Coconut Chicken

After raving about our favorite Indian restaurant Ryan and I were able to get one of our friends to go. This friend, mind you, is lactose intolerant. After looking at the menu, I assured her that there were plenty of things that she could order, after all their menu didn’t indicate that there was any dairy in the food.  So imagine my surprise when the first few things she tried the order, the server told her she could not eat because of the dairy. Apparently, a number of the chicken dishes involved a yogurt marinade. While the server was trying to help my friend find something to order, my mind started wandering. A Indian inspired yogurt marinade for chicken? What a wonderful idea. I immediately thought I could add a little turmeric, garam masala and maybe a little garlic and lime to the marinade. Then to finish it off I’d cook the chicken with the marinade and a little coconut milk for a touch of sweetness. I was so excited to try this I went to the grocery store the next day to pick everything up. Oh and don’t worry, my friend was able to order a delicious dish and has since been back to the restaurant because she liked it so much :)

To be honest, I am not usually a fan of coconut. Seriously, when I have a box of chocolates and bite into one with coconut, I am not a happy camper. With that said, I have to say I really do like coconut milk. It works in a variety of dishes and adds a slightly sweet flavor without being over powering.  So for those of you that are not coconut fans, give this recipe a try, you may be surprised.

Note: You will need to plan ahead when making this recipe because the chicken needs to marinate for at least 8 hours.

Coconut Chicken Recipe

Serves 2 - 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • juice and zest of 1 lime (to get the zest of the lime, use a zester or the smallest holes on a cheese grater to shave the outer skin of the lime)
  • 1.5 to 2 pounds chicken drumsticks
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro or 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro



In a large bowl combine yogurt, olive oil, garlic, turmeric, cayenne pepper (if using), garam masala, salt, cumin, lime and lime zest. Place chicken in marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.


Remove the chicken from the marinade. Reserve marinade.


In a large skillet, cook chicken over medium heat until it browns slightly. About 4 minutes each side.


Add onions and cook 2 minutes. Pour coconut milk and marinade over the top, stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.


Stir in cilantro just before serving. Serve.


You can serve this as is, but I like to serve it over rice. Shocking I know ;-) Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

  • Reply
    Amit Chandola
    July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I am an Indian and I think this is much Mind Blowing Dish!!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2009 at 4:58 am

    I’ve been trying to come up with a coconut chicken recipe for awhile, and gave up after several attempts because they never turned out any good. When I saw this recipe I knew that I had to give it one last shot! My chicken legs have been marinating since late yesterday afternoon, and it already smells great. I was wondering if garam masala and Indian masala are the same thing because I bought the second one because that was all I could find so that’s what I used. I’m going to be serving it tonight over some rice. What kind of vegetable side do you recommend serving with this? Whenever I make chicken korma I add spinach while it’s cooking, but I’m not sure about doing the same with this dish. Would I be safer with just a salad? Thanks for sharing a recipe that I can’t wait to try!

    • Reply
      July 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

      Hi Rebecca, You’re welcome! Garam masala is an Indian spice so I would think that it would be a fine substitution. I never would’ve thought to add spinach to the dish but that might be good. I like to serve it with a simple salad. I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2009 at 5:20 am

    The chicken looks absolutely YUM!! We also usually add a bit if dessicated coconut for texture…but that’s personal choice, of course!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Oh man…I’m totally bookmarking this. It looks amazing! Just a quick question: what do you think about using Greek yogurt? Or is it only with plain, runny yogurt?

    • Reply
      June 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks Sophia! I have not had much experience with Greek yogurt so I don’t know whether or not it would work. As long as its plain I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2009 at 5:48 am

    About yogurt… I am lactose intolerant, but I have no problem eating yogurt. Especially if it is live, still. See this link for more info:

    • Reply
      June 25, 2009 at 7:31 am

      Thanks for the tip/link Fernando! I will have to pass that info along to my friend, she might have to give it a try.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2009 at 5:19 am

    I love love coconut milk. Its great as a base for soup too.

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