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.

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

  1. Jen says:

    So I made this in my instant pot and it was FANTASTIC. It was my first “breaking-in” of the beast and I was a little leery, but it turned out great! It was so good, that the second time I made it, I doubled it. I also used full fat coconut milk because that’s what I had. For some reason, when I did it the second time, before I added the chicken, I noticed that I had a layer burnt onto the bottom. Stupidly, I scraped it into the rest of the dish and we had a “fun” time picking out all the black pieces while we ate it. It was still great, except for the black parts. I thought, “Maybe I didn’t stir it fast enough when I was heating the spices. Next time I’ll to better.” So I made it the third time -yes it’s that good- (again, I doubled the recipe, and again I used full fat coconut milk). I made sure to whisk everything constantly and I was good to go through the first pressure. When I released the pressure the first time, again, I had a black mess burnt to the bottom! This time, I scooped all the stuff out and scraped off the blackened mess before I continued with the chicken. What am I doing wrong?

    Also, whenever I wait for the natural release, it always takes more than 30 minutes. After 45 minutes, I can’t stand waiting (I could make it faster on the stovetop!) and do the quick release. Anyone else have this problem?????

    • Mel says:

      Hey Jen…first about the natural release, I only ever wait 10-15 minutes and then I quick release the rest of the pressure. I haven’t found a significant difference doing it this way, and I hate waiting, too. You might try that. My 8-quart Instant Pot takes FOREVER to naturally release pressure, so I’ve started just waiting 10-15 minutes and then quick releasing, no matter the recipe. About the scorched bottom, from everything I’ve read, it has to do with the Saute function (used at the beginning of the recipe). Just like slow cookers, it seems as though some IP’s cook hotter than others, so I’d recommend adjusting the temperature on the Saute function (just the Adjust button and you’ll see you can alternate between high/med/low). Set it to a lower temp and see if that helps.

      • Jen says:

        Thanks for the response! I’ll give it another go this week (it’s that good!) and let you know how it turns out!

        • jen says:

          fyi – I did adjust the saute time… also, on the first manual pressure time, I adjusted it to low then as well. Once I added the chicken, I put it back on high for the 3 minutes as recommended. This time it turned out better and nothing burned to the bottom… a few pieces of chicken that were either touching the sides or the bottom got a bit “blackened”, but nothing like before. This seems to have fixed the problem, so I’m happy about that.

          One other question for others that are using an instant pot with this….I prep everything in advance… I have my onions chopped, garlic minced, ginger grated, and everything measured out in it’s own little bowl, and cans opened before I start. That being said, from start to finish (as in from when I start the saute function, so no prep time included) to when I end up doing a natural release after 15 minutes waiting for quick release, it took my instant pot 1 hr and 15 minutes to complete this meal. It seems to take a very long time to build up pressure. For everyone else making it, how long does this recipe seem to take you?

  2. Ben Campbell says:

    So I made this today…it was my first “real” use of the Instant Pot, its been a rice cooker for me over the past month or so, anyway, I must say that chicken came out amazing and the taste is out of this world.

    I added potatoes when I added the chicken…potatoes came out great, not too mushy and not too stiff – they came out great! I also forgot to add tomato sauce, still came out great! I used canned diced tomatoes so I think the liquid from that helped.

    At the end of the day, amazing dish. I cooked up some stir-fry vegetables before service and put them in with everything…mmmmmm gooood, that is I have to say about that.

  3. Jenn says:

    Is it possible to sub the tomato sauce with something else, like chicken broth? Thanks!

  4. Yvonne Catton says:

    Just made this. It turned out great! Topped with Cilantro and put on bed of brown rice. Served with Naan bread and Tyzaki sauce.

