Vietnamese Coconut Chicken Curry

Three different views of Vietnamese chicken curry
Nancy Lopez-McHugh
  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Vietnamese curries are not as well known as Indian and Thai curries, but they are just as flavorful. Consider this recipe for Vietnamese coconut chicken curry (cà ri gà), seasoned with ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and curry powder.

The coconut milk gives the curry a mild sweetness and a luxurious creaminess. Russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots cook until tender and make this curry satisfying. If desired, you can substitute half broth and half coconut cream for the whole milk in this recipe.

Vietnamese curry is traditionally served with slices of baguette inspired by the French colonization of Vietnam. Dip your bread in and enjoy, or serve over freshly cooked rice noodles.


  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken (a mixture of dark and white meat)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 2 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 4 large cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 (3-inch) piece of  ginger (peeled and finely minced)
  • 3 tablespoons Vietnamese curry powder (or Madras curry powder if not available)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 stalks​ lemongrass (bruised)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 6 small russet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices)
  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled and cut into thick, even slices)
  • 8 medium carrots (peeled and cut into thick, even slices)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Optional: baguette and/or rice noodles (for serving)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Cut the chicken into serving-size portions (legs, thighs, breasts, wings). Season each piece of chicken with a little salt and ground black pepper and set aside.

  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onion and shallots and sauté until they are soft and translucent.

  4. Push them to the side and add the chicken pieces, cooking the meat until it begins to brown.

  5. Next, add the minced garlic and ginger and sauté for 3 minutes. Then sprinkle in the curry powder, sea salt, and half of the sugar. Stir well.

  6. Add the lemongrass, fish sauce, chicken broth, and coconut milk. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through.

  7. Add the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot. Stir well, cover, and allow to simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  8. Pour in the whole milk and simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes. Before serving, taste the broth and, if needed, add more curry powder, salt or other seasonings. 

  9. Once the curry is to your liking, serve with some rice noodles and baguette slices on the side. Leftovers are even better the next day.


  • A mixture of dark and white meat makes a more flavorful curry.

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