The picture I’m going to paint for you today starts with grilled marinated chicken, fluffy rice, and excessive handfuls of mint and cilantro, and it finishes with a generous drizzling of creamy coconut lime sauce that is so big and so flavorful that you cannot be unchanged by it.
You know I’m not always the biggest fan of chicken but THIS. This sauce-soaked, herb-loaded wonder is exactly the kind of chicken I like.
It’s the time of year when I start to build my meal plans around getting outdoors as much as possible. I know what’s coming (WINTER) and I know how much I will be outside (HARDLY AT ALL) so I’m doing my best to really lean into those summer flavors and the kinds of meals that naturally bring you outside into the sun. And if those meals can put loads of fresh summer herbs to good use, double win.
For that reason this recipe serves two purposes:
Getting you outside into the sun / fresh air to boost the mood a bit.
Giving you the foundation for all good things: that zingy, salty, herb-loaded coconut lime sauce.
Coconut milk, lime juice, lime zest, fish sauce, cilantro mint garlic oh my. This. Sauce. Is. So. Good.
It’s worth mentioning that between recipe development, photos, and video, the three people working on this recipe (working out of three separate locations) each ended up with slightly different looking sauces. One thin, one medium, one thick.
The lesson: coconut milk can vary greatly from can to can and brand to brand, and how much lime sauce you add (and whether you measure or just squeeze) can also impact the final coconut lime sauce texture. I’d recommend just starting with what’s written and then adjust as needed.
At the end of the day, chicken and rice never fails, but it EXTRA never fails us when it’s serves as a blank canvas to holds all the flavors of that cool, creamy sauce.
A little char on the chicken, a fresh squeeze of lime, hot sticky rice, and a heavy dousing of puckery coconut lime sauce. It’s creamy and summery, bright and fresh, and deeply filling and satisfying.
Bring it on.
Check Out Our Video For How To Make Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken:
The coconut lime sauce (and the crown jewel!) of this recipe was inspired by the sauce in this Forbidden Rice salad recipe from Food52. Not one but two people on our team made it and convinced me I needed to try it! They were not wrong. The Food52 recipe was authored by Asha Loupy. You can find her website here and her Instagram here.
Coconut Lime Grilled Chicken Bowls! Grilled marinated chicken, fluffy rice, and excessive handfuls of mint and cilantro, finished off with a generous drizzling of big and flavorful creamy coconut lime sauce.
Coconut Lime Sauce
juice and zest of 2-3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoonsfish sauce
1/4 cupfull fat coconut milk (solid / creamy stuff in a can for a creamier sauce)
1 tablespoonbrown sugar
1 tablespoonlemongrass paste (or fresh grated lemongrass, if you have access!)
half ajalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed
1 clove garlic
small bundle of fresh cilantro
small bundle of fresh mint
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
rice for serving
vegetables for serving
Sauce: Pulse all sauce ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
Chicken: Pour about half of the sauce over the chicken and allow to marinade for 30 minutes. (This 30 minute wait time is a good time to make some rice!)
Chicken: Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Cook the chicken on both sides until browned and fully cooked. Allow to rest for a few minutes.
To finish: Serve grilled chicken with rice and vegetables, and drizzle with remaining sauce.
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Sauce Consistency: The thickness and creaminess of your sauce is pretty dependent on the nature of your coconut milk. There can be so much variance between brands and even just from can to can, which you can see between our Instagram story videos, our photos, and our step by step videos. The good news is that regardless of texture, the sauce tastes *delicious.* And you can always boost the creaminess by adding more of the top / solid part of the coconut milk into the sauce.
Vegetarian / Vegan: Sub 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce for fish sauce, and serve on pan-fried tofu!