If you love Thai flavours, you’ll love this lime coconut chicken. Pan seared chicken breasts in a rich coconut lime sauce that’s light enough and easy enough to make on even the busiest weeknight.

  • Tender and juicy – no dry chicken here, thank you very much. It’s so easy to make beautifully tender chicken.
  • All made in one pan – everyone loves LESS washing up
  • It’s quick – less than 30 minutes and this can be on the table
  • Simple ingredients – you can get everything you need from your local store
  • Family and friends – this works as a family weeknight dinner and is just as great when entertaining friends.
  • Dairy free & gluten free

Try this ever popular Thai panang curry with prawns too.

This recipe was first published here on 19th January 2019 and has been updated with new information and images.

Top down view of a skillet filled with lime coconut chicken.

It’s no secret I love chicken – it’s just so seriously versatile (and yum). One day you’re eating honey lemon pepper wings, the next it’s this Japanese fried chicken or a chicken schnitzel burger and now you can have this lime coconut chicken.

Ingredients you’ll need

Ingredients for lime coconut chicken on a marble surface.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Chicken: I use skinless boneless chicken breast, however, feel free to use skinless boneless chicken thighs (removing excess fat). I have made this with bone-in skin-on thighs too – not as easy to eat but taking the time to get that crunchy skin is a game-changer.
  • Onion: I use red onion. Shallots are a wonderful alternative but brown onion works just as well.
  • Chilli: This recipe has chilli in two forms but feel free to adjust to taste. There’s fresh chilli and a little dried chili flakes (red pepper flakes).
  • Ginger and garlic: This duo adds great flavour and tang.
  • Coconut milk: You’ll get best results using full fat coconut milk from a can. Give the can a good shake before you use it. You could use coconut cream but it will end in a much thicker sauce (so you may need to water it down) and low fat coconut milk works but just doesn’t give as much flavour.
  • Vegetable stock: Broth or stock add some flavour and richness to the coconut sauce. I use vegetable stock but you can use chicken stock instead. I prefer to use a low salt stock which makes it easier to adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Fish sauce:  A classic in Thai recipes, fish sauce adds a hit of salt and umami.
  • Lime juice: Please use fresh lime juice (not the bottled variety) for the best flavour.
  • Cornflour: Cornflour (aka cornstarch) thickens the sauce so it coats the chicken beautifully.
  • Bok choy: I use bok choy as it cooks quickly and is so good in Asian style recipes like this. You can swap it for a number of veggies like snow peas, spinach, other Asian greens. Broccoli works too but make sure to slice it thinly or par boil it for 2 minutes before adding to the coconut sauce.

With classic Thai ingredients like fish sauce, lime, chilli, coconut and garlic, lime coconut chicken is great served over rice (or even cauliflower rice) with some lime wedges and herbs (like coriander / cilantro or thai basil) over the top.

How to make it

How easy is lime coconut chicken? Seriously easy. Weeknight dinner, less than 30 minutes kind of easy.

A collage of 4 images showing how to make lime coconut chicken.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Cook the chicken: Season the chicken on both sides, then cook it in a pan until golden on each side (5-8 minutes each side, depending on the thickness). Set the chicken aside on a warm plate covered with aluminium foil.
  2. Cook the aromatics: Saute the onion until starting to soften then add the ginger, garlic, chilli flakes and fresh chilli. You want to cook this only for a minute until it’s fragrant and lovely.
  3. Make the sauce: To the same pan, add the coconut milk, stock and fish sauce. Combine the lime juice and cornflour, then add that as well and give it a good stir. Bring it to a simmer and let it thicken a little.
  4. Combine it all: Add the bok choy and chicken – make sure to add any of the chicken juices from the plate too, it’s all flavour. Let it cook for a couple of minutes to start softening the bok choy. You want it tender but still with a crunch.

Done! Honestly, this dish is so quick to make but is absolutely bursting with flavour. It has all the creamy, tangy, umami vibes you need.

