Basil Chicken Coconut Curry

Basil coconut chicken curry made with chicken thighs, jalapeño, coconut milk, basil and ginger

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry
Elise Bauer

One of the things I love about curries is that they are so varied and adaptable—from soupy to thick and creamy, from mild to fiery, in colors yellow, green, red, or brown.

This is one of my favorites, a yellow curry in a coconut milk base, with chicken, onions, jalapeños, lime juices, and plenty of fresh basil.

We use chicken thigh meat because its stronger flavor holds up well to all the spices. It comes together quickly, and makes for good leftovers too!

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry
Elise Bauer

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4 servings

We use chicken thigh meat because of the deeper flavor, but you can use chicken breast meat if you prefer.

This is a mild curry. You can increase the heat with more cayenne. Please note that jalapeños vary greatly in heat.  Check the spiciness of your jalapeños and adjust the recipe to taste.

Note that what we usually buy labelled "curry powder" is just a spice mix, made up of various spices, like those in the following ingredients, including a good portion of turmeric, which gives the curry powder its yellow color. Feel free to experiment a little with the spices listed here to get the taste you like the best.


  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • Small pinch ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1 large onionsliced root to tip

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, rice bran oil or ghee

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste

  • 12 to 20 fresh basil leaves, torn roughly

  • Hot cooked rice, for serving


  1. Mix the spices:

    In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, cayenne and turmeric. Set aside.

  2. Sauté onions, jalapeños, ginger, garlic, spices:

    In a wok or deep sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat. The moment the oil begins to smoke, add the onions and jalapeños and toss to coat in oil. Sear the vegetables for 3 minutes, stirring only enough to keep them from burning, but still allowing the onions to sear.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Add the ginger, garlic and spice mixture and toss to combine, cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add coconut milk, chicken, simmer:

    Add the coconut milk and chicken. Stir the mixture so that the chicken pieces are coated in the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

    Elise Bauer
  4. Add basil, lime juice:

    When the chicken is tender, turn off the heat and add the basil and lime juice. Add more lime juice and salt to taste and serve over rice.

    Elise Bauer


Thai Green Basil Curry with Chicken, from The Perfect Pantry

Jungle Curry, from Rasa Malaysia

Thai Green Curry with Fish and Basil, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Basil Chicken Coconut Curry
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
444 Calories
34g Fat
10g Carbs
31g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 444
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 22g 109%
Cholesterol 138mg 46%
Sodium 746mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 10mg 50%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 660mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.