Coconut Milk Chicken with Cilantro Lime
Creamy coconut milk chicken with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and red pepper flakes. Your taste buds are in for a treat!
Serving Tip: Serve this coconut lime chicken over Pineapple Rice with a side of Roasted Garlic Green Beans for one incredibly delicious meal.
Coconut Lime Chicken
The best type of meals are sometimes the easiest type of meals that require minimal ingredients and little prep time.
This coconut milk chicken is made with chicken breast that is simmered in the most delicious creamy coconut milk sauce with fresh lime juice, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.
The sweetness of coconut milk combined with the freshness of lime juice and the spiciness of pepper flakes is seriously one of the best flavor combinations. The best way to serve it is over hot cooked rice.
Coconut milk is the star of this creamy cilantro lime chicken. It adds creamy richness, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor.
It also thickens naturally so you don’t need any additional thickening agents. Here are a few tips when buying coconut milk.
- Canned – there are many varieties of coconut milk, such as canned, boxed, refrigerated, and even powdered. Look for canned coconut milk, usually found in the Asian aisle of the grocery store.
- Unsweetened – be sure you’re buying unsweetened coconut milk. It’s naturally sweet, whereas sweetened condensed coconut milk and cream of coconut both contain added sugar and are often found near the coconut milk.
- Full-Fat – for best results, use full-fat coconut milk. Lite coconut milk has less fat than regular coconut milk and tends to be more watery looking in the can. Plus you want the richness of full-fat coconut milk.
- Shake the Can – when you crack open a can, there’s often a layer of the solid white stuff at the top, which is what’s known as “coconut cream.” Before opening the can, vigorously shake it to combine the cream and the liquid together.
- Favorite Brand – I love Thai Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk, which is fairly available at most grocery stores. It only has three ingredients and tastes and looks the best.
I also love the brand Nature’s Promise, which is a Giant grocery store label. You can also make your own coconut milk with only 2-ingredients!
How to Make Coconut Chicken
- Step 1: First prep the chicken by slicing each breast in half lengthwise. Place each cutlet between plastic wrap and pound until no more than 1/4-inch thick. Season all over with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Step 2: Heat a large sauté pan, preferably a cast-iron or a stainless steel pan over medium/high heat. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When butter is melted and hot, add chicken and sauté until lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- You want the chicken lightly seared on the outside but still raw on the inside. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Step 3: To the same pan, add the remaining olive oil, white parts of the green onion and garlic. Cook just until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Make sure to keep an eye on it as the garlic burns easily.
- Stir in chicken stock, lime juice and zest, honey, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes while scraping to loosen brown bits from the bottom of the pan. You want the mixture at a simmer and not boil, so if needed, reduce the heat at this point.
- Step 4: Stir in coconut milk and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until reduced and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Step 5: Return the chicken to the pan and cook until completely cooked through. It should take no more than 4-5 minutes. Make sure not to overcook the chicken or it will be tough.
- Step 6: Lastly, stir in the green parts of the green onion and cilantro. Serve over hot cooked rice.
How to Cook Chicken with Coconut Oil
You can easily make this coconut milk chicken recipe completely dairy-free by simply swapping out the butter for the coconut oil. Use unrefined or virgin coconut oil. It’s going to be the least processed.
In step 2, where the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, simply use 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Heat it over medium/high heat with olive oil and proceed with the recipe as directed.
Coconut Milk Recipes
- Coconut Milk Shrimp – try this version but with shrimp instead.
- Coconut Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa – must for summer grill out!
- Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice – pairs so well with grilled chicken or seafood
- Easy Chicken Vegetable Curry – easy and quick one-pan meal
Video: How to Make Coconut Milk Chicken with Cilantro Lime
Coconut Milk Chicken with Cilantro Lime
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Thai
Creamy cilantro lime chicken with coconut milk, fresh lime juice, cilantro, and red pepper flakes. Your taste buds are in for a treat!
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. butter*
- 2 green onions, green and whites sliced + separated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 (14 oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk, full fat
- 2–3 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise and pound each cutlet between plastic wrap until no more than 1/4″ thick. Season each cutlet all over with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large heavy-duty sauté pan over medium-high heat, preferably a cast-iron or a stainless steel pan. Melt butter with 1 Tablespoon of oil. When hot, add chicken cutlets and sauté until lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes per side. You want the chicken just lightly seared on the outside and not cooked through. Transfer to a plate.
- To the same pan, add the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and cook the white parts of the green onions and garlic until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Make sure not to burn the garlic.
- Stir in chicken stock, lime juice, lime zest, honey, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes, while stirring and scraping to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan. If needed, reduce the heat so the mixture is at a simmer and not a boil.
- Stir in coconut milk and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until reduced and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in green parts of green onions and cilantro.
- To make it dairy-free, use coconut oil in place of butter.