Tips and variations

  • Chicken thickness: Where I am, chicken breasts tend to be quite large so I normally cutlet my chicken breasts which just means to slice them in half through their thickness (or perpendicular to your chopping board) so that you have 2 thinner breasts.
    Whether you use this method or just use smaller chicken breasts, if the thicker end is much thicker than the thinner end, it’s a good idea to cover it with plastic wrap, then pull out the meat mallet to gently thin the thicker parts out. This not only helps the chicken cook quicker but also more evenly.
  • Chicken temperature: The chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 74C / 165F. Chicken will become dry if overcooked so a digital meat thermometer is a great tool to have on hand, to ensure you always get juicy chicken.
  • Sauce consistency: If you like a thinner sauce, simply leave out the cornflour (cornstarch).
A bowl lime coconut chicken topped with pair of chopsticks.

Serving and storage

This lime coconut chicken recipe makes enough for 4-6 serves – this depends on the size of the chicken breasts and the hunger of those eating it. I find, slicing the chicken before serving, makes it go further than the 4 serves.

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. The bok choy does tend to lose it’s vibrant green but it is still completely edible. Reheat leftovers in the microwave or in a pan on the stove until hot.

Variations

This dish can easily be made vegan / vegetarian too. Swap the chicken for firm tofu like reader, Chrystyna, did (see comments section) then swap out the fish sauce for soy sauce or tamari instead.

Chopsticks holdng a piece of cooked chicken.

More chicken recipes you’ll love

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Lime coconut chicken in a large skillet, ready to be served.

Lime Coconut Chicken

5 from 8 votes – Rate this recipe!
This lime coconut chicken is a one-pan, less than 30 minute dinner wonder! Lime, chicken and coconut milk combine for a flavourful and fresh thai-style recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights.

Ingredients

FOR THE CHICKEN

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 2 large, sliced in half)
  • ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 long red chilli, fresh, finely chopped (seeds removed) (notes 4)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 4 small bunches bok choy, washed and quartered into 4 long pieces each.
  • Lime and coriander (cilantro) to serve

Equipment

  • A good non-stock frying pan or large skillet
  • I always use wooden spatulas when cooking (as opposed to the silicone type I use when baking)

Instructions
 

  • Dry the chicken breasts using paper towel. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over both sides.
  • Heat half the oil in a large skillet / frypan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces. Cook for around 5-8 minutes (notes 1) until golden underneath, then flip and cook on the other side or until just cooked through (internal temperature should be 74C / 165F on a meat thermometer).
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a warm plate, covered with aluminium foil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pan.
  • Add the onion and saute, stirring regularly, until softened about 2-3 minutes. As it softens, stir to pick up all the chicken flavour from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the fresh chilli, chilli flakes, ginger and garlic and cook for a minute, until fragrant.
  • Pour in the coconut milk, chicken stock and fish sauce. In a small bowl combine the lime juice and cornflour and mix until smooth. Pour into the pan and stir well immediately.
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to simmer for around 5 minutes until it thickens.
  • Add the bok choy and return the chicken pieces, including any juices from the plate. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the bok choy is just tender but still crunchy.
  • Serve over rice with fresh coriander and a wedge of lime on the side.
  • Please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below – it's easy and helps more than you know.

Notes

  1. Cooking time: The time the chicken takes to cook depends on how thick your pieces are. In these photos, I’ve used two large chicken breasts and sliced them in half to make 4 thinner ones.
    If the thicker end of your chicken is a lot thicker than the thinner end, it’s a good idea to even it out. Cover it with plastic wrap, then pull out the meat mallet to gently thin the thicker parts out just a little (not super thin). This not only helps the chicken cook quicker but also more evenly.
  2. Chicken temperature: The chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 74C / 165F. Chicken will become dry if overcooked so a digital meat thermometer is a great tool to have on hand, to ensure you always get juicy chicken.
  3. Sauce consistency: If you like a thinner sauce, simply leave out the cornflour (cornstarch).
  4. Chilli: Adjust the chilli heat to your taste by leaving out or adding more dried chilli flakes. Also, the seeds in fresh chilli hold more heat, so scrape those out if you want a milder dish or leave some in for a super spicy meal.
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES!
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