Bring vibrant, bold flavors from the tropics to your kitchen with this simple coconut chicken recipe! For an easy meal made with basic ingredients, this creamy, aromatic dish is sure to spice things up. Level up your weeknight dinners and take your tastebuds on a tropical vacation.
I think we all love chicken because it’s so accessible, satisfying, and versatile. As one of the more affordable meat options, I tend to toss it in my shopping cart by default, knowing it’ll make for a sumptuous meal.
Still, I can forget just how easy it is to make exciting, out-of-the-box dishes with chicken, and that’s why I love this Caribbean coconut chicken recipe! It’s easy to make on the stovetop, but I’ve also included instructions in the recipe card below if you want to use your Instant Pot instead.
With just a few pantry spices and some creamy coconut milk, you can whip up a sensational meal sure to surprise and satisfy your tastebuds. A dish bursting with bold, tropical flavors similar to Caribbean jerk chicken or coconut beef curry, this recipe features a sweet, zesty spice blend that you’ll want to use on everything! Serve it atop hearty cilantro lime rice and you’ve got a resort-worthy dinner in no time.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Whole Chicken – Bone-in whole chicken adds tons of savory poultry flavor to this recipe. Substitute four to five boneless chicken breasts if needed, but cook time may be reduced.
- Lemon & Orange – Citrusy peels from these fruits add sweetness and tangy aromatics to the chicken and sauce.
- Coconut Milk – Full-fat coconut milk makes this dish rich, creamy, nutty, and delightfully tangy. Substitute with coconut cream. To forgo the coconut flavor, use cashew milk, Greek yogurt, or heavy cream.
- Garlic Powder – Makes everything mouthwateringly aromatic. There are no great substitutes, but you can use minced chives for a similarly pungent flavor.
- Onion Powder – A sharp, sweet onion flavor completes this dish. Use onion flakes or freshly sliced onions for a slightly altered effect.
- Cinnamon & Allspice – To add a warm, semi-sweet, semi-spicy kick. Substitute with nutmeg or cloves.
- Ground Thyme – Brings a bright, crisp level of minty, lemony, earthy flavor. Use rosemary, basil, or marjoram instead.
- Ground Ginger – This gives a bit of a peppery, refreshing zing to the mix.
- Smoked Paprika – Needed for a robustly sweet, smokiness.
HOW TO MAKE COCONUT CHICKEN
1. Prep The Ingredients. Preheat your oven to 375°F and mix together all of your spices in a bowl. Peel 6 to 8 strips from each citrus fruit with a vegetable peeler. Then, season the chicken with half of the spice blend.
2. Brown The Chicken. In an oven-safe Dutch oven, heat oil and cook chicken until it’s browned all over, moving it frequently so it’s not scorched.
3. Drain Grease. Remove the chicken from the pan, then pour out any excess fat and discard. Scrape up any bits of meat stuck to the bottom, but leave them in the pan.
4. Combine Ingredients. Return the chicken to the pan, then pour the coconut milk over the top. Sprinkle in the remaining spice mixture, citrus peels, and garlic cloves.
5. Bake. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and cook in the oven for 90 minutes. Then, remove the lid, baste the meat with the juices, and bake uncovered for another 35 minutes.
6. Let Rest. Leave the meat untouched in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. If you’d like crispy skin, place chicken on a baking sheet under the broiler for 2 to 4 minutes.
7. Serve. Slice or shred the meat, then serve with rice and vegetables, plus that amazing sauce on the side.
Is Caribbean Chicken Spicy?
Traditional Caribbean chicken dishes like this coconut chicken include a combination of warm, sweet flavors and zesty, pungent aromas. Usually, these dishes include cinnamon, nutmeg, onion, garlic, and some variation of peppers. They are usually bold in flavor but not overly spicy.
To make this coconut chicken recipe spicier, use cayenne pepper powder or chili powder in place of smoked paprika. Or, simply sprinkle in some red pepper flakes to your liking.
What to Serve With Coconut Chicken?
This rich, hearty dish will go perfectly with lime-flavored rice and sautéed bell peppers and onions. A tropical fried rice would also make a well-paired side dish, or you can simply serve it with warm naan.
How Many People Will a Five Pound Chicken Serve?
A whole five-pound chicken will yield about six servings, though you may be able to stretch that with extra side dishes!
Caribbean Coconut Chicken
- 5 ½ lb whole bone-in chicken
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 12 cloves garlic
- 28 oz full fat coconut milk 2 cans
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together the spice blend and set aide.
- Season the chicken with half the spice blend.
- Heat oil in a heavy based oven-proof pot (See Note 1) over medium high heat and brown the chicken all over. Be careful not to scorch the skin on bottom, you want to brown it. I constantly moved it around in the pot using tongs.
- Carefully remove chicken and set aside on a plate. Pour the out the excess fat and discard. With spoon, scrape up bits of cooked chicken on bottom of pan and leave in pan. Return chicken to the pot.
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut 6-8 strips (from stem to bottom) from each citrus (save fruit for other use). Pour coconut milk over chicken. Sprinkle remaining spice blend, lemon, orange peel and garlic cloves on and around chicken. Bake covered for 90 minutes.
- Remove lid and baste chicken with juices. Leave uncovered and bake for another 35 minutes.
- Let stand for 10 minutes before removing the chicken. Remove and discard citrus peels from sauce. Carefully cut into pieces or completely shred meat. Serve chicken with the sauce on the side with steamed rice and vegetables of choice.
Instant Pot Method
- Season the chicken with half the spice blend.
- Heat oil on Sauté setting and brown the chicken all over. Be careful not to scorch the skin on bottom, you want to brown it. I constantly moved it around in the pot using tongs.
- Remove chicken with tongs and add trivet to Instant Pot. Place whole chicken on trivet and pour coconut milk over chicken.
- Using a vegetable peeler, cut 6-8 strips (from stem to bottom) from each citrus (save fruit for other use). Sprinkle remaining spice blend, lemon and orange peel and garlic cloves on and around chicken.
- Cover with lid and seal vent. Cook on Poultry or High Pressure setting for 6 minutes per pound. Allow pressure to naturally release for at least 10 minutes.
- Carefully lift chicken out of Instant Pot using trivet handles and discard citrus peels. Press the Sauté setting and cook for 10 minutes uncovered to reduce sauce. Serve with shredded chicken.
- ***If you’re looking for crispy skin on chicken, it isn’t possible in the Instant Pot, but it’s possible under an oven broiler! Using the trivet handles, remove chicken from Instant Pot and transfer to a baking sheet lined with foil. Place under broiler for 2-4 minutes, watching closely so as not to burn.
- Cook Time for Whole Chicken in Oven:
As a general rule, the cooking time for whole chicken in oven at 375ºF. is 20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.
- Cook Time for Instant Pot Whole Chicken:
As a general rule, Instant Pot whole chicken cooking time is 6 minutes per pound, plus 3 minutes for each half pound.
- 3 pound chicken: 18 minutes on high pressure
4 pound chicken: 24 minutes on high pressure
5 pound chicken: 30 minutes on high pressure Allow a natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes before quick releasing any remaining pressure.
On average, a 5 pound whole chicken yields 1.5 pounds of meat after cooking. This is enough for six 4-ounce servings.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.