Chicken Massaman Curry

Thai massaman curry with chicken and butternut squash stewed in thick aromatic coconut milk sauce. This comforting, flavorful meal is perfect for those evenings you’re craving healthier comfort food.

Chicken Massaman Curry is a healthier take on Thai takeout. Butternut squash and chicken are stewed in flavorful aromatic coconut milk for a satisfying, delicious meal

Have you ever had Massaman Curry? I only recently began making it at home, and I daresay it’s been giving my all-time favorite, Red Curry Chicken, a run for its money.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve noticed I’ve had a torrid love affair with Thai red, green, and yellow curry, and have also dabbled into the wonderful world of Indian curries. To me, there is simply nothing more comforting than protein and vegetables all snuggled up in a flavor-infused sauce with just the right amount of kick!

While I love all these classic curries, I wanted to break out of my curry mold and dig a little deeper into the wonderful world of aromatic coconut milk sauces, which is how we arrived right here. Today, Massaman is making its debut on The Roasted Root. You guys, I think you’re going to LOVE this!

If you’ve never tried it, I’ll just spoiler alert you now and tell you, it’s basically on the Top 5 list of Most Comforting Curries (<- totally a thing), right next to Panang curry. The sauce is ultra thick, silky, and aromatic. It’s like combining the comforts of fuzzy socks, a down comforter and fleece sheets into one beautifully flavored dish. For those times you just want to feel FULL, Massaman is your hero.

Chicken Massaman Curry - butternut squash and chicken stewed in aromatic coconut milk sauce for a satisfying meal that happens to be healthier than Thai takeout. Paleo, Whole30, and delicious

The combination of chicken and butternut squash swaddled in that ultra comforting sauce yields a healthful, satisfying meal. You can easily use this recipe as a gateway to all your massaman curries, replacing the chicken with beef or pork and swapping the butternut squash with your favorite potato or winter squash.

Per usual, here are some ideas for adaptations and also meal prep options for both customizing and preparing this recipe:

Recipe Adaptations:

  • Use beef instead of chicken
  • Replace butternut squash with Yukon Gold potato
  • Serve curry with choice of “riced” vegetables, such as cauliflower rice, quinoa, roasted vegetables or side of choice to make this recipe grain-free

Meal Prep:

  • The chicken can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Cook the rice up to 3 days ahead of time
  • Recipe saves very well, so the whole dish can be prepared up to 5 days in advance

Chicken Massaman Curry - flavorful Thai-spiced coconut milk sauce envelopes chicken and butternut squash in this amazing healthy dish.

Get that comfort food!

Chicken Massaman Curry - butternut squash and chicken stewed in aromatic coconut milk sauce for a satisfying meal that happens to be healthier than Thai takeout. Paleo, Whole30, and delicious

Chicken Massaman Curry

Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 people
Author: Julia
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 small butternut squash peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces, 4 cups
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice or fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 to 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened creamy almond butter optional*

For Serving:

  • cooked basmati rice
  • Thai basil

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a mixing bowl along with the red curry paste and 2 tablespoons avocado oil. Stir well and allow meat to marinate at least 15 minutes (up to 2 hours in the refrigerator).

  2. While chicken is marinating, peel and chop the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken and brown 2 to 3 minutes (don’t cook meat all the way through).

  4. Add the remaining ingredients except the kaffir lime leaves and almond butter (butternut squash through sea salt) to the pot and stir well. Cover and bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 1 hour. Remove the cover and cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened. Stir in the kaffir lime leaves. Stir in the almond butter for an even thicker, more luscious sauce.

  5. Remove cinnamon sticks and star anise.

  6. Serve massaman curry with basmati rice (or spaghetti squash or cauliflower rice).

Recipe Notes

*Or peanut butter

Looking for additional curry inspiration? Check out these recipes:

Chicken Massaman Curry - a classic Thai dish of chicken and butternut squash stewed in flavorful coconut milk sauce

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Comments

    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Joan, Truthfully, I’ve never seen a curry paste labeled mild, but in my experience, yellow curry paste is milder than red curry paste. You may try yellow and see if that works for you!

      Reply
    2. Monique Loupe

      Hi Joan,
      The Gourmet Collection makes dry spice blends. I found it at TJ Maxx, believe it or not! I bought a Thai green curry spice blend and I MUCH prefer it to curry paste. I never want to use paste again. Also I didn’t find it peppery at all, just full of flavor. You measure the powder based on the weight of the protein you’re using. It says how much to use on the label.

      Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Lana!

      To be completely honest, I wouldn’t recommend making any substitution, as coconut milk is a pretty pivotal part of the recipe since it creates that silky-thick luscious sauce. If you tolerate dairy well, you can substitute equal-parts half & half and heavy cream (so 15 ounces of each), but be careful during the cooking process to not boil the dairy too much, or it will separate. I hope this helps..let me know what you end up doing! xo

      Reply
  1. Lorraine

    The ingredients list coconut oil but the instructions say avocado oil. Not a problem for me but others might be confused.

    Also the recipe states it takes 30 minutes of prep and an hour of cooking time. But the instructions say cook covered for 1 hour then cook without the cover for 30 minutes.

    I’m just checking to know which cooking time is correct as I’ve got my chicken marinating now and don’t want to mess this up.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Ah jeez, I clearly wrote out the recipe too quickly. Thank you for catching this, Lorraine! I made the edits so you should be good to go now. It is 1.5 hours of cook time, and you can use either avocado oil or coconut oil 😉 Hope you enjoy!! xo

      Reply
  2. Sheri

    That sounds and looks wonderful! Years ago in my younger days I lived in a tepee while saving to go to school. I got hit by a huge winter storm one night and my kind neighbors took me in and served me the most wonderful Indian curry meal. It was the first time I smelled Cumin and I love it so much I even put it on buttered popcorn! Years later I worked for a retired teacher named “Jan” that had worked teaching in Saudi Arabia & India and she shared a wonderful Garam masala recipe book with me. I didn’t realize there were so many different ways to make curries! Jan inspired me to garden and use my herbs fresh. It is a totally different taste experience.

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Sheri,

      Thanks so much for sharing this lovely story!! I love these unexpected, game-changing experiences in life..it’s truly a blessing to connect with people through cooking. Growing your own herbs is truly a different experience…Cheers to enjoying life and all it has to offer 🙂 xo

      Reply
  3. Isabella

    Hey, amazing recipe! Is there an option to make it vegan, use tofu or chickpeas instead of chicken?
    Thanks alot,
    yours Isabella 🙂

    Reply
    1. Julia Post author

      Hi Isabella,

      I think turning it vegan using chickpeas would be brilliant! I love the concept. You could also use tofu if you can do soy, although my first recommendation would be the chickpeas 😉 Let me know how it turns out! xo

      Reply
  4. Natalie

    Aww, I love chicken curry. I have asked my bf to make it for my many times, each time we try another recipe.
    Maybe next time we will use yours xD xD So excited!!

    Reply

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