This Island Glazed Chicken and Coconut Rice is a sweet and spicy tropical-inspired dish that will make you feel as though you’re taking a mini vacation in the sunshine with every bite.
If you love a good tropical take on chicken and rice dishes then you’ll go ga-ga for other similar dishes like: Carribean Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps, Bali Island Chicken Rice Bowls, and Hawaiian Hula Chicken.
I need a vacation, how about you? Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards for me right now. However, I can pretend like I’m on vacation at least for a couple hours around dinner time. I love the combination of sweet and spicy dishes mixed with fruit. To me, that is what a tropical vacation-esque meal is all about.
The inspiration for this dish comes from the islands of Hawaii. You’d be hard-pressed to find any rice there that isn’t flavored with coconut and cilantro, which, I would think almost no one complains about. The glaze on the chicken, made with soy, Sriracha, brown sugar, and garlic leaves a magic caramelization right on top of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Add the pineapple or a similar tropical fruit and your tastebuds will do a little dance as though they’re at a luau all night long.
HOW DO YOU MAKE COCONUT RICE?
Making coconut rice is really not much harder than making “regular” plain white rice. In this dish, I add the rice right into the yummy sauce in the pan that’s leftover after I remove the chicken. That way it can absorb the flavors of the butter and honey and get a good little bit of toasting before adding in the liquids.
To the rice, I’ll add the cup of coconut milk and another cup of water (keeping the ratio of water-to-rice at 2:1). Because this is a tropical dish, I add in a little bit of sugar and lime juice as well. I wait to garnish the rice with cilantro and lime juice after cooking the chicken in with the rice as this is a one-pan meal.
If you want to make coconut rice without the chicken, simply cook one cup of rice with one cup of coconut milk, one cup of water, and 3 teaspoons of sugar. When it’s fully steamed through, add in the chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A TROPICAL FRUIT?
For this dish I like to add sliced, fresh pineapple. It’s sweet enough and juicy enough to complement the chicken and coconut rice nicely. Other tropical fruit options that would work well with this dish include:
- Dragon fruit
- Star fruit
- Passion fruit
- Bananas (yes, bananas!)
WHAT FRUIT SALSA WORKS WITH CHICKEN?
If you’d prefer to use a fruit salsa with this dish, then that would be delish too! (Ohhh…I just thought of a new recipe idea!)
- Make a pineapple salsa to really bring out the pineapple flavors served alongside this Island Chicken dish.
- Mango salsa is made with a winning combination of onions, salt, chili powder, cilantro, and lime juice.
- If you’re into a little bit of a milder sweet for your fruit salsa, try this Strawberry Avocado salsa.
- If you’re feeling it, dice up any of your favorite tropical fruits to layer in with this Island Chicken and Coconut Rice dish.
WHY IS CHICKEN SO POPULAR?
Chicken is an easy protein go-to for many people, and for good reason. Chicken is one of the most popular meats eaten in the United States — some statistics say we eat more than 85 pounds of poultry a year, and that’s per person!
Chicken is budget-friendly, easily found in just about any grocery store, and it’s high in protein, low-calorie, low-fat, low in cholesterol, and contains other nutrients such as iron, vitamin B, and zinc.
Chicken is also a great “blank slate” of a protein choice. It can take on just about any kind of sauce, marinade, or spice you can throw at it and taste good in all those options. It’s good hot or cold and for any meal or snack.
WHAT SIDES GO WITH ISLAND GLAZED CHICKEN AND COCONUT RICE?
In no particular order, these are my top-five sides that I like to serve with this tropical chicken dish.
- My Simple Tossed Green Salad
- The ever-popular Roasted Asparagus
- Crispy Parmesan Green Beans
- This Quick and Creamy Cucumber Salad makes great leftovers too!
Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese is an unexpected side dish that (almost) everyone loves.
Island Glazed Chicken and Coconut Rice
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts OR 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- sliced or chopped pineapple, cilantro, lime wedges for garnish optional
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons corn starch + 4 tablespoons cold water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper 1/4 teaspoon if using finely ground pepper
- Stir together rub ingredients. Rub seasonings all over chicken.
- In a large skillet or pot (one that has a lid) over medium heat, add butter and honey.
- When butter is almost melted, give it a good stir to coat the pan, and add chicken to the pan. Brown 2-3 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate. (Chicken won't be cooked through at this point)
- Add rice to the pan, stir in coconut milk, water, sugar, and lime juice. Add chicken back to the pan so it is sitting on top of the rice.
- Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until liquid is absorbed, rice is tender, and chicken is cooked through. While chicken and rice is cooking, prepare the glaze.
- In a medium sauce pan combine soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir together corn starch and water until dissolved, then stir in to sauce pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir until glaze thickens.
- Once chicken and rice are cooked, spoon glaze over chicken. Garnish with chopped pineapple, cilantro and lime wedges if desired and serve.