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Squash, Chili and Coconut Chicken Peruvian Style

This braised squash, chili and coconut chicken Peruvian style, with the flavor of  aji amarillo chilies and coconut, is an outstanding dish that’s full of complex flavor. Slightly spicy and slightly sweet, it tastes like you’ve been working all day, but the secret is the actual active time is only 20 minutes! Made with squash, peas and cilantro, this chicken is our new favorite weeknight dinner.

This simple braised, tender chicken dish made with chicken thighs, or chicken breasts, along with butternut squash is a perfect weeknight dinner.

With about 20 minutes of prep time, this chicken disappears into the oven and reappears about 45 minutes later, giving you time to cook some rice and make a salad.

Good chicken recipes aren’t always easy to find and this is a great way to try something new!

This chicken dish is made in a Dutch oven or an oven-safe large skillet and is great for busy weeknights.

Try to use bone-in chicken if you can, but if you prefer not to, that’s OK, too.

Just make sure to adjust your cooking times. And feel free to cut the large chicken breast pieces in half.

Prefer using boneless skinless chicken breasts? That’s OK, too.

Make sure to aim for a juicy chicken breast so don’t overcook them, because no one likes dry chicken!

Cooking time will vary depending on the cut of chicken used, so adjust accordingly.

aji chicken and coconut in white bowl with noodles/spoon and fork

How to Make Squash, Chili and Coconut Chicken Peruvian Style:

Begin by seasoning the chicken pieces with black pepper and kosher salt.

Melt the coconut oil in the oven-safe Dutch oven or a large non-stick skillet that is oven-safe over medium-high heat.

I like the extra flavor that coconut oil gives, but if you don’t have it olive oil or canola oil works fine.

Cook the chicken until it is golden brown on both sides.

After the chicken is browned, remove from pan and stir in the onion slices and minced garlic.

Cook until translucent and then stir in the coconut milk, squash and the aji seasoning.

Test for seasoning while bringing to a simmer. Add back the seasoned chicken and its juices, skin side up and place in the oven uncovered.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender.

Stir in the cilantro and peas and you have a meal the whole family will love.

Chili and Coconut Chicken Peruvian Style

What are Aji Amarillo chiles?

Aji Amarillo are yellow, somewhat spicy chilies with a fruity citrusy flavor from Peru.

Their heat is similar to a serrano, but a serrano lacks the citrusy taste.

A habanero gives the citrusy taste, but bumps the heat up considerably.

Your best bet for a true flavor is to find aji amarillo paste.

This wasn’t easy to do, but Kroger or King Soopers, (which is my grocery store) has both aji amarillo hot sauce and a paste that comes in a tube.

The tube has added flavors along with the chilies but in the case of this chicken dish, they tasted fine.

I am now on the search for the “just chile” version but I have no doubt that whatever you choose, you will fall in love with this simple chicken!

Don’t have butternut squash?

Yellow squash, summer squash or zuchinni will work also.

Just make sure to add them about 15 minutes before the chicken is finished cooking.

Don’t have Aji Amarillo paste or seasoning?

The best part about this “recipe” is it can be made in countless ways.

Aji Amarillo Peruvian Chicken

This chicken can be made Italian style! Just call it Tuscan chicken!

Use olive oil and heavy cream instead of coconut oil and coconut milk!

Add in some fresh red bell peppers along with the onion and garlic.

Add in some Italian seasoning, some fresh lemon zest and when the chicken is finished cooking sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Serve with pasta and some fresh crusty bread.

Don’t have fresh garlic?

Sub in 1/8 t of garlic powder for 1 garlic clove.

See how simple it is to change a recipe around?

Yes, I know this easy dinner with chicken is browned in coconut oil and flavored with lots of garlic, coconut milk and chilies.

But don’t be afraid to try something new!

Add the thick slices of squash, the gorgeous green peas and perhaps Italian parsley or fresh sage with the heavy cream and you have one easy baked chicken.

It can then be served over rice or potatoes or in my case…egg noodles.

Not traditional, but definitely good.

Next time around I may even serve this easy recipe over mofongo, which is a dish consisting of fried smashed plantains mixed with cracklings. I knew you’d want to know!

Enjoy this chicken dinner from Peru. Or Italy!

It’s perfect comfort food on a chilly night and it might even work with Sujo.

But then again I’m guessing it doesn’t really matter what you have with that!

