This easy recipe for Coconut Chicken Curry takes only 25 minutes to make and features thinly sliced chicken breast meat, carrots, and broccoli stems (yes, the stems!) that cook directly in a creamy (but dairy free) and flavorful coconut milk sauce. You can use other veggies if you like – this is a versatile, healthy curry recipe that’s packed full of flavor and is so easy to make in one skillet!
It all started one day during a major snowstorm…
Seriously though. I made this recipe completely by accident during the crazy winter storm in Texas in February that left millions of people without electricity or means to get groceries. With super limited food in my fridge and pantry, I played around with what I had and this coconut chicken curry was born!
I don’t think I ever would have used a broccoli stalk like this otherwise, but y’all… they are DELICIOUS. They have a mild and sweet taste – not bitter like the florets. They’re crunchy and the perfect addition to this curry recipe. They kind of remind me of water chestnuts. And they’re just as healthy as the florets!
You can use other veggies if you like (more on that later) but using broccoli stems is a great way to add nutrition and save on food waste! And this coconut chicken curry recipe hits so many dietary restrictions such as dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, and whole30.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Coconut Oil – another oil like olive or canola can also be used, or butter or ghee.
- Red onion – or yellow, or white.
- Garlic – fresh garlic is recommended here, thinly sliced.
- Curry Powder – I used Morton and Bassett curry powder. There are so many different kinds of curry powder varying in flavor and spice level – any will work here.
- Canned Coconut Milk – I recommend full-fat. This is different than coconut milk you will find in the dairy substitutes area near the milk – canned coconut milk is thicker and found in the aisle with other East and Southeast Asian ingredients.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – thighs will also work. Or another kind of protein, such as tofu, steak, shrimp, etc. (cooking times will very depending on what you choose).
- Carrots – can be substituted with other veggies, see below.
- Broccoli stems/stalk – can be substituted with other veggies, see below.
- Lime juice and zest
- Fresh cilantro and/or basil
How to make Coconut Chicken Curry
- SAUTÉ onions and garlic in coconut oil. Do this over medium-low or low heat in a large skillet – that way, the garlic gets toasted without burning and the onions caramelize a bit and develop deep flavor.
- While the onions and garlic are cooking, PREP the remaining ingredients. Slice the chicken breast against the grain thinly, and slice the carrots and broccoli stems as well.
- ADD curry powder to the onions and garlic and sauté for about a minute. This will toast the spices in the curry powder and develop their flavors.
- ADD coconut milk to the skillet and bring to a gentle simmer.
- ADD the chicken, veggies, lime zest, and salt. Turn heat down to medium-low or low to keep a gentle simmer and continue simmering uncovered stirring occasionally until the chicken is fully cooked (about 10 minutes). Note: simmering uncovered will help thicken the sauce.
- Turn off heat and STIR IN cilantro/basil and lime juice. Serve over basmati rice or another rice/grain like quinoa.
Can I use other veggies?
Yes! You can use diced potatoes, summer squash or zucchini, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and/or stems… really anything you want. Bell pepper would be great sautéed with the onions and garlic. Baby spinach would be great stirred in at the end of cooking and allowed to wilt.
Just keep in mind different veggies have different cooking times – potatoes for example will take longer to cook so I recommend adding them to the coconut milk and letting them simmer for about 15-20 minutes and then adding the chicken so the chicken doesn’t overcook.
This is a great way to use up any veggies you have lying around in your fridge.
How do I prepare broccoli stems/stalks?
After cutting the florets off the broccoli (here’s a tutorial on how to cut broccoli into florets), just slice the stem into thin round pieces.
If you have a particularly long broccoli stalk, the end might be a little fibrous and tough. If that’s the case, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel away the outside to the more delicate inside (if you are unsure, you can try a bite to see if it’s too tough to chew).
Save those broccoli florets for another recipe like:
Other Recipes with Curry
- Green Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Curried Cauliflower Soup
- Massaman Curry Meatballs (from Hot Thai Kitchen)
- Authentic Thai Green Curry (from Eating Thai Food)
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Coconut Chicken Curry
- Large Skillet
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil, canola, or vegetable oil
- 1 red onion quartered and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2-3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (see notes)
- 15 oz. canned coconut milk preferably full fat
- 1.5-2 pounds boneless skinless breasts thinly sliced about 1/4" thick against the grain
- 2 large carrots thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 cup thinly sliced broccoli stems (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- juice and zest of one lime
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro and/or basil
- cooked basmati rice for serving (optional, see notes)
- Melt the coconut oil (2 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced red onion and garlic. Stir to coat in the oil and turn heat down to medium-low. Sauté over medium-low heat until garlic is toasted and golden brown, and onions have started to brown and are soft, stirring occasionally (5-10 minutes). Note: this is a good time to prep the remaining ingredients to save time.
- Add the curry powder (2 tablespoons) to the onions and garlic. Stir to coat and cook for 30 seconds – 1 minute, stirring frequently, to toast the spices.
- Add the coconut milk (15 oz. can) and allow to melt (coconut milk is often part solidified in the can) and bring to a gentle simmer over medium high heat.
- Turn the heat back down to medium-low and add the sliced chicken breast, sliced carrots, sliced broccoli stems (or other veggies), kosher salt (1 teaspoon), and lime zest. Stir and simmer uncovered on low or medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked.
- Turn heat off and stir in the lime juice and the fresh chopped cilantro and/or basil. Serve over cooked basmati rice (or another rice or grain such as quinoa).
- A note on the veggies: Broccoli stems are delicious and have a more mild taste than the florets, and hold up to cooking longer a little better. I used a sliced broccoli stalk for this by accident the first time I made it! You can substitute them with other veggies, like sliced asparagus, diced cubed potatoes (which need cooking a little longer), or broccoli/cauliflower florets (which need cooking for a little less time). Sliced bell peppers also work well and can be sautéed with the onions and garlic. You can’t go wrong here- it’s a great way to use up any random veggie you have lying around in your fridge!
- The chicken can be substituted for another protein, such as shrimp or flank steak, or tofu for a vegetarian/vegan option. Specific methods and timing of cooking the protein will vary depending on what you use, so keep that in mind.
- Spice it up! Curry powders vary greatly in spice levels. I used Morton and Bassett Curry Powder which is very mild. You can use a mild or spicy curry powder mix, or add some cayenne pepper or fresh chiles to make it spicy if you like.
- The curry simmers uncovered so the sauce thickens. If it seems too thick, you can cover it, or just add a little water. But I found that covering it for the entire time resulted in a more watery, thin sauce rather than a thick sauce (I prefer thick).