This Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry is everything you’d want in a weeknight dinner: quick, one-pot, creamy & comforting. This is a mildly spicy curry with South Indian flavours and an extra nutty flavour from coconut milk that pairs perfectly with steamed rice or flatbread!
When it comes to weeknight dinners, I’m all about convenience – but without compromising on nutrition and flavour. And that’s what I love about my #PressureCookerMarch series because you’re just chucking your choice of protein and veggies into one pot and returning to a nourishing and yummy meal prepped and ready.
I love using my Instant Pot for convenience, but a Pressure Cooker works perfectly well too. This chicken curry recipe is one of my favourites because it’s such a crowd pleaser – it’s not too spicy so the kiddos always reach for seconds, it pairs perfectly with rice and flatbread, and it’s a hearty meal for whenever you choose to serve it.
There’s hardly any active cooking that you need to do, just quick marination and sautéing with some minor chopping. The instant pot does the rest for you!
You’ve also likely got all the ingredients at home already so there’s no need for a grocery run, and you can also add any vegetables to your liking or if you have any that need to be used up. That sounds good to my weeknight cooking ears!!
Ingredients You'll need for Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry
- Chicken – this recipe calls for 500 grams of chicken and I recommend bone-in curry cut pieces or boneless chicken thighs here. You can always adjust the proportions of this recipe if you’re making a bigger batch!
- Spices – I use the same holy grail combo of spices for both the marination and the curry itself that you’ll find in all Indian spice boxes: turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder as well as some jeera (cumin) powder, pepper powder and garam masala
- Oil – preferably coconut oil, but if not using this I would recommend any neutral oil like vegetable oil
- Ginger Garlic Paste – a staple for any delicious curry and for the best flavour, make the paste fresh at home (but the storebought kinds work just fine too!)
- Onions – I’ve used 3 large onions, thinly sliced. We want them to cook evenly through in the instant pot so make sure not to cut them chunky!
- Tomatoes – another curry classic. Can’t be a good curry without it. I’ve used 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped.
- Curry Leaves – this really lends that South Indian flavour to this curry and I wouldn’t skip this because you can really tell the flavour difference without it. (If you don’t source fresh curry leaves regularly, it’s really helpful to keep the dried leaves on hand in your pantry – and you can add those in here instead)
- Green Chillies – adjust to your liking! I’ve used 2 chillies slit lengthwise for a mild flavour.
- Coconut Milk – you can use any kind – fresh/canned/powder-mixed here. I mainly use this for the nuttiness and creaminess that it adds to the curry.
- Fresh Coriander – for a final garnish!
How to Make Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry
Here's a step-by-step collage showing you how to make instant pot Coconut Chicken Curry at home:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients listed under marinade. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade. Mix well to coat the chicken pieces. Set it aside for 15-20 minutes.
2. Turn on the Instant Pot and select SAUTE mode. Add oil to the pot and let it heat up.
Add ginger garlic paste and onions and fry the onions until they turn evenly brown, about 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the marinated chicken pieces to the Instant Pot. Toss the chicken for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
4. Add tomatoes, chilli powder, pepper powder, coriander powder, and salt to the pot. Sauté and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes start to get pulpy.
5. Add curry leaves, green chillies, ½ cup coconut milk, and ½ cup water to the Instant Pot. Mix well and bring it to a slow boil.
6. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing.
7. Press MANUAL and pressure cook on HIGH for 8 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release the remaining pressure, if any.
8. Add the remaining coconut milk and garam masala to the pot. Allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes. Top with chopped coriander and serve hot!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?
Think of it like this: an instant pot is a pressure cooker, but a pressure cooker is not an instant pot. The main difference is that the instant pot has a few additional cooking settings and is fully programmable so you can adjust the settings. With an instant pot, you can literally “drop and go”, but when using a pressure cooker you will have to be around just to reduce the heat, etc. You can read more in detail about the differences in my Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker blog post here.
But both work for this recipe and still reduce active cooking time greatly so you do not have to worry about that.
2. I don’t have a pressure cooker or an instant pot. Can I make this recipe in an open pan instead?
Yes, you can, but the cooking time will vary (it will take longer) and I would recommend that you keep mixing and checking the curry to see if the chicken has cooked through fully.
3. Can I sub the coconut milk for regular milk or soy milk?
I would not recommend making any substitutions for the coconut milk as that’s a key flavour ingredient for this curry and any other alternative milk would just not work. However, you can use some heavy cream instead but note that doing so will make this more of a ‘butter chicken’ style curry than a nutty South Indian style preparation like this original recipe.
My pressure cooker series is coming to an end, but I don’t think I’ll stop making these recipes anytime soon. If you’re always on the go but looking for some quick and easy (but healthy) meal inspiration then this is definitely the recipe and series for you.
If you liked this recipe, you can also try my Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala or this Slow Cooker Chicken Curry as well as the rest of the #PressureCookerMarch series!
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Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry
- 500 grams Chicken bone-in curry cut pieces or boneless chicken thighs
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ teaspoon Chilli Powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ½ teaspoon Jeera Powder
- 4 tablespoons Oil preferably coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 3 Onions thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- 3 Tomatoes finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon Chilli Powder
- 1 teaspoon Pepper Powder
- 2 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ¾-1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 Green Chillies slit lengthwise
- ½ cup Water
- 1 cup Coconut Milk divided
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- 2 tablespoons chopped Coriander
- In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients listed under marinade. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade. Mix well to coat the chicken pieces. Set it aside for 15-20 minutes.
- Turn on the Instant Pot and select SAUTE mode. Add oil to the pot and let it heat up.
- Add ginger garlic paste and onions and fry the onions until they turn evenly brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the marinated chicken pieces to the Instant Pot. Toss the chicken for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add tomatoes, chilli powder, pepper powder, coriander powder, and salt to the pot. Sauté and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes start to get pulpy.
- Add curry leaves, green chillies, ½ cup coconut milk, and ½ cup water to the Instant Pot. Mix well and bring it to a slow boil. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing.
- Press MANUAL and pressure cook on HIGH for 8 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Manually release the remaining pressure, if any.
- Add the remaining coconut milk and garam masala to the pot. Allow it to simmer for 2 minutes. Top with chopped coriander and serve hot!
I made this instapot coconut chicken curry last night. It was amazing. I made no changes and my husband who is from Mumbai thought i bought it from a restaurant.
I tried this recipe last night and it was absolutely delicious! The flavors were rich and creamy, and the chicken came out perfectly tender. I love that it was made in the Instant Pot, which made the cooking process so much quicker and easier. I'll definitely be making this again soon. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!
This article on Instant Pot Coconut Chicken Curry is fantastic! As someone who loves quick and easy weeknight dinners, this recipe seems like a perfect fit for me. I appreciate the author's tips on using bone-in curry cut pieces or boneless chicken thighs and the recommendation to adjust the recipe if making a bigger batch. It's also great that the recipe calls for common Indian spices that many people may already have at home. I can't wait to try making this curry and pairing it with some rice or flatbread. Thank you for sharing this delicious-sounding recipe!