- Serving Size: 1 cutlet with sauce
- Calories: 428
- Sugar: 9 g
- Sodium: 93.5 mg
- Fat: 30.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.2 g
- Protein: 28.1 g
- Cholesterol: 93.5 mg
Keywords: dairy free, quick, easy, chicken breast, summer
I made this recipe, and it was really delicious, I added some ginger to it and wow! it was amazing, I also pured the chicken and sauce over a jacket potato!
This meal is going to be my go to from now on 😁
I made the Coconut Milk Chicken with Cilantro Lime and it was a triumph. Have shared the recipe with my children who will enjoy it as much as we did tonight. Great recipe thanks
is chicken stock necessary?
I made it without the chicken stock and it was good
I made this tonight with the Pineapple rice; both were delicious! Thank you for the wonderful recipes!
Finally made the dish, per recipe instructions, and I still don’t know if it will go into the regular rotation. The instructions to adjust to taste after simmering with coconut milk were kind of strange since I didn’t know what flavor I was after. I did add more lime juice. When I did that taste test I noticed a coating on my tongue that I attribute to the coconut cream. Definitely a different sensation/taste a thoroughly pleasant one. I also made the pineapple basmati rice, a first for me. The recipe in my opinion would have only rated three stars but over the pineapple rice definitely kicked it up to four. At times I felt like the chicken got in the way- the pineapple rice and “gravy” were so GOOD.
I cannot wait to have the leftovers- to see how the flavors meld.
Thank you for the recipe.
I simply adore this recipe! I was a bit shy of trying the pineapple rice, but gee, was I in for a surprise! Delicious is too mild a word for these recipes. Can’t wait to make it again and again!
I didn’t make enough rice and I am absolutely shamelessly spooning up the rest of the sauce like a soup. Made this with drumsticks (because $ and toddlers) and it worked out really well to sear them, transfer them to a tray in a 425 oven while making the sauce, and proceeding from there as written. Family loved it, will be using this site more often!
Super easy and really tasty.
Little broken has got to be the best cookery site I have found. All the recipes are fabulous and easy to follow.
Thank you Carol! I appreciate your feedback.
I have made this dish many times. It is a huge family favorite!! My family likes a bit more spice so I add extra chili flakes, green onions and cilantro. For my one vegetarian, I substitute tofu and sweet potatoes for chicken. It’s definitely a keeper!
Delicious and easy to make. It is a favorite for my hard-to-feed teen boys, and I love it, too. Serve with brown rice and broccoli for a quick, scrumptious, and healthy dinner.
I am currently on a detox and had to leave out the butter and honey. Instead I used 2 T of raw tahini butter. Also, I’m not a lime or cilantro fan, so I used lemon and parsley, fantastic! I will definitely make this again.
So like, you just made a totally different recipe. Love that journey for you
Hahaha. Made my day.
This was very easy and SO tasty. Thank you! My husband LOVED it–as did I. It’s definitely going on the regular rotation, and I may need to double the recipe for extra leftovers. I love how the sauce is easily adjustable for any taste preferences (i.e., Prefer things spicy? Add more pepper flakes. Want more tang? Add more lime.) It really is a recipe to please the masses. Also, I used basmati, which seems a pretty natural choice, but the sauce would be so tasty on quinoa and other heartier grains. You really can’t go wrong since it’s so good! Next time, I’m going to throw in broccoli to the sauce in those last 4-5 min just to get some veggies and soak up more of that delicious sauce.
Pretty good recipe. Simple and straightforward and really yummy. It was a bit too runny for me and I summered for almost 20 minutes and used less chicken broth than asked. Eeek.
What a winner! Thank you for your lovely recipe.
Does this reheat well? It’s one of my favourite recipes so I’m thinking of making a double batch to have leftovers the next night.
Easy to prep and delicious. Kids enjoyed it too
I just made this to use with some cilantro and Thai herb chicken meat balls – cilantro, garlic, 1/3 cup finely diced cilantro onion Garlic ginge cumin turmeric cayenne pepper salt. They make an incredible mix with your sauce!
I cooked the chicken meat balls first, then made the sauce, then let them simmer together. I may serve them over some noodles or rice.
I added a little more onion and fresh cilantro than you called for, but it really adds a nice fresh garden taste to the dish.
So so good. Thank you!!
Thank you for sharing!
Can I leave out the cilantro? Do I use something else in its place or can I just omit it? Also, do you have a baked chicken thigh version of this?
You can! But it really adds a nice hint of freshness at the end. And no I do not have a baked version of it.
Hello! Do you think this would be yummy in the crock pot instead? I’m not good at making stovetop chicken!
To be honest, I’m not sure how it would do in a crockpot as I’ve never tried it.
Hi, can this only be made with chicken breast? I was hoping to make it with chicken thighs?
It should work fine with the chicken thighs. I would not pound the thighs though.
Why would you not pound the thighs? I have skinless, boneless thighs so was thinking of treating them exactly the same as breasts.
