Daily Cooking Quest

Opor Ayam

Opor ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk) is one of the easiest Indonesian recipes you can try at home, and very delicious. Unlike many other Indonesian dishes, opor ayam is mild and chili free, making this dish a perfect introduction to Indonesian dishes.

Opor ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk) is one of many Indonesian dishes from Central Java. Most families serve opor ayam and ketupat (rice cake in woven palm leaf pouch) to celebrate Lebaran (Idul Fitri, or Eid). For more everyday occasions, you can spot opor ayam in a nasi gudeg meal set where the chicken is served with steamed white rice, gudeg (young jackfruit sweet stew), and sambal goreng krecek (crispy beef skin and chili stew).

Ingredients for Opor Ayam - Chicken in Coconut Milk

Opor ayam is a child-friendly dish

Opor ayam is very mild compared to many Indonesian dishes. It has no chilies, making this dish very children friendly. I myself remember how this is one of my favorite dishes when I was a child myself. Although many Indonesian serve opor ayam as part of a set rice meal, it is by no mean a must. It is perfectly acceptable to serve opor ayam with nothing else but a bowl of steamed white rice. A side of sambal bajak or sambal terasi is, of course, a welcome addition to those who do love a bit of chili kick.

Opor Ayam - Chicken in Coconut Milk

The long list of ingredients

Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the long list of ingredients in many Indonesian recipes. Luckily, if you are a fan of Indonesian dishes and plan to prepare Indonesian dishes often, the list of ingredients that you see in this recipe will appear again and again in many other Indonesian recipes. Aside from daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves) and kemiri (candlenut), other ingredients appear regularly in many other Southeast Asian recipes, so they should be quite easy to find.

Opor Ayam - Chicken in Coconut Milk

Make a proper Indonesian feast

If you are planning to serve opor ayam as part of a feast, you may want to prepare the followings too:

Opor Ayam - Chicken in Coconut Milk

Originally published on June 13, 2013. Updated on March 13, 2019 with new photos.

Opor Ayam

5.0 from 9 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 45 mins

Serves: 4-8


  • 1 chicken, cut into 4-8 pieces (or use 8 chicken drumsticks)
  • 1 lemongrass (Indonesian: sereh), cut and bruised
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (Indonesian: daun salam)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk)
  • 500 ml water
  • 200 ml coconut milk (Indonesian: santan)
  • fried shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah goreng), for garnish (optional)
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 100 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • 4 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
  • 5 candlenut (Indonesian: kemiri) (or 8-10 macadamia nuts)
  • 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds (Indonesian: biji ketumbar)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (Indonesian: biji jinten)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste


  1. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a pot and stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add lemon grass, bay leaf, and kaffir lime leaf and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  4. Add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes. Add salt and/or sugar as needed.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with fried shallots.


  • amallia says:

    this is my favorite food...:-)

  • Simon Lee says:

    Hi Anita, I just tried your recipe. Followed to the exact details, perhaps is my taste, find it a bit on the salty side. Otherwise it take great. Thanks Simon

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for the feedback Simon. I am glad you enjoyed the recipe :)

  • Eka says:

    Hi Anita. I like your recipe. Simple, easy to find the ingredients in the US, and tasty! I have tried some of your recipes... Enak banget! Terimakasih. Salam, Eka

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for the compliment Eka :) Salam juga :)

  • Chris says:

    Hi Anita This opor Ayam recipe is a keeper. It is simple to cook with those readily available ingredients. It turned out fabulous and rich with flavour! Thank you for sharing ! I don't have to wait to go back hometown to enjoy this when I crave for opor ayam.

    • Anita says:

      I am so happy to hear that Chris :)

  • Lala says:

    Hi Anita! Your blog is officially my bible now :))). Love it so much! Thank you very sharing. Ini enak bingid :)))

    • Anita says:

      Haha, thanks for the compliment, Lala. I'm so happy you find my recipes delicious. ;)

  • Sandi says:

    This looks better than anything I have had in a restaurant. I love the easy step by step directions.

    • Anita says:

      Thanks for the high praise, Sandi. I am glad the instructions are clear.

  • Katie says:

    I’m going to surprise my husband by making this for him! We both love coconut curry, and love Indonesian food! How delicious!

    • Anita says:

      Sounds like we can be good friends when it comes to food, Katie! I hope you and your husband will love this opor ayam recipe.

  • Andrea @ Cooking with Mamma C says:

    I'm intrigued by the combination of chicken and coconut milk! This looks so delicious and comforting.

  • Valentina says:

    Such beautiful flavors in this! Lemongrass is one of my favorite ingredients to use. And that chicken looks so perfectly cooked. YUM!

  • Kate says:

    Such an interesting combo. And I love all those spices.

  • Dessyre N Dangeubun says:

    Saya coba dan terima kasih banyak untuk inspirasinya.... meski beberapa bumbu saya modifikasi dalam hal jumlah krna saya sesuaikan dengan selera saya :)) tp petunjuknya benar2 membantu.... saya sangat berterima kasih dan ingin mencoba di menu yang lainnya....Terima kasih juga sudah tulis dalam bahasa inggris jadi saya gampang cari bahannya disini....Suami saya juga seneng banget sampai lahap. Tuhan berkati selalu....You are the best !!!!

    • Anita says:

      Sama-sama mba Dessyre, semoga resep-resep yang lain dicoba juga yah kalau sempat. :)

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