Easy coconut rice topped with saucy shredded apricot chicken and garnished with a quick cucumber salad and creamy avocado. This healthy and delicious dinner can be ready in 30 minutes or less!
I love saucy chicken dishes (like sweet and sour chicken or orange chicken), but generally those meals are loaded with sugar, unhealthy oils, or other ingredients I don’t love using for a healthy weeknight meal (they’re for the weekend ;)). This apricot chicken is my answer to those concerns — the chicken isn’t fried, the sauce isn’t loaded with sugar, and we’re only using the slightest amount of a healthy oil — olive oil. We’ve got healthy toppings (a quick cucumber salad + a creamy sliced avocado) and a cool coconut rice as the base which further adds healthful ingredients to the plate.
The best part of this dish though? We’re not sacrificing any flavors or textures to bring this healthified version of apricot chicken to your table. The sauce is loaded with flavor and the toppings add so much texture and balance to the dish. I hope you love this apricot chicken, it’s certainly one of my new favorite recipes!
There are a few ways to prepare the chicken for this apricot chicken dinner. I highly recommend using a rotisserie chicken or grilling the chicken for best flavor, but I’ll break down all the options below.
Chicken cooking options
Cooking times will vary depending on many factors so I always recommend using a meat thermometer to test your chicken as it cooks. Aim to hit exactly 160 degrees Fahrenheit (carryover heat will take chicken from 160 to 165). (Undercooked = unsafe; Overcooked = dry chicken).
- (Quickest option): grab a rotisserie chicken from the store (plain seasoned; not lemon herb) and shred it for this recipe
- Grill: drizzle boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs) with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill at 450 degrees F for 4-5 minutes per side or until chicken registers 165 degrees F. Thinly slice or shred.
- Bake: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway. Remove from the oven, and loosely cover sheet pan with foil. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice or shred.
- Saute: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast and cook for 4-6 minutes per side until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and loosely cover with foil. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice or shred.
We love how the apricot chicken pairs with coconut rice, and it couldn’t be easier to make!
Grab 1 can of coconut milk — either full fat or lite (full fat will yield creamier rice) and you’ll add it to the uncooked rice then cook.
Canned coconut milk is generally in the Asian section of the grocery store. When adding in the coconut milk, make sure to scrape out everything in the can with a spatula; sometimes the cream has a tendency to stick on the sides.
Don’t forget to season the coconut rice with some salt! I add a little at the beginning and always taste and adjust at the end.
Apricot chicken sauce
The apricot glaze that coats the chicken couldn’t be easier to make! It’s also relatively healthy without tons of added sugars.
- We start with sauteing ginger and garlic in olive oil. It’s important to use fresh ginger and fresh garlic because they are the base flavorings for this sauce. Also pre-minced or jarred garlic/ginger will likely burn (they’re too finely minced for the high heats) so I recommend mincing both freshly.
- Red pepper flakes come in next and if you’re worried about heat, feel free to reduce or even omit entirely. On the flip side, increase if you like your apricot chicken spicy!
- Next we add in soy sauce, rice vinegar, and peach preserves. Use a good quality peach preserves for the best flavored sauce. (My personal favorite is Bonne Mamans; not sponsored). If you have homemade, all the better! 🙂
- Once the sauce is reduced, you’ll add in a cornstarch slurry to thicken up the sauce until you get the liquid gold shown above. SO good!
Toss the chicken in the sauce until well coated and it’s ready to go on top of the delicious coconut rice!
Apricot chicken toppings
Once the chicken is nice and saucy and the rice is piping hot, it’s ready to plate up! Below I’m also sharing a quick cucumber salad recipe that really brings together this dish. I highly recommend serving it alongside/on top the apricot chicken. It’s an easy blend of persian cucumbers (if you can’t find persian, use English!), olive oil, rice vinegar, and salt + pepper. (P.S. the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are already used in the sauce so we’re dual purposing!)
The last ingredient that perfectly finishes everything off is a ripe avocado. It adds the perfect creamy element and flavor to this meal.
You could also finish this apricot chicken with some fresh herbs or sesame seeds if desired.
As with all recipes, don’t forget to taste and adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper). I like using fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper — good salt/pepper make such a huge difference!
More easy chicken dinners:
- Avocado Chicken Salad
- Honey Lime Chicken
- Chicken Ramen 20-minute dinner
- Chicken Stir Fry reader favorite
- Coconut Curry Chicken quickest curry!
Coconut rice topped with saucy apricot chicken pieces and garnished with a quick cucumber salad and creamy avocado. This healthy and delicious dinner can be ready in 30 minutes or less!
- 3/4 cup basmati rice
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) LITE coconut milk
- Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts OR 1 and 1/2 cups prepared rotisserie chicken (Note 1)
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil, separated
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (~3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger (~1 inch piece)
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
- 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, separated
- 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add to heat preference)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1/2 cup water (or chicken broth/stock)
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 Persian cucumbers (or sub 1 English cucumber)
- 1 large ripe avocado
RICE: In a small pot combine: rice, entire can of coconut milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until milk is fully evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let the rice stand (still covered) for 10 minutes or until everything else is ready to eat. Fluff rice with a fork.
CUCUMBERS: Meanwhile, slice cucumbers into 1/4th inch thick slices. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (reserve rest for later), 1 tablespoon olive oil (reserve rest for later), salt and pepper (I use 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper). Add cucumbers and toss to coat; set aside. (Toss again before serving)
CHICKEN: See Note 1; if using rotisserie chicken, simply shred or cut the chicken off. If grilling, preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (about 400-450 degrees F.) Generously oil the grill (I drench a roll-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rub it over the grill grates. Halve the chicken breast(s) in half horizontally and pound the pieces to even thickness (don't want the chicken super flat, just even so it will cook evenly). Drizzle each side generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Flip pieces over and repeat -- oil, salt, pepper, seasoning. Place the prepared chicken on the grill. Grill for 8-10 minutes, flipping once in between halfway, or until chicken juices run clear and internal temperature is at 160 to 165 degrees F. (160 degrees will carry over heat to get to 165 degrees F). Tent chicken with foil and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice or shred.
SAUCE: Add remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes (add flakes to heat preference). Saute, stirring, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add apricot preserves, soy sauce, and remaining 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/2 cup water until smooth. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture to the pan while whisking constantly until combined. Cook, continuing to whisk, until sauce has thickened about 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste (I add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Add in sugar if desired. Toss shredded/thinly sliced chicken in sauce until well coated.
ASSEMBLE: Divide coconut rice between plates/bowls. Top with sauced chicken, then cucumbers, and lastly avocado (remove skin/pit and very thinly slice or dice). Drizzle over any remaining apricot sauce from pan. Enjoy while hot!
Note 1: There are a few ways to prepare the chicken for this meal. I highly recommend using a rotisserie chicken or grilling the chicken for best flavor, but see blogpost for how to saute or bake the chicken for this meal.