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June 19, 2023

Grilled Curry Chicken with Smashed Cucumber Salad

This red curry marinade gives chicken thighs on the grill a dynamite flavor profile with coconut milk and lime juice as backup. Paired with a zingy smashed cucumber salad, this meal has it all!

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Grilled curry chicken thighs with smashed cucumber salad on a large serving platter with a serving fork
Photography by Gayle McLeod

So Much Delish In This Grilled Coconut Curry Chicken

Chicken is the blank canvas of most of our summer grilling projects, and this grilled chicken curry marinade is about as flavorful as they come–with coconut milk, zippy lime juice, red curry paste, and an optional sprinkle of fish sauce. Our coconut curry grilled chicken easily pairs with a side of Rice, or Peanut Udon Noodles for a little more excitement. Perfect with a refreshing Agua Fresca!

chicken thighs, cucumbers, red curry paste, sesame oil, brown sugar, coconut milk, brown sugar and spices in prep bowls

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Ingredients To Make Curry Chicken On The Grill

This is a composed dish, with a longer list of ingredients that can be found with the recipe. Here’s a highlight of some of the prominent ingredients to get things started.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – These are a little quicker cooking than bone-in, but if you can only get your hands on bone-in thighs they’ll work too.

  • Red curry paste – You might be familiar with our passion for red curry paste from our Red Curry Risotto or Red Curry Beef recipes.

  • Coconut milk + lime juice – For our flavor match made in heaven.

  • Persian cucumbers – Crunchier and less watery than a regular cuke, we like the Persian variety for this recipe, but standard cucumbers will also do.

  • Sesame oil and fish sauce – Sesame oil is a must for this marinade, and fish sauce is optional, but highly recommended for that little umami je ne sais quoi.

coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, cilantro, lime juice, salt, brown sugar, and garlic combined in a small glass bowl
boneless, skinless chicken thighs being tossed with a red curry marinade with tongs in a glass bowl
red curry marinated chicken thighs being cooked on a grill and brushed with reserved marinade
red curry marinated chicken thighs on a baking sheet

Step by Step or How to Make

  • Make the marinade. Whisk together the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce (if using), cilantro, lime juice, salt, brown sugar, and garlic until mostly smooth.

  • Marinate the chicken. The chicken needs at least 30 minutes in the marinade, or up to overnight (in the fridge of course!).

  • Grill the chicken. Cook until the chicken begins to char, about 4 minutes per side. Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade and cook about 10 minutes more. The char is essential here!

  • Make the salad. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber, green onions, and cilantro with the lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce (if using), brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Let marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

  • Assemble the dish. Arrange the chicken on a large platter and top with the cucumber salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve family-style with the rice on the side.

cucumber, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and salt in a bowl
smashed cucumber salad in a glass bowl made with green onions, cilantro, and lime juice

How to Store Grilled Curry Chicken Thighs + Tips

  • We often find ourselves with leftover coconut milk on hand. When that happens we like to whip up a batch of Vegan Mint Chip Ice Cream or Overnight Oats.

  • If you’re not familiar with smashing cucumbers, the best technique is to turn a chef’s knife so the blade is flat against the cutting surface, using the flat part of the blade to smash the cucumber slices *just* until they smash open. Just a nice little pop with your hand against the knife. You don’t want to pulverize them!

  • Can you substitute chicken breasts? Yes! We recommend using tenders for this, but breasts are just fine. Just keep a close eye when grilling, you don’t want to dry them out!

  • Can you make this on a stove top? Absolutely. Just cook over medium-low heat in a large heavy bottom skillet. Be mindful not to burn!

Grilled curry chicken with smashed cucumber salad on a large serving platter with a serving fork

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Grilled Curry Chicken with Smashed Cucumber Salad

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  45 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 337

Ingredients

Chicken

  • ¾ cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Cucumber Salad

  • 6 small Persian cucumbers, cut into 1½- inch slices then smashed
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Method

  1. Make the chicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce (if using), cilantro, lime juice, salt, brown sugar, and garlic until mostly smooth. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

  2. Preheat the grill on high. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Reduce the heat to medium low and place the chicken on the grill. Cook until the chicken begins to char, about 4 minutes per side. Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade and cook, turning, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant read thermometer, about 10 minutes more.

  3. Meanwhile, make the salad. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber, green onions, and cilantro with the lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce (if using), brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt. Let marinate at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

  4. Arrange the chicken on a large platter and top with the cucumber salad. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve family-style with the rice on the side.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories337
  • Protein34 g
  • Carbohydrates14 g
  • Total Fat19 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium657 mg
  • Total Sugars5 g

Grilled Curry Chicken with Smashed Cucumber Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Rebecca Zbuchalski

    Would this recipe work with salmon, just less cooking time?

    Should work fine! Hope you enjoy!

  • Penny@RealizingHome

    Could you please recommend a substitute for the Persian cucumbers if I can't find them? Would regular cucumbers work?

    English cucumber is a better substitute if you can find them but if not regular will work just fine! Hope you enjoy Penny!

  • Michelle

    What is the stovetop grill pan you show in the photo? Looking for an alternative to grilling for indoor stovetop use on an electric stove.

    It is actually not a stovetop grill pan it's the Cuisinart Venture Portable Gas Grill.

  • Deanna K.

    We don't have a grill. Can I use grill pan or cast iron skillet to cook the chicken? Thank you.

    Absolutely! Hope you enjoy!

  • linh tran

    Can i do this with green curry paste instead of red?

    Sure!

  • Sarah

    I have made this recipe at least five times and every time it comes out perfectly with so much flavor! I always chop my cucumbers and add shredded carrots to the salad.

    Thanks Sarah, we are so glad you love it!

  • Laura

    Delicious!!! I wouldn’t skip the fish sauce - it gives it that extra flavor you don’t want to miss! Easy to prep early and then just grill the chicken!

    Thanks Laura! We are so happy you loved it!

  • Jessie

    Adding to my go-to meals for sure! So good! I made this as a bowl with basmati rice, cucumber, carrot and bell pepper with the sauce drizzled on top and it was just fantastic. Thanks for another excellent recipe!

    Thanks Jessie, so happy you loved it!

  • PHOEBE VICKERS

    This was so amazing. Added some peanuts to the salad for some extra crunch. Delicious!!

    Thanks Phoebe, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Barbara Butler

    First of all, it was oddly satisfying to smash the Persian cucumbers. I highly recommend:) The chicken is sooooo yummmy and moist. I believe I am now a gourmet chef and may even be convinced to use chicken thighs now and again.

    Thanks Barbara, we are so happy you loved it!