Simple Thai Basil – Coconut Chicken

thai basil coconut chicken

If flavor-explosion-in-the-mouth were a food group, it would be my favorite. I like dynamics in my food – bitter & sweet (ahem, coffee with cream or raw chocolate milk), spicy and creamy, sweet and tart. This might explain my penchant for Thai food.

The flavors of Thai food are sweet and spicy and sour and pretty much the aforementioned flavor explosion all in one. But I don’t generally keep Thai chiles, limes, and five other ingredients I can’t pronounce in my pantry. I have apple cider vinegar, raw honey, coconut milk, and a few yummy spices. And then I have this Thai basil plant in my garden gifted by the best kind of neighbors – the kind that give you vegetables and herbs when they have too many.

And so, when wanting one of those Thai-inspired dishes, I enlisted that basil plant, a can of coconut milk, and some good chicken to help me out. Flavor explosion minus the fuss? I’m in.

thai basil coconut chicken 3

Simple Thai Basil – Coconut Chicken

The Players

The How-To

  1. In a medium skillet or saucepan heat coconut oil or lard over medium heat. Cut chicken into 1″ pieces and place in hot pan. Sear for a couple of minutes or until golden brown, turn, and sear the other side.
  2. Add cayenne, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and stir into chicken. Pour in coconut milk, honey, and apple cider vinegar and simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately five minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat, stir in basil leaves, and season with salt to taste.
  3. Serve over Jasmine rice, ladling sauce generously. Enjoy.

thai basil coconut chicken 2


  1. says

    Is there much difference between the taste of Thai basil and regular basil? I like that the ingredients of this recipe are all things I would normally have on hand…except needing to buy some chicken and Thai basil. I DO have a regular basil plant, though, and was wondering about using that.

    • says

      Zirah1 – There is a difference. Thai basil has a bit of an anise flavor in addition to the usual sweet basil flavor.

      That said, I have used Thai basil in tomato salads all summer and have loved its basilness. :)

      I meant to mention this in the recipe, but I would go ahead and sub regular basil if I didn’t have Thai basil. It will be different but still in the same realm.

      • says

        Thanks for the input. I will keep my eye out for Thai basil, plus also consider using some anise or mint to make up for what regular basil might lack taste-wise, as several people suggested.

  2. Marie says

    I would like to know about the basil, too.

    I was also wondering – is it 1 lb of chicken and then you debone it? Or is it 1 lb of chicken after you debone it?

  3. says

    Can’t wait to try this yummy recipe.
    Would love to get your recommendation for a good Thai place in the Austin area that you mentioned above in your post. I also have an impressive addiction to good Tom Kha Gai which can be hard to fine! Please share.

  4. cathy mclaughlin says

    there are so many types of basil around the world. thai basil has a very different flavor; more like slight licorice. it’s leaves can have a purple tinge and stems can be larger and crunchy juicier than the other italian basil we’re familiar with.
    perhaps you could use regular fresh basil but add some kind of anise as well.

  5. Sierika Santos-Smith via Facebook says

    I’m going to make this for dinner tonight and put a buttload of Thai bird chilis in it! Ohjhhh, its gonna be epic! Thanks for the recipe. XO

  6. Patti says

    I just made this tonight and it was great! But I read beforehand several places online that a good sub for Thai basil is mint, that sweet (Italian) basil isn’t anywhere close to it. (Google it for yourself.) Anyway, I added mint to mine and it really added a nice layer. Thanks for a new yummy recipe!

  7. Molly Homemaker via Facebook says

    Made it tonight. Delicious! We grow Thai basil in our herb bed, and it reseeds itself every year.

  8. Melissa W. says

    I like to put veggies into my Thai curries so that I can make it a one-dish meal instead of having to prep sides. What veggies would you recommend to go in this curry? (I normally use onions, bell peppers, snow peas, and carrots in my Thai curries, though I’m open to other suggestions!) :)

  9. Cheri says

    Looks wonderful and tasty. I was just wondering how many this serves. I ask because we’re a household of 8 and such things are relevant in meal planning for us :)

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