Roasted chicken in coconut milk

roasted chicken in coconut milk -

Roasting a chicken has never been my strong suit.  I’ve always felt they were a little rubbery, dried out or flavorless when I tried to make one.  I’ve made a lot of roasted chickens, I’ve air chilled the chickens for 24 hours before roasting them, slathered butter underneath the skin, cooked them in a covered pot and they all turned out okay but I’ve always felt that all that effort really didn’t pay off in the end.  I recently discovered the easiest and best method for roasting a chicken ever.  The only catch like most things in life is that it takes time.  Three hours to be precise.  It only takes a few minutes to prep, you throw it in a low oven and walk away.  It results in the most tender, succulent roast chicken you will ever eat.  If you don’t want to have to flip your chicken you can alternatively cook it breast side up and baste it every 30 minutes or so.  I prefer to start it breast side down so that I don’t have to check on it frequently and I’ve been making a version of this for a few months and decided to try to make it more of a complete meal and this is what I came up with.  Cooking the chicken in a can of coconut milk and a few aromatics make for a delicious sauce and the addition of spinach and snow peas lightens things up, all you need is a little rice to serve it all over.  In place of the rice you could serve it with some rice noodles or soba instead and play around with the vegetables, some slice red peppers and kale would also be great additions.  I like to make this on a Sunday when I am working around the house since it really doesn’t take any work once you pop it in the oven.  I even prepped it, put it in the oven and went out to the movies while it cooked away unattended.  Since I had to cook on Mother’s Day this was what I chose to cook since it’s super easy but impressive at the table.

roasted chicken in coconut milk - www.scalingbackblog.comroasted chicken in coconut milk -

Roasted chicken in coconut milk


  • one 3 – 3 1/2 pound whole chicken
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only cut into 1-inch pieces and slightly crushed with the back of a knife
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 teaspoon red chili paste or Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 2 cups snow peas
  • cilantro, basil and mint to garnish
  • fresh lime wedges
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • cooked jasmine rice to serve


Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels.  Season well with salt and pepper inside and out.  Ideally place the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.  Alternatively you can set the chicken to the side while you prepare the rest of the ingredients and cook it immediately.  It won’t be seasoned quite as well but it cuts the prep time to zero.

Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Place the chicken in the pot, breast side up, and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.  Carefully turn the chicken and crisp, breast side down for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off all but one tablespoon of the excess fat in the pot.

Add the lemongrass, garlic cloves, ginger, fish sauce, and chili paste and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, add the coconut milk and cook for another minute or two.  Add the chicken back to the pot and place in the oven.  Cook for 90 minutes and then flip the chicken over, breast side up and cook for another 90 minutes until the chicken is tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the pot and put it on a plate to rest.  Strain the coconut milk mixture through a fine strainer and return the milk to the pot.  Over medium heat add the spinach and snow peas and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the snow peas are crisp tender.

Carve the chicken and serve over rice with a spoonful of sauce and vegetables.  Garnish with the fresh herbs, a sprinkling of cashews and a squeeze of fresh lime.

roasted chicken in coconut milk -

roasted chicken in coconut milk -

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  • Meet Tina | Scaling Back Blog

    Self-taught cook, photographer.  You can usually find me at a farmers market dreaming up alternative recipes for my allergy prone family.

    15 thoughts on “Roasted chicken in coconut milk

    1. lu ellen

      Hi Tina,

      This looks delicious. I, too, have been challenged by dry chicken. I am going to try this soon and think of you.

      Thanks for your wonderful, inspirational posts.

      Lu Ellen

      1. Tina Post author

        Thanks Lu Ellen,

        I had pretty much given up roasting chickens until I saw a version of this in Bon Appetit and decided to try it. Once I saw how great the technique was I decided to adapt it using some of my favorite flavors. I hope you enjoy it if you try it!

    2. Susan

      Hi Tina,

      I’m looking forward to trying this. I’m having trouble understanding what these directions mean…”Transfer the chicken breast side down back into the pot, breast side up,.” Can you clarify for me?


      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Susan,

        Thanks for catching that, just an editing error. Start the chicken breast side down for 90 minutes and then finish the last 90 minutes of cooking breast side up. This step isn’t critical, I’ve done it without turning it but I think it helps get some of the flavoring from the coconut milk and aeromatics into the chicken. I hope you like it!

      1. Tina Post author

        Thanks Natasha,

        It’s our new favorite Sunday night dinner. I hope you like it if you try it!

    3. Sonia

      Hi this recipe looks great! I have a question though. Should the chicken be in the pot when you add the lemongrass, garlic, coconut milk etc. during those 4 minutes? Thanks!

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Sonia,

        The chicken shouldn’t be in the pot while you are sautéing the aerobatics. Sorry for the confusion and I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

    4. EvaInNL

      If you’re having trouble with dry chicken then cranck up the heat on your oven and put the chicken in upside down so all the juices run down into the breast. Last step is to Quickly put the chicken right side up under the grill to crisp up the skin.

      1. Tina Post author

        Thanks for the tips! I have found that starting the chicken upside down results in a better bird. I should try the crisping up under the broiler though!

      1. Tina Post author

        Hi Sara,

        I’m so glad that you liked it. I have found that it’s a pretty foolproof way of cooking a chicken and the best part is that it makes it own sauce! Thanks for trying the recipe!


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