Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

Story by Natalie
Whole Coconut Curry Chicken
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This Thai-inspired whole chicken is poached in coconut curry broth, resulting in a one pot dish that makes for a simple and exotic weeknight dinner.

Why We Love This Whole Chicken Simmered in Coconut Curry: 

If you get to the meat aisle at your grocery store and see a whole bird for sale, a lot of us feel a pang of intimidation at the sight. But, just maybe that whole bird is just the easy dinner you've been hunting for! We think that learning how to use every part of a chicken is one of the most important skills a home cook can have. In this dish, using a whole chicken—with all that light meat, dark meat, skin, bone and chicken fat—makes for an extra flavorful, richly creamy coconut curry broth.

Bursting with flavor from our favorite Thai red curry paste, this whole coconut curry chicken has become a staple in the TMP staff houses for a few good reasons:

  • It’s cooked in one pot.
  • There is very little prep required.
  • It’s Whole30-approved.
  • It can be made ahead with equally delicious results.
  • You make use of the whole chicken, resulting in very little waste.
Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

How To Make Thai Chicken Curry

Curries are something that a lot of people think have to be relegated to take out, but they're actually really easy to make at home. The key to a good curry is full-fat, high quality coconut milk, a good Thai curry paste, and a few simple steps.

Coconut Milk:

Good quality coconut milk is the key to great flavor, and not all brands are created equal. If you’re able to hit up an Asian market, we highly recommend Aroy-D or Chaokoh brands. Their standard, full-fat coconut milk is thick and silky in texture, which is exactly what you want in a curry soup broth. If you’re unable to get one of these brands, Trader Joe’s coconut cream is a great second choice. It is slightly thicker in texture, but once cooked down yields similar results.

Looking to cut some calories? Unfortunately, low-fat coconut milk as it is seriously lacking in flavor. If you must cut calories, try subbing some broth for part of the coconut milk.

Curry Paste:

When it comes to curry paste, Mae Ploy Red Curry is our absolute favorite. It can be found at any Asian market, and at many grocery stores. The tub is large, but will last months. We use it in things like chicken satay with peanut sauce, coconut chicken soup, and so much more. If you’re unable to get your hands on the really good stuff, check out the Asian aisle at your local grocery store and see what curry paste they have on hand...chances are it will work just fine.

How To Cook A Whole Chicken In Coconut Milk? 

Using the whole chicken to make this coconut curry is an excellent idea because when meat is cooked on the bone and under the skin, it’s nearly impossible to dry it out.

  1. Using a large dutch oven, brown the whole bird in a little bit of hot oil until the skin is golden and crispy on both sides.
  2. Remove the chicken and add all of your coconut curry ingredients: the milk, Thai red curry paste, onions, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the chicken back into the pot, cover, and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Uncover and add in the bell peppers and lime zest (or any vegetables you prefer) and continue to cook covered for another 10 minutes.
  5. When you’re ready to serve either shred or quarter the chicken off the bone and serve in a bowl along with the broth and a scoop of rice. Top with fresh herbs like cilantro and basil and enjoy!

How to Thicken Thai Chicken Curry:

We like our curry chicken to be nice and brothy (just as it’s served on the street corners of Thailand), but if you’re looking to make your broth a bit thicker you can easily make a slurry using equal parts cornstarch and water to add to your pot. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the entire liquid thickens.

Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

How Long Does It Take To Cook a Whole Chicken?

Because this chicken is braised in a simmering broth with a lid on it, the cook time is reduced. With this braising cook method, the chicken only needs about 40 minutes of cook time—cook until the internal temp reads 165°F and meat is falling off the bone.

Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

Equipment Needed to Make Whole Coconut Curry Chicken:

Dutch Oven

Knife

Cutting Board

Instant Read Thermometer

Want More Whole Chicken Recipes?

Wondering what else to do with your new favorite cut of poultry? We love this recipe for whole chicken that is cooked in a cast iron skillet over a bed of cabbage. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, our whole roast chicken with white pan sauce is a winner every time.

Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

Slurp It, Slurp It Real Good.

Did you love this simple, one pot coconut curry chicken soup as much as us? Tell us about it! Post a picture to Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so we can revel in all its simmering goodness right along with you. Happy eating!

Whole Coconut Curry Chicken

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 whole chicken (3-5 lb)
2 tsp salt
2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk, divided
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 lime Zest and juice
cilantro and basil for serving

Method

  1. Rinse and pat the chicken dry (inside and out) with paper towels. Discard any "extras" from the cavity. Salt the inside and outside of the chicken.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
  3. Brown the whole chicken until the skin is golden and crispy on both sides.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot.
  5. Add the coconut milk, curry paste, onions, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the chicken back into the pot, cover, and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat.
  7. Uncover and add in the bell peppers (or any vegetables you prefer), lime zest and juice and continue to cook covered for another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165° F.
  8. When you’re ready to serve either shred or quarter the chicken off the bone and serve in a bowl along with the broth and a scoop of rice. Top with fresh herbs like cilantro and basil and enjoy!