This Thai Chicken Coconut Curry is made with tender chicken and vegetables in an easy coconut curry sauce made with red Thai curry paste. It’s fantastically flavorful and better than takeout! Keep it low carb by serving with cauliflower rice.
A few years ago when my family went to Thailand, I took a morning and went to a Thai cooking class. It was so much fun to learn about the flavors and cooking methods of another culture while visiting that country and it inspired me to come home and make more of my favorite Thai foods in my own kitchen, like this Thai chicken coconut curry that balances the four flavors of Thai cooking: salty, spicy, sour, and sweet.
Every Thai dish balances at least two, but sometimes all four, of these flavors. It’s a big part of their culinary tradition!
In Thai chicken coconut curry, it’s the play between the sweet coconut milk, spicy red curry paste, sour lime juice, and salty fish sauce that gives it those classic Thai flavors that we love. Using store-bought red curry paste makes this an easy weeknight dish, and even my cooking instructor in Thailand said that hardly anybody there makes their own curry paste because it’s so much work and uses so many difficult to find ingredients.
What you will need to make Thai chicken coconut curry
- Chicken: We prefer using chicken breast meat in this recipe, but thighs would be great too! Just chop the chicken into 1-inch pieces for easy cooking.
- Salt & Pepper: Season the chicken before cooking by sprinkling it with a little salt and pepper. It helps build the flavor of the dish rather than waiting to season it at the end.
- Oil: Any neutral-tasting oil will work for cooking the chicken.
- Veggies: I love to add zucchini, bell pepper, and onion to my curry, but it’s a great dish to use up whatever you have in the fridge. Sugar snap peas, broccolini, green onions, and green beans also work great! Just keep the amounts about the same and you can swap your favorite vegetables in and out.
- Garlic: Everything is better with garlic, right? One interesting thing I learned in my Thai cooking class is that they use much smaller, but much more potent garlic in Thailand, but this recipe was written with large garlic cloves in mind that most of us are familiar with.
- Ginger: I highly recommend using fresh ginger instead of subbing dried ginger in this recipe.
- Thai Red Curry Paste: You can adjust the amount of curry paste to make this dish more spicy or mild depending on your taste. We consider this “medium-spicy” as written, so if you are concerned about too much heat, you might want to cut the amount in half, or if you want it really spicy you might want to add another 2 tablespoons.
- Coconut Milk: Use full-fat coconut milk for the best flavor.
- Fish Sauce: This is one of those ingredients that might scare some away, but it really adds awesome flavor without making the dish taste “fishy”. It definitely adds authenticity!
- Lime Juice: You can even serve lime wedges on the side to squire more lime juice on if you like things extra pucker-y.
How to make Thai chicken coconut curry
Prep the chicken and veggies: Chop the chicken into bite-size pieces and pat dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Wash and chop the veggies so they are ready when it’s time to cook.
Heat a little oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and cook without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Then once they have a bit of a brown crust on one side, stir them and continue to cook until mostly cooked through (but they don’t have to cook all the way just yet). Transfer to a plate.
Add a little more oil to the pan if needed, then saute the veggies for 3-4 minutes. The goal is to just soften them but leave them tender-crisp rather than mushy. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute more to develop their flavor.
Stir in the coconut milk, red curry paste, and fish sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Lastly, stir in lime juice, then taste and adjust with more lime juice, fish sauce, or salt as needed. Serve over cauliflower rice.
More dishes with classic Thai flavors
If you love Thai food like this red curry, you might also enjoy Coconut Mango Sticky Rice or this Thai Sweet Chili Salmon.
Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
Thai Red Curry Paste
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast chopped into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 zucchini sliced
- 1 red bell pepper sliced
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or more to taste
Pat the chicken pieces until dry, then season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add the chicken and cook without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring until browned a bit and the chicken pieces are mostly cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, then saute the zucchini, red bell pepper, and onions for 3-4 minutes just to soften a bit but not so long that they go mushy. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook another 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk, red curry paste, and fish sauce, and whisk together. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in lime juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more lime juice, fish sauce, or salt as desired. Serve over cauliflower rice.