Pressure Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

Considering I have a deep and very abiding love for coconut curries and I haven’t stopped talking about my obsession with pressure cooking, you might want to completely avoid me for the next, I don’t know, lifetime, so as not to get involved in a totally drawn out and nerdy conversation about making curry in the pressure cooker when you’d rather be talking to a normal human about more scintillating topics like politics, fashion, and where the Kardashians are vacationing this week.

I have issues. I’m ok with it.

This deliciously fast pressure cooker coconut chicken curry is reason alone to get yerself a pressure cooker if you don’t have one.

It can be made in a stovetop pressure cooker, an electric pressure cooker (like the almighty InstantPot) or you can scrap the pressure cooker altogether and make it on the stovetop (still yummy but you’ll be looking at about an hour versus 30-minutes or less in the pressure cooker).

Everything you need to know is included right down there in the notes of the recipe (including the curry powder I use always and forever). Now. I’m off to go talk to my kids about serious things like curries and pressure cooking since everyone else is avoiding me right now (shocker).

Pressure Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

What To Serve
Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
Naan (Indian Flatbread)

One Year Ago: Quinoa Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Granola Cookies
Two Years Ago: Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta Cheese
Three Years Ago: Italian Lasagna Rolls

{Pressure Cooker or Stovetop} Coconut Chicken Curry

Yield: Serves 6-ish

{Pressure Cooker or Stovetop} Coconut Chicken Curry

You can definitely try subbing one 14.5-ounce can diced or stewed tomatoes for the chopped tomatoes (although the fresh tomatoes give a delicious flavor boost). Also, like I mention in all my curry recipes, my favorite brand of curry powder is Penzey's Sweet Curry Powder. It's amazing and flavorful with not a lot of heat. Ultimately, use a curry powder you like the taste of (all brands differ in flavor and heat).

This makes a fairly thin curry since the pressure cooker doesn't evaporate liquid. If you want a thicker curry, at the end of cooking time, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water and add it to the hot curry, bringing to a simmer to thicken a bit. Or, an alternate to the pressure cooker method is to follow the instructions using a pot on the stovetop and simmering, partially covered for 45 minutes to an hour (instead of the pressure cooking time). It will thicken and reduce the sauce slightly by doing so.

I haven't tried it, but I think this would be delicious with potatoes or cauliflower; I'd add the diced veggies with the chicken and see how it goes.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (can sub canola, vegetable or avocado oil)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder (see note above)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 4 medium sized cloves
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger, about 1-inch piece of ginger (freeze for easier grating or chopping)
  • 2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Hot, cooked rice or quinoa, for serving


  1. In a stovetop or electric pressure cooker, heat the oil (use the Saute function on the InstantPot) until rippling and hot. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, for 30-45 seconds. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the tomatoes (and any liquid), salt, pepper, coconut milk, tomato sauce, and sugar. Close the lid on the pressure cooker. For a stovetop pressure cooker, bring to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. For an electric pressure cooker, set the timer for 12 minutes at high pressure (on an InstantPot --> Manual --> dial down to 12 minutes).
  3. Carefully release the pressure using quick release and remove the lid.
  4. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pressure cooker. Cook for another 3 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure naturally release before removing the lid.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. See the note above if you want to thicken the curry a bit. Serve over hot, cooked rice or quinoa.

Recipe Source: took this recipe from Allrecipes, adapted some of the ingredients, based on reviews, and made it pressure-cooker friendly

Disclaimer: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link for the InstantPot.

39 Responses to {Pressure Cooker or Stovetop} Chicken Coconut Curry

  1. Kathy Howarter says:

    Where do you find this Penzey’s Sweet Curry Powder? I can’t find it for sale anywhere.

  2. Jackie says:

    I love that you used the word “scintillating”! That was one of my vocab words in high school (one of the few I remember). And if we brought in a source of someone using the word and showed our teacher we got bonus points.

  3. Tiggerr says:

    My only problem with this recipe is that I love cooking rice in my instant pot and since neither my counter top nor budget can fit two of them, I might just have to figure out how to keep one warm while cooking the other. It sure looks good. Any idea of how to sub for coconut milk? I have coconut extract and of course plenty of actual coconut.