AjiCoconut Chicken

Below is part of my post from 2018. (It is now 2023 and Alex just moved to Houston!)

The last ten days have flown by as Alex Odie San China Boy graced us with his presence.

During that time we flew to Phoenix for a few days, celebrated Valentine’s Day together, ate Korean food where he also showed us the proper way to drink Soju, complete with elbow banging, and did a short food tour of Denver in the hopes of coercing him back.

Of course we did way more than that but I’m to exhausted to write about it!

He is now flying back to Shanghai and then to Seoul where he seems to be spending as much time as in China.

During our food tour we stopped at The Denver Central Market and devoured chocolate Kouign Amann and cinnamon rolls, then on to Berkeley and il Porcellino Salumi for some in house cured meat-try the shaved bacon sandwich, then on to Candela Latin Kitchen and lastly to Union Station where we drank great gin and tonics from Ultreia.
Alex had the Death Star, I had the Broken Spanish and Manservant the Rudy Ruby. Oh my! Can’t wait to go back to all of them!
At Candela (unfortunately now closed) I finally tried mofongo and their black sea bass ceviche with aji amarillo.

It reminded me I had just tried this amazing seasoning in this chicken dish that I recently made.

Alex asked what aji amarillo was and I didn’t have a good answer…but I do now.

So if you don’t know, please read above!

My Top Peruvian Recipes:
Grilled Peruvian Chicken on grill
Peruvian Green Sauce in jar with spoon
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Aji Coconut Chicken in white bowl with noodles

Chili and Coconut Chicken Peruvian Style

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  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: South American


This simple “Peruvian” style braised chicken is simple to make and delicious to eat. Full of flavor this is perfect for a cold night!


Units Scale

2 T coconut oil

4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs or 2 large chicken breasts

1/2 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can full fat coconut milk

1/4 to 1/2 c aji amarillo paste (I used a tube from Kroger that was more than aji chilies and it tasted great)

1 1/4 lbs butternut squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks or slices

3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems

Salt to taste

Rice, noodles or potatoes for serving


Preheat oven to 350 and adjust rack to lower middle positition.

Add coconut oil to 6 quart Dutch oven or other large heavy oven-safe pot.

Heat over medium-high heat until oil melts and begins to shimmer. Season chicken with salt and place skin side down in the oil. Cook about 4 minutes until golden and then flip over and sear on the other side until brown. Remove chicken and set aside. Drain excess fat from Dutch oven and lower heat to medium.

Add sliced onion and garlic and cook until translucent and tender, scraping up the chicken bits from the bottom, about 5 minutes.

Add coconut milk, aji amarillo paste and squash. Bring to a simmer and test for salt. Return chicken to pot along with accumulated juice. Place skin side up on top of the squash and try to make sure that it rests above the coconut milk.

Transfer pot to oven and bake, uncovered until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in peas and cilantro. Serve with your choice of potatoes, noodles or rice.

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

SavoringTime in the Kitchen

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

So glad you had such a wonderful visit with Alex! I loved the video and I can almost picture you drinking your Soji Bombs and smiling ;) Your Peruvian chicken sounds so flavorful!

Sue/the view from great island

Sunday 4th of March 2018

I can't wait to try this Abbe, I know next to nothing about Peruvian food!


Sunday 4th of March 2018

love this, the addition of that chilli, and coconut nut yummm. Never heard of it it sounds a lot similar to scotch bonnet, which also has a fruity sort of smell when cooked. have a nice weekend

Sippity Sup

Saturday 3rd of March 2018

Love the combo of aji amarillo chilies and coconut. I've become a real Peruvian food fan too. I even have the aji paste in my pantry. However, if I look very hard and get very lucky I've even found fresh aji peppers here in Los Angeles and once made my own paste. Great recipe here... GREG

Abbe Odenwalder

Sunday 4th of March 2018

Go for it! This is so quick and good!

GiGi Eats

Friday 2nd of March 2018

So the other night Landon insisted we MAKE A RECIPE IN THE CROCK POT TOGETHER involving the chicken that had been sitting in the freezer for about 2 months. I agreed even though all I really wanted was salmon - and we made a recipe that was literally chicken and a jar of salsa. It was edible, and fine but mannnnn all I really wanted was my glorious salmon. THAT being said - I really really wish I had seen this recipe prior to us deciding what to do with this chicken because THIS RECIPE sounds BOMBBBB! But now I don't know that I want chicken for awhile, LOL!