Vietnamese Coconut Chicken Curry

Vietnamese chicken curry recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
994 Calories
53g Fat
64g Carbs
68g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 994
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 23g 115%
Cholesterol 221mg 74%
Sodium 1148mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 64g 23%
Dietary Fiber 9g 30%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 68g
Vitamin C 25mg 124%
Calcium 245mg 19%
Iron 11mg 62%
Potassium 2237mg 48%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Vietnamese curries are not as well known as Indian or Thai curries, but they are just as flavorful and bold in flavor. More of a stew than the curries you might have tried, Vietnamese curries stand out from similar preparations in India or Thailand due to the pronounced coconut flavor and generous use of fish sauce, a common ingredient in many Vietnamese recipes. In our version for cà ri gà, or chicken curry, coconut milk gives the curry a mild sweetness and a luxurious creaminess. Chunks of russet potato, sweet potato, and carrot add texture and bulk to make this curry filling and satisfying.

In Vietnamese cuisine, careful design and balance of flavors and ingredients were already key before it was heavily influenced by the French presence in the country starting in the late 19th century when France took over Vietnam and Cambodia. The French heritage that was left behind after 1954 is clearly seen in today's Vietnam and its mixed culinary traditions. Potatoes, onions, coffee, varied pastries and desserts, broths, and stocks are only a small part of what the French left behind in local kitchens. That's why, when eating curry in Vietnam, the only possible side dish you can think of is a slice, or many, of Vietnamese baguette—instead of rice like in Thailand or flatbread like in India.

Serve this succulent curry with crusty bread, or if you're lucky enough to get your hands on one, a true Vietnamese baguette.


  • 3 pounds bone-in chicken, dark and white meat

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the chicken

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped

  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely minced

  • 3 tablespoons Vietnamese or Madras curry powder

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 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

  • Baguette, or cooked rice noodles, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Vietnamese curry gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. Cut the chicken into bite-size portions. Season each piece of chicken with a little salt and ground black pepper and set aside.

    Cut chicken up

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Heat the oil in pot with onions

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Push the onion and shallots to the side

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and half of the sugar. Stir well.

    Add minced garlic

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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.

    Add lemongrass and fish sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

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

    Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  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 and/or pepper. Remove the lemongrass stalk and discard. Serve to your liking over the optional cooked rice noodles and/or baguette slices.


    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Enjoy!

Customize Your Curry

Our recipe has a lot of room to please all palate preferences:

  • For a more coconutty flavor, replace 1 cup of whole milk with 1 cup of full-fat count coconut milk.
  • For a bolder flavor, add 1 additional tablespoon of curry powder.
  • If lacking salt, add fish sauce, 1 teaspoon at a time, and taste test again.
  • If you like spice, try adding 1 teaspoon of red chile flakes.
  • If too salty, add the juice of half a lime. Taste test, and if needed, add 1 additional teaspoon of sugar.
  • If you'd like a thicker sauce, allow the liquid to evaporate further. To naturally thicken the curry, blend 1 cup of the cooked russet potatoes with some of the liquid. Pour it back in the pot and mix well.

What does bruising mean in cooking?

In culinary terms, bruising means to partially crush an ingredient to release its flavor and fragrance. A knife, rolling pin, or pestle can help you bruise certain items like citrus peels, spices, and lemongrass.

To bruise your lemongrass, discard the harder parts of both ends of the stalk, peel a couple of the thicker outer layers, and with the help of the back of a knife, a pestle, or a kitchen mallet, lightly pound the stalk until softer.

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