    • Mel says:

      I have that same problem, too – I usually make rice in the InstantPot right before, scoop it out and keep it warm in a foil-covered pan in the oven on about 170 degrees while I make the main dish. Not sure about the coconut milk – have you tried googling a sub?

      • Tiggerr says:

        Google offered almond milk, but if I don’t have coconut milk, I doubt I’d have almond milk. The best choices I found were evaporated milk or a cream cheese and skim milk mix. Only one person suggested adding coconut “essence” to the milk, and linked to a site where Alton Brown told how to make it. I guess I’ll start with coconut milk and see how much it tastes like coconut.

        • Mel says:

          Sounds to me like maybe adding the coconut extract to milk may be your best bet.

        • Maeana says:

          I make a coconut chicken curry which is pretty similar, just not pressure cooker. When I don’t have coconut milk, I just cook my chicken up in coconut oil and stir in heavy cream at the end. We have a dairy cow, so plenty of cream always. 🙂 It ends up with a perfect coconut flavor.

        • loralee says:

          I have used coconut oil (melted and usually sister the meet in it) and add evaporated milk for the liquid as a substitution. It’s lovely. (i always taste at the end to see if it needs more)

    • April was in CA now MA says:

      I have (had) the rice issue as well and I bought an extra liner for that very reason! I make my main then cover it to keep warm while I make the rice in my second liner. It’s also come in handy just to have an extra if one is dirty, very worth getting a second one. 🙂

  4. Sheree L says:

    My son’s college roommate, who is from India, stayed with us over Christmas. He made us a delicious Indian vegetable dish and served it with a healthy dollop of plain Greek yogurt mixed with cumin. That yogurt took it to a new level of yumminess! Now every time I make Indian curry, I serve it that way. Just FYI, in case anyone wants to try it.

  5. Roxana says:

    This looks so good! What a beautiful dish!

  6. Sarah says:

    This recipe sounds yummy. Just wondering why the chicken doesn’t go in with the other ingredients in one step and cook for about five minutes or so. Is the ten minutes to deepen the flavor and/or eliminate any texture from onions and tomatoes? I cook frequently with my 8-quart stovetop pressure cooker, so I’m curious about this method.

    • Mel says:

      Yep, exactly. The first portion of cooking time is needed to develop the flavor of the curry but that long would overcook the chicken.

  7. Lindsey says:

    SO if you’re a cooking dummy, like me….and don’t have a pressure cooker, would you follow the directions up til adding the chicken? Do you need to brown it first before letting it simmer? Or put it in cooked? I really want to try this but don’t have a pressure cooker or the kitchen sense to figure it out! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Yep, just saute the oil and curry powder, then add everything else and simmer for 45 minutes until it’s slightly thickened. If you don’t want the chicken to overcook, you might add the chicken pieces the last 10 minutes of simmering.

  8. melissa says:

    I just ordered an instant pot and can’t wait!!! will you try to convert a chicken tikka masala recipe for the instant pot…pretty please? its our favorite indian take out.

  9. Jessica Glover says:

    I could not hold out any longer~ InstantPot ordered and on its way from Amazon!

  10. Kelsey says:

    I just ordered from Penzey’s for the first time this week and I can’t wait to get my spices…including the curry! And…I’m getting an instant pot for my birthday in a couple weeks! SO EXCITED!!! This recipe looks amazing!
    PS I made your Chocolate Blizzard Bars this week for the first time and Oh.My.Messy.Chocolate.Heaven! They were gone way too fast!

  11. marie says:

    Mel, thank you so much for this amazing recipe. It was so easy to make and so easy to love!

