This Coconut Basil Chicken Curry is an incredibly fragrant coconut milk based curry that will be ready in just 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight.
Coconut Basil Chicken Curry
I love curries because they’re quick, full of flavor, and taste just as good the next day. My favorite curries by far are coconut milk based because they’re so creamy and delicious. This coconut basil chicken curry is an old recipe I’ve been making over the years and it’s easy, quick, requires only a few ingredients and it’s done all in one pot.
What Is Curry?
Originating in India, curry describes a variety of dishes, typically sauces, that contain a variety of exciting and complex spices. While this recipe is by no means authentic, it can best be described as a fusion of Thai and Indian flavors. I tried to make this dish as simple as possible with just a couple spices: curry and chili powder, which is enough to fully flavor this dish.
Ingredients in Coconut Basil Chicken Curry
This curry is quite light and fresh thanks to fragrant basil, a hint of jalapeno, and of course – garlic. Keep scrolling for measurements and instructions!
- Chicken – While I used chicken breasts for this dish, boneless and skinless chicken thighs would work just as well.
- Spices – Unlike more complicated curries, just a bit of chili powder and curry powder are enough to make this dish stand out.
- Salt & Pepper – Season to taste, adjust according to the sodium content in your broth to follow.
- Olive Oil – Use an oil of your choice, ideally something with a high smoking point as you will be using this to brown the chicken.
- Onion – One large white onion works best.
- Garlic – Minced finely and added to the onions once translucent, keep your nose close to the pan as the garlic will be finished once it’s aromatic.
- Jalapeno – The slow burn of the jalapeno perfectly balances the richness of the coconut milk. The recipe calls for one entire pepper but adjust according to your spice tolerance!
- Basil – Fresh is a must, no ifs ands or buts about it. You’ll want to use just a 1/4 cup of freshly torn Italian basil. Can Thai basil be used instead? Yes but keep in mind that not only is Thai basil sweeter but it is also stronger, so less is more in this case.
- Chicken Broth – A half cup is all you’ll need of either low sodium or no sodium chicken stock.
- Coconut Milk – One can of coconut milk will create a silky, rich base for this chicken curry.
What Can I Use Instead Of Chicken?
If you don’t have chicken available or would prefer a different protein, any number of meats will do. Steak, pork, salmon, shrimp, and scallops can all be substituted easily. Keep in mind that using other proteins means cooking times will vary.
If you prefer to go meatless, there’s no dish easier to tweak than curry. Chickpeas are a great substitute and are incredibly low effort to incorporate. Just add a full well rinsed can of the legumes after the can of coconut milk and substitute chicken broth for veggie stock for a vegetarian feast. Cauliflower and eggplant also make nice meat replacements with an umami flavour. Again cooking times will vary.
How To Make Coconut Basil Chicken Curry
- Season the chicken: Cube chicken and place in a small bowl. Add the chili and curry powder as well as salt and pepper before mixing well. Set aside.
- Brown the chicken: The key to achieve perfectly cooked and wonderfully flavored chicken is to brown the pieces in olive oil. Make sure the pan is not crowded or else the chicken will not brown.
- Sauté aromatics: Add the onion and sauté till translucent. Followed by the garlic and jalapeno.
- Finish the curry: The moment that garlic becomes fragrant, add your chicken stock and coconut milk. You’ll let this come to a boil before reducing to medium heat and further cooking for 5 more minutes. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over fluffy rice and devour!
Curry In An Instant Pot?
Rather than using the stovetop and saucepan method, this curry can be prepared in an instant pot in a matter of minutes. Turn the instant pot to the sauté setting and add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant the other ingredients can be added. Turn on the poultry setting and set a timer for 5 minutes. Always wait a further 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally before opening. For more information on preparing an instant pot curry, refer to this recipe.
How To Store Curry
Curry should be safely sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3 days. If you want this curry to last, my advice is to freeze it. Ensure that it is fully cooled before sealing and use a shallow container to ensure even freezing. Stir well while reheating.
Craving More Homemade Curries? Try These:
- Coconut Shrimp Curry
- Thai Red Chicken Curry
- Indian Salmon Curry With Saffron Rice
- Instant Pot Butter Chicken
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Coconut Basil Chicken Curry
- 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts boneless and skinless (2 or 3 depending on size), cut into small cubes
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup basil fresh and torn roughly
- 14 oz coconut milk (1 can)
- 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium or no sodium added
- Add the chicken to a small bowl and sprinkle the curry powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Toss the chicken so that each piece is well seasoned. Set aside.
- In a large skillet add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, just until the chicken starts to brown.
- Add the onion to the skillet and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another 30 seconds just until the garlic becomes aromatic.
- Add the chicken broth and coconut milk to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a medium and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the basil and remove from heat.
- Serve warm over rice.
Recipe originally published March 2013 and it has been updated with new pictures and video.