One of our restaurant’s best selling dishes, this Thai Coconut Chicken is redolent with the tastes and smells of a tropical island. Creamy coconut milk, a blast of citrus from lemongrass, and juicy chicken make this an incredibly satisfying dish. And it’s so quick! Served over rice to soak up the rich sauce, it’s a complete meal. Try it tonight and shake up your chicken routine!
The real star of this chicken is the coconutty sauce. People always tell me they could just drink it straight. And with only 4 ingredients, it couldn’t be easier to make. Kaffir lime leaves add authentic Thai flavor, and the fish sauce gives it a hint of funky complexity.
Combine the leaves, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
At the restaurant, we use chicken breast, but I really prefer to use chicken thighs for this dish. They have more flavor that really stands up to the rich sauce. And even if you let them braise a few minutes longer, they are still going to be moist and flavorful. I cut each thigh into 3 long strips, and then cuts those strips into generous bite sized pieces.
The dried chilis mostly add a pop of color; this is not a spicy dish. But you might want to warn people they are in there and not to bite into them if they don’t love spicy food.
At this point, the sauce has thickened to a velvety creaminess. I serve this family style, with rice, and let people help themselves. (If you are carb watching, it is also fabulous over cauliflower rice.) This Thai Coconut Chicken has been thrilling customers for 20 years. Make it tonight and enjoy a Thai feast. Extra points if you serve it with Lychee Mai Tais.
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Thai Coconut Chicken
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: serves 4 1x
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Thai
- 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 ½ Tablespoons fish sauce
- 3–4 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 ½ lbs chicken thighs
- ½ large onion
- 3–4 dried chilies (this is mostly for color)
- 3 oz spinach
- 2 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- Make the sauce: Strip the hard stem off the back of the kaffir lime leaves. Stack the leaves and cut into thin strips. Then mince the leaves by moving your knife back and forth through the pile. Combine the kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, sugar, and fish in a cup. Stir to combine, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Set aside until ready to use.
- Cut the onion in half (so the pieces will not be so long) and then slice across the onion into thin ⅛ inch pieces. Set aside.
- Cut the chicken thighs into 3 pieces and then cut across the pieces to create large 1 inch pieces. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil, swirl it in the pan and then add the chicken in one layer. Let the chicken cook untouched for 1-2 minutes and then stir fry it for another minute.
- Add the onion and stir fry for another 2 minutes until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the lemongrass and stir to combine.
- Add the sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, and letting the sauce reduce.
- Add the spinach to the pan and cook for another minute so the spinach wilts.
- Take the pan off the heat and pour into a shallow bowl. Serve immediately.