  12. Amy says:

    Curry is a flavor that my kids have not tried yet but I would like to try it. I know you may not have tried this, but since I am such a novice in the kitchen I’ll ask anyway: If I use frozen chicken breast, do you think it would be better to add it at step 2, with the tomatoes & coconut milk for about 15 minutes or add it at step 3, adding additional cooking time? Thanks for any advice. My hubby is helping with dinners, love him, but he does better freezer to pot 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hi Amy – good question. Just a heads up that using frozen chicken breasts will add a bit more liquid to the sauce so the flavors may just slightly less strong (and the sauce a bit more thin) but if you are going to use them, I’d still wait and add them after the first cooking time is done, but I’d probably up the pressure cooker time to 12 minutes (you might want to check other sources online for exact pressure cooking times for frozen chicken breast; I haven’t experimented with it a ton).

      • Mollie says:

        So, I made this today, and only had huge frozen chicken breasts on hand. I added them for the first round of pressure cooking instead of waiting (i hadn’t taken the time to check the comments, and I had to run out while it cooked away). I did 15 minutes high pressure for everything, and it turned out delish. The chicken was maybe a tad over done, but not noticeably to me (the internal temp was 185 when I opened it up after 10 minute natural release.) I just pulled out the chicken at this point to cut up into small chunks, through them back in, added the cornstarch slurry, and let it reduce for a few minutes while I set the table. The sauce turned out just the right consistency, not too runny. Huge hit with everyone (which is a big deal at our house) and I had all the ingredients on hand. Oh, and I also through in some carrots, which were a nice addition as well.

  13. k says:

    This got a 95% rating from my 9yo (who haaaates rice…but ate the rice!) and two thumbs up from my 8yo! My middle two were asleep by the time it was finally ready (yeah, I saw “20min in the pressure cooker” and didn’t plan for prep, pressure release, etc. By the way, how long do you let it release? I didn’t hear it drop and I couldn’t tell when it did…I waited the whole 30min it said it might take. Pretty sure I could’ve cut that way down, but how/when? New to the InstantPot!), and the baby was hangry by then, so I’m not counting her. We adults really liked it as well! 🙂 We’ve had curry a grand total of once before this and it was so long ago my kids didn’t remember. I’m thrilled we have a “new flavor” to love! Bring on the InstantPot recipes!! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Usually my InstantPot will naturally release in about 15 minutes, although that kind of depends on how full it is and what is cooking. If I’m impatient, sometimes I let it naturally release for 10 minutes and then quick release the rest of the pressure (for some foods, like potatoes and quick-cooking ingredients, I quick release the pressure right away). A lot of people say that you shouldn’t quick release with meat because it can toughen the meat fibers but there’s also a whole other camp that quick releases everything (Except never with oatmeal! I learned that the hard way – huge mess!).

  14. Sarah says:

    I made this tonight and it was so good! Definitely a keeper. Thank you, Mel!

  15. Katie says:

    How do you think this would do in a crockpot?

    • Mel's Kitchen Cafe Admin says:

      Hey Katie. Mel doesn’t have access to internet right now so I’m helping her out with comments for the next few days. I did this for 6 hours on low in my crockpot and it worked great. I put my chicken breast in whole and just took them out 30 minutes before we were ready to eat and shredded them. I also used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh roma’s.

    • Mel says:

      I think it would work great!

  16. Tristina says:

    I have made this a few times and just wanted to share my favorite additions. I add diced potatoes with the chicken and I tried adding veggies then too, but they ended up really mushy. So I quickly steam some peas or cauliflower separately and just throw them in at the end. I think adding the peas are my kids favorite!

  17. Sarah C says:

    This meal is just awesome. We add about 2 cups of diced potatoes when we add the chicken. We also cook rice and naan to bring it full circle. Love love love it! Thanks Mel!

  18. Ashlie says:

    This and the refried beans are reason enough to own a pressure cooker! We have been using ours much more lately because of these two recipes!! Thank you!

  19. Bri says:

    This was the first thing I made in my pressure cooker and it was so delicious! I added about 2 cups of water when I put in the chicken because the sauce had reduced almost to a paste in the first cooking time and the tomatoes were a little scorched, maybe because I have a different brand of cooker. The final product had a good consistency with enough sauce to flavor the rice. I also added about three cups of chopped carrots/cauliflower mix.

Leave a Reply

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