When it comes to meal time, planning around the pickiest eater is sometimes the best option. In my house, if rice is involved, the meal is guaranteed to be a hit. Enter this Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken! It’s an easy dinner, made with coconut milk as the base flavor, and brightened with cilantro and lime juice. Feel free to use boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts make this rice dish!

Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken is a delicious one pot meal served with cilantro, lime juice, roasted cashews, and hot sauce.

My cousin Mariah is the queen of cooking with coconut milk. I, on the other hand, am a complete newbie to cooking with coconut milk. 

And let me tell you, it’s handy to have a go-to resource I can call or text from the grocery store when I can’t figure out if I should buy coconut milk or coconut cream for a recipe. She always knows the right answer!

This Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken with Cashews recipe definitely isn’t one I made up on my own but it’s so dang good that I couldn’t help but share it with you. It’s from the New York Times and it came to me back in the days soon after Kyle died.

A fork is scooping some Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken from a white dish.

Our dear friends from Riley’s preschool flooded us with meals for the first 3 months after he died. For someone who cooks for a living, this was incredibly humbling.

I loved this coconut rice recipe so much that I didn’t even wait until I finished eating before I texted my friend to profusely thank her and ask her for the recipe. And I never, ever text during dinner!

Ingredients

Here’s the basic grocery list for this coconut rice recipe with chicken and cashews. Be sure to keep scrolling down to the recipe for the full Ingredients list and full printable recipe!

Ingredients for Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken are laid out on a white marble counter.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Vegetable oil like canola oil or safflower oil (or olive oil in a pinch)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Aromatics: Onions, fresh ginger, and fresh garlic
  • Basmati rice or jasmine rice (See notes in the Brown Rice section below.)
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Full-fat coconut milk
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Roasted cashews
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro
  • A lime
  • Hot sauce (optional, for serving)

How to Make Sticky Coconut Rice

This rice dish is one of those easy recipes you’ll cook as a one pot dinner in under an hour. It’s a little long to be considered a quick weeknight recipe, but it’s still an easy dinner to make if you have a few extra minutes.

Chicken for Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken is being browned in a large Dutch oven.

Here are the basic steps to make this coconut rice recipe. Be sure to keep scrolling down to the recipe for the full Ingredients list and full printable recipe!

STEP 1: Preheat the oven. Rub the boneless skinless chicken thighs with vegetable oil and then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

The rice for Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken has been added to the Dutch oven.

STEP 2: Heat more oil in a heavy large pot or large Dutch oven and cook chicken in two batches, about 2 ½ minutes per side (or 5 minutes per batch). Move the chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil.

STEP 3: Add the remaining oil and the aromatics (ginger and garlic) to the empty pot and cook until fragrant. Stir in the rice with a wooden spoon and then the chicken broth, coconut milk, bell pepper, cashews, scallions, and some salt and black pepper. Nestle the chicken on top of the rice mixture. 

Pouring coconut milk into the ingredients for Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken.

STEP 4: Cover the pot and bake the rice dish until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and extra cashews, and serve with a spritz of fresh lime juice (a must) and hot sauce to drizzle, if desired.

When finished, the rice is going to be thick and sticky, full of delicious coconut flavor. And the tender chicken thighs will have picked up some of that coconut flavor from the fragrant coconut rice.

A pot of Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken is ready to bake in the oven.

Paired with some bright and spunky chopped cilantro, extra crunchy roasted cashews, and a drizzle of hot sauce, this one pot dinner is a complete winner!

Coconut Milk or Coconut Cream?

For this recipe, you’ll need a can of full-fat coconut milk. Coconut cream is too thick to properly cook in this recipe.

A bowl of Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken is ready to eat.

Can Brown Rice Be Used in this Recipe?

Not for this rice recipe, unfortunately. 

Brown rice takes too long to cook and will be undercooked when the chicken is finished cooking. So, skip the brown rice and go for white rice instead! Absolutely no one wants uncooked rice on their plate.

Basmati rice, jasmine rice, or plain ol’ white rice all work great here.

Vegetables, coconut milk, and chicken broth have been added to the pot of Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken.

What Kind of Chicken to Use?

For this recipe, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs because they’re just so much more flavorful than chicken breasts are. I felt the same when I made my lemon chicken thighs too.

However, if you want to make this chicken recipe for dinner tonight and only have chicken breasts in the fridge, by all means, use those! You’ll need to reduce the baking time by just a couple of minutes.

And if you’re in a real pinch and only have chicken tenders – not breaded tenders, but uncooked chicken tenderloins – you can definitely use those instead of chicken breasts or chicken thighs.

A wooden spoon is scooping some of the Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken from the Dutch Oven.

Love Rice Like We Do?

Admittedly, I have never been a big fan of rice. I’ll eat it and enjoy it, but I don’t seek it out.

Not like my daughter does! Since the time she was around 10 months old and was shoveling palmfuls of rice into her little mouth at our local Mexican restaurant, I knew rice was going to be a thing for her.

So, I’ve leaned into cooking rice more often, as a parent does when they know what their kid will eat without any complaints.

Two bowls of Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken are ready to serve.

A few of the recipes she loves, aside from a serving of plain rice are this One Pan Mexican Chicken and Rice, this Cilantro Lime Rice that I make for burrito bowls, and a one pan tikka masala meatballs and rice dish that I make from time to time.

More One Pot Dinner Recipes That You’ll Absolutely Love

A fork is scooping some Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken from a white dish.

Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken and Cashews

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Sticky Coconut Rice with Chicken and Cashews is one of those easy dinners that takes a few minutes to prep but is a snap to cook. You'll quickly brown the chicken on the stove and let the oven cook the rice in a bath of coconut milk, chicken broth, veggies, cashews, and aromatics. It makes the most delicious one pot dinner, especially with extra crunchy cashews, a spritz of lime juice, and a drizzle of hot sauce on top before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each thigh cut into 2 equal-size pieces
  • ¼ cup neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger, about a 1-inch knob
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic, about 4 cloves
  • 1 ½ cups dry basmati or jasmine white rice, rinsed until water runs clear
  • 1 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped (½-inch pieces)
  • ¾ cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced (½ cup, packed)
  • Small handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Sriracha hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Rub the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper over both sides of the chicken.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken in two batches, about 2 ½ minutes per side (or 5 minutes per batch). Transfer the chicken to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onions, ginger, and garlic to the empty pot, and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir until it is evenly coated in the oil and aromatics. Stir in the chicken broth, coconut milk, bell pepper, ½ cup cashews, scallions and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot leftover from the chicken and aromatics. Nestle the chicken on top of the rice mixture, along with any leftover juices from the plate. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil.
  4. Cover and bake until all of the liquid is absorbed, rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter cilantro and the remaining ¼ cup of cashews over the chicken and rice. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze (a must!) and sriracha lightly drizzled over the top (if desired).

Notes

very slightly adapted from Kay Chun at New York Times Cooking

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