  5. Sara says:

    I wonder if I am doing things wrong — this takes a long time to cook! It’s not unique to this recipe; it’s the Instant Pot in general. It takes forever for my instant pot to get from On to counting down numbers, and then forever again to do a natural release. After an hour and a half tonight (mostly spent waiting for that natural release and the little sliver button to drop) I just fed my kids the plain rice and sent them to bed without the curry. (frowny face) Do you have any suggestions for me?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Sara – did it take an hour and a half from start to finish? I almost always let it naturally release 10 minutes and then quick release the rest of the pressure (that saves quite a bit of time). If it’s taking longer than 10 or so minutes to come to pressure, you might want to contact the company.

    • Charlotte says:

      I have found that with the Instant Pot and liquid, it comes to pressure much faster if I turn on the “saute” button and let the liquid come to boiling. Then I turn it off and use “manual” or any other button to cook the food. I’m a much happier camper now that I’ve learned this trick. Hope it helps!

  6. Deb Cook says:

    PS … the BF hates coconut, too! Just pointing out how well all the flavors blend and balance in this recipe 🙂

  7. Deb Cook says:

    Definitely a winner!! My BF, who swears he doesn’t like Indian food (or tomatoes or onions!), gave this an “outSTANDing”, and went back for seconds.
    I used canned diced tomatoes, and sub’d chicken thighs. It’s amazing how tender the meat is! Also, I browned some cubes of paneer (had some in the fridge that needed to get used) in a pan while the curry cooked, and added them to the mix with the cornstarch at the end … yum! There was plenty of delicious gravy to go with rice, too.
    Next time I’ll try adding potatoes with the chicken and cooked peas with the cornstarch, like other readers suggested.
    I started the rice in my rice cooker as I heated the oil to begin the recipe, and 25 minutes later we sat down to a meal that tasted like it had simmered for hours in a restaurant kitchen!
    Thank you for great instructions and a new go-to recipe!!

  8. Shana says:

    Do you think I’d be able to substitute chick peas for the chicken?

  9. Tara says:

    I made this the other day for my husband, it was getting late and I hadn’t planned anything (love my instant pot!!) He raved about it for days. In fact he ate the leftovers EVERYDAY after until they were gone. Trust me, that’s a feat in itself. He usually only likes leftovers once or twice. Anyways, great recipe! I am vegetarian so I think I’ll try to make one pot vegetarian and one regular next time! I’m dying to try it after my husband loved it so much!

  10. Jeri Lynn says:

    I just got my instant pot last week and this was the first meal I made after the water and hard boiled egg tests. Definitely an A+ life choice. My husband and I both really liked it, and it makes wonderful leftovers!

    Thank you for lovely, clear instructions for a new instant pot user and a tasty recipe that is definitely going in the monthly rotation!

    (also, thank you, thank you, thank you! for testing and generally proof reading recipe instructions enough that you don’t give one set of instructions in the blog post and a different order in the written recipe and then a third order in the notes. I tried a recipe from another blogger last night where I ran into that and found it *really* frustrating. I love your posts and am grateful my sister pointed me at your site a couple of years ago!)

  11. Jessica says:

    I just purchased the instant pot and cant wait to try this recipe it will be the first one I do. With added veggies.
    And my coworkers are already tired of me talking about it so I get the obsession with pressure cooking.

  12. Amy says:

    This was an incredible recipe – thank you so much! I had all the ingredients on hand, which is a huge bonus :). We subbed thighs for breast, and full-fat coconut milk for light. This is the perfect curry. I could eat this for days.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  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. 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!

  18. Sarah says:

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

  19. 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!).

  20. 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.

  21. marie says:

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

  22. 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!

  23. Jessica Glover says:

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Roxana says:

    This looks so good! What a beautiful dish!

  28. 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.

  29. 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)

      • Donna says:

        You can put a little heatproof or metal bowl with foil over top into the pressure cooker and then take out rice without having to scoop. You can even put beans in bottom and metal bowl of rice sealed with foil(with the water in) on top of the beans and cook them together

    • 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. 🙂

  30. 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.

  31. Kathy Howarter says:

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

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