good. But I felt like it was lacking something. It needs fresh basil. I didn’t have any so I used cilantro instead. It was pretty good and my family loved it

  26. Sue says:

    Could this easily be doubled? I’m asking because I don’t know the effect on the coconut milk if you have 28 ounces cooking all at once, and I have a big family that loves curry. Made some alterations though like omitting the jalapeno so I found it to be very mild (was going to add red pepper flakes but forgot to add them in the process). I’m going to play around with this recipe and add more vegetables like carrots and potatoes to bulk it up. Great recipe! Thanks!

  27. Casie says:

    I double this every time I make it and it cooks up fine.

  28. Kati says:

    This dish looks tasty! Could it be done in the crock pot?

  29. Kari says:

    I’m making this for dinner tonight- sounds delish. I just wanted to respond to the poster who said it was very spicy- sometimes you can get a jalapeno that is VERY hot and it sounds like that’s what happened to you, unless you bought really spicy curry powder. I make bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese as apps a lot and even though we always take the seeds out, sometimes the jalapenos are very mild and other times they are make you sweat over the top spicy. My kids eat stuff with jalapenos in it all the time and we usually don’t have issues with it being too spicy.

  30. Ndeshimona says:

    I tried this for the first time tonight and I am sold!! Soo delicious! I am definitely sharing this one, thanks 🙂

  31. Sara says:

    We finally made this about a month ago. We froze the leftovers and reheated them this weekend. Froze beautifully, with no change in texture or taste. My husband made his own curry powder, by the way. This was outrageously fabulous, just so, so delicious. We were mmm-ing every bite. I’m going to go through your recipe section when I get the chance. Thank you for a great recipe!

  32. Amanda says:

    I finally made this after pinning it months ago, loved it!!!! This will be a keeper for sure. Although I did learn the hard way to wear gloves when dicing particularly juicy/spicy jalapenos.

  33. Natalie says:

    Hi, Mel:
    I know you posted this recipe a while ago, but I recently made it for my family, and we just LOVED it! I noticed your update at the beginning of the post, so we adjusted the recipe slightly by adding more curry powder and freshly squeezed juice from one lime. It was to die for, and full of flavor. We will definitely be making this again. Just love your blog – I’ve followed you every since nearly the beginning of your blog, and love your recipes!

  34. Karina says:

    I found you on Pinterest last night and I made this recipe for lunch today (we are originally from Mexico and lunch is our main meal of the day). My husband loves Indian food and I knew he would love this…it was a HUGE hit! I finally got to use my curry (I bought some at an Indian store) I served with basmati rice and added some cubes potatoes ’cause I don’t like to cook with a lot of animal protein, it was perfect! Not spicy at all but very good for our liking, also made some hummus and heated some naan bread from Trader Joes…Thank you so much for the recipe! It will be a regular on our house from now on.

  35. Karina says:

    *cubed potatoes

  36. Michelle says:

    I’ve made this about a dozen times now! I always come back to your site to follow the recipe via a Pinterest pin and figured it was high time I left a thank you! I’ve made it this for several friends and everyone is licking their plates afterwards. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  37. Maren says:

    Havent tried the recipe yet, but will this week:) Cant wait! Anyway, I have been told to use fish sauce (a tbs or so) in these types of dished as a flavor enhancer and it really works!! I was worried it would taste like fish, but trust me, it doesnt:)

  38. Shari says:

    Made this tonight for dinner with friends. It was incredibly good!! Def in my top 5 favorite dishes. I made a few adjustments. Instead of the coconut milk I just fried the chicken in coconut oil. I also used fresh basil and added a little butter to the dish at the end. Everyone loved it!! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  39. Michelle Garringer says:

    Hi Mel- your blog to the rescue just as i was looking for something new to try but use my pantry of on hand supplies since i like indian and thai both i had everything on hand- this recipe will be a keeper! i use Penzeys spices so i had their sweet curry powder, i made the chicken a little different since i was using a one lb of chicken in two different recipes- i poached it with some chicken broth and used the stand mixer to pull it into shreds once i split the shredded chicken for the two meals- i tossed the shredded chicken with the curry powder and chili powder and then sauteed it with the basil onions etc from there added the coconut milk and cornstarch ginger etc- some jasmine rice in the rice cooker it was a wonderful lunch with leftovers! Thanks!! 🙂

  40. Angel says:

    Absolutely amazing! I did make a few substitutions and I think they made the dish even more flavorful. I used coconut oil instead of olive oil (only because I ran out of olive oil…but I figure, hey it’s got coconut milk in it, why not cook in coconut oil?). I also added 1/2 tsp of garam masala. Also, since I didn’t have any jalapeños, I tried to find the spiciest spice I have to substitute for the peppers, and so I used my Caribbean jerk seasoning (I know, totally d

  41. Angel says:

    Absolutely amazing! I did make a few substitutions and I think they made the dish even more flavorful. I used coconut oil instead of olive oil (only because I ran out of olive oil…but I figure, hey the dish calls for coconut milk, why not cook in coconut oil?). I also added 1/2 tsp of garam masala. Also, since I didn’t have any jalapeños, I tried to find the spiciest spice I have to substitute for the peppers, and so I used my Caribbean jerk seasoning (I know, totally different country). And lastly, I added a bit of chicken bouillon to the coconut milk before mixing in the corn starch. So delicious! Definitely making this again!

