Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

This Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta recipe is an easy way to add some variety to your weeknight meal rotation! If you’re tired of classic pasta sauces, this tangy coconut lime sauce will be a refreshing change of pace, and the whole meal comes together in about half an hour!

Want to try this dish with shrimp instead of chicken? Check out my Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta recipe!

Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta
Tender shrimp and pasta in a creamy (but dairy-free) coconut lime pan sauce, topped with fresh cilantro! An easy way to add some variety to your weeknight pasta routine.
Check out this recipe
Coconut Lime Shrimp

Key Tips – Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

The cilantro is more than just a garnish.

  • This dish is a combination of simple flavors, and the cilantro really adds a lot. It’s more than just a decorative garnish, so don’t skip it!
  • For the cilantro-averse, consider subbing a similar herb like parley or Thai basil (I would choose Thai basil because I’m not a big fan of parsley myself). Another option is to bump up the flavor in the dish a bit by making it spicy, so the cilantro won’t be as missed (see note below).

Check out my guide on freezing fresh garlic to save some time in the kitchen.

  • If you’re looking for the convenience of pre-minced garlic, but the flavor of fresh garlic, freezing your own minced garlic is a great option! You’ll be surprised to find that the flavor of frozen garlic is nearly as good as fresh, without the sticky prep and clean-up. Read more about it here: How to Freeze Garlic.

Add a little spice.

  • I typically make this recipe as written, because I love the combination of simple flavors. But if you’re looking for a little kick, consider adding some diced jalapeño or serrano peppers. Add the diced peppers to the sauce as it simmers.

Tenderize your chicken with baking soda.

  • This is a simple trick that will help you get delicious, tender chicken every time. In this recipe I find it especially useful because you don’t run the risk of overcooking your chicken during the simmering step.
  • Instructions for tenderizing the chicken with baking soda are included directly in the recipe.
Chicken after searing.
Chicken after searing.
Chicken simmering in sauce.
Chicken simmering in sauce.

Use thin spaghetti, or similar.

  • I’ve tested this recipe with a number of pastas, and thin spaghetti is my favorite. Some other good options are regular spaghetti, or capellini (angel hair). Thin spaghetti is basically halfway between the thickness of spaghetti and capellini.
  • If you’re looking to make this recipe gluten-free, or just switch it up, you can also use thin rice noodles.

For extra lime flavor, add lime zest or serve with lime wedges on the side.

  • I love to serve this recipe with extra lime wedges, so you can add some more tangy lime juice as you eat.
  • If you want to boost the lime flavor, consider zesting your limes before juicing and including that in your sauce. Don’t over do it with the zest, this will also make the sauce more bitter.

Use coconut oil if you have it, but olive oil works great as well.

  • If you already have coconut oil in your pantry, it’s fun to use that for the pan frying oil in this recipe. It’s not worth going out of your way for, so if you don’t have it on hand just use olive oil or veggie oil instead.

I don’t recommend substituting full fat coconut milk.

  • I recommend using lite coconut milk (like this!) in this recipe. Full fat coconut milk has a different consistency, and this recipe isn’t optimized for it. If you do choose to use it, omit the cornstarch from the sauce.
Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

Dietary Restrictions – Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

This dish is naturally Dairy-Free!

Make it Gluten-Free:

  • Use gluten-free pasta. Chickpea pasta is my favorite GF variety! This dish also works well with thin rice noodles.
Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

A Note On Serving Sizes

Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. While this is listed as 4 servings, some people would prefer to have more than one serving. I typically serve this dish as 2 large dinner portions. The pictures show one batch (four servings).

Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta

Tender chicken breast and pasta in a creamy (but dairy-free) coconut lime pan sauce, topped with fresh cilantro! An easy way to add some variety to your weeknight pasta routine.
4.92 from 24 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 410 kcal


For Sauce


  • Fillet the chicken breast and pound the pieces to an even thickness. [Optionally, tenderize the chicken with baking soda. Dust the baking soda lightly over both sides of the fillets. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse off all the baking soda and pat dry with paper towels.] Season the chicken all over with salt and black pepper.
  • Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Begin boiling a large pot of salted water for the pasta as you prep other ingredients. Boil pasta per package instructions for al dente, then drain a set aside, keep covered. (I typically add the pasta to the water during step 5)
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken until each side has some browning and the chicken is cooked through or mostly cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a cutting board.
    Chicken after searing.
  • Carefully wipe the skillet clean of excess oil, then add the coconut milk mixture. Once it’s boiling reduce heat to medium low, add the chicken back to the pan let simmer for ~5 minutes, occasionally spooning the sauce over the chicken. Remove the chicken back to the cutting board and ensure it’s cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest under foil, and continue to reduce the sauce until it’s thick enough that a spatula pushed through the sauce briefly leaves streaks in the pan, about 5 minutes. (Note, if you taste the sauce on its own, the lime flavor will be very strong, but this is mellowed when served with the pasta)
    Chicken simmering in sauce.
  • Once the sauce is ready, remove from heat and reserve about 2 tbsp (for topping the chicken). Toss the pasta in the remainder of the sauce. Plate the pasta, and top with the chicken sliced into bite sized pieces. Top the chicken with the remaining sauce and garnish the whole dish with the cilantro.


Want to try this recipe with shrimp instead of chicken? Check out my Coconut Lime Shrimp & Pasta recipe!


Serving: 0.25 batchCalories: 410kcal
Keyword Chicken, Coconut, Coconut Lime Chicken, Coconut Lime Chicken & Pasta, Lime, Pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite meals to make, it’s incredibly low effort and low cleanup for how tasty it is. I like to sub chicken thighs for breast, and add a diced Serrano or two for some more heat. Hits the spot for creamy pasta cravings for the lactose challenged.

  2. 5 stars
    I’m always looking for pasta dishes that aren’t just red sauce or alfredo and this one is so unique and delicious (and quick!!) There are some other good less common pasta dishes on here too like the lemon ricotta pasta and peanut noodles which I also love, but I think this one is my favorite! Thank you, please keep posting more pasta!!

  3. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! Tried it today and it turned out so well! The flavors were balanced, and it was creamy yet light. The lime and coconut paired well with the garlic and parsley. I’m a fan now! I’ve always preferred white sauce for pasta but they usually turn out to be too rich or heavy with all the butter and cream – not this recipe, I’m sure this sauce will go well with something like shrimp and fusili too.

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing!! This will be my go to sauce from now on. So easy. Next time I’ll try shrimp.
    I like this sauce better than an alfredo. Don’t miss the dairy at all! Thank you.

    • Thanks for commenting, I’m so happy you enjoyed it! I may try it with shrimp sometime myself, that combo sounds great!

  5. 5 stars
    Really great recipe. I’ve never used coconut milk in a recipe before, so it was new to me. It did not disappoint and I will be making this again in the future!

  6. 5 stars
    Easy to make and deliciously creamy without cream! Love how unique this recipe is and that I only had to get fresh cilantro at the store in order to make it- had all of the other ingredients at home. Thanks for a fun recipe to add to our weeknight rotation!

  7. 5 stars
    I found this recipe on reddit and saved it immediately because I’d been looking for pasta type dishes that are not your typical tomato based sauces. I pitched the idea to my family and was nervous I’d waste it and the picky eaters wouldn’t like it but it was outstanding and really refreshing. I had no complaints and plates where completely cleaned off. It’s light but flavorful and and not too tangy either. Definitely a keeper for when you want to mix things up!

  8. 5 stars
    In our regular rotation, have made this at least 4 or 5 times now and it’s always a hit! Thanks for sharing!

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