This Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce is incredibly easy to make and absolutely packed with delicious spice and flavor.
(This recipe for Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce was originally published in February 2010, but was updated with new photos in 2019).
Sometimes I spend more time trying to decide what to make for dinner than I do actually making dinner. But when I just can’t decide what to make, I usually head over to my favorite blogs and just browse. You all know I’m obsessed with Martha Stewart and everything she does, but her website is not easy to navigate for inspiration.
Most blogs are much easier to browse and find yummy dishes to make. One of my favorite blogs to browse is Simply Recipes. I can head over there when I have NO idea what to make and usually come away with at least three ideas in no time at all. This time one of those ideas was Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce. It went on my must-make list immediately. Basil Chicken is good, but basil chicken curry is way, way better, especially if that curry is a coconut curry sauce!
Should I Use Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs?
You can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this recipe, so it’s totally up to you. Though chicken breasts have less calories and fat (including saturated fat) than chicken thighs (source) and are often more expensive than thighs, a lot of people like the flavor of thighs better.
Though the original basil chicken curry recipe called for thighs, I opted for breasts and I have to tell you that this dish makes chicken breasts taste absolutely incredibly! I totally get how people often think they’re dry, bland, and boring, but this recipe really makes them delicious. That said, I’m absolutely positive thighs would be amazing, too.
Why is There No Curry Powder in This Coconut Curry Sauce?
A couple people have commented on this recipe and asked why there is no curry powder or garam masala listed in the recipe ingredients. That’s because curry powder is really just a blend of spices and rather simply use curry powder here, we’re making our own custom spice mixture.
Do you have to do this? Well, no. If you don’t have these spices in your pantry and prefer to keep things simple, you can use curry powder or garam masala and end up with a fairly similar recipe. However, I’ve found that the blend of spices used in this recipe makes my ideal coconut curry sauce, which is why I’m sharing it here.
In fact, you might try this recipe and decide you’d adjust the spice mixture next time due to your own personal preferences. Feel free to experiment and come up a spice mixture that appeals to you and your family best!
Is the Curry Sauce Spicy?
There are many different kinds of curry sauce and some are spicy and some aren’t. This particular coconut curry sauce isn’t very spicy (there’s just a little chili powder in it), but because there are jalapeño peppers in the dish, it can get a little spicy.
If you’re not a fan of spice or are serving this dish to kids, I recommend being sure to scrape the seeds out of the jalapeños before chopping. The seeds hold most of the heat, so if you just include the pepper part, you’ll mainly be getting the flavor. However, you can always cut down on the amount of jalapeño, too.
Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce Recipe
With all that said, please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients in this basil chicken curry recipe. Lots of them are spices that you probably already have in your pantry (if not, you should because you’ll definitely use them again!). Despite all those ingredients (spices), this basil chicken in coconut curry sauce is so, so easy.
Start by mixing all those beautiful spices together in a small bowl. Then put your chicken pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle the spice mixture all over it. Let the chicken rest for about 30 minutes.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and jalapeño and cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan and put in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Using the same pan, add another Tbsp of oil and add half of the chicken pieces, spreading them out to make sure they’re not overcrowded. Cook for a few minutes on each side to brown.
When they’re cooked through, remove from the pan and add them to the bowl of onion/jalapeño. Repeat with remaining chicken and remove that to the bowl, too.
Now for the coconut curry sauce! Add the coconut milk to the skillet and cook on medium-high and stir until it thickens a bit and gets bubbly. Then mix in the Worcestershire sauce.
Add the chicken and onion/jalapeño, along with basil and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.
Serve the basil chicken curry over rice… brown is always best! But obviously you can use whatever kind of rice you want. Or even quinoa. Or cauliflower rice.
Heck, eat it right out of the skillet with a spoon if you want with nothing on the side. I won’t tell.
Oh my goodness, this basil chicken in coconut curry sauce is so incredibly flavorful and satisfying! I didn’t scrape the seeds out of my jalapeños (because we love heat in my house!), so this definitely had an extra kick to it.
I also decided to add more fresh basil over the top since I legit love fresh basil so much. And since this dish is called basil chicken curry and all, I figured it needed some extra!
I’ve never actually attempted making my own curry, but this coconut curry sauce is something I’ll most definitely be making again. There are sooo many things that can be done with curry and I love it so much.
There are also so many kinds of curry and I want to make them all!
Like I mentioned, you can definitely use chicken thighs for this recipe, but I was really happy I used chicken breasts because they ended up being so moist and flavorful when cooked in the spices and in the coconut curry sauce.
Some people prefer using chicken thighs to breasts because breasts can be drier and less flavorful, but that is not the case with this recipe!
Really, there is absolutely nothing I didn’t like about this basil chicken curry dish. In case you haven’t been able to tell by this whole post. And it’s the perfect warm-up dish for today’s GROSS and RAINY weather in Boston.
Do you like curry sauce?
If you’re looking for more recipes that really highlight basil, check out my Thai Beef Basil with Coconut Milk or my Basil and Garlic White Pizza. If you’re interested in more curry recipes, check out this Vegan Massaman Curry from The Curious Chickpea!
Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces (you can substitute for thighs)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 3/4 cup chopped onion (from 1 medium onion)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 jalapeño peppers, minced (remove seeds if you want to cut down on heat in dish)
- 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped (plus more for topping, if desired)
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2-3 cups cooked brown rice (can also use white rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or whatever you desire!)
- Mix all the spices (from the cumin to the turmeric) in a small bowl.
- Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle the spice mixture over it. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeño and cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for one more minute, until fragrant. Remove mixture from skillet and place in a medium size bowl.
- Add remaining Tbsp of oil to the same skillet and add half of the chicken pieces, spreading them out to make sure they’re not overcrowded. Cook for a few minutes on each side to cook through and lightly brown. When cooked through, remove from the skillet and add them to the bowl of onion/jalapeño. Repeat with remaining chicken and remove that to the bowl, too.
- Pour the coconut milk into the skillet. Cook on medium-high and stir until sauce thickens and starts bubbling a bit. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the chicken and onion/jalapeño mixture back into the skillet, along with basil and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Serve basil chicken over rice. Spoon more coconut curry sauce over the top. Top with more basil if desired.
- Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes