Chicken Rendang, or Rendang Ayam is a lip-smacking Indonesian dry curry that's loaded with tender chicken simmered with a spice paste and coconut milk until there's almost no sauce left. At this point, the remaining sauce is caramelize around the chicken along with roasted coconut to create an ultra-flavorful coating around each piece of chicken.

Chicken Rendang is a delicious Indonesian dry curry that's packed with a mind-blowing amount of flavor thanks to a caramelized spice paste and chicken that's simmered in coconut milk until there's almost no sauce remaining.

I have an awesome Beef Rendang recipe I learned from a local. The balance and depth of flavors of rendang is really remarkable considering it doesn’t contain all that many ingredients, but it does have one major drawback: it literally takes hours to make. I wanted to see if I could make a rendang with as much flavor as the original, that comes together faster, and with less steps.

The first thing I did was swap chicken in for beef, as chicken will become fork-tender much faster than any other meat. To ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out, I used legs (thighs and drumsticks), instead of breast meat. Using boneless chicken, will cook faster, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor as Chicken Rendang made with the bones. My compromise was to use a cleaver to chop the thighs and drumsticks into smaller pieces, which helps the chicken cook faster, while retaining all the flavor.

The perfect chicken rendang features tender chicken coated in the reduced braising liquid and roasted coconut.

After browning the chicken, you’ll notice a lot of oil in the pan. It may be tempting to dump some out, but don’t do it. The paste really needs a lot of oil to brown evenly, otherwise it will burn before it caramelizes. If the amount of oil really bothers you, you can skim some off with a spoon after you’ve added the coconut milk and chicken. Just be sure to leave a little bit of oil as some of it is needed to caramelize the sauce around the chicken in the last step.

A Great Chicken Rendang starts with a base of chilies, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, garlic and turmeric.

Most rendang recipes have you add aromatics like lemongrass and galangal both whole, as well as in the spice paste. It’s extra work that’s not necessary as running them through the food processor releases plenty of flavor, while reducing the amount of prep needed for the ingredients.

One exception to this is the garlic. Processing garlic together with shallots can occasionally cause an undesirable reaction that turns the paste a greenish color and makes it taste bitter. By handling the garlic separately you can avoid this problem and it doesn’t create a meaningful increase in the amount of work.

Finally I’ve added kerisik (roasted coconut) to the rendang at the end. This not only imparts a wonderful nutty taste, it also absorbs any remaining liquid, allowing you to caramelize the sauce around the chicken much faster.

These time-saving tricks allowed me to put this together in just under one hour, which puts it in reach of a weeknight dinner, but like the beef version, this Chicken Rendang taste better the next day. That makes it a perfect make-ahead dish for a lazy Sunday, which you can then reheat and enjoy during the week.

The trick to making the best chicken rendang is to ensure you cook it long enough for the coconut milk sauce to almost completely evaporate.

Chicken RendangI have an awesome Beef Rendang recipe I learned from a local. The balance and depth of flavors of rendang is really remarkable considering it doesn’t contain all that many ingredients, but it does have one major drawback: it literally takes hours to make. I wanted to see if I could make a rendang with … Continue reading “Chicken Rendang”


  • CourseEntree
  • CuisineSoutheast Asian
  • Yield6 servings
  • Cooking Time55 minutes
  • Preperation Time5 minutes
  • Total Time1 hour, 0 minutes


for spice paste
100 grams
shallots (20 Asian shallots peeled and chopped)
30 grams
galangal (1 1/2 inch piece peeled, sliced)
30 grams
lemongrass (~ 2 stalks, light part only, thinly sliced)
20 grams
ginger (peeled)
3 tablespoons
dried chili flakes (to taste)
1 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon
ground turmeric (or 1 fresh turmeric root)
for rendang
1/4 cup
vegetable oil
25 grams
garlic (4 large cloves, smashed)
925 grams
bone-in skin-on chicken legs (chopped into pieces)
1 cup
coconut milk (poured from the top of an unshaken can)
20 grams
coconut sugar (2 tablespoons)
kaffir lime leaves (sliced into very thin threads)
3/4 cup
grated unsweetened coconut 50 grams


  1. The spices are pulverized into a paste that's used to give the Rendang Ayam flavor.
    Put the shallots, galangal, lemongrass, ginger, chili flakes, salt and turmeric in a small food processor or blender and puree, adding a bare minimum of water as necessary to keep the paste spinning.
  2. For the best Chicken Rendang, brown the chicken before caramelizing the spice paste.

    Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and add the chicken, skin-side down and then add the garlic in the gaps between the chicken. Thoroughly brown the skin-side of the chicken and then transfer to a bowl.

  3. Caramelize the rendang spice paste to ensure your chicken rendang is ultra-flavorful.
    Add the spice paste to the pan you used to brown the chicken. Fry the spice paste until the paste is very thick, caramelized and fragrant. Stir-constantly to ensure even caramelization and to prevent the paste from burning to the pan.
  4. Add coconut milk and return the chicken to the rendang sauce.
    Return the chicken to the pan and add the coconut milk and coconut sugar. Adjust the heat down to maintain a gentle simmer and cook the chicken until it is tender, about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir the rendang regularly, especially towards the end as it will burn.
  5. You can skim some of the oil off the rendang as the chicken cooks down.
    If at this point you feel like there's too much oil, you can use a spoon to skim some off as it floats to the top.
  6. Kerisik, or roasted coconut is an essential component in Chicken Rendang.
    While the chicken cooks, add the grated coconut to a dry frying pan, and roast, stirring constantly until the coconut has browned and is very fragrant. Transfer the coconut to a bowl and set aside until the chicken is done.
  7. Cook the chicken rendang until almost no sauce remains.
    Once the chicken is tender and there is very little sauce remaining, turn up the heat to medium and add the toasted coconut and kaffir lime leaves.
  8. Add the kerisik to the chicken rendang and fry until there is no sauce left.
    Stir-fry the rendang until the sauce has caramelized into a thick coating around the chicken (about 10 more minutes). Serve the Chicken Rendang with rice.