Apricot Chicken

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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!

Overhead image of Apricot Chicken in a bowl with rice, avocado, and cucumbers.

Apricot Chicken

I love saucy chicken dishes but those meals are often loaded with sugar, unhealthy oils, or other ingredients I try to avoid using for a healthy weeknight meal (they’re for the weekend splurge). 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 a small 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 Apricot Chicken; it’s certainly one of my new favorite recipes!  

There are a few ways to prepare the chicken for this dinner. I highly recommend grilling the chicken or using a rotisserie chicken for best flavor, and I’ll break down all the options below.

Chicken cooking options

Cooking times will vary, depending on many factors, so I 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 chicken; overcooked = dry chicken. 

  • Quickest option: Pick up a rotisserie chicken at 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 through. Remove from the oven, and loosely cover the pan with foil.  Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes and then thinly slice or shred.
  • Sauté: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add boneless 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, loosely cover with foil and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Thinly slice or shred.

Image of the cooked chicken used in Apricot Chicken.Coconut rice

We love how Apricot Chicken pairs with coconut rice, and it couldn’t be easier to make!

Grab a can of coconut milk — either full fat or lite (full fat will yield creamier rice) and add it to the uncooked rice– then cook as usual.

Canned coconut milk is generally in the Asian section of the grocery store. When adding in the coconut milk, make sure to scrape everything out of the can with a spatula; sometimes the cream sticks to 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.

Image of the apricot glaze sauce being prepared.

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 by sautéing 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 heat), 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 it entirely. On the flip side, increase if you like your Apricot Chicken spicy!
  • Next, we add in soy sauce, rice vinegar, and apricot preserves. Use good quality 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 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! 

Image of the cooked chicken in the sauce, still in the sauce pan.

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 this dish together. I 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 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 and pepper make such a huge difference!

QUICK TIP

Cucumber info: English cucumbers are about 12 inches long and usually wrapped in plastic. Persian cucumbers are much smaller–usually 6 inches–and thinner than English cucumbers. Both varieties, however, have thin skin, so you don’t need to peel them. Both varieties also have very tiny seeds, so they won’t get in the way, either.

Up close image of the apricot chicken with avocado and cucumbers on the side on a bed of rice

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Apricot Chicken

5 from 4 votes
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!
Print Recipe

Apricot Chicken

5 from 4 votes
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!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword apricot chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 520kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $6.29

Ingredients

  • 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, divided
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (~3 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger (~1 inch piece)
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, divided
  • 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

Instructions

  • RICE: In a small pot combine rice, coconut milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until milk is fully absorbed, about 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 1/4-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 the bones. 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) horizontally and pound the pieces to even thickness (you don't need the chicken super flat, just even thickness 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. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, 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: Heat 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). Sauté, 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, 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. Cook, continuing to whisk, until sauce has thickened, about 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste (I add in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Add sugar if desired. Toss shredded/thinly sliced chicken in sauce until well coated.
  • ASSEMBLE: Divide coconut rice between plates or bowls. Top with sauced chicken, then cucumbers, and lastly avocado (remove skin and pit and very slice thinly or dice). Drizzle over any remaining apricot sauce from pan. Enjoy while hot!

Recipe Notes

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.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 42.1g | Protein: 6.2g | Fat: 38.6g | Cholesterol: 3.1mg | Sodium: 91.1mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 10.6g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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