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Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk

Today we discuss the surprising freedom of being an adult, plus this excellent Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk that’s perfect for dinner parties.

Chicken and Mashed Potatoes on a plate

A few weeks ago, the Mr. and I went on a date at a local bowling alley and arcade. The place was crowded, and we were sandwiched in a lane between strangers. It was clearly not a high stakes environment, but still, I found my old high school gym class anxiety rearing its ugly head.

I still remember that echo-y gym, with its unforgiving florescent lights and cloak of foot stank. This was where my complete lack of athletic ability would be exposed to 30 or so of my peers. With every new sport we tried, I imagined this would be the one. The one where my natural talent was discovered. The one where I would shock the world (or at least my classmates) with my unbelievable gift.

Alas, that never happened, and as you may have guessed, my “gift” wasn’t discovered in the bowling alley either. It shouldn’t matter a decade later, but I still found myself staring at the waxed lane before me worrying about looking foolish or embarrassing myself in front of these strangers.

chicken baked in coconut milk with mashed potatoes

Then the girl in the lane next to us stepped up for her first turn. She threw the ball with gusto, and it landed straight in the gutter. She turned around, laughed, high-fived her team mates and continued on with her day. Watching her was a revelation. I realized two things:

1) Nobody here cared whether I scored a 25 or a 200 in this bowling game. We are not in high school anymore. (Praise Jesus).

2) What attracts me to another human being isn’t a spectacular skill or extraordinary talent. Instead, it’s their infectious laugh. It’s their ability to be honest about their faults and unashamed of their strengths. It’s their enthusiasm, their willingness to try new things, their kindness and generosity of spirit. I’m attracted to people who are always up for having fun, even if it means exposing their inadequacies.

I want to be that kind of person. So we bowled. I don’t remember the score, but I know I threw my fair share of gutter balls. It didn’t matter. It was a GRAND time, and I left with a new appreciation for this season of adulthood, one which comes with less anxiety about what everyone else is doing and more joy in my own unique gifts, personality, and skill set.

chicken thigh and drumstick with mashed potatoes

What does all of this have to do with this Chicken in Coconut Milk? Well, nothing, really. This is just a delicious recipe for you to make and enjoy with your favorite people. Chicken in milk was first popularized by Jamie Oliver, and frankly, I thought it sounded disgusting. He uses a whole chicken and bakes it up in a milk bath with sage, garlic, lemon, and cinnamon.

After reading all the rave reviews and spotting this chicken on multiple other websites, curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to try it myself. Oh my. This chicken is fabulous. Supremely tender with a rich, subtle, lemony sauce.

I’ve adapted this recipe so it’s a little easier for a typical weeknight, making it with chicken thighs or drumsticks rather than a whole bird and using coconut milk to make it dairy free. I’ve made this so many times, including several times for company, and it’s always a hit. I’ve found you can use either a Dutch oven or a slow cooker to slow roast the chicken, though I feel the flavor in the Dutch oven is slightly better.

Chicken and mashed potatoes on a plate

We like to serve this with That Good SaladCreamy Mashed Potatoes, and the sauce from the pan. I try not to hoard all the tender, caramelized garlic cloves for myself (see thoughts above regarding kindness and generosity), but I tell you I would have no shame about picking them right off the bottom of the pan and popping them in my mouth. The flavor is heaven.

If you’re looking for a new chicken dish to add to your rotation, try to quell your inner judgmental high schooler and give this Chicken in Coconut Milk a try. It might just be a revelation!

Chicken in Coconut Milk

Prep Time 30 minutesPrep Time
Cook Time 4 hoursCook Time
Total Time 4 hrs 30 mins Total Time

Chicken thighs and drumsticks become unbelievably tender after slow cooking in a flavorful coconut milk, sage, and garlic broth.


  • 3 lbs. chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
  • 1 Tablespoon butter (or coconut oil for dairy free option)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced sage leaves
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the butter or oil over medium heat. Salt and pepper the chicken on all sides then add it to the pan in a single layer. You might need to do this in two batches. Leave the chicken undisturbed until well browned on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip, and brown the other side. 

Transfer the chicken to the Dutch oven. Using a vegetable peeler, slice long strips of lemon peel on top of the chicken, being careful not to get any of the white pith. Pour the coconut milk in then stir in the sage and garlic cloves. Cover and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until chicken is fall apart tender. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. If desired, squeeze a little extra lemon juice over the chicken when serving. 


Recipe Notes

For slow cooker variation: After browning the chicken, transfer it to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients then cover and cook on low for four hours or high for 8 hours. 

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Leave a Comment

  • Heather April 11, 2018, 8:44 AM

    Confirming: “… and cook on low for four hours or high for 8 hours.”? Seems reverse to me.

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