Learn how to make chicken curry with coconut milk, and you’ll never want takeout again. Featuring tender chicken simmered in delicately spiced coconut curry, it’s a mouthwatering combination. Instant pot and slow cooker methods included!
I love Indian takeout, but making it at home is actually VERY easy and tastes even better than anything storebought.
That’s where this coconut chicken curry recipe comes into play. Like butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, and chicken masala, this recipe is so flavorful, and the sauce tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. Only you will know just how quickly it came together.
Table of Contents
- Made with homemade curry powder. I don’t mind using store-bought curry powder, but this homemade version is simply better. I like to make a big batch and store it to use at a moment’s notice.
- Cooks in one skillet. So you have fewer dishes to clean up after!
- Instant pot and slow cooker options. While I prefer it on the stovetop, I’ve included instant pot and slow cooker instructions, too.
- Great for meal prep. As good as this dish tastes on day one, it’s even better the next day. It reheats well and pairs effortlessly with a little basmati rice or 2 ingredient naan.
- Curry spice mix. I used a blend of ground coriander, cumin, ginger, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and ground mustard.
- Canned tomatoes. To thin out the broth and add savoriness. Even though it will be blended, I still recommend canned tomatoes over tomato sauce.
- Olive oil. For sautéeing.
- Onion and garlic. For aromatics.
- Ginger. For a subtle spice and Asian flavor.
- Chicken broth. To thin out the broth. I suggest using a low-sodium chicken broth since salt can get added later.
- Chicken breasts. Chopped into half-inch chunks.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the sauce.
- Coconut milk. I highly recommend canned full-fat coconut milk since it’s way thicker and creamier than carton milk.
How to make chicken curry with coconut milk
I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1- Prep work. In a small bowl, mix the curry powder ingredients. Add the canned diced tomatoes into a blender and blend until silky smooth.
Step 2- Cook the aromatics. In a large skillet, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry spice blend and pan fry for 1-2 minutes.
Step 3- Cook the chicken. To the skillet, add the chicken broth and blended diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until fully cooked.
Step 4- Add cornstarch. If the curry isn’t thick enough, mix the cornstarch with a splash of cold water to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the curry until combined. Stir in the coconut milk, remove the pan from the heat, and serve.
Alternative cooking methods
I’ve tested this recipe to see how it holds up in the instant pot and slow cooker, and it works wonderfully. Here is how you do it:
Instant pot method- Make the curry powder and blend the tomatoes. Set the instant pot to sauté mode. Add oil and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and curry blend as described. Add the broth, tomatoes, and chicken to the pot. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook mode for 8 minutes, then natural pressure release for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cornstarch slurry.
Slow cooker method- Make the curry powder and blend the tomatoes. In a skillet, sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and curry blend. Add this mixture, along with the broth, tomatoes, and chicken, to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-3 hours, then remove the lid and add the coconut milk and cornstarch slurry.
Recipe tips and variations
- Cut the chicken into even pieces. So they all cook evenly.
- Add vegetables. I kept this curry simple so the chicken stands out, but you can easily incorporate all sorts of veggies into the curry. My favorites to add are cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and sliced red bell peppers.
- Mix the coconut milk. Before adding it to the curry, I always mix it with a fork or whisk since there’s usually quite a bit of separation.
- Make it spicy. If you’re a spice fiend like I am, add a dash (or two) of red chili flakes or cayenne pepper.
- Add more tomato flavor. Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste for a stronger, more pronounced tomato flavor.
- Use other cuts of chicken. I’ve made this recipe with chicken thighs and even leftover rotisserie chicken, and let me tell you, it tastes great no matter what!
- Garnish. I like to add a little fresh cilantro for a color pop.
How to store leftovers
To store: Any leftover chicken curry can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To freeze: To keep your leftovers fresher for longer, allow them to cool completely, store them in a freezer-safe container, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let the curry thaw overnight in the fridge, or add more reheating time.
To reheat: Microwave the curry until warm or reheat it in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches your desired temperature.
If I end up with too much curry sauce, I like to save it for the next day to use in place of liquid in curry fried rice.
More Indian-inspired recipes to try
- Tandoori chicken– Smoky, juicy chicken marinated in yogurt and oven-baked.
- Chicken saag– Tender chicken simmered in a creamy spinach sauce.
- Shrimp curry– An easy one-pot dinner made in 10 minutes.
- Paneer tikka masala– My go-to vegetarian dish at any Indian restaurant.
Chicken Curry With Coconut Milk
- In a small bowl, mix together the curry powder ingredients. Add the canned diced tomatoes into a blender and blend until silky smooth.
- In a large skillet, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and cook for several minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry spice blend and pan fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and blended diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low, cover and let everything simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until cooked through.
- If the curry isn’t thick enough, stir through the cornstarch very well, ensuring it is fully mixed in. Stir through the coconut milk and remove the pan off the heat. Serve immediately.
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