Tender chicken pieces are smothered in a flavorful coconut curry sauce in this basil chicken in coconut curry sauce recipe. So delicious!

Easily one of my top favorite meals ever, I’m not alone in my love for this meal. It is widely heralded as one of “the best dinners” by my crew every time we eat it.

The flavors are simple, but they combine into a delicious combination that is so yummy served over rice.

white bowl with rice, fork, chicken pieces, coconut curry sauce, naan

Build the Flavor

In this recipe, the chicken pieces get a quick dry rub marinade with curry powder, salt, pepper and a bit of chili powder.

The seasoned chicken then cooks in a pan with garlic, ginger, jalapeños and onion before getting dunked in a bath of coconut milk (and a bit of cornstarch).

As the chicken, aromatics, and coconut milk all simmer together, the curry flavors work their magic on the creamy sauce.

cooking chicken in stainless skillet, adding coconut curry sauce to chicken and simmering

Coconut Curry Sauce

With just a few minutes of simmering, the sauce takes on the gentle yellow hue of the curry powder (this will vary depending on the brand of curry powder used).

My favorite curry powder is the sweet curry powder from Penzey’s spices. It’s intensely flavorful with a very mild heat.

After cooking, the basil chicken in coconut curry sauce can be served right away or it can be kept warm on the stovetop for a little while. The flavor gets better with time. (As in, the leftovers are gooooood.)

spoon ladling out chicken pieces in coconut curry sauce from stainless pan

A Fan Favorite

This recipe has become a favorite of many! You can see below in the comments that many people have adapted the recipe over the years to add potatoes, chickpeas, zucchini, mushrooms, you name it.

So if you’re looking for a fresh variation on the basil coconut curry theme, glance through the comments for inspiration.

Dodi recently commented: I made this for my family on a day when I was going out to eat with friends.  Let’s just say the food at home was better than the food I paid top dollar for.  This is so good!  I was glad my kids saved enough for me to eat for leftovers.  The taste reminded me of a chicken curry I get at one of my favorite restaurants.  The restaurant version includes mushrooms and potatoes.  I am going to double the sauce and add those next time I make this.  So, SO good!

close up of chicken pieces, coconut curry sauce, and rice in white bowl
basil chicken in coconut curry sauce over rice with naan in white bowl

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

4.64 stars (63 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (leave seeds in for more heat)
  • 14- ounce can light or regular coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Hot cooked rice, for serving

Instructions 

  • Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Stir together curry, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, pepper and chili powder. Sprinkle over chicken, tossing to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
  • In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, basil, garlic, ginger, and peppers, and cook, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, until onion and peppers start to soften.
  • Add the chicken and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, flipping the chicken now and then, until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Whisk together the coconut milk and cornstarch until well-combined. Add the mixture to the skillet with the chicken, and whisk over medium heat, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 5-6 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Notes

Curry: the type/brand of curry powder is important in this recipe since the flavor will really come through. My favorite curry powder of all time is the sweet curry powder from Penzey’s spices; it’s a good idea to use a curry powder that has a flavor profile you like.
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 224kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 578mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g
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Recipe Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Originally posted September 2009; updated January 2020 with new photos, recipe notes, etc.

chicken and creamy coconut sauce over white rice