Basil Coconut Curry Braised Chicken Thighs
You guessed it…another gluten-free dinner recipe that will have you so satisfied, that you’ll forget all about your fave gluten-filled foods! Well, not really, gluten can never be forgotten, but you know what I mean. What I mean to say is that these basil coconut curry braised chicken thighs are out of this world. They’re also Whole30 approved, gluten-free and keto for my alternative eaters out there. I am excited to make all of these gluten-free recipes because I want you to know how delicious wholesome, GF or Whole30 recipes can be!
Not a fan of chicken thighs…can I use another kind of chicken meat?
You absolutely can! You can use chicken breasts, drumsticks, or the whole chicken leg quarter. You can also use skinless chicken thighs (however, I would buy them with the skin on because it’s cheaper. You can remove it and render the fat, then discard.) If you’re absolutely averse to chicken fat, use coconut oil as the cooking fat for your skinless chicken and it will compliment the coconut milk mixture.
I don’t have an oven, can I still make this?
No oven, no problem. You can also make these chicken thighs solely on the stove top, in a dutch oven. Just let it simmer for 30-40 minutes on the stove instaed of in the oven, and it will yield similar results. I prefer the oven because the dry heat helps maintain that crispy skin on top of the chicken thighs, but I did make these in a dutch oven on the stove top before. I used the lid to cover the meat for half of the cooking process, but I found that too much steam built up, which left the chicken skin feeling soggy. Of course, if you’re making skinless meat, cook them with the lid on because it will hydrate the meat!
To brine or not to brine?
To brine!!!! I brined my chicken thighs for 2 hours in a basic solution. I eyeballed everything, but it was similar to this one on All Recipes, sans oil. I just used sugar, salt and soy sauce. Of course, if you’re on Whole30, find a different brine that doesn’t include soy sauce or sugar. find that brining chicken too long can leave it to feel kind of rubbery, so I would stick to 1-2 hours of brining. If you choose not to brine the chicken because it seems like a hassle, I understand that. BUT, you won’t get the same layers of flavor throughout the entire piece of meat. The outside of your chicken will have that delicious, aromatic coconut basil flavor, and the inside meat will seem bland in comparison. The brine makes all the difference.
What should I serve as a side?
This chicken has so much flavor that you really don’t need to go crazy on the side. I served it with sugar snap peas and a brown rice. The coconut milk mixture is perfect for rice, quinoa, or any grain of your choice. You can even just serve this with toast, then dip the toast into the coconut milk. *swoon*
For my visual learners out there, watch the recipe video on my YouTube and throw me a like/subscribe!
Basil Coconut Curry Braised Chicken Thighs
- Oven-safe skillet or dutch oven
Seasoning Blend for Chicken
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne if you don't like heat, skip this!
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Coconut oil for pan
- 1/2 large white onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- Salt to have on hand for seasoning throughout
- 1 1/2 tbsp ginger peeled and sliced
- 5 cloves garlic crushed and sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro plus more for topping
- 1 cup coconut milk if using a very large pan, you may need more to submerge half of the chicken thighs)
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 2 1/2 tbsp basil paste can sub for 3 1/2 tbsp fresh basil. If using fresh basil, save some for topping
- Fresh sugar snap peas optional, to add at the end!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (If making this solely on stove top, skip this step!)
- Heat an oven safe skillet or dutch oven on high heat. Season with 1 tbsp of coconut oil and let it melt. Once the oil is shimmering and lightly smoky, put the chicken thighs into the pan skin side down. Let them sear for 5-6 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside.
- There's going to be a lot of chicken fat in the pan. Remove half of the chicken fat, so about 2 tbsp of fat is left.
- Reduce the heat to medium and let the pan cool off for a minute. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper to the pan and sauté with a spatula. Season generously with salt (to taste, but I did 3 pinches.) Let them sauté for 6 minutes or so, until tender and fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, then add the garlic, ginger and cilantro to the pan. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
- Pour the coconut milk into the pan, then add the lime juice and basil paste. Stir with a spatula until combined.
- Add the chicken thighs, non-skin side down, to the coconut milk mixture. Make sure they are at least halfway submerged in the liquid so they can cook adequately while in the oven!
- Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the oven. If you are adding sugar snap peas, pour them into the skillet and submerge in the coconut milk mixture. They will end up cooking just by being in the hot liquid! Top with cilantro leaves and stems, plus fresh basil if you have it. Serve immediately and enjoy!