Tender chicken breasts nestled in a creamy, tangy, sweet and spicy sauce, this easy Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts recipe is 5-star-restaurant delicious!
When I handed Scott a bowl of these Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts paired with a scoop of basmati rice and a pile of Honey Ginger Charred Carrots all dressed up with some pretty fresh herbs, he looked at it and said, "Wow, this looks like a 5-star restaurant meal!" After taking the first bite, we both agreed that it also tasted like a 5-star restaurant-quality meal.
I've made the chicken several times since, testing and tweaking the recipe a bit each time. I think it's perfect now and ever so easy (although the flavor is complex and tastes like you spent lots of time on it). Let's keep it a secret that it takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish if you don't count the hands-off marinating time. Deal?
The sum is more than the parts
The ingredient list for these Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts is relatively short for a dish that imparts so much flavor: chicken with a rub composed of brown sugar, paprika, garlic salt and pepper. The sauce ingredient list is also quite simple: light coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, fresh ginger, chili garlic sauce, salt and a splash of olive oil.
The chicken is marinated then lightly sauteed on just one side until beautifully golden. It's then removed from the pan and the marinade acts also as the delicious sauce (it gets a nice simmer after being exposed to the raw chicken). Pour in the sauce and stir up the delicious fond (the flavorful brown bits) from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until thickened and deliciously fragrant then add the chicken, cover and simmer a little longer to finish cooking the chicken.
I love how the coconut milk marinade helps this chicken to come out so moist and tender. Chicken breasts so often are dry and tough but, not these guys! Another factor in ensuring tender chicken breasts is to make sure you don't overcook them. That's why we only sear one surface of each breast, just long enough to give it an attractive golden hue.
The paprika and brown sugar in the rub help give this pretty presentation without having to cook the chicken too long. And finishing it off in a delicious coconut milk bath helps keep everything super tender, super delicious!
This is definitely a company-worthy meal that you could make, even after working all day. Including the marinade time, the recipe comes together in less than an hour. I love to serve it with jasmine or basmati rice and the Honey Ginger Charred Carrots from our last post. It's also wonderful with mashed potatoes, ramen noodles, udon noodles or rice noodles.
Put this Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts recipe on your "must make" list. I think, once you try it, it will be on your "must make again and again" list!
Café Tips for making these Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts
- I tried both light and full-fat coconut milk for this recipe and found that the light variety actually works better. The full-fat is quite lumpy before it's cooked and I found that it doesn't do as well as a marinade. The final results are delicious either way so choose your favorite (although the calorie count is significantly lower with light coconut milk).
- You could prep this ahead by preparing the marinade and refrigerating it on its own and making the spice rub and storing it in a storage container or zippered bag.
- If you're entertaining and want to enjoy your guests, simply prepare this recipe, before they arrive, up to step 5 then right before serving finish up with the final simmer.
- Chicken breasts vary a lot in size and thickness. 6-8 minutes for the final simmer should be fine, but if you're using larger pieces, use an instant thermometer to determine when they're done. Chicken should be cooked to 165˚F. I like to take them off the heat at around 160˚F as they will continue to cook for a few minutes.
- This recipe calls for chili garlic sauce. Chili garlic sauce is a wonderful condiment to have on hand. It adds heat and a delicious garlic flavor to dishes and a jar will last a long time in the refrigerator. You will find chili garlic sauce in the Asian section in most larger grocery stores or online.
- A little chili garlic sauce goes a long way. I have included a range of 1-2 teaspoons in this recipe. Start with one and taste the sauce after it's simmered you can always add more but you can't take away the heat.
- Don't be tempted to marinate the chicken longer than 1 hour. The lime juice can actually break down the chicken meat and give it a mealy texture if it's marinated too long. 30 minutes to an hour is perfect.
Thought for the day:
Now to the King eternal,
the only God,
be honor and glory
forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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Tender chicken breasts nestled in a creamy, tangy, sweet and spicy sauce, this easy Coconut Braised Chicken Breasts recipe is 5-star restaurant delicious!
- 14 ounces light coconut milk 1 can
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts about 1 ½ pounds, 4 medium-size breasts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- mint cilantro and/or basil leaves, for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
- lime wedges for garnish
Whisk together all of the marinade/sauce ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, combine all of the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
After the chicken is marinated, drain well, reserving the marinade.
Place the drained chicken on a plate and sprinkle evenly on the smooth side with half of the rub.
In a large sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken, smooth side down. Chicken should sizzle a bit when it hits the oil. Sprinkle with the remaining rub. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until underside is a nice golden color. Remove chicken from the pan to a clean plate, golden side up.
Pour the reserved marinade into the pan. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits (the fond). Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
Return the chicken back to the pan.
Bring the sauce back to a simmer. Cover and simmer for another 4-6 minutes or until chicken is firm when lightly touched and the temperature is 160-165˚F.
Remove from heat.
Serve with rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, etc. Garnish with fresh herbs (mint, cilantro and/or basil), sesame seeds and lime wedges, if desired.
See Café Tips above in post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Recipe adapted (a lot) from NYTimes food.
The nutritional information is for 6 servings, as most average size boneless chicken breasts are more than 1 serving. If you have hungry eaters, plan on it serving 4.
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