Thighs are smaller than breast so no need to pound them to even thickness. Plus if you pound them too much, they’ll rip and possibly dry out when cooked. Simply use boneless, skinless thighs and brown them in the skillet without pounding.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier and you get a lot of bang for your buck. I’ve made this twice now and it’s my new go to fast-n-easy, I’m-hungry-now dish. The sauce is so satisfying. It hits all the marks. I paired this with plain white rice (cooked in chicken stock and butter and only because I didn’t have a can of pineapple) and roasted teriyaki green beans. Delish! My new favorite recipe!
I don’t prefer sweet foods, so it was a little sweet for me, but my husband LOVED it. I’ll half the honey next time and maybe double the chicken stock. I added more chicken stock to my serving and it was perfect. Loved how easy this was.
Thank you Lisa! So glad to hear you enjoyed it.
Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.
Can I substitute lemon if I don’t have lime?
Looks and smells amazing, I am in the final steps of this! Seems like my sauce isn’t thickening though?
Make sure you’re using full fat coconut milk.
I made this tonight, with the pineapple rice, and it is absolutely amazing!!! I thought I’d gotten out boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I actually got out breast tenderloins. They were perfect to just lightly brown and continue on… no pounding necessary. This had a flavor profile that I was unfamiliar with but can say that it’s a taste that I can certainly add into a regular meal rotation. Thanks, so much, for both of these recipes!
Thank you! I appreciate the feedback. So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
I had coconut milk on hand and found your recipe in my search. Glad I did! Made this with your pineapple rice – both were a family hit!
I’ve made this multiple times and it remains a favorite! This was my first recipe using coconut milk so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the combo of sweet, spicy, and citrus is SO GOOD! I also love that it uses simple ingredients, most of which are always in my pantry. The suggestion to serve with pineapple rice and roasted green beans is spot on – One of my favorite meals.
That’s so great! Thank you.
We Loved it!!! My husband is doing Keto so I skipped the honey. I also added one cup of thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms along with the coconut milk. Great recipe!!
I love the addition of mushrooms! Thank you.
Can I use water or white wine if I don’t have chicken or vegetable stock?
I think white wine would work.
This was so good! Everyone here loved it, and that is rare :). I only had light canned coconut milk, so my sauce wasn’t thick, but it tastes so good that I don’t care at all. We can’t have dairy, so I omitted the butter and the oil was plenty. And my son can’t have honey so I subbed maple syrup. I mixed in steamed broccoli and wilted some spinach at the end. So, so delicious!
Thank you Traci! So happy to hear you enjoyed the chicken recipe.
Delicious and savory!
I love coconut milk and I love lime, so this receipt was appealing to me. However, I was hesitate because the lack of seasoning. I just made it and it is delicious with lots of flavor. I will make again, but add more fire; I love spicy. Thank you.
Can I cut chicken into cubes and add mashroom?
You can cut the chicken into cubes. You’ll have to adjust the cooking time so the chicken is not dry. I would not add the mushrooms.
I was just about to do (cube the chicken & add mushrooms, but did not) the same thing. I did add fresh from the bag baby kale and spinach. This recipe is tops, second time making it and it’s a winner. Will add a pinch more pepper flakes.
Looks like a great recipe!! I have not cooked using coconut milk. Does this dish have a coconut flavor to it? My husband does not like anything with a coconut taste so I’m afraid to try it. Thanks<3
Thank you! I would say the coconut taste is not too strong but you can definitely still taste it.
Is this spicy? If making for a toddler would you omit the red pepper flakes or just reduce amount to still get the flavor vs spice?
I would cut down the chili flakes to 1/4 teaspoon if serving to kids.
This was delicious! My only challenge was the coconut milk appears to have separated. Any tips to prevent this in the future?
Did you use full fat coconut milk (and not lite)? Also cooking the sauce over higher heat can break down the milk.
My wife is a picky eater and she rarely likes chicken. After trying it with this recipe, she’s asked me to make it more! Great recipe and the best part IT’S QUICK TO MAKE!
That’s great! Thank you Vito.
My husband is not a picky eater but at times he is with special foods like my coconut crushed chicken tenders and anything curry based. But I wanted to try something healthy! This recipe was a hit! My husband absolutely loved this! My husband bought me 2 coconut milk cans the following day and requested I make it again! It was a hit and there were NO leftovers! (Yay for my Tupperware) The sides I found that compliment the chicken is mashed potatoes and vegetables! Will be using this website more often now!
That’s so great! So happy to hear it was a hit.
I’m thinking of making this with leftover white-meat turkey… do you think it will work?
With cooked turkey meat or raw? It could possibly work.
Can i use lemon juice and basil (instead of lime juice and cilantro)
I think it should be okay! I haven’t tried it with lemon juice but it’s most similar to the flavor and acidity of lime.
Loved this! I’m always looking for coconut recipes without curry in it. Even my picky 7 year old eat it.
That’s so great! Thank you Aileen.
We make this dish all of the time. We love it. What a fun, innovative recipe!!
Thank you! So happy you’re enjoying it.