Super tender, juicy chicken thighs slow-cooked in creamy coconut milk, harissa paste, brown sugar, lime juice, and a touch of fish sauce. Serve over rice, top with fresh cilantro and lime wedges for a comforting, nourishing meal thats ready in under an hour!
Coconut Milk-Braised Chicken with Harissa and Lime is a fusion between some of my favorite Southeast Asian and North African flavors. For this recipe, chicken thighs are seared until golden brown then slow-cooked in a flavorful sauce made up of coconut milk, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and harissa paste, then finished with lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed rice or try it with Toasted Coconut Lime Rice!
Trust me, you really can’t go wrong with this one! The sauce is so flavorful and delicious you’re going to want to drink up every last drop!
Why I love this recipe:
- It’s big on flavor! Garlic, ginger, harissa, lime juice, fish sauce, cilantro and coconut milk are the mail flavor components in this recipe, need I say more?
- It’s a one-pot meal. Fewer dishes mean more time to actually enjoy your meal.
- It’s quick! This recipe is perfect for a quick and easy dinner. From start to finish it’s ready in under an hour.
Looking for more creamy coconut milk recipes? Check out: Coconut Curry Braised Salmon!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Here’s everything you need to make Coconut Milk-Braised Chicken with Harissa and Lime: bone-in chicken thighs, coconut milk, harissa paste, garlic, ginger, lime juice, brown sugar, and cilantro.
Step 1. Sear the Chicken
Heat the coconut oil in a large dutch oven (or a large saute pan) over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt then place them into the pot skin side down. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken from the pan.
Step 2. Make the Sauce
To the pot add the grated garlic, ginger, and harissa paste. Saute 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Next, add in the coconut milk, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer then gently place the chicken thighs into the sauce skin side up.
Step 3. Bake
Put the pot into the oven uncovered and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the fish sauce and lime juice.
Step 4. Serve
To serve, divide the chicken and sauce into bowls, top with fresh cilantro and extra lime wedges. Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles.
FAQS and Expert Tips
Different brands vary in spiciness, it’s a safe bet that any harissa is pretty hot, so always taste as you go. In this recipe, the heat of the harissa is toned down by the coconut milk, brown sugar and lime juice.
Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165. Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the center of the thigh to get the most accurate temperature read.
My preference is steamed rice. You can also serve this recipe with quinoa, rice noodles, zoodles, or even cauliflower rice.
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Coconut Milk-Braised Chicken with Harissa and Lime
- 4-6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin on
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or neutral oil
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- 2 cans coconut milk full fat
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce see note
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 bunch cilantro
- steamed rice or rice noodles for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large dutch oven (or a large saute pan) over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt then place them into the pot skin side down. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Remove from the chicken from the pan.
- To the pot add the grated garlic, ginger and harissa paste. Saute 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Next, add in the coconut milk, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer then gently place the chicken thighs into the sauce skin side up.
- Put the pot into the oven uncovered and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the fish sauce and lime juice.
- To serve, divide the chicken and sauce into bowls, top with fresh cilantro and extra lime wedges. Serve with steamed rice or rice noodles.
- Chicken Thighs: You can certainly use other cuts of chicken for this recipe. Whole legs or drumsticks both work well. You could also use boneless skinless thighs.
- Harissa Paste: This incredibly versatile, dynamic, intensely flavorful Tunisian spice paste is made by blending roasted peppers with olive oil, garlic, and toasted spices like cumin, coriander, and caraway. Different brands vary in spiciness, it’s a safe bet that any harissa is pretty hot, so always taste as you go.
- Coconut Milk: I prefer full-fat always. Low-fat coconut milk will work but may result in a thinner sauce. Fish Sauce: Despite its name fish sauce won’t make this recipe taste “fishy.” It adds a dynamic, salty, umami flavor. Still not a game? Don’t worry, you can substitute soy sauce instead.
- This recipe makes great leftovers and even meal prep! Store leftovers, in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave or covered, on the stovetop over low heat.
Thanks for this recipe! Easy and good. The kind of recipe that can be easily customized.
One of my favourite recipes.
SO quick and easy and tastes amazing, also looks great on the plate.
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you Sean!!
Pamela Fauls Peterson
How long would I cook if using chicken breast?
Hi Pamela, cook it the same length of time. 30-45 minutes.
Simple and straightforward but amazingly good. My favorite recipe so far.
Do you know if this could be adapted to slow cooker with boneless skinless thighs?
Leigh Hyatt Anderson
Hi Kara, I have not tested this recipe in a slow-cooker but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! I would add all of the ingredients (except the cilantro, lime juice, and fish sauce) to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4hrs or low for 6-7hrs. Just before serving add the fish sauce and lime juice. Let me know if you try it this way!