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Baked (or grilled) coconut chicken with sweet chili sauce

Grilled or baked, this coconut chicken with sweet chili sauce, will spice up your repertoire!

When I travel, I love to buy locally-published cookbooks, the ones you'll never find on Amazon.com. I hold on to those books forever, and look through them often. Flipping through a circa 1992 book I brought home from Malaysia, I found a page torn out of an issue of New York magazine, also circa 1992. On that page were several recipes; I can't tell you which ones appealed to me nearly 25 years ago, because they all look great now. This chicken, baked or cooked on the grill after marinating overnight in Thai-inspired flavors, caught my eye, because grilling season is just around the corner.

When I finally got in the kitchen to cook, however, I decided to bake rather than grill, though I did think about grilling indoors on my panini press. Whichever way you decide to cook, the chicken needs to marinate so the flavors of the spices infuse it. Sometimes the taste of turmeric can be bitter, so trust me when I tell you that combining this chicken with the sauce, and a few bites of pineapple, creates a complete, and fabulously complex, flavor sensation. If you have any leftover chicken, turn it into a sassy chicken salad. 

Grill or bake this coconut chicken, and don't forget the sweet chili sauce on top!

Baked (or grilled) coconut chicken with sweet chili sauce {can be gluten-free}

From the pantry, you'll need: coconut milk, garlic, ginger, olive oil, fish sauce, curry powder, fresh black pepper, turmeric, rice vinegar, agave nectar, lime, tomato paste. 

Adapted from a recipe I found stuffed in a cookbook from New York magazine, May 1992. Serves 6-8.


For the marinade:
One 13.5-oz can coconut milk
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp ginger paste (or minced ginger)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fish sauce (I use Red Boat, which is gluten-free)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1-1/2 Tbsp black pepper
1-1/2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp turmeric

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast (4-5 large breasts), trimmed of fat

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp plum sauce, sometimes called "duck sauce" (use gluten-free if needed; easy to find in the grocery store)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
Juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red chile paste (I used Gourmet Garden, in a tube, from the produce section of my regular grocery store)

For serving:
1 small pineapple, sliced and cored
Fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


Combine the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and whisk together to incorporate. Prick the chicken pieces all over with the tip of a knife, and add them to the bowl, making sure they are submerged in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (or preheat a grill).

Shake off excess marinade, and line the chicken pieces up on the baking sheet. Set one rack in the top third of the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, turning the chicken 2-3 times (or cook on the grill, turning once, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is done); . Use an instant-read thermometer to take the meat's temperature; it should be at least 160°F. If necessary, continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. (The chicken will continue cooking to 165°F as it rests.)

Meanwhile, add all of the sauce ingredients to a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to incorporate all of the ingredients. Taste. The sauce will be very tart, so add more plum sauce to sweeten it to your taste.

Slice the chicken on an angle, and serve at room temperature, with slices of pineapple and chili sauce on top.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More baked or grilled chicken:
Grilled not-too-spicy jerk chicken, from The Perfect Pantry
Grilled tikka masala-style chicken, from The Perfect Pantry
Very Greek grilled chicken, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Korean grilled chicken, from The Kitchn
Grilled chicken with blackberry sweet and sour sauce, from Steamy Kitchen

Bake this Thai-inspired coconut chicken, or grill it, and be sure to save the leftovers for chicken salad! [ThePerfectPantry.com]

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Yes, please. I love all the flavors here. And I know you're not going to be surprised to hear that I also buy cookbooks everywhere I go and still look through them years and years later!

1992! By that time I had a lot of 'exotic' cookbooks, but sourcing ingredients wasn't an easy task. The world has changed, exotic is 'global' and if you can't find something local, the internet is at our fingertips.
Now, how am I going to put this splendid sounding combination of tastes to work for me?

Kalyn, you've given me the idea to do a post about favorite cookbooks brought back from travels!

Susan, marinated and grilled tofu "steaks"? (and see my response to Kalyn about our favorite souvenir cookbooks; it would be a fun topic)

Yikes, these are all my favorite flavors! When the snow is cleared off my grill maybe I'll try it. :)

Janice, I have to admit that that crazy snow earlier in the week made me want to grill even more!

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