  42. […] meal – whatever is in the fridge, add beans and an egg. Done. Friday, December 20 – Basil chicken with coconut curry sauce. Saturday, December 21 – Jerk chicken stuffed sweet potatoes Sunday, December 22 – Pre-Christmas […]

  43. Britt-Marie says:

    This was yummy. My husband even used the word you did to describe it- “subtle.” I only had one jalepeno on hand, but that was probably all my kids could handle. And I only had ginger powder. But it was fun to try another curry dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  44. Daniela says:

    We had this for dinner tonight. It was so easy and delicious. Thanks! I shared on FB. 🙂

    Put A Bird On It

  45. Sarah says:

    This was so yummy.

  46. Sarah says:

    This was delicious! We loved it. Thank you.

  47. Linda Porter Jones says:

    As long as I was pinning some of your other recipes,I thought I’d leave a comment on this one; My family LOVES this recipe!!! My ONLY change to it is that I add a big handful of coarsely chopped Fresh Basil right before serving. Takes the dish up one more notch to beyond perfect. I serve it with steamed rice, pan fried potatoes, and steamed carrots…YUMMY! Thank you so much for a delicious recipe, and sharing your talent with us.

  48. Julie says:

    Hi Mel,
    I made this for dinner tonight just as you described, and it was great! I love that I don’t feel overwhelmed by a heavy cream-laden dinner curry. It was light enough, and yet totally comfort food. Thank you!

  49. Rosie says:

    Just made your dish and it turned out awesome! I’ve been meaning to try it out for a while now. My best friend and my boyfriend say they approve as well. It far surpasses our college food. Thanks for posting 🙂


  50. Keshia says:

    This dish was superb! I was first impressed with the tenderness of the chicken and then the delicious creaminess of the sauce. It was a m a z i n g & my boyfriend loved it as well. I’ve tried making Thai Yellow Curry, and many other chicken breast dishes & this one (we both agree) has to be the best. Besides few exceptions I followed every direction & measurement. Instead of curry powder I used Mae Anong’s yellow curry paste. Also, I added milk to the marinade in hopes to tenderize the meat. Then I browned all sides of the chicken, put in the remaining ingredients & continued to cook the chicken in the sauce. Yummy!!! 😛

  51. Lisa M says:

    This was perfect. I have been trying to match a recipe from my favorite Thai restaurant for over a year. This is it! I had to add peas and carrots – because that’s how they do it! – and it was perfect. I don’t think I’ll be able to wait an entire week before I make it again! Thank you!!!

  52. Doe says:

    You can make a similar dish using sweet chilli Thai dipping sauce (~not~ chilli sauce/hot sauce) and red pesto, but it’s even more gorgeous without coconut as it is with. It’s such an incredibly delicate and fragrant curry and I never ever come across anyone who makes it, so if you could perfect a recipe (I basically cook large fairly chunks of onions, mushrooms, and chicken with a little garlic and ginger gently, then add sweet chilli dipping sauce and red pesto generously to taste) I’m sure your readers would love it.

  53. Pam says:

    Yum! I thought the flavors of this dish were spot on. Glad to have another Indian recipe to add to our rotation! Thanks for another amazing meal!

  54. […] Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from Mel’s Kitchen […]

  55. Andrea says:

    Made this recipe for the 2nd time last night with a few changes and it was even a bigger hit, with the kids and all. I leave out the hot peppers (bc I don’t like heat) added a little more salt like you suggested. I also added sliced almonds when cooking the onions and last but not least, once served, topped it off with a little lime and some fresh cilantro. This is absolutely one of my family’s favorite recipe. Thank You!

  56. Kate says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and I love it! I forgot to marinate the chicken with the spices ahead of time but I still think it tastes great. I have a jalapeno intolerance so I left those out but it still had a kick to it. Mine doesn’t look quite as pretty as yours does – the color is actually is a lot darker but I’m very happy with this recipe and I’d definitly make it again!

  57. Courtney says:

    For those wanting this adaptable to a slow cooker recipe…I sautéed the onions with spices (we used cayenne instead of jalepeno), then I put the marinated (raw) chicken pieces in the slow cooker with the onion/spice mixture and the coconut milk. My slow cooker runs really hot, so it only took about 4 hours on low for the chicken to be perfectly cooked. Great recipe, so yummy!

  58. Eric says:

    Marinating the chicken before hand was key it infused it with great flavor. I left out the ginger but followed the rest of the recipe verbatim and it turned out great. Next time I think I’m going to throw some peas in. Tasted delicious and had a little kick of spice with the hot madras curry. Thanks much for the recipe!

  59. Shellie says:

    Is here any chance this would work if I threw everything in the crockpot? I know it’s ridiculous, but I have a major aversion to cubing raw chicken.

  60. Deb says:

    We enjoyed this a lot and I’ll be making it again for sure. I used full fat coconut milk and I used ghee in place of the oil. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. It’s a keeper!

  61. Ashleigh says:

    I made this tonight and it’s delicious!! I didn’t use ginger because I forgot it, I used full fat coconut milk, and I ended up adding more salt. Overall amazing flavor! My husband loved it also! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  62. Christine says:

    I’m looking forward to making this. One question: what kind of chili powder did you use? Is it the Indian red chili powder (for heat) or the typical chili powder (like McCormick’s) used in chili recipes, Mexican food?

  63. Leslie Callaway says:

    I love this meal! It is a family favorite! Thanks so much!

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